Bring It On!

Focus On The Family Launches First Attack On Obama

June 5th, 2008 | by Daniel DiRito |

When you really study the mindset of religious conservatives, one of their primary motivation is making sure they hold onto their money and that means they rarely ever connect taxation with the notion that the government serves as a safety net for those in need. Rather than step up and fill the void for those in need, groups like Focus On The Family instead make silly videos like the one that follows…videos that suggest that half the country wants to live off the hard work of the other half.

Which leads me to wonder what exactly is the mission of religious organizations like Focus On The Family? Ironically, these are the same groups that are afforded tax exempt status by the government on the premise that they provide some of the services that may otherwise be an additional burden for the government to assume.

Now I could be wrong, but it seems to me that this would include helping the poor (think outreach programs like food banks), helping those who may not be able to afford health care (think hospitals run by religious orders), and providing educational services (think parochial schools). In other words, in exchange for no tax burden, the government can expect these organizations to assist in providing valuable services to the citizenry.

So when I see organizations like Focus On The Family railing against liberalism (translated to mean welfare programs), it seems to me that these people want their cake and eat it too. Which brings me to proselytizing and their efforts to promote legislation that comports with their Biblically based beliefs.

My impression is that these groups are willing to offer assistance in return for an allegiance to their beliefs. Providing services to those who may think differently or not share their same values isn’t of interest to them. Hence, when the government elects to spend tax dollars (which means THEIR money) on people without regard for moral imperatives or religious beliefs, they would prefer to shut those programs down.

In the end, one can only conclude that these people see money as the means to impose their beliefs. It’s the equivalent of the principle of “he who has the gold, writes the rules”. That brings me to hypocrisy. These are the same people who insist that salvation cannot be attained without an acceptance of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, I struggle to see how many of these religious organizations and their followers are measurably connected to the principles that Jesus taught.

Yes, they invoke his name as part and parcel of a marketing campaign…but once they get the convert and his or her cash…the buck stops there…right in the pockets of men like James Dobson…until it can be used to promote the theocratic (and autocratic) society they yearn to rule.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

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  1. 25 Responses to “Focus On The Family Launches First Attack On Obama”

  2. By nodsavid on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Sad that you call yourself Christian when what you should call your group is deceptive and self-serving. I laughed at the phrase “failed liberal policies.” Wow, darn sure gotta be better than the criminality of the present government. Seems like being an adjunct to a political campaign ought to be a good basis to revoke a tax exemption granted to a supposedly non-profit corporation instead of an entity that will seek later to control government and the freedom and liberty of others.

  3. By rube cretin on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Nods,
    “If religion is the opiate of the masses, then fundamentalism is the amphetamine.” Miz Vittitow

    Daniel,
    “Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell.
    The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.”
    [Butch Hancock]

  4. By mr bigstuff on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    the prosperity gospel is preached en masse at a baptist mega-madras down the street from me. their “alter” is a light show stage that they use to mesmerize the faithful into emptying their wallets before exxon gets a hold of ‘em on the way home in their hummers and yukons. folks like satan cheney, w, and their ilk attend places like this every once in a while to purge their souls (or so they think) of the greedy and harmful sins they comment daily while stealing every single fucking thin dime from the sheep that follow them. since the sheep are actually too timid to ever question the republican’t pillaging, w, cheney and such see it as a sign from god that the prosperity gospel is indeed a divine blessing on their damned souls. hence, they feel forgiven. here endeth the lesson.

  5. By mr bigstuff on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    spell check on that last post:
    alter is spelled altar
    comment should be commit.
    sorry to be so w-like in my last comment. i am so ashamed.

  6. By Paul Merda on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Rube… that’s great stuff! LOL!

    Really Daniel, are any of surprised that the same people who would turn the other cheek are the first one’s to call for bombing brown people! The hypocrisy is horrible with them. Which makes me laugh even more, because if you read the gospels, Jesus seems to have the most disdain for the hypocrites… Just one example of many:

    “And when you pray, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily, I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father in secret.” Jesus, Matthew 6:5 - 6:6

  7. By rube cretin on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    ‘You can tell you have created God in your own image when it turns out that he or she hates all the same people you do.’ - Anne Lamott

  8. By Paul Merda on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Another one rube!! Ingersoll is great, when bored I always turn to his stuff…

    “Each nation has created a god, and the god has always resembled his creators. He hated and loved what they hated and loved, and he was invariably found on the side of those in power. Each god was intensely patriotic, and detested all nations but his own. All these gods demanded praise, flattery, and worship. Most of them were pleased with sacrifice, and the smell of innocent blood has ever been considered a divine perfume.” – Col. Robert Ingersoll

  9. By Steve O on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    It’s funny that this whole evangelical movement sprang into action because of Bob Jones racist tide and the loss of their tax exempt status. They could give two fucks about morals.

