futurepilot16
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Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 3:28 pm

A Co-Worker and I were having a conversation about whether or not some of these religious institutions can be brought up on charges for having a bad agenda. Since Churches are exempt from taxes, people might find it easy to start up a church and make money off it. A lot of church's support the agenda of bringing people in and keeping true to their faith. However, we've seen numerous times where church's spread hate like wildfire. Whether it's hate against gays, a certain race or even as one church in Arizona suggested that "God wanted people to kill the President."

Now in my mind, religious institutions probably can't be touched because it's in the constitution. But what if you got other church's to testify against these "so called" churches. My father is a devout Christian, and he'd be the first to tell you that a lot of these churches preach slander. They manipulate the words in the bible to have an effect on their message, whatever it may be. I'm sure a well to do church wouldn't mind telling a jury that this church's Agenda is something more dangerous than just recruiting people for heaven.

Also, if church's can't be touched because of the constitution, could there be loophole in the greatest document ever created where people can spread hate without being investigated by the gov't?

What do you guys think?
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BMI727
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 3:37 pm

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
Since Churches are exempt from taxes, people might find it easy to start up a church and make money off it.

Some people already have.

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
Now in my mind, religious institutions probably can't be touched because it's in the constitution.

I don't think that churches are allowed to support a certain candidate, otherwise they may lose their tax exempt status.

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
But what if you got other church's to testify against these "so called" churches.

That could be a really slippery slope.

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
could there be loophole in the greatest document ever created where people can spread hate without being investigated by the gov't?

You get freedom of speech, but by talking you could provide probable cause. If you want to say something stupid fine, but don't be surprised if people react.
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ManuCH
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:07 pm

What is needed to obtain the legal status of a church in the US? Could anyone hide his company behind a church to be tax exempt? There seem to be "scam churches" out there apparently, but where do we draw the line?
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alberchico
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:23 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 1):
Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
Since Churches are exempt from taxes, people might find it easy to start up a church and make money off it.

Some people already have.

Exactly. What do you think the Church of Scientology is ? A scam for pathetic suckers who feel '' lost'' in life and need guidance
short summary of every jewish holiday: they tried to kill us ,we won , lets eat !
 
2H4
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:31 pm

Quoting ManuCH (Reply 2):
What is needed to obtain the legal status of a church in the US?

I've wondered the same thing. If I wanted to create a tax-free motorcycle club, what's to stop me from creating a 'church' that was centered around worshiping Ducati motorcycles, and that teaches that Adriano, Marcello and Bruno Ducati (the founders) created the universe?
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fr8mech
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:34 pm

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
having a bad agenda

By whose definition?

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
Now in my mind, religious institutions probably can't be touched because it's in the constitution

A church needs to prove it is a church in order to maintain its tax exempt status. I really don't know the hoops it needs to go through to prove and maintain its status. I do have to believe (foolhardy as it may seem) that when a church pops its collective head up, the government (in whatever form) takes a hard look at the status.

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
They manipulate the words in the bible to have an effect on their message, whatever it may be.

But, The Bible is up to interpretation. Your father, and the vast majority of Christiamity may read a passage one way, but others another way. No one religion or faith holds control of the words of The Bible. They are what they are and as such are open to interpretattion.
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2H4
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:37 pm

Quoting fr8mech (Reply 5):
A church needs to prove it is a church in order to maintain its tax exempt status.

I'd like to know exactly what this entails. How does the government define 'church'?
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casinterest
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 5:47 pm

Quoting 2H4 (Reply 4):
and that teaches that Adriano, Marcello and Bruno Ducati (the founders) created the universe?

This goes a little to far.
Perhaps they were phophets that molded the Supreme Chopper's will into Metal and Gas ?  

But still the same, to form a new Religion it has to pass a test of passing funds to true support of Church related schemes. Not to fund strippers at Bike Week  http://www.wtnzfox43.com/Global/story.asp?S=5859164

"
First Amendment
These arguments focus on using the Freedom of Religion clause of the First Amendment to reduce income tax liability. A common scheme calls for individual taxpayers to obtain minister's credentials and a church or religious order charter by mail for a fee. The individuals set up a new organization that purports to be a church, religious order, or other religious organization. They then take a "vow of poverty" and assign their assets and income to the new organization. However, filtering money through a purported church to fraudulently claim charitable contribution deductions is illegal. The tax law affords benefits to churches and other religious organizations and to those who make gifts or contributions to these organizations. The law requires, however, that such organizations actually be operated for religious purposes and not for the private benefit of individuals."

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
Also, if church's can't be touched because of the constitution, could there be loophole in the greatest document ever created where people can spread hate without being investigated by the gov't?

According to some, but not all Priests, Rabbi's, Imman's and other religious leaders, there has been for years  

Fortunately many religions and folks are coming round to the view that "live and let live" is a much better philosophy than war.
Older than I just was ,and younger than I will soo be.
 
slider
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:27 pm

Quoting alberchico (Reply 3):
Exactly. What do you think the Church of Scientology is ? A scam for pathetic suckers who feel '' lost'' in life and need guidance

ALL HAIL XENU!!!


