Tuesday, June 05, 2007

WWJVF (Whom Would Jesus Vote For)?

Paul Caron at TaxProf has a couple of interesting posts (here and here) on churches either permitting or directly participating in political activities that, under the IRS rules, pretty clearly violate their tax-exempt status. The first of these posts deals with a sermon by Minister Bill Keller. Here are the juiciest bits of the sermon:
If you vote for Mitt Romney, you are voting for satan! This message today is not about Mitt Romney. Romney is an unashamed and proud member of the Mormon cult founded by a murdering polygamist pedophile named Joseph Smith nearly 200 years ago. The teachings of the Mormon cult are doctrinally and theologically in complete opposition to the Absolute Truth of God's Word. There is no common ground. If Mormonism is true, then the Christian faith is a complete lie. There has never been any question from the moment Smith's cult began that it was a work of satan and those who follow their false teachings will die and spend eternity in hell. This message is about the top Christian leaders in our nation who are supporting this cult members quest to become the next President of the United States.
. . .
If Romney gets elected as the next President of the United States, the Mormon cult will finally have the mainstream acceptance they have been striving for these past 200 years. Romney winning the White House will lead millions of people into the Mormon cult. Those who follow the false teachings of this cult, believe in the false jesus of the Mormon cult and reject faith in the one true Jesus of the Bible, will die and spend eternity in hell. *ROMNEY GETTING ELECTED PRESIDENT WILL ULTIMATELY LEAD MILLIONS OF SOULS TO THE ETERNAL FLAMES OF HELL!!!
Meanwhile, if you follow the links on Caron's second post---in which a candidate for County DA in Mississippi explains to her church why they should support her---you need to watch it in IE. The video doesn't show up in Firefox.

It will be interesting to see how aggressively the Bush IRS goes after churches for engaging in political activities. In recent years the religious right has had great success in persuading the US Supreme Court that laws excluding religious organizations and viewpoints from public participation on equal terms with secular ones count as discrimination in violation of free speech and/or free exercise. The faith-based initiatives of both President Clinton and (to a greater degree) President Bush have traded on this notion.

There have also lately been some attempts to extend the argument to politicking. Here the argument goes that it's unfair to prevent churches from engaging in/with political ideas, given that religious teachings have a great deal to say about the morality of various policy proposals of politicians. As a legal matter, this is a weak argument. There really is something to the claim that permitting secular but not religious groups access to some public facility, such as a classroom outside of school hours or a student activity fund, discriminates against religion. But in the case of the IRS exemption, there is no discrimination. Secular no less than religious organizations that engage in political activity lose their exemption. That's why secular organizations like the NAACP spin off separate arms---funded by separate, non-tax-deductible contributions---for lobbying, litigating and other political work. If Minister Keller wants to warn his flock about the damage a Romney Presidency would do to their immortal souls, he can do so on an equal footing with secular organizations that support or oppose various candidates for other reasons.

10 comments:

PG said...

At first I thought this was a joke about the NYTimes Editor. But the Minister actually googles ahead of the Keller with whom I'm familiar.

I'd be curious as to how far a minister can go in referencing politics as long as he doesn't name a candidate. After all, if you belong to certain evangelical groups, Mormonism is a "cult" and the fact that a Mormon is running for president should not impede you from being able to talk about the dangers of this religion. After all, Rev. Keller has to protect his flock from succumbing to the temptations of the nice young men who knock on their doors to talk about heaven.

Neil H. Buchanan said...

Mr. Keller is free to tell his flock about the evils of any cult and what to say to missionaries when they come to the door. It is when he tells his followers whom to vote for or against that he violates the rules under which his church claims tax-exempt status.

Bot said...

The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) is often misunderstood . . Some accuse the Church of not believing in Christ and, therefore, not being a Christian religion . . This article helps to clarify such misconceptions

• Baptism: .

Early Christian churches, practiced baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family. The local congregation had a lay ministry. An early Christian Church has been re-constructed at the Israel Museum, and the above can be verified. http://www.imj.org.il/eng/exhibitions/2000/christianity/ancientchurch/structure/index.html
The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continues baptism and a lay ministry as taught by Jesus’ Apostles. . Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and not allowing non-Christians to witness them

• The Trinity: .

A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration?

The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. . The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. . The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: "There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one."

Scribes later added "the Father, the Word and the Spirit," and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. . . .He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. .

Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. . Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was also part of Early Christian belief. . The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts.

• The Deity of Jesus Christ
Mormons hold firmly to the deity of Christ. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS), Jesus is not only the Son of God but also God the Son. Evangelical pollster George Barna found in 2001 that while only 33 percent of American Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists agreed that Jesus was "without sin," Mormons were among the "most likely" to say that Jesus was sinless.

• The Cross: .

The Cross became popular as a Christian symbol in the Fifth Century A.D. . Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) believe the proper Christian symbol is Christ’s resurrection , not his crucifixion on the Cross. Many Mormon chapels feature paintings of the resurrected Christ or His Second Coming.

• Christ's Atonement: .

But Mormons don”t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. . They believe Christ’s atonement in Gethsemane and on the Cross applies to all mankind. . The dictionary definition of a Christian is “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ”: . All of the above denominations are followers of Christ, and consider him divine, and the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament. They all worship the one and only true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and address Him in prayer as prescribed in The Lord’s Prayer.

It”s important to understand the difference between Reformation and Restoration when we consider who might be authentic Christians. If members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) embrace early Christian theology , they are likely more “Christian” than their detractors.

* * *

• Christ-Like Lives: . . .The 2005 National Study of Youth and Religion published by UNC-Chapel Hill found that Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) youth (ages 13 to 17) were more likely to exhibit these Christian characteristics than Evangelicals (the next most observant group):

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . LDS Evangelical

Attend Religious Services weekly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71% . . . . 55%

Importance of Religious Faith in shaping daily life –

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . extremely important .. 52. . . . . . . 28

Believes in life after death . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 . . . . . . 62

Believes in psychics or fortune-tellers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 . . . . . . 5

Has taught religious education classes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 . . . . . . 28

Has fasted or denied something as spiritual discipline . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 . . . . . . 22

Sabbath Observance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 . . . . . . 40

Shared religious faith with someone not of their faith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 . . . . . . 56

Family talks about God, scriptures, prayer daily . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 . . . . . . 19

Supportiveness of church for parent in trying to raise teen

(very supportive) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65 . . . . . . 26

Church congregation has done an excellent job in helping

Teens better understand their own sexuality and sexual morality . . . . . 84 . . . . . . 35

Last Man Thinking said...

See the truth about the Mormons at www.whatmatters2us.blogspot.com
Mormons are not Christians; not even close. They have more in common with pagan Rome or Greece. They are polytheists, believing in many gods, rather than monotheists. Real Christians, as well as real Jews, are monotheists. It is among the most fundamental of Christian doctrines.

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