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January 2, 2013
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Religious 501(c)3 discrimination. (Or, the IRS doesn't do its job for Churches)

:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
I should start off by talking about nonprofit organizations, which are all 501(c)'s of one sort of another. [link]
Wikipedia has a list with short explanations, I suggest a quick once-over, specifically looking at 501(c)3, and 501(c)4.

Basically, a 501(c)3 organization is given tax-exempt status, and its donors get to write off donations to it; but the organization cannot endorse candidates or lobby.
Religious organizations fall under the 501(c)3 code, as well as charities like the Red Cross, St. Judes, Toys for Tots, etc. This is all fine and good, many of them do very good work for their causes and communities. In fact, this is what the 501(c)3 tax code was created for, to encourage people to give money to charitable efforts to help everyone. They are allowed to advocate for issues, but directly supporting a candidate, or lobbying is verboten. A 501(c)3 organization could say that abortion was wrong, but it couldn't say "Obama wants to abort your babies." It can also advocate for cancer solutions, but it cannot claim that "Romney's policies would stagnate cancer research."

A 501(c)4 organization is given tax-exempt status, and can endorse candidates and lobby, as long as it's for social welfare; but donors cannot write off donations to it. A
501(c)4 is almost the same thing as a (c)3, but with political contributions involved. It dropped the tax-exemption for donors, because the people writing the tax code, showing infinite wisdom, decided that political donations should not be tax deductible (consequentially, this is the tax-exempt group that has ballooned since Citizen's United). All those new PACs are 501(c)4's, if you want a better picture of what that entails.

The sad thing is? I don't know about you, but I heard any number of preachers using their pulpits to say: VOTE FOR ROMNEY/OBAMA. This is illegal, and every single one of them should have lost their non-profit status for it. But none of them did.

[link]
Apparently, the IRS has changed its policy, and is not auditing 501(c)3 churches that endorse politicians, even though there are a record number of complaints. This creates a loophole for political speech, which lets candidates with churches behind them circumvent taxes by laundering money through 501(c)3 organizations. The funny thing? Just switching churches to 501(c)3 to 501(c)4 organizations would be enough for them to operate within the spirit, as well as letter of the law, without immediately hurting the churches bottom line.

So why isn't anything being done?
Well, I'd like to throw out any number of hypothesises (hypothesie? hypothesii? SCREW IT, GUESSES).
1: Nobody wants to deal with the fallout for doing the right thing. This, I think, is the biggest problem. Nobody wants to be seen as the guy who said, "fuck it, I'm gonna tax churches!", even though a change from c3 to c4 would not actually tax churches. Many of them already have a very acute persecution complex, feeding into it in any way could be a death sentence for re-election (see: war on Christmas).
2: Bush. Well, I don't think he's why nothing is being done, I think he was one of the big causes behind the whole problem. By appointing partisan judges, he tilted as much of what was supposed to be a non-partisan-meritocracy as he could into a partisan-shill-fest (one need only remember the whole Meyer's appointment fiasco to get my point).
3: What happens when the IRS inevitably takes these cases into hostile conservative courts? The way the IRS sees it, any case that comes into the courts will inevitably cut the IRS's power to collect revenue. Being a bunch of bean-counters, they figure that the entire situation is no good for them right now.

Questions? Opinions? Barely concealed gestures of contempt?
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Devious Comments

:icontheredsnifit:
TheRedSnifit Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013
I suspect that it's because the IRS doesn't want to spend a ton of money extracting a tiny amount of money from church donors. I'm pretty certain that the IRS makes this same choice when faced with similar non-church scenarios.
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013
It never really was about revenue when it came to this issue, it was about keeping charities from turning into political machines that people can donate to and not pay taxes for.
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:iconlaciemelhart:
LacieMelhart Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013  Professional Photographer
I could never understand why churches are tax exempt.
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:iconnovuso:
Novuso Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
The Preacher could be speaking for himself thus this would fall under the protection of the first amendment. Pretty much case closed right there.

If you want to complain about tax exempt status complain about the large billionaire funded foundations.

