Milking The System
John Davies wrote an excellent article called GOD IS GOOD and it was posted on 12/25/01. John has done his homework here, and makes us all feel a little foolish when we know we were all caught up in the scam of "religion." It's no wonder there's no mention by our Forefathers in any of their initial documents of religion, of churches, the Bible, or anything pertaining to a mental slavery of a people. These Deists (and thinkers) knew better.
This brings us to one of the points in John's above article. These abuses of taxpayer's dollars are very real, but how do these characters continue to get away with it? How? The answer is that "The System" lets them. Apart from the flagrant misuse of their tax-exempt status they can push the envelope as far as they want, and the system apparently looks the other way. Why?
Robert Schuler (of Crystal Cathedral fame), for example lost his tax exempt status a few years back, but regained it by convincing the government (namely the IRS) that he was compliant. A buddy of mine on Maui told me that Schuler bought several acres of land somewhere around Kahului and Wailuku (the latter is Maui's capital) in Hawaii. When he tried to sell it a substantial profit, he was stopped. But this didn't stop the "Rev" Schuler. He simply sub-divided the land, and sold each portion separately. He made even more money, and his whole family, as was told to me, profited handsomely.
Pat Robertson (of CBN fame), had his exempt status revoked on ONE of his corporations - "Operation Blessing." This mainly consisted of a DC-9 aircraft that was internally rigged inside as a sick bay/operating room. It was supposed to fly into remote areas in Africa where hospitalization was not available, and serve the poor people there. The idea sounds excellent and very altruistic, but there's one or two big problems here, however. NO remote area, in that part of the world, has a runway of approximately six to seven thousand feet, nor the required surrounding approach and demolishing of vegetation and tall tree clearance. As well, with any runway like that, it would NOT have any such construction with such heavily structured foundations as to stand the landing impact of a fully loaded DC-9.
However, Robertson got caught. He was found using the DC-9 for other purposes. It was reported in the national press, that he was using the aircraft for shuttling his biz buddies to major cities in the Congo to inspect the interests they all had in their diamond mines. His tax exempt status was pulled. Whether he's got it back or not, I don't know.
TBN was also mentioned in John's article. If you wanna laugh, then please tune in. Some of the fanatical activity that's available there, is akin to a total molecular alien aberration that's out of dynamic control. There used to be a joke regarding Jan Crouch fame. If you've ever seen her, her caked (plastered)-on makeup, and the pink wigs, (pulllleeeasseee), you'll get the benefit of what follows.
Question: What happened to Jan when you removed the wig, and all that heavy make up? What did you find? Answer: They found Jimmy Hoffa.
The problem again here was the system. It allows many abuses - as mentioned above in John's article. Here's how it works.
In any "non-profit" corporation, the income MUST equal the outgo. There must be a zero balance here. Such corporations are allowed to keep a "reasonable" amount that might be excess in an account to be used ONLY for, and back-up, non-profit purposes - as long as it's declared. But here's how these guys wiggle through this one. They hire one or two accounting firms to do their books each year. Worldwide Church of Herbie, for example, used ONE basic firm - Rader, Cornwall, and Kessler. That's pretty much akin to asking a fox to guard a chicken coop.
At the end of each year those firms submit to the IRS an accounting regarding that particular organization - and the organization that PAYS THAT COMPANY'S CHUNKY SALARY. So who's kidding who? Everything will naturally conform to the IRS standards. The "paid for" accountants will make sure of that point. Income=outgo=zero balance=a legitimate non-profit organization. But please remember, this is well after ALL the expenses have been removed to the upper echelon + plus their "blind" stockholders.
These following things can be bought from the tax-exempt church funds, and written off. There are such things as "Parsonage expenses," or "travel expenses," or "transportation expenses," or "clothing expenses, or "business meeting expenses," or "administrative costs," or "building expenses," or just plain "miscellaneous expenses." An experienced accountant can figure how to juggle these figures any way he wants and make the outcome look perfectly legal. And we - the taxpayer - are paying for the whole thing. These church guys are getting a free ride. Like (at different times) dead Herbie and L. Ron Hubbard both said: "Let's start our own church." If you wanna make bucks, then that's how to do it.
Each of the upper echelon then takes a modest salary, pays his/her personal taxes on it, and this makes it all smell really legal. They pay their taxes, like everyone else, but they get so much extra in perks, their personal taxes are inconsequential.
But that's only half the story. In addition to the moderate salaries given, unaccountable tax-free dollars can go for any of the above mentioned items. Luxurious homes, for example, can be built or bought, and all the accoutrements of a millionaire added. It can be then decorated in luxury, a swimming pool added, and re-vamped from top to basement. This is called "Parsonage expenses." The parent church will (naturally) pay for all expenses. This is how most of the top cultmasters in Worldwide Church of God got their luxury dwellings. Please remember, this also includes, summer cottages, winter cottages, island get-aways, etc. All these extra homes go under the heading (or similar) of "Retreat homes." Wadda racket!