    Why can’t people see through this fucking shit???

    The whole movement should lose their tax exempt status. Why do my tax dollars pay for the far right to attack me?

  10. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Steve O,

    One thing I’m not clear on. Maybe you can help me. How does the tax exempt status of FotF in any way mean that your tax dollars pay for the far right to attack you? Tax exemption does not mean that FotF RECEIVES any of your tax dollars. It means that voluntary offerings made to FotF are not taxed to the giver. Or is there evidence that I’m missing that FotF made this video with tax money from the government, as opposed to the voluntary offerings made directly to FotF?

  11. By Daniel DiRito on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Craig,

    I hate to break this to you…but what you’ve stated is in contradiction to the GOP talking points on taxation. If not having to pay taxes isn’t a benefit (let Americans keep more of their money), then why are so many Republicans in favor of the Bush tax cuts.

    How is the absence of taxation not akin to them using tax dollars? When the government grants a tax exempt status, they are foregoing funds that would otherwise be included in the revenues they would expect to collect.

    In fact this is a double whammy to the taxpayers who aren’t members of such organizations. The person giving the money claims a deduction and the organization receiving the money pays no taxation on the receipt of it. Ouch!

    To be fair, FOF is certainly not alone in the practice. Regardless, it can be construed to be the use of tax dollars to attack those they disagree with. Look, I don’t like the tax exempt status but I understand the governments rationale.

    Regards,

    Daniel

  12. By Chris Radulich on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Actually I thought the video was pretty accurate. Mindless people mouthing words they do not understand. Certainly an accurate portrayal of the right.

  13. By Chris Radulich on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    forgot to check the box

  14. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Daniel,

    I hate to break this to you…but what you’ve stated is in contradiction to the GOP talking points on taxation. If not having to pay taxes isn’t a benefit (let Americans keep more of their money), then why are so many Republicans in favor of the Bush tax cuts.

    Not a problem. I think you’ll find that I have no problem dissenting from GOP talking points.

    But I don’t see how what I’ve said contradicts what you describe as the GOP talking points on taxation. You provide the clue in parentheses when you say “let Americans keep more of their money”. You see, it is the American people’s money, not the government’s. Americans agree to pay a portion of their income to the government for the provision of governmental services at the rate and under the circumstances that their representatives in Congress say they must. Where the government forgoes collecting tax on the American people’s money, the money the people keep is not, in any way, tax money. It is their money.

    Sooooo…the donations to FotF are not made in tax dollars. They are made in donor earned dollars.

    At any rate, unless money was taken from Steve O by the government and given to FotF, not one penny of Steve O’s tax dollars went to a video attacking Steve O. It just doesn’t wash. FotF doesn’t get Steve O’s tax dollars unless money changes hands from the government into the coffers of FotF.

    Now, if Focus received tax dollars from the government that was a part of the Faith-Based services program and some of those dollars were funneled into the making of this video, Steve O would have a valid complaint. His tax money would have gone to an attack upon him.

    It’s really quite simple. When the government forgoes taxing donations to non-profits, the donations are not tax dollars. They are non-taxed dollars. If Steve O or you feel ripped off by this arrangement, you might consider donations to some tax-exempt, non-profit, charitable or service organization and you, too, will not be taxed on your donations AND the organization of your choice (it doesn’t have to be a Church, of course, it could be any non-profit) will also benefit from your tax-dollar-free donation. And no one else will be able to complain that you used their tax dollars to do so.

    At least, that’s the way I see it.

  15. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Of course, you could always lobby Congress to eliminate tax exemptions for organizations such as FotF. It’s the right of every American to petition the government for redress of grievances.

  16. By christopher Radulich on Jun 5, 2008 | Reply

    Sooooo…the donations to FotF are not made in tax dollars. They are made in donor earned dollars.