Ford Foundation
Rockefeller Foundation
Carnegie Foundation
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Buffet Foundation
etc...

Pretty much every billionaire has one, why is that? It is because these are not charities they are tax havens to protect their estates. These foundations are frauds they use to dodge income tax and estate tax. Billionaires can't pass their estates onto their children so they create a tax exempt foundation and then give the proprietorship of the foundation to their children. That is how it works. This has been going on for 100 years since the income tax started in 1913. This loophole was in the tax code from day 1. When income tax started suddenly JD Rockefeller and other robber barons became poor men because they gave all their money way to "charity" so they didn't have to pay any tax. How convenient.


~tehbigd, you have your priorities so out of whack here. Stop worrying about the five bucks some old lady puts in the tithe tray and worry about what the billionaire class is doing in robbing the country blind with their frauds.

Warren Buffett once admitted "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning." He wants to raise taxes because he doesn't have to pay the taxes himself. They got us all fooled but that is about to change because people are starting to wake up and you would be wise to wake up too.
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013
My priorities are to end preferential treatment for religious bodies under the tax code. If you do not think that is an important issue, that's fine, but it is one that is rarely discussed. Class warfare, on the other hand, is an issue that sees plenty of of air-time.
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:iconmaddmatt:
maddmatt Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
I have family that has worked in educational technology under grants from Bill and Melinda Gates as well as Michael Dell's foundation. Tax shelter or not, they are doing some amazing things in this country and others where government simply is too inefficient.
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:iconnovuso:
Novuso Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
What they give out in grants is a pittance compared to what they keep for themselves. These foundations get bigger every year because they give out less than what they earn in interest. Either way all of it should be taxed.
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:iconmaddmatt:
maddmatt Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
Can you give me some amounts that show the foundation is just a sham?
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:iconzer05um:
Zer05um Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Professional General Artist
I'm in favour of taxing churches, temples etc as luxuries.
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:iconmaddmatt:
maddmatt Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
Most of them make zero profit. So you would be taxing nothing.
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:iconzer05um:
Zer05um Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
Exactly, but those that do (and I'm thinking cynical televangelists etc) would be screwed. As would, of course, Scientology, Catholicism et al.

Certainly lose charitable donation status for donations to such organisations, unless they split the ministry from the social welfare element. That would be a good solution.
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:iconmaddmatt:
maddmatt Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013
Much ado about nothing.
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:iconjeysie:
Jeysie Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
They're just luring us into a false complacency before they unleash their secret force of SWAT officers. Schemer says they have them, anyway.

But... honestly... I don't think a preacher saying to vote for a candidate technically counts as lobbying, any more than me telling my friends and family to vote for a certain person does. Only if you could prove people were forced to obey in some way.
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:icontacosteev:
tacosteev Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist
I agree. I've been to a few churches over the years and only one really said anything related to politics. It was pretty much "I might vote for someone you don't like and you might vote for someone I don't like. Just get out and vote."

I've never seen a particular candidate or party promoted over the pulpit at any church I've attended.
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:iconjeysie:
Jeysie Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Yeah, at best I've heard "I think we need to vote for bla bla bla because bla bla bla." Which the preacher has a right to say. And you of course have the right to agree or disagree. Certainly the preacher isn't representing any other views but their own.

You could make a case for Bishops (or, uh, whatever the non-Catholic equivalents are) not being allowed to sponsor candidates, I suppose, since they actually would constitute something closer to an official position of the Church. But ironically they also have less influence since they don't have as much direct contact with the believers. (Hell, I was raised Catholic and I couldn't even tell you which Bishop/Archbishop covers my neck of the woods.)

Personally I think the companies saying "If <x> doesn't get in I'll fire you" are a much bigger threat to worry about. I'd feel more pressure over losing my job than I would disagreeing with my pastor on something relatively minor in the grand ecclesiastical scheme.</x>
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
Your friends and family are not charitable non-profit organizations, are they?
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:iconjeysie:
Jeysie Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Neither is the preacher or the congregation.

Alternatively: I don't know, I get and give money and I sure ain't making a profit...