LMAO!!

I was thinking Scientology from the moment I read the thread title....
 
2H4
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:38 pm

Quoting casInterest (Reply 7):
This goes a little to far.

I agree that my example is rather absurd. But at the same time, it makes absolutely as much sense to me as building a church that is predicated upon worshiping a man that lives in the sky.

Quoting casInterest (Reply 7):
The law requires, however, that such organizations actually be operated for religious purposes and not for the private benefit of individuals."

In my opinion, you can't tell people they have have freedom of religion and then dictate what 'religious purposes' are or are not.
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ManuCH
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:16 pm

Quoting 2H4 (Reply 9):
it makes absolutely as much sense to me as building a church that is predicated upon worshiping a man that lives in the sky.
Quoting 2H4 (Reply 9):
In my opinion, you can't tell people they have have freedom of religion and then dictate what 'religious purposes' are or are not.

That's my point exactly. When one applies for the "church status", is there a commission arbitrarily deciding if what you're doing sounds religious-ish or rather not? Hmm, I smell lawsuit here... wanna try?  
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2H4
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:29 pm

Quoting ManuCH (Reply 10):
Hmm, I smell lawsuit here... wanna try?

I hereby dub thee chief supreme bishop in the first order of Ducatianity.
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gatorfan
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:57 pm

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

First of all, in the US, anyone can be sued for anything. The filing of the suit, is simply the filing of the complaint and the summons with the court. Basically, as long as the documents conform to the standards set forth by the court (or by statute) the suit is filed without any legitimacy to the underlying complaint being afforded to the action by the court. If I wanted to file suit against you for wearing a green shirt, I could draft a complaint stating that, put it on the right forms, pay the filing fees and the suit would be filed. Of course, the court reserves the right to sanction me for doing that if the claim does not have a basis in the law, but that's a separate issues.

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
Also, if church's can't be touched because of the constitution, could there be loophole in the greatest document ever created where people can spread hate without being investigated by the gov't?

The Constitution affects the 1st Amendment rights of the church. The taxability of the church is a separate issue.

I would encourage you to read a 1990 US Supreme Court case SWAGGART MINISTRIES v. CAL. BD. OF EQUALIZATION, 493 U.S. 378 (1990).

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/script...case.pl?court=US&vol=493&invol=378

It does a good job explaining the issues involved.
 
kiwiandrew

RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:04 pm

Quoting futurepilot16 (Thread starter):
Since Churches are exempt from taxes

Please tell me you are kidding . Why on earth are churches exempt from taxes ?
 
futurepilot16
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:29 pm

Quoting kiwiandrew (Reply 13):
Please tell me you are kidding . Why on earth are churches exempt from taxes ?

No clue. I just know that in this country everyone has the right to practice whatever religion they want. I really have no idea where the tax exemptions came from. Can any one elaborate?
"The brave don't live forever, but the cautious don't live at all."
 
kiwiandrew

RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:32 pm

Quoting futurepilot16 (Reply 14):
I just know that in this country everyone has the right to practice whatever religion they want. I really have no idea where the tax exemptions came from

Sorry if I am being a bit dim , but I don't see any connection between having the right to practice a religion and exempting churches from taxation ?
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:00 pm

At this point, churches do not submit taxes. This is a major problem, Andrew, I agree. It has allowed fraud after fraud (Jim Bakker, anyone?) to get away with financial murder.

I believe that churches should be treated just like any other nonprofit. If you don't make a profit, you don't pay taxes. I think that the special tax-exempt status is a violation of the 1st amendment, since it is an example of a law respecting an establishment of religion.

The problem is that it is politically untenable in this hyperreligious country to reverse that portion of the tax code. It will take a Supreme Court case.

I'm not defending it. I find it as outrageous as you do. I'm just filling you in on the facts.
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BMI727
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:24 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 16):
I believe that churches should be treated just like any other nonprofit. If you don't make a profit, you don't pay taxes.

That seems fair, but might get a bit complicated in cases where there is a church that is given a large endowment by someone and works off of the interest. I'm no accountant but it seems to me that large endowments might saddle a church with a large tax bill, although they have no intention of using the principle.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 16):
I think that the special tax-exempt status is a violation of the 1st amendment, since it is an example of a law respecting an establishment of religion.

The intent of the first amendment had more to do with the government not establishing a state religion. As long as the government treats all religions equally, I see no problem. The catch is where you draw the line on what is or isn't a religion. Luckily, most of that has been grandfathered in.

Quoting kiwiandrew (Reply 15):
but I don't see any connection between having the right to practice a religion and exempting churches from taxation ?

