Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Church Classification for Capitol Hill Townhouse Questioned

Both the New York Times and the Washington Post report on a letter (full text) sent yesterday to the Internal Revenue Service by a group of Ohio mainline Protestant clergy. The signers, members of Clergy VOICE, question the tax-exempt status of the C Street Center which owns a town house on Capitol Hill that provides inexpensive lodging and meals for conservative Christian members of Congress. The letter argues that the C Street Center does not qualify as a church under IRS regulations.

Apparently there is a close relationship between the Center and the Fellowship Foundation that sponsors the National Prayer Breakfast. J. Robert Hunter, a member of the Fellowship, said that "there are religious services all the time" at the C Street Center. He added it is also "a safe place where politicians who are tempted by lust would hold each other accountable." The Center has received notoriety because at least four politicians involved in extra-marital affairs have lived at or used the Center-- South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Nevada Senator John Ensign, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, and Mississippi Representative Charles W. "Chip" Pickering, Jr. Last year D.C. tax authorities classified the Center as 66% taxable. [Thanks to Scott Mange and Wall of Separation for the leads.]


Barb said...

It is a Christian ministry. It qualifies for tax exemption. Mainline churches are just jealous that they are losing members because their churches no longer stand for Biblical accountability on anything.

DistributeWealth said...

They should call this place "The C Street Center for Hypocrites."

Again and again we see piety used as a cover for hypocrisy and illegal behavior.

If you have Christ in your heart, apparently you have license to do anything.

Barb said...

DW --no one at C street would make excuses for their philanderers. It's an embarrassment to the church of Christ that any who bear His name can't be faithful. Of course having Christ in our hearts doesn't give us license to sin. In fact, if we think it does, we obviously lack the remorse needed for true repentance and salvation.

Piety is not being used BY C STREET as a cover for hypocrisy and illegal behavior. That's not to say that someone wouldn't go to C Street for wrong reasons or to get "cover" --like telling the wife, "O I stayed at C Street" --while really flying out of country to the mistress.

Anonymous said...

Leave it to a leftwinger to avoid the legal issues and just complain about the successes of conservative. Poor DissedWealth doesn't understand the law nor do the leftwing clergy who filed the complaint.

The law allows ministry centers tax exemption for ministry to targeted classes of people. It so happens that the targets are elected politicians. That has been legal before as have been RC retreat centers, halfway houses, and racially and ethnically oriented buildings.

I suspect the liberal preachers waited until Obama came to see if they could get help from his political appointees. Will it help? Let justice roll... over them!

Beyond Belief said...

The problem (as always) is that the definition of a religion's "ministry" is nebulous and ever-changing. As soon as the Church wants to engage in a lucrative activity, that activity is suddenly deemed "part of its mission of outreach" to the community.

If there is going to be a tax exemption for Churches (and I wish there wasn't) then it ought to be tightly restricted to include the facilities required for worship ceremonies, and funds gathered through "true" donations. I.E... funds given to the church to do its work. Any funds raised by entry fees to theme parks, resale of donated goods, operation of service organizations competing directly with secular organizations should be subject to taxation and the activities subject to legal regulation.

But before I blather on too long about how the world "should be"... can someone tell me if there is a concise statement in law about what activities, facilities and srevices qualify for tax exemption?

mud_rake said...

Barb @ But before I blather on too long about how the world "should be"... can someone tell me if there is a concise statement in law about what activities, facilities and srevices qualify for tax exemption?

I am surprised that you are asking for data. I have asked you in many threads here to back up your 'facts' with data and you ignore my request.

Barb said...

I believe any religious "ministry" qualifies. A ministry to Congressmen is a ministry.

Jim51 said...

The allowable activities and reporting responsibilities of each tax status are in the IRS regulations. It's deadly boring stuff to read, but not hard to find at
Usually religious organizations select 501c3 status as non-profit charitable organizations.