We’ve seen a huge influx in religion based politics and it hasn’t been to the benefit of anyone but a select few. There is a call to tax the churches and make them start paying their share. After all they are enjoying both the privilege of tax free and playing politics. You can’t have both. Right?

The old way of thinking was that if churches were taxed then the big bad government would tax them into oblivion and we’d end up with an atheist/ communist dystopia. So by not taxing the church we are in fact nurturing freedom of religion.

But we’ve seen a huge influx in political religion, or is it religious political? Either way it’s bad.

The rights of all individuals are being infringed upon by a noisy religious minority.

This is really frustrating to people like John Oliver, who did a brilliant segment on taxing churches.  John’s argument is superb, witty, and clever. He pulls no punches and makes it clear that not taxing these churches is a detriment to society. But he is wrong.

This church wants to be taxed.

We absolutely should not tax churches. Not because of their fears of being regulated out of existence by big government. (Which is a false fear), But because once that genie is out of the bottle, there is no getting it back in.

When any group accepts a tax exemption, it agrees to play by certain rules and accept a certain degree of oversight. Federal law actually makes it more difficult for the IRS to audit churches than other charities. In addition to this modest “no electioneering” rule, for example, tax-exempt groups cannot collect money for a “charitable” purpose and then use it all for the personal benefit of the director and her family (or the pastor and his family). Do you seriously believe that the IRS and possibly even criminal investigative bodies have no right to try to scrutinize possible misbehavior?
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn is executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a longtime civil liberties attorney.

Tax exempt means that churches don’t get to play openly in politics. You should not ever hear your pastor preaching from the pulpit and encouraging you to vote for a specific candidate. Churches don’t get to raise funds for elections and etc.

We do see religious leaders trying to skirt the fringes of the law and stick their fingers into the political honeypot. We’ve seen religious people taking our Civil Rights and twisting them out of existence. How or why we are allowing the meddling that we see today, I don’t know. I’m sure someone can explain it. But that doesn’t mean we open the gates of hell and give church’s legal political rights. The separation of Church and State is too vitally important to start taxing churches. Pastors, in case you weren’t aware, do pay taxes on their income. (I could flesh these thoughts out more but I’m going to leave it here for now.)

I use this example of Church and Taxes to illustrate a finer point.

Just because it seems to make sense doesn’t mean it’s logical or right or safe.

Drivers rights.

Minnesota is one of 13 states that makes refusing a breath test a crime. In 2014, there were more than 25,000 DWI arrests in Minnesota, and an estimated one in seven Minnesotans has a DWI. Via: CBS Minnesota

Drunk drivers are the scourge of our public right of ways. ( I say public right of way because if I said “Highway” you would think I’m referring to asphalt. A river is also a highway. Drinking and operating a boat is illegal.)

Highway: Public Right of Way commonly used for travel.

When you are operating a vehicle, you have a responsibility to operate carefully and with regard for other road users. Drinking and driving is showing a complete lack of regard for anyone but yourself. So is speeding and/or texting while driving. In fact anything you do in your car that takes your focus off of not killing yourself, your passengers, or anyone else on the road is a completely selfish act.

Operating a motorized vehicle is a huge responsibility. One which we take for granted. Much like churches being tax exempt keeps “church and state separate,” is taken for granted.

We see all the bad that comes from people driving drunk and we think that this gives us the right to take away the constitutional rights of drivers. It doesn’t.

Police are still duty bound to uphold the civil and constitutional rights of the people they are investigating. Any breach of this duty and bad things happen. If the Supreme Court rules that it’s legal to suspend constitutional rights because “driving,” then we have a real problem on our hands. There wouldn’t be anything to stop them from searching your backpack or saddlebags as you bike commute around town. Refusing an unreasonable search would be enough to land you in jail.

Cyclists and Drivers have a real opportunity to come together on this one. Your Constitutional rights don’t evaporate once you get behind a wheel.

The Minnesota case is interesting and I believe that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in the favor of the defendant. Or at least I sure as hell hope so.

That doesn’t mean I’m in favor of people driving drunk or about to drive drunk.* What it means is that I am in favor of cops following the law and not acting like they are somehow magically above the law because they have a badge.

Suspending someone’s Constitutional rights because they are operating a car is a slippery slope and once that genie is out of the bottle…Well you know the rest.

There is this niggling thought in my head that the auto industry and the government have a symbiotic relationship. Like drugs and needles. To inject the drug you need the needle.

We have a lot of drugged out people wanting that next injection.

Government bailouts of the auto industry. Increased spending on widening roads. building new roads, while the infrastructure we currently have is crumbling.

The best way to eliminate drunk driving is to yank licenses. It isn’t a right to have a license. It is your right to travel. But how  you travel is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

Why we need to focus on sharing the road.

Part of sharing the road entails creating safe places for people to operate vehicles which are not autos. This can be through infrastructure but it can also be through education about cyclists right to use the roads we already have. Public transportation is another way we share the road. It serves the greater good to invest in public transportation, sidewalks, and low speed roads designed with bicyclist and pedestrians as priority.

Giving people choices on how to get from point A to point B is good moral governance. It gives the court options on how to deal with DWI or DUI offenders that it normally wouldn’t have. Good judges want to help people who appear in their court. Good prosecutors do not want to keep seeing the same people over and over again because they have a problem that is bigger than them. There are bad courts** out there too but I’m going to write this under the hope that they are few and far inbetween.

We don’t need to have the government strip away our Civil and Constitutional Rights away because we are auto dependent. We need to get away from our auto dependency and our abusive supplier. But to do that we need some serious rehab in the way of sharing the road.

 

 

*(I pissed off my then husband because I called the cops when he drove drunk to go get more beer. The police took the information I gave them and didn’t do anything about it. My ex made it to the store and back without killing himself or anyone else. Which just goes to show that stupid is often rewarded in society.)

**Nicholasville Kentucky, Judge Oliver, the County Prosecutor and his entire staff. These are a shining example of bad courts. My crime; being too poor to afford a car and riding a bicycle for transportation to and from work. 

 

 

 

 

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