Goals of This Blog

The first aim of my work was to provide a resource to a large population of individuals who want to issue a formal complaint to the IRS about the LDS Church’s involvement in Proposition 8, but didn’t know how. I posted two other thoughts on why I felt the Church was more hypocritical than many of its counterparts with respect to both supporting “traditional marriage” and overturning a legitimate California Supreme Court ruling. There wasn’t any particular relationship between these ideas, other than my dismay at the Church’s role in the passage of Proposition 8.

As the interest in this blog grows, another goal has appeared: we must demonstrate broad taxpayer concern about the LDS Church’s substantial activities to influence legislation — Proposition 8. While it indeed may not directly lead to revocation of the Church’s tax status, I am hopeful that our work may have three useful consequences, no matter what the IRS decides.

First, submission of an unprecedented number of complaints may convince the IRS to investigate the matter and clarify the “no substantial part” test and whether churches’ instructing their members to engage in substantial activity to influence legislation means those members act as agents of the church. Under certain tests, an expenditure of $20 million qualifies as “substantial”, and such an expenditure by church members at the direct instruction of church leaders may constitute prohibited activity. And, are members of a church, who attend services, donate money to the church, and obey church leaders in conducting their personal lives, agents of that church when they engage in substantial activity to influence legislation at church leaders’ instructions? These gray areas would benefit from clarification, and a large number of complaints may lead to that.

Second, a massive peaceful outcry against the Church’s activities may convince Church leaders that its political activities have a negative impact on the Church’s reputation in the world. The LDS church works hard to maintain a positive, uplifting image, through its humanitarian work, the appearance of its buildings, the conduct of its members, and even uplifting television and radio advertising.
By maintaining respectful but vocal discourse opposing the Church’s political activities, particularly in a way that demonstrates that the Church’s reputation has been damaged, Church leaders may be less likely to engage in political activism in the future.

Finally, sufficient interest in this activity could lead to support for amending state and federal regulation of tax-exempt entities. Perhaps this does not merit revocation of the LDS Church’s 501(c)(3) status today, but perhaps the Church’s activities have highlighted the issue in an unprecedented way. Now, there may be enough support to change tax law so that endorsement of and opposition to ballot initiatives are prohibited, just as these entities are prohibited from endorsing or opposing a particular candidate. (This idea will get a new post.)

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15 Responses to Goals of This Blog

  1. Eli says:

    What I don’t understand is why people seem to be targeting the LDS Church. The Coalition to Protect Marriage had several different religious sects in it, including the Catholic Church, Methodist and other Christian denominations. Yet, there is no public outcry to revoke the tax-exempt status of their organizations. Yes, it is true that MEMBERS of the LDS Church donated a large portion of money, but to target the Church exclusively is illogical and unjust.

  2. KT says:

    Thanks for putting this up. I assume you’re familiar w/ http://www.au.org (americans united for the sep. of church & state). They deal with this sort of thing all the time & have warned churches before about this kind of stuff.

    Also, how about another way to share our displeasure at their interference?…..

    I feel that if out-of-state Mormons had 10 million they could spend trying to impose their intolerant beliefs on our state, the least I could do is try to send over some money to try and push tolerance in *their* state.

    I searched online for utah glbt and donated to :

    http://www.utahpridecenter.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

    and ACLU-Utah branch http://www.acluutah.org/

    Here’s some others I found:
    http://www.gayut.com/Community_Links.sb (has a long list of various orgs in UT & natinoally)

    http://www.southernutahpride.org/supcba.html

    http://www.utahpride.org/

    Lamda Legal defense http://www.lambdalegal.org/
    Equality Utah http://www.equalityutah.org/

    And if you want to joing me in being petty, you can make your donation in “honor” or “in memory” of the Chruch of LDS/Mormon Church and a card stating your donation “in their name” will be sent to the main temple :
    50 W North Temple St. Salt Lake City UT 84150

    [Editor: The better address is 50 E North Temple St., which is Church Headquarters. The address you give is for the Salt Lake Temple. It probably all gets to the same place eventually.

    Thank you for these links!]

  3. Emilee says:

    People are “targeting” the LDS Church for a simple reason. While it was technically the members of the church who donated time and money, it was at the request of the leaders of the church. The LDS Church leaders sent a letter to all their California congregations to be read in Sacrament meeting on June 29, 2008. A copy can be found here

    http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/california-and-same-sex-marriage

    That letter requested that the members put as much time and money as they had available into working to pass proposition 8. As soon as the leaders of the church made that request, the members became agents of the church. When agents of a tax exempt group substantially contribute toward legislation (amongst other things, the details of which can be read in other parts of this blog), it is the group itself that is contributing to that legislation. A church is, after all, not one person but a group of people who have come together because of similar beliefs and goals.

    Now, all that being said and explained, the LDS church was the ONLY, let me reiterate that, the ONLY church involved in the coalition to send out such a request to its congregations, especially in an official well recorded capacity. The Catholic Church did not do that, the Methodists did not do it, nor did the other Christian denominations. Members of the church believe that such writings and opinions passed down from the church presidency are the same as scripture. They wouldn’t disobey scripture, why would they disobey a request from their leaders?

    Had the other churches involved in that coalition performed a similar act, people would be “targeting” them as well. Since that is not the case, the outcry is neither illogical nor unjust.

    p.s.
    I was LDS for 22 years, my family are all still members, so all this knowledge and background information is coming directly from the church itself.

