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Franklin Graham: IRS targeted ministries
"I do not believe the IRS audits of our two organizations last year is a coincidence," Franklin Graham wrote to the president.
May 15th, 2013
09:50 AM ET

Franklin Graham: IRS targeted ministries

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) - Franklin Graham, one of the country's most prominent evangelicals, says the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service included two of his ministries.

"I am bringing this to your attention because I believe that someone in the administration was targeting and attempting to intimidate us," Graham wrote in a letter Tuesday to President Barack Obama. The evangelical leader is the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham.

Graham said the IRS contacted the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, a North Carolina-based ministry, after it ran newspaper ads in that state in April encouraging support for an amendment against same-sex marriage. The group also bought newspaper ads in November encouraging Christians to vote for candidates who oppose same-sex marriage, support Israel and "base their decisions on biblical principles."

Graham said the ads were purchased by funds donated by "friends of our ministry."

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In September, the IRS informed the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, an international aid group, that it would review the groups' records for the tax year ending in 2010, according to Graham. IRS agents conducted the review in October, Graham said.

The organizations, both of which are run by Graham, later received notice that they remain eligible for federal tax exemptions, he said.

"I do not believe the IRS audits of our two organizations last year is a coincidence - or justifiable," Graham said in the letter to Obama.

The IRS did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment. The agency has acknowledged that it gave extra scrutiny to tea party groups applying for federal tax exemptions. The Treasury Department's inspector general said in a report that the IRS' use of "inappropriate criteria"  ended in May 2012.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Obama said Tuesday that he has directed Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to hold IRS employees accountable for "these failures."

"But regardless of how this conduct was allowed to take place, the bottom line is, it was wrong," Obama said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Barack Obama • Billy Graham • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (1,354 Responses)
  1. Michael

    Let me see if I got this straight. 501(c)(4) organizations are forbidden by law to be "mostly political" and, therefore, should not be tax exempt. It seems quite obvious to me that if a name of an organization indicates that the organization might be political, then the IRS SHOULD look into them a little closer than they would for, say, The Salvation Army. How is the IRS supposed to determine whether the organization meets the criteria of the statute if they don't look into them? I don't think that Congress intended for the IRS to rubber stamp all requests for 501(c)(4) status.

    As to Rev. Graham, there is absolutely zero doubt in my mind that he and his religious organization are political given Graham's public statements. So, I believe it was completely appropriate for the IRS to audit his organization. And besides, he "passed" the IRS audit, so what's his problem?

    Lastly, as I see it the problem is not with the IRS. It's with the tax laws of this country. There should be no exemption from taxes for any individual or organization, including Churches. There are far to many organizations and Churches that are "in the business" of religion, charity, or social welfare simply to enrich the people who run them. So, I say, tax them all.

    May 15, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • ting

      clearly that come from a fool who knows nothing

      May 15, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Colin

      Yes ting, a fool who doesn't even know how to conjugate the verb "to come" in the past tense.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Might put a crimp in Planned Parenthood's ministry

      May 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Lastly, as I see it the problem is not with the IRS." Everyone hates the IRS. If you owe them money, they repossess your neighbor's car and say it was parked at your house. They've needed to be shook until their teeth rattle for years. I actually think they can probably justify most of what they did, but who cares? Kick 'em while they're down.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  2. Colin

    I will never forget the time Billy and Franklin Graham came to visit me. It was a Sunday morning about 11: 30 when they knocked at my door.

    Billy Graham: "Hi! I'm Billy Graham, and this is my son Franklin."

    Franklin: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us."

    Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?"

    Billy Graham: "If you kiss Hank's ass, He'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, He'll kick the guts out of you."

    Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"

    Billy Graham: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can't until you kiss His ass."

    Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..."

    Franklin: "Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?"

    Me: "Well maybe, if it's legit, but..."

    Billy Graham: "Then come kiss Hank's ass with us."

    Me: "Do you kiss Hank's ass often?"

