"From the standpoint of freedom of speech and the press,
it is enough to point out that the state has no legitimate interest
in protecting any or all religions from views distasteful to them...
It is not the business of government to suppress
real or imagined attacks upon a particular religious doctrine."
Justice Tom C. Clark
(1899-1977) U. S. Supreme Court Justice
Burstyn v. Wilson, 1952
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Reader comments about this quote:
The IRS threatening to take away tax-exempt status from any church is a violation of First Amendment rights!
 -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
  • 1
    Tom Clark's statement is right on, but Joe's comment has no connection with it.
     -- Dick, Fort Worth     
  • 1
    Why do you say that Joe? A church is as much of a business as any other business. What Justice Clark is saying here is that someone can call a church a business and a Christian fanatic can't have me prosecuted for it.
     -- Anonymous, Raleigh, NC     
    Justice Clark, in his arrogance, has discarded legal precedent and shown his ignorance of the U.S. Constitution and the original intent of the Founders of this nation. “The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less advance Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity by prostrating Christianity; but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects and to prevent any national ecclesiastical establishment which should give to a hierarchy the exclusive patronage of the national government.” - Joseph Story - Commentaries on the Constitution (Joseph Story - U.S. Supreme Court Justice, along with James Kent - known as a “Father of American Jurisprudence”, educator, founder of Harvard Law School, his father was one of the “Indians” of the Boston Tea Party in 1773) “Though the constitution has discarded religious establishments, it does not forbid judicial cognizance of those offenses against religion and morality which have not reference to any such establishment....This [constitutional] declaration (noble and magnanimous as it is, when duly understood) never meant to withdraw religion in general, and with it the best sanctions of moral and social obligation from all consideration and notice of law....To construe it [the Constitution] as breaking down the common law barriers against licentious, wanton, and impious attacks upon Christianity itself, would be an enormous perversion of its meaning.” - James Kent - along with Joseph Story, known as a “Father of American Jurisprudence”, educator, jurist, first Professor of Law at Columbia College “Christianity was parcel of the law and to cast contumelious [insulting] reproaches upon it tended to weaken...the efficacy of oaths.” James Kent
     -- Dale Morfey, Fort Smith, AR     
  • 1
    Why, exactly, would tax-exempt status apply to a belief system, any belief system, in the first place? By that measure, Joe would be tax-exempt. Clark had it right in his qualifier "From the standpoint of freedom of speech and the press, ..."
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
    True. Dale has confused himself with incongruous concepts.
     -- anonymous     
    Dale, said well. As an example thereof, read the patrons of the national establishment of religion's comments. Criminal and civil defamation, slander, libel and other malice publications are broad enough to cover speech and press. This blog is not the place to sufficiently address the super stupid and shallow statements by Terry and Anonymous from Raleigh. Clark, being a bigoted anti-law, anti-justice, and anti-constitutionalist has a line of truth that strings its way through an otherwise misdirection theocratic dogma.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    A church is a business and I have a problem with the tax exempt status thereof.
     -- jim k, austin tx     
    Each individual is a temple within themselves. Endowed with inalienable rights. to tax all and exempt others is a breach of contract, per our Constitution.
    When duped to join the socialistic club, File it. otherwise.
    Morse v. U.S. , 494 F2d 876,880, .
    When I joined the military, I gave up my rights, Title 10 of the United States code. When I was released from service, my rights returned as being set ( free ). Numerous inalienable rights infringed upon by the government now instituted in our nation. I have never knowingly or intentionally waived any of these inalienable rights.
    That I understand that if the exercise of rights were subject to taxation , the right could be destroyed by increasing the tax rates to unaffordable levels; therefore courts have repeatedly ruled that government has no power to tax the exercise of any rights of citizens, as show by the U. S. Supreme Court in the case of Murdock v. Penna. , 319 U.S. 105 ( 1943 ) which stated : " A state may not impose a charge for the enjoyment of a right granted by the Federal Constitution. "
    Liberty under Christian based fundamentals and principals engrained within our Constitution. Drowr, Chophshiy Liberty, Pure liberty from bondage and tax. As granted by the head of household to his or her children. !! God being the grantor of Liberty and Freedom ,not man ! The case of constructive fraud committed against the natural born free sovereign United States citizen. It is useless to chew on tax doctrine within an apostate socialistic institution !
     -- Ron w13, Or     
    Justice Clark was perfectly clear to those who made sense of what he said. I FINALLY decided he meant to say that, as with individuals or businesses, the freedom of speech or press applies: just as much, but no more than, to religion as well as to secular, individuals or groups.
    But as my dad used to say, after expressing an opinion ... "but I COULD be wrong !" ( Most of us ( yep, me too ) daren't say that; opens too wide our egos. )
     -- Bobble, Charlotte, VT     
    So why does the US have to financially support Israel?
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    Ron, I like it, especially your last sentence. Archer, I know, you know why the US financially supports Israel. Ultimately, it is for the same reason the US financially supports Israel's enemies and, most of the rest of the world - power and control - reducing freedom (of speech, press, religion, etc.) while increasing chaos.

    I don't agree with any part of the taxing code, it is morally and lawfully reprehensible. That being said, Churches are taxed like any other commercial venture for their "for profit" or their related activities. Churches have exemptions for charitable and other benefit to man activities just like all other charitable organizations. That at least is the foundational concept,
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    The occupying statist theocracy infesting this land with its "establishment of religion", taxes others while exempting itself (would the government tax itself concerning its theocratic pursuits?). Other religions (Islam, Christian, etc.) are a simple collection of helots, serfs, and slaves (national religion's perspective) where the 2nd plank of the communist manifesto taxes the root or foundation of any outside government faith. Churches, as may arise, simply take after tax revenues from associate faithful to sustain an association of like believers. Taxing churches is double taxation on beliefs, free association, etc. I have no problem with any one  or their free association fellows, not participating in enslaving taxes to enjoy for happiness sake, a privilege of free speech, press, association, etc.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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