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← Calgary church loses charitable status for its "non-partisan political activities"

Calgary church loses charitable status for its "non-partisan political activities" - Comments

Harvatos's Avatar Comment 1 by Harvatos

Well, well...

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 15:29:00 UTC | #434759

sara g's Avatar Comment 2 by sara g

This is not an effort to shut anyone up, it's just an effort to make them pay their taxes. This church can claim it's being singled out, but my hope is that it's just the beginning of a larger movement. Maybe this will spread to the US and our churches will have to choose between tax exemptions and interfering in politics. In fact one of the commenters over there was complaining about a list of about a hundred charities that were losing their exemptions, about half of which were religious.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 15:36:00 UTC | #434760

Eventhorizon's Avatar Comment 3 by Eventhorizon

He also gives away the motives of his charitable work - people at their lowest must be easier to convert. But then we all know the real reasons for religious charity dont we

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 15:44:00 UTC | #434761

ramfalls's Avatar Comment 4 by ramfalls

Ah so the parasite has been identified. Actually, to associate religion to parasites is an affront to tapeworms and leeches. At least they try to keep you alive, as opposed to- stoning, beheading,bombing and (in the case of mormons and jehovahs witnesses) talking you to death.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 15:49:00 UTC | #434762

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 5 by Nunbeliever

Mr. Pawlowski said the primary mission of his church is to feed homeless people. He said this group supplies food for about 150,000 a year, mainly to people “that no one else wants to deal with.”

Poor guy. I bet they'll soon pull out the old martyr analogy about how the world has ALWAYS been against the christians and how they are persecuted. They just conveniently forget to mention that a great majority of the people in Canada and USA are christians and that tax redemptions are benefits not available to any other groups than the religious in first place.

Such hypocrites. Well well, that's old news...

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 15:52:00 UTC | #434763

sara g's Avatar Comment 6 by sara g

The tax benefits available to Christian charities are open to all charities. It's the definition of charity that religions are manipulating to include any religious activities.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 16:09:00 UTC | #434766

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 7 by crookedshoes

It's about time. It is win/win. Society gets a piece of the scam and these nutballs get to actually FEEL LIKE MARTYRS!!!!! Holy crap!

Since the homeopathy thread has closed, I'd like to extend a business offer to all of you. I have invented a black box with dials and led readouts. It has a slot to screw in a small bottle and a water input and water output coupling.
We sell these boxes (name please?) and people have them installed at their hot water heater. We then internet site sell them small bottles of "homeopathic" medicine bottles and instruct them to take a long hot shower.... I ALWAYS feel better after a hot shower. Do I have any takers?

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 16:20:00 UTC | #434769

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 8 by crookedshoes

By the way. These churches should be VOLUNTEERING TO PAY TAXES for the good of all society. To show just how they are in service of the flock. Thwe whole flock; all of us. We should petition them to be the ones that save the world's ecomomy pay taxes every other year for the next six years. Volunteer to do it because it is the right thing to do. Lat's see how many step up.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 16:31:00 UTC | #434770

Michael.B's Avatar Comment 9 by Michael.B

150000 people per year sounds so much better than "we cook 410 cheap meals per day". Unless they serve lobster and caviar I would guess their total cost is not above an equivalent of 2-3 Euros per meal.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 16:51:00 UTC | #434773

chewedbarber's Avatar Comment 10 by chewedbarber

“When we feed people we don’t care whether they are homosexuals or have had abortions or been divorced but we preach what the Bible says about those issues.”


Is this going to set a precedent? I hope so. Send some of those vibes south will y'ah!

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 16:55:00 UTC | #434775

Rev.JeffroBodean's Avatar Comment 11 by Rev.JeffroBodean

Since this article is mostly quotes from people reacting to the CRA's ruling, it was difficult for me to get a handle on what the actual issue in this case is. It seems that the church involved is upset because they are being held to the same standards as every other non-profit, ie. they aren't being given special treatment by the government. And of course, if Christians aren't getting special privileges they are being "persecuted".
I don't have a problem with churches not paying taxes as long as they obey the same rules as every other non-profit. In fact, if churches paid taxes that would give them even more political power than they already have.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 17:10:00 UTC | #434780

chewedbarber's Avatar Comment 12 by chewedbarber

In fact, if churches paid taxes that would give them even more political power than they already have.

Paying taxes does not give you political clout, paying lobbyists does.

