Protecting our first freedoms:
Faith, conscience and speech

Voice your values: Legislative action

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Congress, don't tax giving: Charity helps people while saving government costs

Philanthropy Daily commentary by Jonathan Imbody

September 7, 2017

Congress is currently contemplating a plan that would trigger a drop in charitable giving of $13.1 billion annually, according to research analysis. The cuts would come from decreasing current incentives for charitable gifts through tax deductions. Unfortunately for Congressional leaders focused on trimming government spending, charity losses will simply trigger corresponding increases in spending on government social programs, to pick up the slack left by hobbled charities no longer able to provide social services. That potential transfer of responsibility and expense from charities to government should remind lawmakers why historically Congress has not taxed citizens when we give our money away to help others.

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Will Trump's Tax Reforms Reduce Giving to Churches?

Christian Post

June 14, 2017

At issue is the blueprint in the House of Representatives which doubles the standard deduction, effectively removing a stratum of people who normally give but would no longer qualify for a charitable deduction on their taxes. Brian Walsh, a Washington-based attorney and executive director for the Faith & Giving Coalition, believes the many on Capitol Hill are making some "faulty assumptions" about the nature of religious giving. "There is a certain amount of giving that is tied directly to the benefits of the charitable deduction and if you reduce the number of people who get those benefits, you are going to reduce charitable giving across the board."

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Acts of Faith Study: Religion contributes more to the U.S. economy than Facebook, Google and Apple combined

Washington Post

September 15, 2016

The article in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion said that the annual revenues of faith-based enterprises - not just churches but hospitals, schools, charities and even gospel musicians and halal food makers - is more than $378 billion a year. And that's not counting the annual shopping bonanza motivated by Christmas. Georgetown University's Brian Grim and the Newseum's Melissa Grim - in a study sponsored by an organization called Faith Counts, which promotes the value of religion - produced a 31-page breakdown of all the ways religion contributes to the U.S. economy. The largest chunk of that $378 billion tally comes from faith-based health-care systems. Religious groups run many of the hospitals in the United States; Catholic health systems alone reportedly account for 1 in 6 hospital beds in the country.

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FRC Washington Update

From the IRS, Clarity on Charity

January 7, 2016

Common sense isn't exactly a common theme at the IRS. But the year is off to a surprisingly good start at Americans' least favorite agency now that officials have put the kibosh on a ridiculous charitable donation idea. Early last month, we told you about a worrisome new proposal from the IRS that would give 501(c)(3) organizations (like FRC) "the option" of doing away with their written acknowledgements of donations over $250 and consider sending all of their donors' personal information to the agency instead. For several reasons -- not the least of which is the IRS's horrible track record of data leaks and political harassment -- nonprofits of all stripes strenuously objected, arguing that it wouldn't be long until this "optional system" became mandatory.

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Taxing Churches Would Marry Church And State

The Federalist - commentary by Paul DeHart and Kevin Stuart

October 1, 2015

To tax someone or something is to exercise sovereign power over that person or thing. But then, quite obviously, any state or federal taxation of churches or religious organizations would constitute an exercise of sovereignty by the state over the church-that is, over religion. To maintain that government has the power to tax religious organizations is to affirm the sovereignty of state over church. To affirm that proposition is to reject any meaningful distinction-much less separation-between church and state. In short, those who advocate the right of the state to tax religious organizations are abandoning the separation of church and state.

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On conservative religious activism, the numbers speak for themselves

Washington Post commentary by Rob Schwarzwalder and Pat Fagan 

May 13, 2015

In an interview with The Washington Post timed to a high-level summit on combating poverty, Harvard professor Robert Putnam said, "The obvious fact is that over the last 30 years, most organized religion has focused on issues regarding sexual morality, such as abortion, gay marriage, all of those." This is utter nonsense, to the point of absurdity. Broadly speaking, American churches are incredibly generous to the needs of a hurting world. As noted by The Philanthropy Roundtable: "In 2009, overseas relief and development supported by American churches exceeded $13 billion, according to path-breaking calculations by the Hudson Center for Global Prosperity."

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Religious Charities Ask Congress To Save Charitable Deduction in Tax Overhaul

Chronicle of Philanthropy

July 22, 2013

Members of a newly formed coalition of religious charities visited Capitol Hill last week to persuade members of the Senate to back the charitable deduction as they draft recommendations for a massive federal tax overhaul that must be submitted by Friday. The coalition was formed two months ago by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions and the National Christian Foundation. Its members include such groups as the National Association of Evangelicals, Salvation Army, and World Vision. Jonathan Imbody, vice president of the Christian Medical Association, said his organization had not previously lobbied to protect the charitable deduction. But the approach taken by Mr. Baucus and Mr. Hatch spurred his group to join the coalition. "When you read the letter that says they're starting with a blank slate," Mr. Imbody said, "that's enough to get you going.

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