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It may be legal, but it sure sounds shady

by Jeremy Hooper

Do you ever wonder how churches, with their non-profit status, get away with funneling political donations from their pews to organizations like the one that wants to end marriage equality in California? Well, we can tell you: They use a very careful process using plain white envelopes that don't identify their church-affiliated nature.

Here, check out these carefully worded instructions that Prop. 8's backers are distributing to California pastors:

Picture 15-53

Geez, are they "pro-family" advocates in search of a kosher donation or kidnappers in search of a hushed ransom? Because call us uber-suspicious of the anti-gays if you must, but this sounds a teensy bit like a mob offering up some "Do as I say and you won't get hurt" instructions. And quite frankly, we would question the morality of ANY process that required us to quietly stuff money in an unmarked envelope!

But what do we know? We're just Godless sodomites whose loving marriages so evil, even the toughest of financial climates cannot defund the attempts to diffuse them.

Church Resources [Protect Marriage]

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Your thoughts

How clever!
Here is a way to bend, or is it stretch the law a bit. With the convoluted political and charitable fundraising laws, this makes them look sooo clean. After all, they can just say that they did not pass the forms and envelopes out, they just found them lying around the church one day.

Posted by: Bob Miller | Sep 25, 2008 5:20:55 PM

Right, Bob. And the thing is, the distinctions don't matter at all to the average congregant. All they know is that they went to church, were given some sort of a reason to donate funds to Prop 8, and did. Whether the church is specifically asking them for donations or if they are using a workaround, the difference in effect and outcome is likely to be negligible.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Sep 25, 2008 5:30:49 PM

This really doesn't sound legal to me. Technically, if the church pays for the envelopes, paper, computer, printer and ink and the salary of the person doing this illicit act, then that church is in violation of IRS laws. Because they would be using funds raised by a tax-exempt entity, and funneling those funds (in the form or envelopes, printed forms, etc.) to a taxable entity. The legal term for that is money-laundering. A similar scheme is why Tom Delay resigned from the House, and may end up in jail.

Albeit, the cost of those items might be minuscule in comparison to the benefit to the h8 group, it is nonetheless prohibited by the IRS. Though, proving the act and the conspiracy might be difficult.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Sep 25, 2008 6:00:42 PM

After listing 9 detailed, nuanced steps to bend the law, I love how step #10 says "That's it!"

Posted by: fannie | Sep 26, 2008 1:37:47 PM

Sorry to say, I believe the "tax exempt" status should be taken away from all religious institutions - church and ministries (which includes paying for the fine dining and eccentric living of the "ex-gays", such as Stephen Bennett).

As crappy as the economy is nowadays, it boggles the mind that in the area which I live in the DFW area, there's been a couple new "megachurches" built in the past year or so, and 2-3 more in the process of being built - marquee, separate gym building and all.

But not a single shelter for the homeless, or battered women and their children.

That's fucking ridiculous.

Posted by: Scott | Sep 29, 2008 8:03:57 AM

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