    Franklin: "Oh yes, all the time..."

    Me: "And has He given you a million dollars?"

    Billy Graham: "Well no. You don't actually get the money until you leave town."

    Me: "So why don't you just leave town now?"

    Franklin: "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and He kicks the guts out of you."

    Me: "Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?"

    Billy Graham: "My mother kissed Hank's ass for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."

    Me: "Haven't you talked to her since then?"

    Billy Graham: "Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it."

    Me: "So what makes you think He'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?"

    Franklin: "Well, maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street."

    Me: "What's that got to do with Hank?"

    Billy Graham: "In this town, Hank is the same as good luck. All good things are attributed to Hank'"

    Me: "I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."

    Billy Graham: "But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass He'll kick the guts out of you."

    Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him..."

    Franklin: "No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank."

    Me: "Then how do you kiss His ass?"

    Billy Graham: "Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His ass. Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on."

    Me: "Who's Karl?"

    Franklin: "A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."

    Me: "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His ass, and that Hank would reward you?"

    Billy Graham: "Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."

    From the Desk of Karl
    1. Kiss Hank's ass and He'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
    2. Use alcohol in moderation.
    3. Kick the guts out of people who aren't like you.
    4. Eat right.
    5. Hank dictated this list Himself.
    6. The moon is made of green cheese.
    7. Everything Hank says is right.
    8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
    9. Don't use alcohol.
    10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
    11. Kiss Hank's ass or He'll kick the guts out of you.

    Me: "This appears to be written on Karl's letterhead."

    Franklin: "Hank didn't have any paper."

    Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."

    Billy Graham: "Of course, Hank dictated it."

    Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"

    Franklin: "Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people."

    Me: "I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the guts out of people just because they're different?"

    Franklin: "It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right."

    Me: "How do you figure that?"

    Franklin: "Item 7 says 'Everything Hank says is right.' That's good enough for me!"

    Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."

    Billy Graham: "No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."

    Me: "But 9 says 'Don't use alcohol.' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."

    Billy Graham: "There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure."

    Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..."

    Franklin: "But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese."

    Me: "I'm not really an expert, but not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it plausible that it might be made of cheese."

    Billy Graham: "Ha! You just admitted that scientists don’t know everything, but we know Hank is always right!"

    Me: "We do?"

    Franklin: "Of course we do, Item 7 says so."

    Me: "You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying 'Hank's right because He says He's right.'"

    Billy Graham: "Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."

    Me: "But...oh, never mind.

    PS: The original of this quip can be found at Jhuger.com.

    May 15, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      LOL! Priceless post!

      May 15, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • lol??

      Nah, too long.

      May 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  3. gladiatorgrl

    ALL TAX EXEMPT need to be scrutinized – especially the NRA and these televangelists

    May 15, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • marjee123

      wHAT i CAN'T UNDERSTAND IS WHY THE MEDIA IS NOT TELLING THAT DEMOCRATIC PAC'S WERE TARGETED ALSO. The thing is there were more tea bags PAC's than Democratic and that's why they were upset, but that was because MORE TEA BAGS had applied for tax free status. I think every single solitary of these tax evasion organizations should be shut down it does not make any difference of which policital or christian organization they are.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
  4. cranston malloy

    This HOPE & CHANGE stuff SUX! I really miss the pre-Obama years...

    May 15, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Of COURSE you do, like your great-grandaddy missed his slaves. You'll get over it one day.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      Why?

      May 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Why? He was happier when the president was on permanent vacation and the VP ran the country into the ground by charging everything to the next president. Now that the next president is having to pay off that bill, he yearns for the good old days all right.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  5. Mark Baird

    This is the problem with giving religous groups tax exampt status. Do away with tax exmaptions for religous groups.

    May 15, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • The government

      I like the way you think, son. Infact I might invite you over to use our brand new pool..maybe if I have time between vacations.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  6. Practical advice duck

    If the money belongs to the government instead of the churches it still will not belong to me.