Point being, while I agree it's dodgy, a preacher has the same right to express their views as I do to any friends who look to me for advice and a parent has to their children. They have a right to discuss which politicians they feel best represent their congregation's beliefs, especially since being an advisor on life matters is part of a preacher's remit. I honestly don't know how to deal with that without either abrogating their freedom of speech or turning churches into tax-paying organizations which opens up a ton of other cans of worms.

Do you really want churches to be able to officially lobby a la corporations? *shudder* They're already bad enough on that call.
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
Neither is the preacher
His Church is, and he is a representative of it. There are restrictions that come with that classification, as well as benefits. One of these restrictions is that they may not directly endorse any candidate, or else they lose their exempt status. This is not a matter of playing favoritism, or even free speech: 501(c)3 charities are not allowed to use their money and position to endorse candidates, and in return receive several tax benefits.

They have a right to discuss which politicians they feel best represent their congregation's beliefs, especially since being an advisor on life matters is part of a preacher's remit.
They do have this right, true, but they do not have the right to be insulated from consequences of their actions. In this case, the consequence according to the law is losing their tax-exempt status. If they wish to endorse candidates, they should file under the appropriate non-profit category, which I pointed out is a 501(c)4 organization.
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:iconjeysie:
Jeysie Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
"His Church is, and he is a representative of it."

He's a representative of his interpretation of the Church. There's plenty of preachers out there who don't always agree with all of official church doctrine and don't always preach it fully, choosing to instead preach their own version of it.

Certainly, for instance, where I live the Catholic churches don't harp very much on birth control and are usually supportive towards gay people, despite neither of those things being official positions of the Church, to put it mildly.

"501(c)3 charities are not allowed to use their money and position to endorse candidates,"

And the preacher is not officially endorsing a candidate on behalf of the church, so there's no problem.

"They do have this right, true, but they do not have the right to be insulated from consequences of their actions."

There's no more consequences of their actions than I any I would suffer from advising on who to vote for because someone once gave me money.

"If they wish to endorse candidates, they should file under the appropriate non-profit category, which I pointed out is a 501(c)4 organization."

And which is a pretty much utterly meaningless gesture, seeing as how most people who donate to the church don't do so enough to bother itemizing anyway, making it a waste of a time and a symbolic gesture at best. The IRS has better things to do than waste court time and the resulting PR mess to fight over something that in the end would do almost zip in terms of practical result.

Plus you'd mostly hurt the middle class, since those of them who do make enough to itemize benefit from it more than the rich do, since their charitable contributions are a larger burden to them, and the reduction in taxes a greater help.

Look, I'm agnostic and bisexual, I don't like the church's influence on politics any more than you do. But there's no case here worth fighting. It would cause way more shit than it would give a benefit.

Personally I think you'd be better off trying to encourage the Religious Left and tackle it from that angle, to ensure that if the church is going to be stealth lobbying, they're at least stealth lobbying for greater charity and tolerance.
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013

He's a representative of his interpretation of the Church. There's plenty of preachers out there who don't always agree with all of official church doctrine and don't always preach it fully, choosing to instead preach their own version of it.

That does not change the fact that they represent their churches.


And the preacher is not officially endorsing a candidate on behalf of the church, so there's no problem.

Is he on the pulpit? Is he doing it in the church newsletter? Is he doing it in any situation where he represents his church, like a bake sale or camping trip? Does he preface his political position with "I'm a priest in the Catholic Church?" Then he is endorsing a candidate on behalf of the church.

There's no more consequences of their actions than I any I would suffer from advising on who to vote for because someone once gave me money.
Once again, are you a 501(c)3 organization?


And which is a pretty much utterly meaningless gesture, seeing as how most people who donate to the church don't do so enough to bother itemizing anyway, making it a waste of a time and a symbolic gesture at best.

It's not meaningless at all. It means that they are not getting preferable treatment under the law.

Plus you'd mostly hurt the middle class, since those of them who do make enough to itemize benefit from it more than the rich do, since their charitable contributions are a larger burden to them, and the reduction in taxes a greater help.

They can donate to any number of charities that will still count towards deductions, or even join a church that does not endorse politicians.