Rest assured that tax exempt status doesn't make life any easier for church workers.
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gatorfan
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:29 am

Someone correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't Germany or the Netherlands actually allow taxpayers to designate their favored church on their tax return and then the state pays the church a stipend proportional to its membership?
 
ltbewr
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:42 am

As to the USA, yes, under certain circumstances. The IRS can sue to revove the tax-emempt status of any not-for-profit enterprise, which includes churches and related religious institutions, if they falsely claim that status or use thier income for personal profit as specified in IRS and Federal laws One can file complaints to the IRS to report issues that a religoius organization (or any not-for-profit) is violating their non-for-profit status or otherwise in violation of IRS and Federal tax laws and revoke that statue. Local governments can sue an individual or group for taxes, violating zoning or building codes, health laws and so on if the occupant or owner is violating those laws and is falsing claiming to be a not-for-profit or religious organization. Under the Federal and some States Homeland Security laws, a number of religious charties (mainly Islamic connected) have been shut down if it believed per the law and evidence that their funds are going to support terrorists acts, actors or organizations.

Perhaps enough people should call for an IRS audit as to the Westboro Baptist 'church' as it mainly seems to exisit to provide income for the extended Phelps family and is involved in non-religious acts in violation of the IRS non-profit exemptions.

[Edited 2010-03-31 17:48:00]
 
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DocLightning
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:52 am

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 17):

As long as the government treats all religions equally, I see no problem.

That's just the problem, though, isn't it? If I do as some Brits did and declare Jedi as my religion, am I tax-exempt for setting up a Jedi temple and charging people $100 admission a head?
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MSPNWA
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Thu Apr 01, 2010 1:59 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 16):
I think that the special tax-exempt status is a violation of the 1st amendment, since it is an example of a law respecting an establishment of religion.

The 501(c)(3) exemption was set up to take away 1st Amendment rights of the churches. The only violation is what the government did. First there's the tax requirement that shouldn't be, so by the "kindness of their heart" they provided a way out of the tax. But that "out" only takes away their 1st Amendment right. Disgusting. Since they're the government they got away with it.

That's why I am in favor of churches to reject the carrot. 1st Amendment > money.
 
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ManuCH
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Thu Apr 01, 2010 5:15 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 20):
If I do as some Brits did and declare Jedi as my religion, am I tax-exempt for setting up a Jedi temple and charging people $100 admission a head?

If I understand what has been said so far correctly, I guess it would work if you don't use the money the Jedi religion earned for your personal benefit. An IRS audit can figure it out if you abuse the status.
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WestWing
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:14 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 20):
If I do as some Brits did and declare Jedi as my religion, am I tax-exempt for setting up a Jedi temple and charging people $100 admission a head?

No, not so fast. You have to file Form 27 B / 6 an IRS Form 1023 to apply for your 503(c)(3) status. The IRS would likely deny your application. To qualify, the psychosis must be a delusion that afflicts millions.

[Edited 2010-03-31 23:17:07]
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iairallie
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:39 am

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 20):
am I tax-exempt for setting up a Jedi temple and charging people $100 admission a head?

Maybe but although I'm not a lawyer yet I think you'd almost certainly be in violation copyright law by of infringing on the Starwars brand.
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OA412
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:40 am

Quoting kiwiandrew (Reply 13):
Please tell me you are kidding . Why on earth are churches exempt from taxes ?

He's right. In the US, churches are "not-for-profit" organizations which is hilarious considering how much some churches in the US actually do rake in in profits. There has been talk on and off of stripping churches of their non-profit status when they start donating to political causes (such as the LDS church did with its anti-gay marriage campaign in California), but it never really goes beyond the talk phase.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 16):
At this point, churches do not submit taxes. This is a major problem

I agree, some churches in this country are raking it in and should be paying taxes.
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kiwiinoz
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:56 am

I think you're ask the wrong question. That there is tax breaks or financial advantages offered to ANY church is a travesty. The level of legitimacy will always be subjective, (eg I believe that the Westboro Baptist Church, the Church of Scientology, The Catholic Church, Islam, The Church of Moon-based Cheese mining all occupy the same spot on the scale of legitimate organisations), so therefore why have a system that is open to abuse or influence?
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: Can A Church Be Sued For Impersonating A Church

Thu Apr 01, 2010 7:56 am

Quoting GatorFan (Reply 18):
Someone correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't Germany or the Netherlands actually allow taxpayers to designate their favored church on their tax return and then the state pays the church a stipend proportional to its membership?

Not exactly. In the past the mainstream association of Evangelical Churches (mainly Lutheran), the Roman Catholic Church and the Central Council of Jewish Communities (and maybe the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches as well) have been doing a lot of social and charitable work, like running kindergartens, ambulance services, nursing homes and hospitals, which in other countries would be done by the government.
So that they don´t have to rely solely on donations and collections during religious service, the state basically offers a service to these organisations:
A member of any of these organisations has to tell it to the tax office, which then will deduct a certain percentage of the person´s income additionally with the normal income tax and will forward it to the religious organisation of choice. The money does not come from the government, the government just collects it and forwards it. You could think of it as a tithe.

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