Ministry Abuses

Religious pretense can be very profitable. If in doubt, just ask the many televangelists that each year chalk up multimillions in tax free cash and which they freely dip into for their personal expenditures.

Religious activists and televalgelist promoters are permitted to live outside the purview of federal tax authorities, and that pretty much guarantees the shafting of all tax payers in the name of some self-serving faith system. From that sheltered position the holy schemers are free to intervene in partisan political campaigns while freely living lavish lifestyles. This applies in a large measure to the television “ministries” that cater to the stay-at-home armchair worshippers and for those seeking faith in the fast lane. For anyone who is personally familiar with the New Testament texts, however, that approach to “ministry” work does not exactly reflect what Jesus is alleged to have taught.

Among the goodies that the tax exempt loophole allows the self-serving faith systems is that the televangelical executives may freely take “housing allowances.” That these “housing allowances” too often pay for palatial homes, multi-million dollar condos, beach houses, etc., is indulged in while the “ministers” laugh up their vestment sleeves at the gullible “sheep.” It is common for the TV ministry setup to include family members and friends as “staffers,” so that all of them may also luxuriate under the big non-profit umbrella.

All faith systems should be required to file the same detailed annual information return that any other nonprofit organizations must file (Form 990). Simply saying that they “work for the Lord” is not enough to sidestep their legal and moral obligations to the democratic government which permits them to operate. Even Jesus, whom they mockingly claim to represent, was clear about that: “…Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s…” (Mark 11:17). In other words, the counsel which Jesus openly declared was that his representatives were to understand that proper spiritual conduct depends upon church and state being honored separately: for although both concern man’s conduct, the foundational forms of man’s earthly self-governments do not prevail in heaven’s diversity and liberty.

The antidemocratic criminality which is being indulged in in the U.S. in the name of the many self-serving ministries has evolved into the corruption of government which we have witnessed in the United States since the scheming and treachery of the Religious Right gained control over the Republican party in 1996. By November 2007 we had Republican Congressmen such as Charles Grassley of Iowa actually advocating that an independent commission, to be led by an evangelical agency, should study church tax issues! That “unbiased” commission that the congressman suggested to investigate tax issues was the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, a Winchester, Virginia based agency. Grassley himself just happened to be a member of that “Fellowship”, also known as “The Family,” a controversial tax-exempt quasi-religious organization. Included in Grassley’s recommendation was the proposal to repeal the constitutional ban on churches from being actively involved in political campaigns! Church based politicking which would be anchored in tax-exempt security is in no manner a democratic pursuit, and it also runs counter to the teachings of the man whom the self-serving religionists pretend to represent.

There is a constant push by radical Religious Right leaders in the U.S. today to scrap or at least destabilize the wise Constitutional restriction set down by the nation’s founders which prohibited religionists from indulging in politicking. The undemocratic aim of these religious right conspirators is to establish a voting bloc for fundamentalists (themselves) whose idea of heaven on Earth is a theocracy. (Look to Iran for a glowing example of personal liberty under that type of governing.) But as late as the close of 2012, the Internal Revenue Service still avoided any serious investigation of these aggressive and deceitful religious conspirators.

The extreme Religious Right fraudulently claims that they are “renewed in Christ” but, as noted, they seem either strangely unfamiliar with, or just coldly indifferent to their Savior’s teachings. In the earliest books of Christianity (Mark and Matthew), followers are counseled to “…seek the welfare of one’s neighbor,” and to share compassionately. That is precisely the ideal of true democracy. Trying to covertly take over a government, therefore, clearly is not a “Christian value.” But today the self-interest of the radical religious right is displayed in their dishonorable overreach for political power, and they are doing this by using tax money which is gathered from citizens of every faith system and those with no connection to organized religion! The democratic structure of the U.S. is being placed in jeopardy today by this dishonest and dishonorable movement that disguises itself under the pretense of piety and spiritual values.

Fortunately the founding fathers of our democratic form of government in the United States clearly understood that genuine faith is not driven by a predatory fixation to dominate everyone. And history keeps trying to remind us that manipulative politicians, religious radicals and soiled baby diapers should be discarded quickly—–and for the same reason.

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