Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

approximately $750,000 for social security taxes. Furthermore, the I.R.S. demanded explanations for all current and future expenditures of Synanon, thus assuming power to control Synanon's budget. The i.R.S. has agreed to stay collection of any PICA taxes until there has been a resolution of the lawsuit filed by Synanon on the PICA taxes.

The unpredictability of the I.R.S.'s actions proves their earlier assurances meaningless and reveals the true. intent of the I.R.S., which is not to collect taxes but to render Synanon incapable of future operation.

On March 16, 1984, The Synanon Church sent a letter, pursuant to I.R.C. section 7429, to the Secretary of the Treasury, Donald T. Regan, requesting administrative review of the jeopardy assessment made against The Synanon Church. The eighteen-page letter sets for th evidence of the unreasonable and unjustifiable jeopardy as se s sment which discriminates against and injures The Synanon Church. The letter further specifies how the law requires immediate abatement of this assessment.

Onless the I.R.S. stays all attempts to collect taxes until the issue of Synanon's tax exemption is ultimately decided in higher courts, Synanon and the Government will be forced to expend enormous amounts of money and energy litigating separate issues such as jeopardy, amount of as se s sment and refunds for all years in question. Also, it would be wise to await the decisions of the higher courts on issues which would only have to be relitigated for each year after 1978. Synanon has the choice of closing its doors or allowing several auditors to again come to Synanon and conduct an audit. Paced with this alternative, Synanon has consented to an audit which we believe is improper and has agreed to pay taxes under protest while our lawsuit 18 pending. We have repeatedly tried to get the I.R. . to follow procedures for an audit of a church, and they have repeatedly refused to do 80.

Is This what was supposed to lappen in 12842

The present approach by the I.R.S. and Department of Justice could force Synanon to close its door 8. Over 550 people would be homeless. Many of these people are children, drug addicts, alcoholics, handicapped or senior citizens and those who are otherwise incapable of earning a living. Reason and rule of law will once again fall to prejudice, political expediency and ignorance.

Any beliefs, be they religious or philosophical, cannot be destroyed by a Government. They will either endure or not endure in the hearts and minds of the people who hold them. Only history bears witness to this. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of people in Synanon and many more throughout the country who are not in a position to wait for history to unfold.

We should mark 1984 not with a series of Orwellian nightmares, but move forward with compassion, courage and reason.

[blocks in formation]

This is to request that the enclosed materials be included in the
printed report of your June 26, 1984 subcommittee hearing on
religious liberty in the United States. The materials are
excerpted from the current May/June edition of LIBERTY magazine--
America's best known First Amendment journal.
A copy of your report would be very much appreciated if you could
send one to us.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

There is a growing notion that govern At the beginning of the conference the chairman, Wil

liam P. Thompson, chief executive officer of the United ment has the duty to inspect, register,

Presbyterian Church, listed 17 areas in which national or and certify religion as it does meat. state governments have been intervening in religious

activities or institutions. Some interventions have been N oo many civil libertarians are fighting a rearguard halted by the courts; others are still going on. Some may

action against an enemy no longer present. Thirty seem minor or even justifiable, but cumulatively they form and 40 years ago and longer—the danger seemed an ominous pattern. Among the 17 issues were:

to be the overdominance of religious groups. And 1. Regulation of religious fund-raising. we went to war, not to the tune of the "Battle Hymn 2. Lobbying disclosure requirements of religious bodies of the Republic," but chanting words from the First thought to be trying to influence legislation. Amendment-"Congress shall make no law respecting an 3. Regulation of curriculum content and teachers' establishment of religion." For us, "separation of church qualifications in private religious schools. and state" was a battle cry meaning "Stop the Catholic 4. Requirements that church-related colleges institute Church!" Or, for some, "Stop all the churches." Even today coeducational sports, hygiene instruction, and dormitory and some libertarians seem more solicitous for the rights of off-campus residence facilities that they may consider anti-Semites, homosexuals, and pornographers than they are morally objectionable. for the rights of religious bodies to live their chosen model of S. Threats to such colleges and even theological the good life as guaranteed by the Free Exercise Clause of the seminaries to cut off loans or other aid to students if the First Amendment. In fact, only now are we beginning to schools do not report admissions and employment dates by recognize that government intervention in religious affairs is race, sex, and religion, even though the schools receive no the largest, most nebulous, pervasive, and portentous direct government aid. religious-freedom issue of our day.