    [Editor: Emilee, thanks for your clear and well-reasoned reply. Your point about the church being singular in its call to action is exactly right -- as is the fact that the majority of financial support for Prop. 8 was provided by Church members. These are two important reasons the LDS Church deserves special attention.]

  4. Chris Alexander says:

    How about this:

    The Church of LDS is *disproportionately represented* in the financial support of the Yes on 8 campaign. Sure, other religious groups supported 8, but it has been widely reported that a very large percentage of the money funneled into Yes on 8 came from members of the Mormon Church.

    It is yet to be authoritatively established that Mormons contributed to Yes on 8 at the behest of their church, but even the *perception* that the Church of LDS prompted its membership to financially support prospective legislation is justification for inquiry from the IRS and other interested agencies.

    I know that the Knights of Columbus were also very prominent in Yes on 8 campaign literature, radio and TV advertising. I wonder if any action is being contemplated regarding the KoC?

  5. Concerned says:

    I agree – what about the churches who supported and advised church goers to vote NO on the proposition? Isn’t that also in violation of the tax code? Who crying foul for their actions?

  6. Sean H. says:

    Interesting “Emilee” is an “x-mormon”. You can leave the church, you just can’t leave the church alone.

    If you want to talke about seperation of “Church” and State, talk to Rev. Wright or Father Flager.

  7. Dane says:

    This seems to be counter-productive. There are non-profits that donated to both side. GLAAD alone donated over $150,000 to the No on Prop 8 campaign. The Mormon Church had 1 in-kind donation of just over $2000 (it was paying travel for Church leaders to go to a meeting in California). If they lost their 501(3)(c) status, so would all the non-profits that supported both sides, including the Human Rights Campaign (over $400k donated), the LA Gay and Lesbain Service Center (over $350k donated), ACLU of Northern California (over $100k donated)… the list goes on and on. Furthermore, ‘no substantial part’ has been interpreted from anywhere between 12 to 33%. Last year, the Church spent over 187 million hours on proselyting alone (not to mention relief work, work with charitable organizations, etc…). There’s no way the numbers are going to add up.

    [Editor: See my post "Not all 501(c)(3)'s are Created Equal".]

  8. Jason says:

    Flashback: Mormons give $500,000 of total $600,000 anti-gay budget in Alaska in 1998
    John Aravosis (DC) · 11/08/2008 12:05:00 PM ET · Link
    Make a comment · reddit · FARK · Digg It! · Stumble It!

    Of the $600,000 anti-gay bigots had in hand to try to ban gay marriage in Alaska in October 1998, $500,000 came from one big lump sum donation from the Mormon Church. That’s 83% of the entire hateful campaign financed by the Mormon Church. In California, one study showed that 77% of the donations to anti-gay advocates came from Mormons (it was after those donations flew in that the pro-gay side suddenly started to lose).

    The Mormon Church has a long history of trying to forcefully impose its will, its religion, on others. Over the next few weeks and months, we’re going to educate America about those efforts. This info came from http://www.americablog.com Very interesting. I wonder if they actually made it directly?

  9. Jason says:

    The reason the Mormon church is being blamed is that they encouraged their members in other states (Idaho and Utah especially) to help and contribute to this defeat. They also had students in BYU-Idaho volunteer to make cals via a donated call center from a major company in Idaho Falls to make calls to California residents. Until the Mormons got their out of state members involved the polls were saying that prop 8 would fail. After the Mormon request for donations which pushed the amount dispropotionatly over the edge and the Mormons main contributors the lies just grew and the people were told more and more how gay marriage was going to have their children taught gay is ok – which of course was a lie, that churches would be forced to marry gay people – a lie the prop specifically said they wouldn’t. Unfortunetly the people only heard and saw the lies and noon8 didn’t have the money to dispute it. The Mormon leaders were the activists in the case not the people.

  10. I found this link on the California Secretary of State website with all the contributors to YES ON 8 over 5,000.00 USD Its amazing to found out who “HATES” both in California and Nationally. I FULLY SUPPORT THIS Website and I am forwarding the links to all my friends and associates. Additionally I am formally filing a complaint with the US IRS and the California State Board of Equalization on revoking the tax free status of “Mormon PAC” I urge all that feel this way to do the same. The link at http://www.mormonstoleourrights.com/#petition (the IRS filling is at the bottom of the website) LETS STOP THIS ASSAULT ON ALL OUR RIGHTS

  11. Eric says:

    So if you can’t beat them, silence them? Nice.

  12. Bill says:

    Eric, this is not about silencing Mormons, this is about the integrity of the US tax system and enforcement of laws against a willfull intent to break the law and cheat the system.

    Mormons are cheats. That is the lesson and it’s time to make them live up to integrity they so often invoke.

    Mormons are a financial machine that needs new customers to pay the 10% tithing (gross income before taxes) Meanwhile UTAH has the highest bankruptcy rate in the Country. Guess what part 2 is that all tithing will be considered preferential transfer and require the Mormon Corporation to return unlawful gains.

    We are going to get you like the Feds got Al Capone. Tax Cheats.

  13. Simone says:

    Emilee is absolutely right, I was a member as well and was in church the day that letter was read. I also later found out that yes… the church it’s self donated money from tithing to their cause. I personally am filing a complaint and forwarding this bulletin on.

  14. SoCal Lawyer says:

    Good luck arguing that promoting Prop 8 constitutes a “substantial part” of the LDS Church’s activities. Lol.

  15. SoCal Lawyer says:

    By the way, where is your “Revoke Catholic Church 501(c)(3) Status” blog? Or the one for the Saddleback Church? Could you send me the links?

    Hypocrites.

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