Seriously though, to the churches I would like to say, we’re not afraid of God anymore so expect to pay your damn taxes sooner rather than later. Or don't, and we will see who is more persuasive, your government or your god.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 17:30:00 UTC | #434781

louis14's Avatar Comment 13 by louis14

"They don’t seem to get what religion is about. It starts with worship but it doesn’t end there. Religion cannot be privatized. It has the right to influence public affairs."

And that's exactly the problem. I would never want to convert anyone from their faith (although by believing in unreal stuff, they very often have to throw out a lot of reality, which is a terrible waste of a life). But they never stop at having a personal relationship with their imaginary being. Always they want to force their political agendas on the rest of us.

Does Canada have something similar to the US about separation of church and state?

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 17:34:00 UTC | #434783

sara g's Avatar Comment 14 by sara g

Churches willing to pay taxes are not subject to the political limitations that the not-for-profits are. You'd think some of them would be lining up to get out from under those tax rules. I guess I'm glad to the extent that tax paying churches could manipulate their flock even more.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 17:36:00 UTC | #434784

deejay64's Avatar Comment 15 by deejay64

What a crock of shit , 150000 people! That's over 10% of Calgary's total population. Our homeless population is estimated at somewhere between 5 and 10 thousand.
I think he meant to say meals , but decided to lie for Jebus.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 17:40:00 UTC | #434786

mirandaceleste's Avatar Comment 16 by mirandaceleste

The CRA allows charitable organizations to spend some time on “political activities,” but the cutoff is 10%. A spokesman for the CRA was not immediately available to explain how the percentage of time a group spends on non-charitable works is determined.

Canada is very wise to have put a specific percentage on the limit. Although it may be hard to determine the exact point at which a charitable organization surpasses that percentage, it's certainly better than IRS law regarding how much time a tax-exempt charitable organization (including all churches and religious organizations) can spend on lobbying, etc.:

In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.


"...may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying"? That ambiguity makes the law ineffective at best, and it's no surprise that many churches/religious organizations take full advantage of that fact.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 17:48:00 UTC | #434789

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 17 by DocWebster

Well well, Canada's policy makers show themselves to be on the ball about fundie activism. I wish Our policy wonks would pay more attention here in the US. Sometimes it seems as if the church and politics are just the Politics Church and we just elect a Reverend and Preachers. The message is the same too, Send a contribution and you get a better seat. Canada-1 US-0 just like hockey.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 17:52:00 UTC | #434790

Rev.JeffroBodean's Avatar Comment 18 by Rev.JeffroBodean

Paying taxes does not give you political clout, paying lobbyists does.

I don't know about Canada, but in the U.S. non-profits are subject to strict regulations on political endorsements and campaign contributions. Businesses are not subject to those regulations, so if churches became tax-paying businesses they would have more political power.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 19:03:00 UTC | #434797

Mitch Kahle's Avatar Comment 19 by Mitch Kahle

In America, all churches should be treated like any other 501c3 charity.

All tax exemptions must come with documented proof that the activities qualify as actual charity or they must be subject to tax.

Religious activity should never be considered charity and should be taxed like any other income.

Also, churches should be required to pay property taxes and ministers should be required to pay full income taxes, including housing allowances.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 19:24:00 UTC | #434800

Alyson Miers's Avatar Comment 20 by Alyson Miers

Keep them quiet? But, if they're just about feeding homeless people, then why would anyone want to shut them up?

I think this is fairly simple: religion should not be tax-exempt. Churches use public resources just like secular organizations, and they should pay into those resources just like the rest of us. When the government treats religion like a special case, then it also has to be in the business of deciding what counts as a religion. Meanwhile, the threat of losing tax-exempt status is a constant sword hanging over churches' heads. If they simply lost their tax exemptions and got on with their lives, they'd have a lot less to worry about.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 19:42:00 UTC | #434804

Michael.B's Avatar Comment 21 by Michael.B

@ Dwain

You misread the case. They were caught abusing government subsidies that were granted to them in order to support the poor. Instead they stole that money from people in need to run political campaigns.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 20:18:00 UTC | #434810

Daisy Skipper's Avatar Comment 22 by Daisy Skipper

After hundreds of years of receiving special treatment, they can't wrap their little godbot brains around the idea of being treated fairly.

