Let the payback begin

We are not even a week from the election. The pay-back will now start and pick up speed.

From the paper in Green Bay, WI:

A Madison-based group that advocates the separation of church and state and once took on Green Bay City Hall for putting up a nativity scene is now taking on the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is looking for help from the Internal Revenue Service in going after Bishop David Ricken for what it says is a violation of the diocese’s nonprofit tax status. The foundation argues Ricken intervened in a political campaign.

The foundation is asking the IRS to investigate the diocese and take “appropriate action to remedy any violations” of the diocese’s non-profit tax status.

Ricken wrote an article Oct. 24 for publication in all church bulletins within the diocese calling for parishioners to keep church teachings in mind when voting in the Nov. 6 election.

In his article, which Ricken titled “An Important Moment,” he stated the church is not a political organism but that it has a responsibility to speak out regarding moral issues. Ricken urged church members to keep in mind a set of what he calls “non-negotiables.” Those are positions he says are “intrinsically evil” and that “cannot be supported by anyone who is a believer in God or the common good or the dignity of the human person.” He cited abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and gay marriage.

Read the rest there.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Frank H says:

    Just imagine if the good guys had WON!!

  2. Ralph says:

    It seems to me that worrying about the tax exemption is preventing our Bishops from preaching the gospel. I say give up the tax exemption.

    Perhaps then we would see our Bishops behave like the decedents of the Apostles they are supposed to be!

    I for one would be more than willing to sacrifice my tax write off if that’s what it takes to restore this church.

    It may be more complex than what I understand, but darn it I’m tired of our Bishops being handcuffed by fear of the tax man.

  3. Christopher says:

    I don’t think they can do anything, because no political party was advocated.

    God Bless.

  4. Christopher says:

    I’m also curious, does Bill Gates’ donation to Barrack Obama violate the NPO status on Tax Exemption?

    God Bless.

  5. Christopher says:

    The Bill and Melina Gates Foundation being an NPO.

    God Bless.

  6. wmeyer says:

    Christopher, the question is whether the donation was from Gates, or from the foundation.

  7. PA mom says:

    This is nonsense. The Church is tax exempt because of the separation of Church and State. If the State gets to decide how much to tax the Church, then there is no separation. They can decide lower tax for churches they like, higher for ones which speak out against them. This is freedom of speech and freedom of religion all rolled up together, and we need to start reedy taking the citizens as to what it is and why it is. It is obvious that covering these topics once in fifth grade, then being bombarded by liberal media for the next 40years does not lead to a properly fluent populace on these matters.
    I really think that the Church needs to find groups that do this and invite them in to the parishes.
    Right now,many people who should be on the right side of this do not know enough to be.

  8. Choirmaster says:

    @Christopher: They can do anything they want. The only question is whether or not the Church will win in court, and whether they have the funds to sustain the challenges, win or lose.

    It could very well happen that the Government will audit the dioceses for compliance with their tax exempt status, that NGOs will sue the Church in civil court over their tax exempt status, and that individuals will tie her up and drain her in petty litigation and settlements for non-tax-related causes, such as already happens with abuse allegations.

    All or any of this would be a crushing financial blow to a diocese regardless of the final winner of the audit, law suite, criminal prosecution, or settlement.

    Your Excellencies: be sure to plan for the orderly rule of your churches without the luxuries of incorporation, bank accounting, and equal protection under the law. Do you have a plan to save souls and rule your churches from under-ground? Study China and her legitimate bishops! Study the recusant Church in England! Study analogous underground organizations in U.S. history! They are the roadmap.

  9. Christopher says:

    I guess the question I’m trying to look at is, when an co-founder supports a political platform (whether or not the money is private or of the NPO), is he in no way bound with the NPO?

    So as a co-founder and participating in the NPO, does the act itself not bind in someway as a violation? Or is it purely based upon the donation itself being from private rather than an NPO?

    As to the case regarding the Bishop, I fail to see how they can make the case when no political party has been advocated, an a call to conscious has been made, for candidates to vote in accordance to Catholic Morality.

    God Bless.