    May 15, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Except that all the money DOES belong to the government, which in turn is the people. See how that works?

      May 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Frodo, The Giant Space Poodle

      Oh, a talking duck. Now I've seen it all.

      May 15, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  7. Idiotz

    Churches should NOT be exempt from paying taxes. Just because you believe in fairy tales doesnt mean your special. SuperPACS should not be exempt from paying taxes. Just because you believe you are right all the time doesn mean you are.

    May 15, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • The government

      You tell 'em kiddo..daddy needs a new pair of cars.

      May 15, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  8. Doc Vestibule

    As president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, Franklin receives two full-time salaries and two retirement packages.
    According to Guidestar, a watchdog group for non-profits, Mr. Graham earns more than any other leader of an international relief agency based in the United States, including 8 with larger budgets.

    May 15, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • ting

      do you work without pay?

      May 15, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Awe, I was hoping you'd appear...are religious organizations here handled the same as they are in the States?

      May 15, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • sam

      Graham acknowledged last week that his compensation total "looks terrible" and that "people won't understand it."

      May 15, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      We're talking of payments in excess of $1.2 million dollars.
      And given that being the CEO of a single international organization is a full time job, how can one man run TWO separate charities?

      Noelle Barton from the Journal of Philanthropy said she couldn't think of another example in the history of her newspaper's annual survey of nonprofit leaders' compensation of one person wearing two CEO hats.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • marjee123

      He rakes in billions of dollars and he should be investigated I think there should be none, zero, nada zip tax free organizations Christian or political. they need to pay taxes as well as everyone. Who do these church scammers think they are not paying taxes and living off our tax money practially.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Frodo, The Giant Space Poodle

      @Truth Prevails;-)
      Canada follows the UK in worshiping the queen whose only authority is derived from the Church of England.
      So, no, Canada does not treat religious issues the same as America. Very different in key spots, actually.
      Better in some spots, worse in others, there are enough differences to fill a book. Your parliament is not constrained as our congress in being theocratic at the legislative level. Even bribery and money laundering are done differently in Canada.

      May 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  9. Colin

    ""The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this." – Albert Einstein

    "It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere.... Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death." – Albert Einstein.

    “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark." – Stephen Hawkins, 2013.

    “First of all, I’m an atheist. The second thing I know is that the name was a kind of joke and not a very good one.” – Peter Higgs, the discoverer of the Higgs Boson, the so called “God particle,” commenting on how he wishes people would stop using the term to describe the particle.

    When are you Christian sky-fairy believers ever going to tuck your book of primitive, childish superst.itions under your arms and wander off and leave us adults alone?

    May 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Colin commits an appeal to authority.
      Heck, not one of them even has a degree in anything resembling religious studies so they really are not an authority in anything relevant to the belief section of CNN.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Dale

      I was under the impression that if tax exempt organizations openly endorse political candidates, or oppose or endorse bills before the house that they are no longer considered to be tax exempt. So perhaps Franklin Graham should look into the laws concerning his organizations tax exempt status, because to encourage members of his church to vote for or against candidates could very well cancel out the exemptions for his organization, and if so the IRS had every right to look into his organization. Putting an ad in a newspaper certainly is a huge red flag that maybe some law was being broken. The way it has been explained to me, a pastor cannot even endorse candidates from the pulpit of his own church without losing his tax exemption status.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post above was by a fake Fallacy Spotting 101.

      From the real one, Colin's post above was fantastic, and his posts are generally refreshingly well thought out and reasonable.

      http://fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      May 15, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "not one of them even has a degree in anything resembling religious studies so they really are not an authority "

      Not that this has anything remotely to do with Franklin Graham being a greedy, grasping grunt who ain't fit to wash his dad's, er. car, but you don't need a degree in meteorology to know when it's raining, and you don't need a Ph.D in zoology to know when a dog's biting you.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Colin

      Thank you real (or fake) Fallacy Spotting 101. Oh, I am so confused.......

