Over at "Slap Upside the Head," Slap documents the appalling persecution of Canada's Christians:
The Kings Glory Fellowship, a Protestant church in Calgary, Alberta, has lost their tax exempt status because they spent too much time involved in political activities outside the church, including actively campaigning against gay rights.
Religious officials are pretty miffed, including Calgary’s Bishop Fred Henry, who said this incident was “clearly meant to muzzle religious leaders.”
The reality is, of course, much more mundane:
Tax exemptions, you see, are only available for charitable causes, not political ones. If a church wishes to actively affect policy for those that have nothing to do with its religion or beliefs, it becomes part of the public sphere and must contribute to it with income and property taxes. Once they do, they’re free to go outside of their congregations to lecture, publish, organize, put on charming foil hats, bang on pots and pans for effect, terrorize minority groups with neon signs, and do all the other things that wacky, anti-gay lobby and activist groups do. No leather jaw restraints required.
If a church doesn’t want to contribute to the public realm with taxes, then they can abide by their own decision and limit their political influence to inside their private congregations.
A better explanation would be hard to come by. Canadian churches have the luxury of being tax-exempt as long as they confine their activities to religion. Once they get heavily involved in politics, they lose their tax exemption. No one is trying to "muzzle" anyone. All that's happening is that, if a church decides it wants to be overtly political, it has no right to expect the Canadian taxpayer to subsidize it.
And now, we wait for the inevitable deluge of Blogging Tories screaming, howling and screeching about religious persecution. Wait for it ... you know it's coming.
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