  10. Darren says:

    Let the bishops not worry about the tax exemption. If it is lost, then it is lost. Better to lose a tax exemption than your soul. I, for one, will gladly increase my donations to the church if need be. Perhaps I will do it anyway…

    I have been doing much thinking this week. My area suffered three disasters. Hurricane Sandy, the Noreaster, and worst of all… the re-election of Obama (which reached far beyond the eas coast). I was watching one Reagan video on youtube and he made one interesting quote you may or may not remember: “Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid.” Fear not, and trust in the Lord. “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid… ” didn’t someone else we know say that? :)

    “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me… “
    — John 14:27-30 (RSV-CE)

  11. wmeyer says:

    So as a co-founder and participating in the NPO, does the act itself not bind in someway as a violation?

    It should not, as he is free to act in his capacity as a private citizen. Merely having co-founded an NPO does not make him 24/7 a representative of that NPO in his every action.

  12. rcg says:

    Here will be the biggest threat: they are going to hide the Church from Catholics and it will be very difficult to tell what it really coming from the Church and what is coming from the State. See China for how it is done. There will be ‘c’atholic media, ‘c’atholic politicians (already quite a few) and even clergy who will put their own views forward as those of the Church and contrary to actual Church teachings. The laity will divide into two groups, those who seek the Truth and those who seek answers that let them off the hook.

    It is just starting.

  13. … home of THE approved Marian Aparition in the United States. I think they’ll ride it out.

  14. Choirmaster says:

    @PA Mom: You are theoretically correct. However, I am so very sorry to say, the Constitution of the United States of America is no longer in force. It hasn’t been for a long time, at least in whole, and now it is a dead letter. We do not enjoy the protections of those 10, negative, limiting amendments any more.

    We’ve painted ourselves into a political corner. The only “hope” we have, barring catastrophic regime change affected by violent outlaws, is to elect politicians that will legislate and execute as if the Constitution were in force. But the winds of politics are shiftier than a Category 5 hurricane, and a political solution is at best temporary.

    Other possible “structural” changes to hope for are: (1) a Supreme Court of the United States that miraculously annuls 95% of federal legislation and executive power; or (2) a Constitutional Convention that basically “reconstitutes” the United States under the original provisions and we start again at Zero (I would prefer this scenario).

    Don’t forget, and don’t let your Governors forget, that these United States “are, and of right aught to be, free and independent states”.

  15. Christopher says:

    Wmeyer, one last question. Does the Bishop have freedom to act in his capacity as a private citizen under U.S. Law?

    God Bless.

  16. CatholicMD says:

    Bring it on. The Church thrives when persecuted. It’s the paradox of the Gospel, “whoever loses his life for my sake…”. Persecution has always been a means of separating the wheat from the chaff. I have always maintained that the “spirit” of Vatican II will be destroyed when it’s followers fall away during persecution. The Church that survives will be purified to more effectively proclaim the Gospel. The blood of the martyrs is seed.

  17. A couple of things about this irritate me…

    > Churches aren’t as “tax-exempt” as many people think.

    Some people have the idea, I think, that priests don’t pay taxes; unless we’re in a religious order that takes a vow of poverty, we do. I pay all the same taxes anyone else does. What’s more, churches pay property taxes on some properties, not all. The rectory where a priest lives is routinely taxed, at least in Ohio. I bet elsewhere. We can get free of sales taxes, if we produce the necessary paperwork; lots of times, that doesn’t happen, it’s too much trouble. And, yes, we don’t pay corporate income taxes–but then, if we were subject to them, we could, I think, easily maneuver around them. You have to make a profit don’t you? Plus, what about things like depreciation of property? We’d be able to use all those various loopholes and exemptions everyone else does. I suspect applying corporate income taxes and related business taxes to churches would yield precious little money. If it got pastors to care about what the gov’t does to ordinary businesspeople in this regard, it might be a net plus.

    > The notion that the Catholic Church is sitting, Smaug-like, on a vast pile of treasure continues. The truth is that if the government really tried to squeeze our “wealth” out of us, what would they get? They’d get to run our hospitals–good luck, taxpayers! They’d get back the kids now educated in our schools–that means a big tax increase. They’d get lots of real estate that can’t easily be sold; we know that already. If the gov’t suddenly acquired all our buildings, they’d soon want us to take it back. Sure, they could use some of it–strip some valuables–but most of it would be a huge headache; their headache.