Of course churches should be allowed to have a social agenda, but when the government gives them money to do this, through tax breaks, it pisses me off. In effect, my tax dollars are being used to subsidize their agenda of intolerance. Anyway, it's good to see the CRA not being bullied by these self-righteous silly-nannies. They certainly had no problem with making me sweat at tax time last year.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 21:08:00 UTC | #434818

Michael.B's Avatar Comment 23 by Michael.B

@ Dwain

The purpose of the tax subsidy is to help pay for charitable work. This is why there is a restriction on it's use. The church tried to claim this subsidy while actually wasting the money on non-charitable activities (expressing "contrary opposing views" as you put it).

And there is nothing metaphorical about it, the tax-exempt status costs the government real money that could have otherwise been spent on social services or to subsidize real charities.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 00:36:00 UTC | #434858

Cents's Avatar Comment 24 by Cents

I never thought I would say anything good about the CRA.

Way to go Revenue Canada!!. Let's hope this is the start of the end to tax exempt religious organizations. You should only get a tax exemption if the majority of the "work" you do is charitable, otherwise you "pays your dues just like everyone else". There should be no special exemption for organizations whose primary purpose is religion. Let's hope that people around the world start to see the light and this becomes the wave of the future.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 07:13:00 UTC | #434906

Rachel Holmes's Avatar Comment 25 by Rachel Holmes

I don't know much about Canadian charity law, but I'm aware that it has its origins in English charity law. In England, a charity may conduct political activities if they are a means to achieving a charitable end. Supporting political parties and election candidates is forbidden, but engaging in the political process is not. However, if a charity puts too much of its money into political activities, the Courts may take the view that the charity is only masquerading as such, and is in reality a political body. No percentage is prescribed.

In my opinion, putting a definite cap on poltical spending has advantages and disadvantages. On the pro side, it makes the cut-off point easier to identify, both for charities and the authorities. On the down side, it may rule out activities that, arguably, a charity should legitimately be able to carry out.

Suppose (Chtulu forbid) the UK Government proposed legislating to make teaching ID obligatory in schools. I'd be more than happy for RDFRS (whose objects include the advancement of education) to sling a truckload of money into briefing MPs, Peers and the general public on why that would be disastrous for education.

The advancement of religion per se is a charitable purpose which, in Canada (as I understand it) is still presumed to be for the public benefit. That presumption has gone in England and Wales, but we're still working out what that means in practice. To my mind, a fair amount of religious lobbying can be challenged on the public benefit ground.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 08:03:00 UTC | #434917

Follow Peter Egan's Avatar Comment 26 by Follow Peter Egan

Small incremental steps.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 10:28:00 UTC | #434961

Rachel Holmes's Avatar Comment 27 by Rachel Holmes


I don't know for sure, but I'd guess that the 10% law in Canada is 10% per some time period.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 16:44:00 UTC | #435095

popecorkyxxiv's Avatar Comment 28 by popecorkyxxiv

It's about damn time! I live in Alberta (the province of Canada that Calgary is in), aka "Little Texas" aka "The South of Canada", and it is about bloody time the government stepped in and did something about the churches here. Alberta has amoung the lowest population in the country but has the highest number of churches in the nation. If these churches merely did what they claimed to it wouldn't be a problem but Albertan churches are notorious for being little more than a public relations branch of the Conservative Party. Infact Alberta is so imbred, hillbilly backward that we have the only Young Earth creationist museum in the country, only a short distance away from the Royal Tyrell Museum (one of the largest dino museums on Earth).

Tue, 26 Jan 2010 17:03:00 UTC | #435484

bushost's Avatar Comment 29 by bushost

For the sake of our friend (popecorkyxxiv) who was pontificating on the small population of Alberta, it just so happens that Alberta is the fourth largest province (population) in Canada, not to mention the territories.

Province Population as of 2008

Ontario 12,891,787
Quebec 7,744,530
British Columbia 4,428,356
Alberta 3,512,368
Manitoba 1,196,291
Saskatchewan 1,010,146
Nova Scotia 935,962
New Brunswick 751,527
Newfoundland and Labrador 508,270
Prince Edward Island 139,407

As with the other uninformed comments in this discussion, people need to get their facts straight and discuss on merit instead of smear tactics and anti-Christian bigotry.

The truth about this issue is that Canada has laws which protect religious belief and expression (even atheistic religious beliefs) and the denial of tax status on the basis of such expression is unconstitutional, period.

Whether you like the beliefs of Christians, or not, is not the issue. The issue is that the CRA is breaking the laws of the land.

You can scream, smear and bark like a dog if you want, but that's the plain and simple truth. If the people of Alberta or any other province in Canada want different laws, there are democratic processes which are in place to change them.

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 23:59:00 UTC | #436107