      May 15, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Albert

      Jeesh, I'm sorry about your medical problem Colin. No doubt that second Fallacy Spotting 101 is rammed so far up your @ss that you probably can't think straight.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Salero21

      Albert are you butthurt

      May 15, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Salero21

      Salero21 are you butthurt

      May 15, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  10. jonathan

    These organizations have no business being tax-exempt anyways! If I start spreading my opinions to people who don't want to hear about it, can I be tax-exempt too? This is a prime example of why our system of government is failing. Unless you're a charity providing real and tangible things or services to people in need, then you should not be tax exempt. These organizations are just ways to funnel more money to their chosen cronies. It's asinine

    May 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • ting

      you sound intelligent and your hatred is telling...

      May 15, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Paul

      Every penny brought in should be spent on charity, not the priests salary, house, or car. If people don't want to help others for free then they don't really want to help others, they just want to make a buck.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • jonathan

      Would you be ok with a tax-exempt atheist group that is blatantly political funneling money to politicians who will do their bidding?

      May 15, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      " This is a prime example of why our system of government is failing. " Our system of government isn't failing, sonny. We are involved in multiple overseas military actions, without perceptibly raising taxes or undergoing shortages. We smashed Afghanistan and Iraq without even calling for a draft. Our economy has adjusted to the current conditions and is rebounding; I drive by three major building projects on my morning commute. Stop listening to the Saudi-owned FOXnews doom criers, since they have openly announced that their mission is to prevent the economy from improving in case Obama gets credit for that.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • jonathan

      Our system of government may not be failing, but it is failing to live up to its designed purpose. I find it strange that you would point to Afghanistan and Iraq as successes, or any conflict where blood is shed for that matter. I don't watch Fox news, and just because all stock market indexes are up, doesn't mean the economy is improving.

      May 15, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Frodo, The Giant Space Poodle

      Our economy is doing fine but is being deliberately slowed down by people who hate Obama so much they'll gladly see all of us dead rather than let the country get better under a black man.

      May 15, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  11. Back in the day when Billy was getting around a bit more . . .

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fuet7GRv7Bo&w=640&h=360]

    May 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      The first movie's guy was better – he was Julian Beck of the "Living Theater," halfway through chemotherapy! Really looked bad because he was half dead.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  12. brad

    While they should not be purposely targeting groups they do not agree with, a church should lose tax exempt status if they are involved in politics, as this idiots church was. His really did warrant an investigation, and more churches should be investigated, especially as hate groups.

    May 15, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Doug

      so let me get this right: if a person with religious convictions speaks his mind on an issue then he is now political? are you serious or just angry?

      May 15, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • sam

      Doug, you're going to need to reference a bible quote to make your point.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Ed

      Good one, Sam.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  13. Scot

    ALL CHURCHES SHOULD NOT BE TAX EXEMPT !

    May 15, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Sorry the King and the Pope settled it centuries before you got the vote

      May 15, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Franklin Graham

      I am the King of the USA. All your taxes are mine anyway.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Mr. Bernanke begs to differ

      May 15, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Science

      A private bank Bille ?

      May 15, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  14. Kris

    The Graham family has done nothing but Politics! I can’t believe that they have a tax exempt status as it is. Frankly, I WANT MY TAXES back if Billy Graham and his bunch get tax exemption status!

    May 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Helder

      This guy should have been arrested a long time ago. Everyone should pay taxes.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  15. ally buster

    This guy is a complete SHAM and if his ministry gave out political advice then it is in VIOLATION and as such should have its tax exempt ststus revoked!

    May 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • lol??

      Paul never tried to get a license. Must be a socie thang.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  16. lol??

    The Beast church rules. He's in charge of everything.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  17. What???

    They must not understand the idea of separation of Church and State.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Chuck88888

      Neither did the Founding Fathers.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • mama k

      How so, Chuckles88888?

