Vail Daily column: You gotta pay to play in the political arena
May 9, 2017
Let's say there are three major political parties for the next national election.
1. Church of the Muslim Brotherhood Sympathizers (MBS).
2. Church of the Pink Flying Unicorns (PFU).
3. Church of Those Not Needing to Be Told What to Think (TNNTBTWTT, or TNT for short).
I am aware that the Johnson Amendment, in place since before I was out of diapers (a long time), has prevented religious groups from being turned into partisan political tools, but since our executive-order-hating and now executive-order-loving president has decided to interpret partisan political tool-using as a right under the First Amendment, things have, dare I say, evolved.
These three political parties will do whatever it takes, within the law, of course, to convince you to vote for their candidates in the primaries.
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The best-known cult, MBS, tells its supporters if they do not vote for the MBS candidate, then they, according to their holy book, will burn for eternity upon death.
PFU, an obscure yet oddly popular sect, says basically the same thing, but instead of a fiery hell pit, they forevermore will be subject to an eternity of Dick Chaney interviews, Hillary Clinton excuses and Sean Spicer press briefings.
The majority group, TNT, though not believers in magical sky beings, is highly ignored due to the media's fear of guilt by association and thus a possible loss of advertisers and doesn't care who its members vote for or support, only that they participate in the process.
Under current U.S. law, all three, after raising more than $5,000 in at least 20 states, are entitled to receive millions in public funds for their conventions and campaigning in the general election.
In tax dollars.
That you paid the government based on your earnings.
What makes you angrier: Almost $100 million of your tax dollars being handed over to religious-based groups or the fact that none of the groups represent the religion in which you currently claim membership?
Take all the time you need.
And while under consideration, realize that the two groups based solely upon religious freedoms (MBS and PFU) also have complete freedom from paying federal taxes, while TNT pays taxes out the proverbial wazoo.
Yep, they both qualify as "501(c)(3) tax-exempt religious organizations" and thus do not have to pay any federal taxes, which is how con men like Joel Osteen live in $10 million mansions and continually — yet legally — fleece suckers out of their cash with false promises of wealth and other cotton-candy gospel babble.
So now simply insert Islam in place of the MBS and Christianity in place of the PFU and you have reality in TrumpWorld, where the same leader continuing to press for an immigrant ban based on religion is making a fuss about religious freedom, but only the "right" version.
The current tax exemption reinforces religious groups' status as separate from the state, thus keeping them out of influencing the government.
Otherwise we would be no different than a Middle East theocracy with tax dollars supporting churches, temples, mosques, whatever you call a Scientology building and all other sorts of ancient belief systems.
And nobody wants that, right?
Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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