Pay Up Or Shut Up

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Memo to Freedom Pastors: PAY UP, FUCKERS.

Yes, it's time for another Persecuted Jesusfreak Hissyfit! Well, technically, it's past time, since Pastor Freedom Sunday was actually two Sundays ago, but I figured it could wait. Partly because up to a point, I actually agree with the 33 pastors who participated in the event by loudly and specifically endorsing political candidates from the pulpit.

I agree with them that it's utterly ridiculous that this line exists. Churches wield vast amounts of political power as it is. They get involved in elections. They are a huge force that must be both reckoned with and pandered to by candidates from both parties in order to win office. But there's this arbitrary line where the church gets in trouble if the head of the church goes up in front of the congregation and mentions a specific candidate by name, either for or against. That's bullshit.

Unfortunately, that's the only part of this on which the pastors and I agree, and that's why I'm awesome and right, and they're a bunch of pussies and wrong. Because they want to eat their cake and have it too. They want to maintain their privileged status in society while being able to get down in the dirt and participate politically like the rest of us. In other words, they want representation without taxation.

Churches don't pay taxes. We all know this. It's part of the separation of church and state that churches, especially right-wing churches, don't think exists. Yet you never see these churches writing out voluntary checks to the IRS while they're campaigning for prayer and creationism in the public schools. Similarly, the 33 pastors, all right-wing, all McCain-supporters, who endorsed Gramps or trashed Obama last Sunday did so in the hopes of overturning the tax law that would lead to consequences for their political activity.

"The scripture is very clear about our need to obey all laws. I want people to realize that there are two laws here that compete with each other. The IRS says that I cannot talk about politics. The Constitution says I can. Unless there's a court battle, we don't know which law to obey." - Rev. Gus Booth of Warroad Community Church in northern Minnesota, who is lying.

The IRS says you can talk about politics from the pulpit, as long as you pay taxes. The Constitution also says the government can collect taxes from whoever they want. Churches' tax-free status isn't enshrined in the Constitution, ergo there's no conflict, ergo you can obey both laws quite easily. All you have to do is admit there's no basis for your tax-free status and get out your checkbook

Fuck 'em. Personally, I think the church's tax-free status needs to go anyway. Put on a progressive sliding scale like the income tax. Small churches who don't take in a lot of cash can pay very little. Hell, include exemptions for charitable work and things that help society, even. But if all they're doing is installing padded recliner seats so that practitioners can sit comfortably while they sing along to crappy praise videos displayed on huge big-screen TVs? Then listen to their pastor accuse Obama of infanticide (or, in the interests of relative fairness, McCain of genocide)? Fuck them. Let them chip in toward all the bombs and bailouts.

It's just another version of the traditional religious persecution complex that sees the loss of a privilege as the loss of a right. I anxiously await the test cases Pastor Freedom Sunday was meant to trigger, and I look forward to the day when Pastor Gus is treated just like I am - free to speak out about the ills I see in our society, and obligated to turn over a third of my income TO that society to help pay for those ills.

Pay up or shut up.