A taxing issue
Michael Coren is at it again. In a recent column, he takes on rabble.ca, in the process providing plenty of free publicity, so thanks, I guess, are in order. God works in mysterious ways, as he might say.
But the contents of that column shouldn't go unchallenged. In it, Coren paints a picture of a loving Church under unfair attack by--well, the rabble.
Why, it was the Church, he says, that made the pharmaceutical companies offer cheap AIDS drugs in Africa. But is is also, of course, the Church that actively opposes the distribution of condoms in Africa as an AIDS preventative. This is a bit like throwing a crowd of people into a raging river and then plucking a few out of the water downstream.
But Coren's main concern is the current proposal from beleaguered gays and lesbians that the churches be taxed. This, he says, is nothing less than an attack on free speech. That's a bit of a leap, even for a mediocre columnist. Taxation is a zero-sum game: if the churches, with their vast holdings, are tax-exempt, then the rest of us are paying more. Those of us who are a little out of sympathy with the churches these days are still forced to subsidize them. That's tough enough when they're doing all the charitable things Coren says they do--although I suspect he is exaggerating just a trifle when he claims that's where the bulk of their money goes. These days, a whack of it is being paid out to the countless victims of "brotherly love," so much that churches are whimpering about bankruptcy and begging for government assistance.
But when the churches get into the political arena, something that the law says is forbidden to those organizations who want to keep their charitable status, something just has to give. Right now, they're having it both ways. We've seen Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary calling for "state coercion" to be used against gays and lesbians, Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic publicly calling for the use of the notwithstanding clause to remove their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, church-organized protests against same-sex marriage, and it goes on and on.
Perhaps the most ludicrous and insupportable claim in Coren's vapourings on the subject is his reference to these folks as "loving and honest people." That one nearly cost me a mouthful of coffee and a new keyboard. Honest? Well, they've been open enough about their views. Perhaps they'll now be honest enough to cough up tax money like the rest of us, the legal price that other political lobby groups must pay. But "loving?"
Come on, Michael, pull the other one. Do the comments above from church officials sound loving? Demanding state coercion and the removal of Charter rights for gays and lesbians?
Well, let them go on like that, I say. It's salutary to see this sort of thing coming out, as it were: the last words of dying mediaeval institutions gasping aloud in 21st century air. But--not on my nickel, guys.