    > I would like to have a tax attorney evaluate the following, which is only from my gut: What we could actually do, if we wanted, is to create a legal structure where we separate our charitable and educational activities into segregated funds, and have the taxable corporation be a very small operation indeed. That organization would pay the cost of the bishops and priests and overall administration–but exclude parishes, schools, charities etc. And the taxable corporation would surely not make a profit–and thus have no tax due. If it were up to me, I’d have it work out that we owed a dime a year. I’d be happy to deliver the dime, in person, every year.

  18. Christopher:

    I’m certain a bishop can say anything he pleases in his capacity as a private citizen–as far as the law goes. Same for me. Acting as a private citizen, I could endorse any candidate I choose. The gov’t has nothing to say about it.

    Of course, my archbishop would. And a bishop elects not to do such things out of prudence. But not because the law prevents him.

  19. Speravi says:

    Ephesian 6:12: “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” It seems that more and more the spirit of the world, the flesh, and the devil is rearing its ugly head against the Church in the USA. We do well not to forget that our work and our defenses are supernatural and that we have enemies at work who are far worse than the president. Perhaps the USA should revive the recitation of the Leonine prayers.

  20. sisu says:

    There is a growing movement to challenge the assumption of IRS policing of pastor’s free speech, and a defense fund which will back pastors who take the challenge. They are hoping to bring a case to the Supreme Court.
    The gag on Churches/pastor’s speech rights has nothing to do with “separation of church and state”, which in turn has nothing to do with the Constitution. The IRS code was enacted in 1954 by Johnson to punish non-profit anti-communist orgs that were speaking against him. Churches were effected by this, but were not the main target. It’s an anomaly that we still have this code effecting us today, and it erroneously reinforces the misperception by many that any morality informed by religious belief is forbidden from influencing political debate.

    If people want to claim the act of paying taxes grants your right to free speech, then are we proposing that those who do not pay taxes at all, because they do not make enough money, be barred from freely speaking? Shall we go further and insist you must own land to partake in political discourse? I thought we had gotten past that all.


  21. Southern Catholic says:

    The bishop should in turn have the IRS look into the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s tax exempt status.

  22. Christopher says:

    ‘If people want to claim the act of paying taxes grants your right to free speech, then are we proposing that those who do not pay taxes at all, because they do not make enough money, be barred from freely speaking? Shall we go further and insist you must own land to partake in political discourse? I thought we had gotten past that all.’ – Sisu.

    Not just the issue of Free Speech, but vote too?

    God Bless.

  23. Choirmaster says:

    @sisu: I propose, and not facetiously, that if they want to continue taxing income, only the taxed should have a right to vote!

    Or, maybe less constricting, would be that the reception of government entitlements waives your right to vote until such entitlements are ended or denied.

  24. Devo35 says:

    How long is this vastly incorrect interpretation of the separation of Church and State clause going to be tolerated by everyone? The clause protects the Church from the State- not the other way around- yet everyone in the Church seems to cower when the words are mentioned.

  25. Mariazell says:

    I thought todays’ reading was very appropriate.

    1 Corinthians 3: 9 – 11, 16 – 17
    9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
    10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it.
    11 For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
    16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
    17 If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are.

  26. sisu says:

    Indeed. Any right.
    We seem to be trending towards the reduction of our basic rights to “privileges” for which we must collectively bargain the government, proving our particular groups’ usefulness or power.
    This is evident in the HHS mandate which picks and chooses who is exempt, not on principle and basic rights, but on usefulness or threat to the current administration. And so the Church is then targeted, and although the administration will invoke “principles” of some sort for making religious people and orgs violate their principles, and to gag their speech, it is arbitrary and intended to marginalize and exclude religion from the life of the nation.

  27. Johnno says:

    I say the best strategy here is for every Diocese around America to file frivilous lawsuits against the FFF. Let’s see how long they’ll last.

  28. jhayes says:

    Perhaps worth reading a different view from Fr. Schroth at “America”

    “Late Tuesday night I left my desk for to join 10,000 people swarming around the ice rink at Rockefeller Center where NBC was doing its coverage with giant screens on the skyscraper walls and a map on the ice of the U.S. with the states marked red and blue as the votes came it. It was very cold and all, average age of 25, were bundled up against the elements, but having a good time, though at least 80 percent were texting their absent friends rather that looking up or around.

