Senator Chuck Grassley has formed a “Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations” to keep a watchful eye “on the financial practices of high-profile religious organizations.”
After releasing the findings of his three-year inquiry of six media-based Christian ministries, the senator asked [Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability] to spearhead an independent national effort to review and provide input on major accountability and policy issues affecting such organizations.
Fantastic! We need a group like that — An independent watchdog that will help prevent further tax abuses. Excellent.
It’s a given that we can trust the 14 people on the committee to be impartial, right…?
*Sigh* No. Not at all. The Secular Coalition for America explains the problem:
… a commission formed at the request of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to “spearhead an independent national effort” to investigate issues related to tax loopholes for religious organizations is composed exclusively of evangelical Christians — several of whom are directly benefitting from current tax inequalities in our system.
What the hell…?
If you want to make sure high-profile Christians aren’t doing anything shady, you don’t put that solely in the hands of other Christians. Where are the Muslims? Jews? Non-profit leaders who know something about tax law? Get a few atheists on that committee and you can bet real action will be taken.
Let’s take a look at the problems the Gang O’ Christians will be working on:
Issues the commission will address include whether churches should file the same highly detailed annual information return that other nonprofits must file (Form 990); whether legislation is needed to curb abuses of the clergy housing allowance exclusion; whether the current prohibition against political campaign intervention by churches and other nonprofits should be repealed or modified; and whether legislation is needed to clarify tax rules covering “love offerings” received by some clergy.
Anyone want to make some predictions…?
You can’t leave a decision like this in the hands of those who have a vested interested in the status quo.
Change is either minimal or non-existent.
(Cartoon via nakedpastor)