6. Sampling surveys of churches by the Bureau of the February, 1981, is a significant date in our growing Census, requiring voluminous reports, though the Bureau awareness. On that date, groups representing more than 90 admitted it had no authority to do so. perceni of organizat religion met in Washington, D.C. The 7. Grand jury interrogation of church workers about 280 delegates made the conference the most inclusive internal affairs of churches. gathering of religious representatives in the nation's history! 8. Use by intelligence agencies of clergy or missionaries Why the meeting of such diverse bodies as the National as informants. Council of Churches, the U.S. Catholic Conference, the 9. Subpoenas of ecclesiastical records by parties in civil Synagogue Council of America, the National Association of and criminal suits. Evangelicals, the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A., and the 10 Placing a church in receivership because of complaints Southern Baptist Convention all sponsors and the Mor- by dissident members of alleged financial mismanagement. ·mons, Salvation Army, Seventh-day Adventists, Christian II. Withdrawal of tax exemption from various religious Scientists, Vnitarians, and a number of other unaffiliated bodies? Because of a common concern about government Dean M. Kelley is director of religious and civil liberry for intervention in religious affairs.

the National Council of Churches in the United States. mummomarnocore I DRVENO MADNELLA VUT ONT ROCHAM, MGENSTON, TONE NICON ma non mu

coma M

MHONAL
QUMON VOLO, MAY-

ANN N

[ocr errors]

UBERTY

CONTRAMENTA RECUATOA

groups for alleged "violation of public policy."

12. Definition of what is "religion" or "religious" activity by courts or administrative agencies, contrary to the long-standing definition by churches. 13. Redefinition by courts of ecclesiastical polities, so

by courts of ecclesiastical polities, so that hierarchical churches are congregationalized." while "connectional" churches are deemed hierarchical, contrary to their own self-definition. . 14. Denying to church agencies or institutions the exemptions afforded to "churches," thus in effect dismembering the churches.

When Government Intervention Is Legitimate

The conference did not assume that government regulation or intervention is never necessary or justifiable; in fact, the concluding paper was entitled "When Is Governmental Intervention Legitimate?" The answer is, When necessary to protect public health and safety (narrowly defined, and not including such amorphous quantities as "public order, good, or morals"'). .

The conference sought to correct the common notion that government knows best and can order the affairs of life better than individuals and private groups can if left to their own devices. Certainly religious groups over the centuries have done at least as well as goverments in envisioning and embodying the good life. They invented and initiated general

ols, and now the public authorities are trying to tell them how to educate? They pioneered in health care of the poor and aged long before there were public hospitals, and now the public authorities are trying to tell them how to care for people's health needs?-especially when the public institutions of education and health care often fail to live up to the very standards public authorities seek to impose on private agencies?

Private and church-related schools, hospitals, homes, and other institutions usually do as good a job as public institutions. Sometimes they do better, sometimes worse, but the very meaning of better and worse is precisely what government-except in the most obvious matters of health and safety—is not equipped to determine!

A good example is the Amish. Their mode and measure of education have been criticized by state departments of education as not preparing their children to survive and compete in the modern world. But that is exactly what they do not want to do, believing as they do that the modern, technological, materialistic culture is the very opposite of the good life! They want to live a simple agrarian communal life permeated by religious values, and it is for that that they train their children. And they do a pretty good job of it.

The ideal education is one in which the younger generation leams by doing alongside the older generation, thus gaining the knowledge and skills necessary for successful living. Modern society has provided special environments with full-time teachers who try to import a little of the "real" world into the classroom. But the Amish, who were teaching all their members to read and write back in the sixteenth

century, when there was neither public nor private general education, already have the ideal educational arrangement of life apprenticeship in the "real" world. They educate successfully, with no felons or public dependents. And the public authorities want them to substitute artificial classpublic rooms for that real-life experience!

It is true that not many Amish youngsters become nuclear physicists or want to, or know what that is. But they may be just as well off for that lack. It depends on what one believes the good life to be. And that is precisely the question that the government cannot decide, nor can all the citizenry voting en masse. Civil libertarians can get enthusiastic about the rights of alternate life-styles of flower children or homosexuals or feminists or environmentalists with their solar-heated, organic-nature communes but not about the like rights of religious alternative life-styles. The most untraditional alternative life-style going today is the Amish! Private school educators seem to aspire to shape their schools as much like conventional public schools as possible all, that is, but the Amish, who want their educational process to be as much unlike the conventional model as possible.

Real civil libertarians, it seems to me, should be solicitous for the rights of religious bodies to live out their chosen model of the good life in maximum freedom. But the libertarian image still seems to be antireligious and, specifically, anti-Catholic. Whatever justification there may have been for that concept and strategy 30 or 40 years ago, I submit that it is no longer justified.

The Roman Catholic Church today shows little of the aggressive, autocratic, triumphalist pretensions of a Cardinal Spellman (or when it does, they are soon deflated or disregarded by a very independent laity). The other churches are even less assertive in requiring serious discipleship (or when they do try to assert themselves, no one takes them very seriously, because they don't take themselves very seriously).

M uch of the vigor and vitality in American religious life today is in the smaller, newer groups: The Pentecostals, charismatics, evangelicals, and the new religious movements often stigmatized as cults. They are the very ones of whom society is least tolerant-for the ironic reason that they are the ones for whom religion makes a real difference! If they were more placid and conventional in their beliefs and behavior they would get along a lot better--and make a lesser contribution to the health of the nation!