    In our family we were trained to keep our enthusiasm in check concerning events we looked forward to but, for some reason, might not happen. I had read enough analyses to be rationally confident Obama would win; but, having lived through Nixon, Reagan, and two Bushes, I was emotionally primed to ride with it if we lost. So I bought a 2 dollar hot dog and went back to my 8th floor room on 56th St., made a cup of hot tea and turned on the tube. By 11:15 CNN declared Obama the winner. My emotion was not elation but relief.”

    Read his explantion of why: http://americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&entry_id=5485

  29. benedetta says:

    jhayes, Thanks, but no thanks!

  30. jhayes says:

    Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

    Definition of DEFROCK

    1: to deprive (as a priest) of the right to exercise the functions of office
    2: to remove from a position of honor or privilege

    Examples of DEFROCK

    First Known Use of DEFROCK


  31. Southern Catholic says:

    @ jhayes, how exactly is that relevant to the topic at hand?

    Either way, it certainly was not a good read.

  32. rodin says:

    The first amendment to the Constitution places restrictions upon the Congress regarding the establishment and free exercise of religion and abridgment of freedom of speech. Thus, it is the Church that is declared free of meddling from the state. That is just the reverse of what most people blather about. Even were Bishop Ricken to have mentioned a particular person or party it would seem he is free to do so. As it is he confined his remarks to a defense of moral law. It is, in fact, secular organizations that seek to interject themselves and the state into matters in which they lack competence and authority under the constitution.

    Just curious, but were the Church to lose it’s exemption under the tax law would it not then be free to name names with impunity? And were that to happen wouldn’t it be letting the genie out of the bottle? Not something I would recommend.

  33. brianvzn says:

    They should change their name to the Freedom from Salvation Foundation.

  34. John V says:

    I must have missed the report about the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s request for the IRS to investigate Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church, the Nashville AME church, et al. Guess I’ll have to go back and look again.

  35. Bea says:

    I wonder if the “Freedom from Religion” group will go after them, too, as they did with Bishop Rickens?

  36. Bea says:

    “Here will be the biggest threat: they are going to hide the Church from Catholics”

    That’s already been done (if by “they” you mean the bishops)

  37. SKAY says:

    Exactly John V. Perhaps they need to be reminded of Rev. Wright, etc. — unless of course they are hypocrites.

  38. Bea says:

    Speaking of “Payback”

    Here’s what’s coming next weekend:
    from: http://www.lesfemmes-thetruth.org/

    Les Femmes
    Friday, November 9, 2012
    Question for the Day Sparked by Thoughts of the Upcoming CCHD Collection
    In view of the information below about the U.S. bishops’ domestic “charity,” the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), I have a question:

    Who is more zealous about winning souls?
    The prince of this world or the U.S. bishops?

    Who wants to answer that:

    Who is more zealous about winning souls?
    The prince of this world or the U.S. bishops?

  39. oldcanon2257 says:

    Whenever this subject (of persecution of Catholics in modern times) comes up, I keep remembering the recent quote by His Eminence Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago:

    “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

    I had seen first hand in Vietnam during those years of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when the communist government there were actively persecuting the Church with an iron fist, that the Church just thrived under persecution. The more her priests and faithful were persecuted, the stronger and purer their faith became.

  40. RJHighland says:

    You know I heard a number of protestant pasters, over 2000 of them this year, have been trying to get the IRS to take them to court on this for over 10 yrs. From what I understand politician and political action groups use as a threat but no church has every lost its tax exempt status for taking indirect or direct politial positions in sermons or homilies. The bishop should try to get this into the court system and run it up to the Supreme Court so they can’t hang this over the Church’s head anymore. The lefts fear is that if it would get over turned in the Supreme Court pastors would actually start preaching to the flocks. Many progressive Bishops and priests use this as an excuse to not preach on these politically charged topics. I have personal experience with that one in my diocese.

  41. wooo-HOOOOO! If they think they’re going to cow David Ricken they’ve got another thing coming!
    Let… the Games.. Begin!

  42. oldcanon2257 says:

    I just read Francis Cardinal George’s recent column, titled “The Wrong Side of History”, on the site of the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago. I hope Father Z won’t mind me sharing the link to the article here:


    Very interesting article where His Eminence lamented about the growing anti-Catholic sentiment in a secularized America (or world, for that matter).