      May 15, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • sam

      Chuck doesn't actually repond to anything once his ass gets handed to him. He's here to play internet tough guy, use zero logic, and ugly up the comments.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  18. oldowl

    The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The Grahams have a long and proud history of blaming other people, making other peoples lives difficult, and then swathing themselves in glory, just like the Bible says: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (II Corinthians 11 13-15 KJV) These people and their followers are twice lost and plucked up by the roots, but that doesn't stop them from whining complaining and ever playing the victim. They are their own WORST ENEMIES!

    May 15, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  19. LeeCMH

    I was waiting for the mean-spirited hateful Christians to bring out their nails and crosses and start nailing themselves up.

    May 15, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  20. MikeyZ

    There's one simple way for churches to fly under the radar map of the IRS: stop endorsing candidates for public office when you should be praising your god.

    Can you claim without equivocation, Mr. Graham, that you and your ministries do not engage and have not engaged in partisan politics?

    May 15, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Topher

      MikeyZ

      But if a Biblical topic is also a political one (abortion, gay marriage), what would you suggest? If a candidate has voiced his/her opinion on either of these subjects, the very topic could be an endorsement for or against that person.

      May 15, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • lol??

      God claims authority over marriage. No Beasties needed.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Chuck88888

      Topher, great reply. Bigots like MikeyZ just want to deny Christians and churches their 1st Amendment rights.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Topher: The church does not get any say on those laws and due to the fact that your Constitution covers people of all belief and disbelief, the church either stays out of the issues or they risk losing tax exempt status...rather simply.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Chuck88888: No-one is trying to deny any rights, at least no more than you're attempting to do when you cross the line and push your belief's in to the public forum of a Secular Country. The Constitution doesn't only pertain to christians.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Chuck, you are intentionally misrepresenting facts here. No one has ever said any person or church can't endorse anyone they want. People are free to speak as they wish. What has been said is that if you do so you are acting outside of the practice for which you were granted non-profit status. Different types of organizations fall nder very different types of regulations and tax laws. You can't claim to be one type of organization and act as another, otherwise I could claim to be a hospital and get all the benefits of that and spend my time doing nothing but lobby for gay rights or the dairy industry or run a t-shirt factory. If your church wants to get into politics just declare a separate associated organization or pay up. If you don't like it, work to change the law.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Topher

      Truth Prevails

      True, a "church" doesn't get a vote. But those that make up a church do. And thus to say those people can't come together and discuss these topics is ridiculous. Even a church body has the right to freedom of speech. Otherwise, secular humanist societies and atheist groups should also be taxed and not allowed to discuss these things. Please stop insinuating atheism is a default and neutral stance. We all have rights to what we believe and can discuss them openly.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Answer

      "We all have rights to what we believe and can discuss them openly." <<– You got this right.

      -Now see if you can distinguish the matter of implementing a law based on your religious views.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Topher

      Answer

      "-Now see if you can distinguish the matter of implementing a law based on your religious views."

      Why should I have to? First, my beliefs help me form my thoughts and opinions. Second, are you willing to not voice your thoughts based on your atheism? Kind of a double standard there.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Answer

      "We all have rights to what we believe and can discuss them openly." <<< - Look Gopher.

      Connect the dots. Mankind is about discussion. Through discussions they give rise to our laws. You're an idiot.

      "Why should I have to?" <<<- Again... you want to say your are open to discussion then you immediately turn tail to shut your own mind to what you have just proposed –to a discussion. Are you that much of a fvcking moron?

      May 15, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      " Please stop insinuating atheism is a default and neutral stance. " Even though it is? How about if you stop insinuating religion has any basis in fact? Sorry, begging people not to argue with you is pretty weak. "Aw, come on fellows, let's just agree to say the world is flat?"

      May 15, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Answer

      Ask yourself Gopher... are our current laws brought about by and through discussions and agreements?

      Do you understand the word "agreement"? Do you understand the word "standards"?