    Only to the extent that they exceed the amount saved from deductions on tax forms.

    However as long as all non profits are following the same rules I have no problem with it. If, however, FotF gets a special break for being a religious group then I am against it.

  17. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 6, 2008 | Reply

    Christopher,

    Okay, not a tax guy. What’s your point in the first two paragraphs, that in some circumstances, such a donation would be in tax money? How so?

    Not arguing, just inquiring. Would you mind elaborating?

  18. By christopher Radulich on Jun 6, 2008 | Reply

    lets say that a person donates $10,000 to charity and is in the 38% federal tax bracket. The deduction would save him/her 3,800 in taxes. So in essence the 3800 he/she would have been given to the government is now tax money that is directly given to the charity. Now rules for state income tax vary from state to state and the deduction may phase out as you approach some very large figure. I can’t remember if any charitable deduction can be 5taken on the short form.

  19. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 6, 2008 | Reply

    But Christopher, the $3,000 is not tax money. That’s my point. It is not tax money because the government has not taken it in taxes. That’s where I disagree. The clue is in your words “So in essence the 3800 he/she would have been given to the government is now tax money that is directly given to the charity.” In point of fact, it was not given to the government as tax money because the government does not tax that money. That’s where you guys keep going wrong in this. It is not tax money because the government does not tax donations to non profit, charitable organizations.

    Sigh! I guess we’re just not going to see eye to eye. You keep insisting that money that the government does not treat as taxable as though that money really is the government’s money any way. I don’t.

    But even if I agreed with you, Steve O still cannot claim that any of his tax money was used in the video. The most that can be claimed is that the donors’ own tax money was used.

    I guess that’s all I have to say. We’re obviously not going to convince one another on this issue.

    However, I thank you for your explanation. I appreciate it.

  20. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 6, 2008 | Reply

    Let’s try this. Money cannot be properly called ‘tax money’ if the government elects not to tax that money. I don’t know how more simply to put it.

  21. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 6, 2008 | Reply

    And unless money paid in taxes by Steve O finds its way into the coffers of FotF, Steve O is not correct to say that his tax money was used to attack him.

  22. By chris radulich on Jun 7, 2008 | Reply

    The tax code is loaded with social purpose. Charities are a deduction to encourage giving. Mortgages are a deduction to encourage home ownership. Capital gains are taxed at a different rate to encourage investments.

    PS if he has withholdings then the government repays him the money he gave to the charity.

  23. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 7, 2008 | Reply

    Chris,

    Yes. The government repays the money given to charity because the government treats that money like an overpayment of taxes. In other words, as though the person had more money withheld to pay for his tax burden than his actual tax burden amounted to, if I understand correctly.

    I’m not sure how this changes my point and I don’t think it does. The money returned is still not tax money, otherwise, if it were, they wouldn’t be returning it; they’d keep it for themselves, as they do all taxes collected to cover each year’s tax burden. It is merely money that was sent to them automatically. because it was money over and above your tax burden, they were not entitled to keep it so they send it back because they don’t tax that money.

    It’s still, in other words, in my opinion, not tax money. They don’t send tax money back to the tax-payer, you see; they keep it for themselves, which is the whole point of taxation. That is, them sending it back is proof that the money is not tax money; it is the tax-payer’s money.

  24. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 7, 2008 | Reply

    Chris,

    Are we agreed on this much: None of Steve O’s tax money went to FotF? That, at the most, according to your argument, the donor’s own taxpayer money (and no other taxpayer’s money) went to FotF? Or are you contending that Steve O’s tax money has somehow found its way to FotF?

  25. By Craig R. Harmon on Jun 7, 2008 | Reply

    Chris,

    Think of it this way. Suppose someone figures his taxes incorrectly and sends in more money than he actually owes. The government catches the error and sends the tax-payer a refund of the overpayment. That refund is not tax money because it was not owed to the government. That’s why they sent back a refund.

    So the mere fact that money went from the tax-payer to the government for the purpose of covering the tax-payer’s tax burden, and then, because the tax-payer over payed, the tax-payer receives a refund check from the government, that does not mean that the refund constitutes tax money.

  26. By chris radulich on Jun 7, 2008 | Reply

    I agree that none of steve’s money went to them. I look at the other part as the government say - because we want to encourage a certain activity we will rebate you a portion of the money you pent.

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