But there's no case here worth fighting.
Every case of religious favoritism under the law is worth fighting.
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:iconjeysie:
Jeysie Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
"That does not change the fact that they represent their churches."

It's not a fact to begin with.

"Then he is endorsing a candidate on behalf of the church."

Nope, he's endorsing a candidate on behalf of himself.

"Once again, are you a 501(c)3 organization?"

Nope, and neither is the preacher.

"It means that they are not getting preferable treatment under the law."

One, no it doesn't, since they're not getting preferential treatment to begin with. Two, even if they were, it's so negligible that the great harm and effort in combating it would outweigh any benefit.

"They can donate to any number of charities that will still count towards deductions, or even join a church that does not endorse politicians."

You really don't understand how faith and religion work, do you?

"Every case of religious favoritism under the law is worth fighting."

Nope, that's the retarded liberal approach, where you retardedly shoot yourself in the foot by doing a cure that's worse than the disease.

I mean, what are you trying to accomplish? Turning every single religious person against you, including the religious people who are currently your allies? Letting the Religious Right successfully paint the government as trying to silence them and take away their freedom of speech, thus gaining them a shitload of support? All to gain a few pennies?

I mean, they're already out there trying to claim Christians are being persecuted and treated as second-class. Right now they're being mostly ignored by all but the most die-hard Christians. Do something like this, and suddenly they're look a lot less fringe.

Seriously, I'm fucking tired of liberals being retarded about image, PR, and how the system works, in favor of adhering to ideology even if it fucks them over. Grow some damn brains, because I'm tired of you fucking up the things I support.
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013
they're already out there trying to claim Christians are being persecuted and treated as second-class.
And what's being done to them? Nothing. It is a persecution complex, a delusion, and it's not just die-hard Christians that fall into the trap, every idiot who forwards a war on Christmas chain letter, complains about the lack of prayer in school, or sneers at the word secular feeds it. It's going to be there and persist no matter what happens, and giving these people a wide berth under the law will simply embolden them to act worse. Give them an inch, and they will push harder to find something to complain about.
This is why every single instance of religious favoritism is worth fighting.
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(1 Reply)
:iconsteinb:
steinb Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
It's a simple question of power, IMHO.

If the IRS did the right thing, the right would very likely be able to use it to great gain politically. That wouldn't exactly put whoever is to take the blame at the IRS into a good position...he or she would fall out of favor, lose the job and prospects for just about any future in the public service sector.

The REAL question is how to fix the system such that the right thing gets done.
The answer is that not doing the right thing must create more voter outrage than doing the right thing.
The presumably huge differences in prospects (between the stay-in-favor bonus and the lacking opportunities after doing the right thing) must be reduced to the point that public servants actually dare try serving the public.