    Even though His Eminence attempted to downplay his well-known simple-but-thought-provoking comment/observation/prediction (about the fate of his successors as related to the coming persecution of the Church), I think he had been seeing clearly for a while what is already happening on the ground and what is to come. My impression, based on the tone of the article (and the fact he’s now 75), is that His Eminence seems to have some regrets about some things he had failed to do (or didn’t do sooner) during his episcopacy?

    Anyhow, he quoted something Cardinal Mundelein said in 1937 to his priests (about Hitler and Nazi Germany and the beginning of the persecution of the Church in Germany):

    “There is no guarantee that the battle-front may not stretch some day into our own land. Hodie mihi cras tibi. (Today it’s me; tomorrow, you). If we show no interest in this matter now, if we shrug our shoulders and mutter … it is not our fight, if we don’t back up the Holy Father when we have a chance, well, when our turn comes, we too will be fighting alone.”

  43. SKAY says:

    From CNS–

    “The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released the results of an informal exit poll on Friday that shows more than 85 percent of American Muslim voters picked President Barack Obama in Tuesday’s election.”

    This is no surprise. They have no problem with voting for a pro abortion, pro ssm candidate since he is obviously pro Muslim also. It is about the spread of Islam in the US.

  44. Kerry says:

    If the (“it goes up to”) eleven members of the FFRF are chortling to themselves, ‘Payback is hell’, whence their chortling should they discover that hell is payback?

  45. Kerry says:

    jhayse, cf. Father Schroth, “…climate change and gun control”. Did the editors there leave off the last sentence, i.e., “Sarcasm off”? (By the way, you do know that firearm confiscation was created to deny freed slaves the 2nd Amendment? Although as the TWo is equally as much a hoax as ‘Climate change’, there is some irony there.)

  46. PA mom says:

    Guys, what is trying to be accomplished is not so much the onset of corporate taxes, so many of our Churches run at break even that I do not think that is it.
    Real estate taxes applied not just to the residence but the churches themselves. Think of how priceless one could argue some of the church buildings are. A hospital near us was bought and changed from a nonprofit to a for profit and 900 thousand dollar tax bill arrived. Still fear not!

  47. Scott W. says:

    Fr. Z needs to institute Sour Grapes from the Victors award.

  48. catholicmidwest says:

    The federal government had better be careful. If they revoke our tax status, the gag and muzzle will come off the Church. I don’t think they want that.

  49. pmullane says:

    I hope I’m wrong, but I can foresee an acceleration of persecution coming for the Church both in America and consequently the rest of the west after Tuesdays result, which has bolstered the secularist and Islamist left. The secularists will persecute the Church through the courts and tax systems, and individual Christians, especially Catholics, will be persecuted for crimes against the liberal orthodoxy. For example, you try and defend traditional marriage and keep your job, and eventually your liberty. They will lay the legal groundwork for the persecution of Christians, and then will come the Muslims, and the blood will start to flow…

  50. ByzCath08 says:

    I’m tired of the strip you tax exempt status hanging over us. Do it. Take it. At that point, the Church can begin to freely speak the truth about political parties and specific politicians from the pulpit. I will gladly increase my weekly contribution to make up the difference.

  51. Random Friar says:

    Don’t forget: the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision, expanding eminent domain monstrously, which can be used against churches. It has already been contemplated and attempted.

    My, my, St. Patrick’s in NYC or the National Shrine sure look like valuable real estate which could be used to generate taxes, does it not?

  52. wmeyer says:

    Don’t forget: the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision

    Also do not forget Rev. Niemoller’s poem:

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
    Then they came for the socialists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.

    It will not serve us well to remain silent in the face of any act of tyranny.

  53. rodin says:

    Thank you RJHighland for your comments. Since I am an expert on nothing it is good to read observations from someone who knows something about it. It just seemed to me that without the tax exempt status for the churches the priests and other ministers would become much more of a threat to the left and it would behoove the left to be careful what they ask for. However, I do not like the idea of a political harangue from the pulpit.

  54. SKAY says:

    “They will lay the legal groundwork for the persecution of Christians, and then will come the Muslims, and the blood will start to flow…”

    I agree pmullane. Both the communists and muslims in the US celebrated Obama’s election.

Comments are closed.