      Even your own babble was wrap and pulled together by agreements by men. They're useless now to our society. Get that fact through your skull idiot.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Topher: The thing is that your belief's do not represent the belief's of everyone, I get that you as an individual outside of the church pay taxes and get a vote. That church body is comprised of people who go out in to the world and pay taxes. Any money the church takes in is not taxable. I get the inequality factor, there are numerous non-profit organizations that are not taxed and I would hope the IRS is looking at them also...fair is fair. Set aside the belief issues and I wouldn't care if this was an Atheist Group or whoever, the fact is there appears to be some violation and if it is fact it needs to be dealt with.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      " Are you that much of a fvcking moron?" Let's vote on it. I say he is. He's just trolling and doesn't care what he says as long as he gets an answer. Tell him the answer is 42 and you got it from a holy angel book or something and maybe he'll dry up.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Topher

      Answer

      "Connect the dots. Mankind is about discussion. Through discussions they give rise to our laws."

      I agree. But it's the atheists, who on this board now up to 13 pages, who are whining and complaining that Christians shouldn't have the ability to discuss and be activie participants in politics. So it's basically "free speech for everyone but the Christians and those whom I disagree with." Hypocrits.

      "Again... you want to say your are open to discussion then you immediately turn tail to shut your own mind to what you have just proposed –to a discussion."

      I haven't turned my tail on anything. I'm only making the argument we should be allowed to talk politics if we want. If this isn't a discussion, I don't know what is. And how old are you, 12? 13?

      May 15, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Answer

      "So it's basically "free speech for everyone but the Christians and those whom I disagree with." Hypocrits. "

      -Take a look how you are .. this is your preconceived notion that you have no basis to draw upon. But you're comfortable to repeat this bs because you're a failure in your arguments about it.

      Your failure is yours. I don't care that you can't argue properly. You're been proven ineffective but you persist with the claims that you're 'persecuted' on your basis due to your own failures.

      You cvnts can't take on the logic that you have a delusion and are falling along the wayside. I don't care if your kind are totally wiped out in the next generation .. I'm just glad that you idiots are dying.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Answer

      @Gopher

      If I'm 12 years of age and I can put you through the ringer with your bs... what does that tell you about your own standpoint?

      May 15, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • sam stone

      "But it's the atheists, who on this board now up to 13 pages, who are whining and complaining that Christians shouldn't have the ability to discuss and be activie participants in politics."

      Which atheists are saying that christians should not have the ability to discuss and be active participants in politics?

      May 15, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Sara, are you saying that if the Johnson amendment was repealed then Churches would lose protection of the establishment clause?

      May 15, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Topher

      Answer

      You haven't made one good argument on why I as a Christian can't stand up in front of my church and discuss a political topic ... and yet I'm the "one who can't argue." Whatever. lol.

      "If I'm 12 years of age and I can put you through the ringer with your bs... what does that tell you about your own standpoint?"

      The only thing you've done is embarrass other atheists with your lack of an argument. And I can tell you're a kid because you have the vocabulary of a naughty juvenile.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Answer

      @Gopher

      Who says you (personally) can't? Is there a law that was passed that forbade you?

      Name that law. The whole point of the political process and the interjection of a religious viewpoint is an agreement that a clear seperation of the church and the state should be held. You just don't want to see the point that for the greater good that it must be maintained. The taxation purpose of the churches are a legislation on the monetary usage on such matters.

      You are once again unable to see the point because you just love your babble too much and think that your god has authority. The sooner you see that the governments all over the world are in charge of that authority and are no longer in your churches authority – the better the world will be.

      You drag on this because your precious churches are losing. IN MATTERS OF AUTHORITY.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • sam stone

      "I haven't turned my tail on anything"

      I thought lying was a sin

      you have turned tail and run several times

      May 15, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Answer

      Time and time again you religious dipsh!ts want your authority back. Time and over time you want to remake the agreements over again to revert back to your religious dogmas.