Of course, then there's the maintenance for these parsonages. And, of course, restoration or additions, whenever needed. Usually, quite often. There's also the cost of utilities (gas, electricity, water, etc.), are used within this tax-free environment. All this is bought for (at no expense to the occupant) by the tax-exempt church. "Parsonage expenses," . . . naturally.
Please let us not forget the transportation. The cars are also included. These are necessary for "visitation." That also goes for the vehicles (always more than one) the upkeep, repairs, and the gas. The taxpayer (and tithepayer) foots the bill. The same goes for the ultra-costing clothes - even down to the $$$$$$$$ shoes and undies.
When you've got all this then their "modest" income is simply extra gravy money. You've got everything else paid for. But wait. There's more. Much more.
We forgot all those "tax free" bonuses - for church use, naturally. And, we must also include any "advance expense money" when these cultmasters (and wives) go on overseas trips. They're most always given a "no-limit" credit card . . . like Amex. They spend ONE day doing "God's work," and for the rest of the month . . . Yeah - it's party time. They write an article, and have now been considered to have done "The Work of the Lord." The rest of us work for a living, struggle to pay our living, destroying our future retirements, and struggle to pay for the excessive tithing . . . and mostly all they're all doing is partying.
And all this brings us back to "The System" that allows it. Granted you must flagrantly misuse the system before the IRS stomps on you, but up to that point - as long as you submit some form or other that says you're IRS compliant - they just look the other way. Again, the reason is simple. They work for the Federal government. The Feds have a powerful legislature. Each of those members needs votes to retain their seats. Since they want to retain their seats, the IRS is therefore pressured to comply to the "needs" of the Christian community. Christians=Votes.
In our country most people are considered "religious," or at least give a showing of it. As - CA state Attorney General - George "Duke" Dukemejin found out in CA in 1979, if they had convicted Herbie's Worldweird Cult, and it (indeed would have) collapsed because of obvious improprieties, the you'd also have to nail 95% of the other churches as well. This, we heard, was the intended scenario. Since Duke was headed for the gubernatorial mansion in a couple of years, he backed off. "Religious" people constitute a massive proportion of the votes, and you simply don't upset them. Plus the fact, you need a loyal taxpaying public. Let's NOT muddy the waters. So, the IRS (except for the obviously flagrant violations) ignores the "Christian" and other groups. Look at the listing at the end of John's article GOD IS GOOD. "God" sure is good. The listing is very sobering. No wonder the parable of "The Wheat and the Tares" stands out - especially today.
It is a right of every American to have the blessings of the "Bill of Rights," and in this case, it's the First Amendment. If we choose, as our religion, to dangle upside down from a lamp pole, and howl at the moon each morning at 4 am, then that's our right. But NO ONE'S correct in taking advantage of a tax free status that provides, to people or organizations who genuinely try (and do) help less-fortunate people. Feeding children, missions in downtowns, etc., are some examples of those who may really be helping. Their tax exempt status need stay intact. They deserve the breaks.
So, as far as I'm concerned, let's get rid of all this "religious" taxation exempt status, except - upon investigation - it's found that such charity, etc., is really doing a job of kindness, love, and an honest service to our fellow man and NO big perks to the upper management. Let's not give such "breaks" to the dead Herbies of this world. They're only marketing corporations in the business world of making money for their businesses and stockholders. And those investors make sure that they carefully choose a mouthpiece. He/She must be respectable, look good, sound good, do a good selling job, and bring in the bucks. But, in fact, these lawbreakers need to be put out of business, permanently. They're only smooth con artists.
But the IRS won't do that. The legislative assembly wants those votes. "Christians" and other parties = votes. And so, the IRS complies, and looks the other way in far too many cases. If a class action suit is relevant here (and it IS), then why isn't the IRS doing its share - doing its job - and attacking these massive scam programs, head-on? The government itself NEEDS to head up these investigations, the indictments, convictions, and the penalties that will serve as an example for generations to come.
The big answer here is for all tax-exempt corporations to COMPLETELY open their books to the IRS for the last twenty years. Forget those rinky-dink, independent accounting firms who meekly conform and become prostitutes to the religious organizations who always pay their generous salaries, gleaned from the believing tithepayers. Let them openly and let the IRS honestly examine those "churches" books - without necessarily knowing the churches' individual identities, and let them (with someone looking over their shoulders too), report back what was found. I think there would be a lot more "Jim Bakkers" put behind bars if the "Plain Truth" were really out.
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