Having seen a public sector (government science in another country, Germany) firsthand, I'm rather pessimistic, though. Even if voters change towards caring about whether the right thing is done, we still need to replace public servants with real people, rather than that special bread that somehow acts as if they not just don't dare admit to these issues existing, but rather as if they were genuinely blind to them. My impression is that Upton Sinclair got it right when saying that it's difficult to make a man understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.
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:iconkitsumekat:
kitsumekat Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
Church and state was never separated. If it was, there would be no tax exemption clause for churches. Also, these churches can do whatever they want as long as, you guessed it, they play by the rules.
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:iconcrotale:
Crotale Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
Unions do not pay taxes on member dues or expenses geared towards labor relations. They do, however, pay taxes on political contributions, which is the one area churches are forbidden to enter in order to remain tax exempt. Therefore, what is your point?
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
That Churches are entering politics, and not paying taxes on political contributions. They are given a special status over and above any other non-profit organization.
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:iconcrotale:
Crotale Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
Advocating an issue is not entering the political realm. Not directly. If you want to go that route, however, then labor unions should pay taxes on all revenue, since they do directly contribute to political persons/groups.
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013
True, advocating an issue is not entering the political realm. I'm talking about endorsing candidates, which is forbidden to 501(c)3 organizations.
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:iconcrotale:
Crotale Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2013
Are churches in fact endorsing candidates? If so, they are in direct violation of 501(c) regulations.
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
As many as 1,900 did last election, without any reprisal from the IRS (as a protest, they claim). In truth, it seemed like more of a way for partisans to claim that "god's on my side!" than anything else.
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:iconcrotale:
Crotale Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
The churches themselves campaigned?
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:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2013
Pastors endorsed candidates from their pulpits, mostly.
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(1 Reply)
:iconsonrouge:
sonrouge Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
Perhaps if politicians were a little more respectful of religious freedom, churches wouldn't need to speak out? Funny how separation of church and state is applied half-assed.
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:iconmgonzales041090:
mgonzales041090 Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Right...Religious freedom...You'll have to remind me which group, the church or the government, is trying to deny rights to people based on their sexual orientation.
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:iconenuocale:
EnuoCale Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Both.
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:iconsonrouge:
sonrouge Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
Two wrongs don't make a right, something I think even you should be able to understand.
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:iconmgonzales041090:
mgonzales041090 Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Not sure why you bring that up. I wasn't suggesting two wrongs make anything. I was pointing out that one group is clearly trying to force religious principle onto the rest of the nation. It isn't the government. It's the church. The church is the one trying to deny the same rights to homosexuals as they are to heterosexuals.
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:iconsonrouge:
sonrouge Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
And I'm against that and speaking out against it. However, unlike some people, my support for individual rights is universal, and it is just as wrong to force a religious person to act against their beliefs (regarding something that doesn't involve the use of force against others) as it is to use force to prevent homosexuals from marrying.

A problem I notice with a lot of people is that they will fight tooth and nail for what they believe are their own rights (ignoring the fact that there are no "women's rights", "worker's rights", "homosexual rights", etc, but only INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS), yet turn a blind eye when someone else's rights are violated. You'll forgive me for not wanting to be a part of such hypocrisy.
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:icondivine--apathia:
divine--apathia Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
So why don't you speak out about the states in America in which being Christian is a legal requirement to become a governor?
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:iconmaddmatt:
maddmatt Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
Which states?
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:icondivine--apathia:
divine--apathia Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
South Carolina requires:
1) Belief in the existence of a Supreme Being. (2) Be at least 30 years of age. (3) Citizen of the United States and a resident of South Carolina for 5 years preceding the day of election


Though, that is more requiring you to be religious, not christian.

Massachusetts requires:

governor shall be chosen [annually]; and no person shall be eligible to this office, unless at the time of his election, he shall have been an inhabitant of this commonwealth for seven years next preceding; [and unless he shall at the same time, be seised in his own right, of a freehold within the commonwealth of the value of one thousand pounds; and unless he shall declare himself to be of the Christian religion.

One can argue that this is what the people of the state want as governor, however, that argument can be negated. If an atheist/non-Christian is able to run for election, nothing is stopping people for not voting for them, is there? :shrug:

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(2 Replies)
:icontehbigd:
tehbigd Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
Texas and Alabama to start. There's about 13 of them, if I recall correctly.
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(1 Reply)
:iconsonrouge:
sonrouge Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
Perhaps if you actually gave a damn instead of just being out to show me up, maybe you'd know I am?

Seriously, little girl, these pathetic attempts of yours to make a fool out of me are growing old. Do you not have something better to do with your time than nitpick over small things that rarely happen just to bother me?
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:icondivine--apathia:
divine--apathia Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Oh cute, you think that I single you out :lmao:

How big is your ego, boy?
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(1 Reply)
:iconragerancher:
Ragerancher Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
In what way have religious freedoms, especially Christian religious freedoms, been infringed? There is quite a persecution complex in some US Christian groups such as their delusional "war on Christmas" etc.
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:iconsonrouge:
sonrouge Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013
The mandate on providing conception drugs, for one.

This as well:

[link]
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:icondivine--apathia:
divine--apathia Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
So I suppose we should allow human sacrifice in the name of religion too, huh?
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:iconmaddmatt:
maddmatt Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
We do it in the name of Women's Rights.
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:iconmgonzales041090:
mgonzales041090 Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
*head desk*
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:iconmaddmatt:
maddmatt Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013
Getting smarter? Might work.
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