Letter: Checks and balances for churches



My response to Linda Ronayne’s July 18 letter, “Church justified to take a stand,” is simple: She is correct in stating that the Catholic Church — and by extension other churches — has the right to its opinions and beliefs. However, what Ronayne may not understand is that while the Constitution limits the state from establishing a religion, it does not offer churches the right to do or say anything they wish in the name of religion.

Furthermore, the federal Internal Revenue Service constrains churches from using their tax-exempt status to “influence legislation … or intervene in … any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” In other words, if a church or church official in his or her official capacity suggests how church members should vote on any issue or candidate, he or she is breaking the law. In this circumstance, the religious organization can lose its tax-exempt status.

In response to Larry Little’s July 12 letter, which asked, in part, “What are we going to do about the Catholic Church demanding that we accept its religion as legislation for the entire country,” my answer: File a complaint with documentation to the IRS.

Robert B. Goodsell