      Well you can't. You already know that such agreements founded and placed under every government around the world over and BETTER than any of the fvcktard religious views.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Answer

      "the world over and BETTER" <<– correction 'ARE' BETTER.

      --They clearly are better – because they were brought about by agreements and can be EASILY CHANGED and UPDATED.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Topher

      Answer

      So ... next Sunday my pastor, in discussing abortion and gay marriage and how God says they are wrong, also specifically denounces the politics of Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton and anyone else that is running for office and supports these things ... do you have a problem with that?

      "The sooner you see that the governments all over the world are in charge of that authority and are no longer in your churches authority – the better the world will be."

      How is this the case? Thanks to the government, immorality is endorsed and it OKs the murder of babies (when it's convenient.) How is the world better off without God?

      "You drag on this because your precious churches are losing. IN MATTERS OF AUTHORITY"

      I already agreed churches are losing. Even the Bible said this will happen, lending it more creedence that it knows of what it speaks. I "drag on" because I'm fighting for what I believe is right.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      " the atheists, who on this board now up to 13 pages, who are whining and complaining that Christians shouldn't have the ability to discuss and be activie participants in politics. "
      I doubt you'll find any atheist, unless it was a sarcastic joke, actually saying that Christians should be denied free speech in the political arena. Show me one quote like that, because I'm calling you a liar. But so what if an atheist told you something? "A-theism" isn't a church at all, much less a codified system of dogma. I just love how you god-botherers keep saying "aha, you contradict Dawkins there" as if Dawkins is the bishop of my church or something. Dawkins and I don't believe in your deity, and we might have other opinions in common, but I don't worship him or even buy his books.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • sam stone

      Yep, more blowhards purporting to speak for god.

      And the gulllible follow like sheep

      May 15, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Thanks to the government, immorality is endorsed and it OKs the murder of babies (when it's convenient.)"

      how is immorality endorsed, topher?

      "How is the world better off without God?"

      The world is better without people buying into others opinions of what god is

      May 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Answer

      I "drag on" because I'm fighting for what I believe is right. <<<- When you're clearly knowing and in denial.

      –You're wrong. Get used to saying to yourself. The future that you won't exist in will not have nor will need your religious views. Your kids will be educated by the agreements of the future generations.

      You just don't want to accept it at this current date. Too bad for you.

      May 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      " No one has ever said any person or church can't endorse anyone they want. " Yes, they have. You may not act as a political action committee with church money. As private citizens, you may pass the hat and form a PAC, but keep your church out of it. It is TRAGIC when a church slips up and loses exemption, since they aren't prepared to pay huge taxes on their building.

      May 15, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      . I "drag on" because I'm fighting for what I believe is right.

      So did Bull Connor, and George Wallace, and Lester Maddox.

      They are looked at retrospectively with embarrasment

      Just as you pious folk who are opposing same gender marriage will be

      You are a pious bigot, but a bigot nevertheless

      May 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Topher: Does your church takes out ads in magazines and promote their views? When your pastor speaks to you he is more than likely speaking to people who agree with his stance. What he can't do is take his stance outside of the church.
      In regards to the abortion, it's a tireless argument...you see it one way, I view it in a different way. It's not up to you or I to agree or disagree, we're not responsible for living said person's life and if as you claim to believe, why are you making the judgement call and not just waiting for your god to deal with it? Once again, this is an issue that pertains to people of every walk of life.

      May 15, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • sam stone

      TP: You should know the answer to that. Topher is god's personal representative here on earth.

      May 15, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • sam stone

      i think people like topher gravitate to religion because they want to play god

      May 15, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      sam: You're probably right. I fail to see how they remain so blind...there's almost no excuse.

      May 15, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Topher

      Truth Prevails 🙂

      "Does your church takes out ads in magazines and promote their views?"

      No.

      "When your pastor speaks to you he is more than likely speaking to people who agree with his stance. What he can't do is take his stance outside of the church."