Ultimate Definitions

Vigorous and effective religion, I believe, is of great secular importance to society. The function of religion is to explain the meaning of life in ultimate terms to its adherents. If society does not contain within itself the means for such expression, it will be vulnerable to the maladies of meaninglessness that are increasingly prevalent today: disorientation, anxiety, resentment, bitterness, guilt, despair, vagabondage, various addictions, derangements, escapisms, and even some forms of crime and suicide Because these may threaten the survival of society itself, it is

MaylJune, 1984

=OOVERNMENFLRBOLAPIOA

of secular importance to society that thriving, effective This decision, Mueller v. Allen, allows room for the free religious organizations provide that function.

exercise of religion without significantly increasing the Governments have tried to ensure that function by danger of establishment. Few, if any, parents are going to "establishing" one or more churches to do the job. send their children to parochial school strictly because of the Unfortunately, the very act of establishing a religion tends to limited relief provided by this deductibility. It is also disqualify it for meeting the religious needs of those most significant that the Supreme Court refused to base its decision needing help: the have-nots, the poor and oppressed of the upon the proportion of families benefited by the deduction, population. After centuries of costly trial and error it was To send their children to parochial school was the parents' discovered that governmental help to religion is no real help free choice and constitutionally should not tum on a head at all in getting the function of religion performed. So the count of religious affiliations. founders of our nation tried a heroic experiment, and the only It seems to me that civil libertarians should encounter the workable strategy for the public and the state with respect to danger of the moment-government encroachment—in this religion: 10 leave it alone.

area as they have in others. They should take alarm at the But now for 200 years we have been struggling with the growing notion that government has the duty to inspect, fascinating riddle of what it means to leave religion alone. It register, and certify religion as it does meat. They should be means among other things—that the goverment may not distressed that any citizens' group, but especially a religious espouse, sponsor, promote, support, hinder, or inhibit any one, should be expected, nay, required, to register with and religion, all religions, or prefer one religion over another, nor report to public officials if they want a tax exemption, if they may it become "excessively entangled" with religion. Thus want to solicit contributions from the public, or if they want the Establishment Clause has become well defined, but often to influence legislation. at the expense of the second clause of the First Amendment: These absurd requirements, supposedly designed to or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

prevent or expose fraud or manipulation, have produced

elaborate bureaucracies that demand voluminous reports Expansionist Government

from private groups (thus distracting them from their own The problem of the moment, as I see it, is no longer work) and that build elaborate files that nobody looks at. And resisting the encroachment of expansionist churches, but all this they do without in the least inconvenicncing groups resisting the encroachment of expansionist government. Too that really engage in fraud or deception, because they can many militant civil libertarians are still fighting the battles of readily falsify their reports with little danger of detection, the 1950s, obsessed with the Establishment Clause to the since bureaucrats normally view their function as compiling neglect of the Free Exercise Clause. What is the difference? forms and filing them, not using them for any ultimate

1. Several federal circuit courts have studied whether purpose. And there are already laws against fraud that can be public high school students can meet before or after class for used against those who are defrauding. So 99 percent of religious study, discussion, or prayer on the same basis as law-abiding groups are burdened with onerous and unnecesother student groups do for nonreligious purposes. The U.S. sary and pernicious reportage without unduly deterring Supreme Court has held that where a public university has the one percent of miscreants the system was designed to created a "limited public forum" of this kind, religious catch! interests cannot be disadvantaged because of the content of I call it pernicious, above and beyond its bother and their speech. Two circuit courts have ruled that the same futility, because it encourages in the executive branch, the principle does not apply at the high school level, and the legislative, and even the judicial, as well as in the public at Supreme Court has declined to rule in these cases. A third large, the notion that it is appropriate, prudent, even case has now arisen in Pennsylvania, Bender v. Williams. necessary, for the government to ride herd on these groups to port, and it will be interesting to see which clause of the First prevent supposed dangers of fraud and sharp practice, which, Amendment prevails. Will sponsorship by the school of of course, it doesn't extracurricular religious activities be seen as establishment of religion? Or will the court really focus on the religious Hanky-Panky: The Price We Pay liberty rights of the students?

But what if government didn't do all this inspection and 2. Minnesota had enacted a law permitting parents who regulation? What unimaginable evils might befall? Think of incur expenses for their children's education to deduct a che scandals of the Pallottine Fathers, the Cardinal Archlimited amount of those expenses from their state income tax. bishop of Chicago, Jonestown, and all that! But a moment's This arrangement was challenged by the Minnesota Civil reflection might remind us that, notorious as they were, and Liberties Union on the ground that it was an establishment of even if as bad as alleged to be, such scandals comprise a tiny religion. But the federal district count, circuit court, and fraction of total religious activities. Supreme Court all found that it was not an establishment of The Founders knew when they wrote the First Amendment religion, since it included expenses of public as well as that some hanky-panky might go on in the name of religion. private religion. No tax money was paid to parochial schools. That is the price of freedom. But they were willing to pay that and parents acted as a buffer between the goverment and the price and take that risk. Are we less confident in the schools benefiting from the tax deduction.

importance of freedom than they?

« AnteriorContinuar »