Friday, November 16, 2012

Fight Against Religion's Continuing Intrusion Into Politics

The following letter was published by the Boston Globe on November 16, 2012, p. A14, and online at

Faith groups should lose tax break when they enter politics

Step by step, we are allowing religion to intrude further and further into politics. Ballot Question 2 and the laws governing abortions, for example, are political issues. Yet current interpretation of tax law allows churches and religious organization to raise money in support of their views on these political issues with no consequences to their tax-exempt status (“Bishops adopt a mandate,” Metro, Nov. 13 [stating that the Catholic Church helped raise over $4 million to oppose a proposition in support of physician-assisted suicide]).
By allowing religious organizations to raise money for political causes through tax-exempt donations, we are giving them a privileged position. Our tax laws need to change or be interpreted to remove this privilege and put these groups in the same position as similarly situated nonreligious organizations.
The issues of abortion and physician-assisted suicide concern the laws by which the public desires to be governed consistent with our constitutional rights. These laws are political in that they affect everyone without regard to religion. Religious matters, on the other hand, properly pertain only to the members of the religious organizations to which they belong.
When religious organizations raise money to support or oppose laws that affect nonmembers, they overstep their role and become political organizations.
The public should fight back and call for taxing the contributions to these organizations when they engage in fund-raising to support political positions.
John L. Hodge
Jamaica Plain

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