      The complaint is that a pastor can't talk politics from the pulpit, correct? And if he preaches gay marriage is wrong (as the Bible clearly says) then when the church members go outside and take a stance against it publicly, isn't that "outside the church"?
      " In regards to the abortion, it's a tireless argument...you see it one way, I view it in a different way."

      Agree.

      "It's not up to you or I to agree or disagree,..."

      Disagree. As citizens we get a voice in the laws.

      "we're not responsible for living said person's life and if as you claim to believe, why are you making the judgement call and not just waiting for your god to deal with it?"

      God will deal with someone who's had an abortion. But here's a few reasons we want people to not have them. It's murder and the murderer will have to pay for her crimes. I don't want them to have to do that. It's murder of an innocent. I want to stick up for them. It also seems to be a major hindrance to women later in life ... filled with guilt over having killed their baby. But maybe the most important fact of all, God will even forgive someone who has had an abortion provided they repent and trust in Him.

      Gotta get to work very soon. I might have time for a few more responses, but gotta go earn a paycheck. 🙂

      May 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • sam stone

      it is because they are all tied up in their fantasies.....

      salvation, eternity with no pain and no sickness

      i would almost feel sorry for folks like topher, or austin or chad if they weren't such duplicitous lying punks

      May 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • sam stone

      "IIt's murder "\

      Not according to the laws of the land

      More duplicitousness from topher

      May 15, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Answer

      ==quote==
      sam stone

      i think people like topher gravitate to religion because they want to play god

      ==end==

      It's always about authority. "God gave us this command.. god gave us this to follow. So we will say that it is our authority to impose them on god's behalf because what is better than my god?"

      It's a revolving door of childish behaviour.

      "I can tell you to do something because my sky daddy is real and if you disagree with me you will burn in hell."

      May 15, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • sam stone

      it's sort of funny that folks who are soooooo sure that they are going to have eternity in heaven will take no steps to speed up the process. it's like they know it is a pile of dung, but are too beholding to their fantasy to admit it

      May 15, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • sam stone

      "But maybe the most important fact of all, God will even forgive someone who has had an abortion provided they repent and trust in Him."

      Again, the gullible confuse opinion with fact

      May 15, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Topher: once again we're not going to view this the same way...I view abortion on a different level, as someone can put them self in that position. The argument has long been settled and the reason being that generally speaking an abortion can't be performed after the end of the 1st trimester. A line had to be drawn to try to satisfy all. Honestly, I am pro-choice. I could never have an abortion but that's me and I honestly do believe that the decision to have one is strictly a personal decision that should be between a woman and her Doctor. If you deny a woman the right to abort, she'll find a way to get it and that way could end up with not only the abortion happening but the death of the Mother.
      Please stop and think here, if your wife was told by her Doctor that if she carried through the pregnancy she risked losing her own life...what would you say? What I'm getting at is there are numerous reasons one might abort and I do not think anyone likes the thought of doing so. We live in a world of horribly bad economic times, things happen, unexpected pregnancies happen and sadly if that woman is forced to carry through a pregnancy, an innocent child risks going without because there simply isn't any to go around.
      You are well entitled to your opinion in and out of your church and your right to vote ensures you get a small voice in who is running your country and what things are made law. If you want your voice heard, respect others right to do so.

      May 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • lol??

      God claims authority over marriage. No Beasties needed.

      Killin' babies and not getting an OK from the dad?? Bully wimen.

      May 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • lol??

      Looks like slavery when wimen think they OWN a baby. Talk about feces goin' downhill!

      May 15, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      lol??: It has nothing to do with ownership of the fetus. It has everything to do with the fact that it is a woman's personal body that you and your ilk have no say over. As for the father, does the rapist have a say in whether or not his victim aborts? That once again falls under the fact that it is not for anyone but the woman and her medical professionals to decide what she does with her body. Do you enjoy seeing children born in to poverty? That's the potential risk and you're too blind to comprehend that.

      May 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.