The Sioux Falls Argus Leader yesterday had a very interesting front page. I am not sure if it was merely an accident of time and place or somebody there had a finely honed sense of irony. At the top of the page was the story indicated in photo below. It is coverage of the Supreme Court decisions on commandments in the courthouses, etc.
Click on the image for a larger version. Immediately below that story was a story on an old law in South Dakota being enforced on churches in South Dakota to collect "use taxes". The two together tell us much about organized religions desiring to have their cake and eat it too. They also indicate that the "use tax" is a completely dishonest state tax way to get around the "commerce clause" in the US Constitution. More on that following the photo.
As usual, click on photo for larger savable version. Check the Argus website or yesterday's paper version of the paper or dig into the RC Journal today for similar reports.
The two stories together indicate some hypocrisy on the part of organized religion and also some of the old wanting to have their communion wafers and eat them too. Fundamentalists seem to think that festooning the 10 commandments around courthouses in plaques, statues, etc and in public parks in no way contradicts ideas of separation of church and state. The South Dakota story about the SD Revenue Department applying use taxes to church supplies, hymnals, etc purchased outside of South Dakota causes spokespeople for the SD Churches to remark something like, "The tax corrodes the separation of church and state."
I tend to agree with the churches on this issue. I also suspect the State Revenue Department has another agenda here. If they can say, good grief, we even apply this to churches, surely we can somehow apply it to websites and users who purchase pornography, tools, books, booze, etc online or across state lines.
The SD "use tax" should be abolished. How a judge could decide it is anything but a covert sales tax set up in a way to avoid US Constitutional commerce clause prohibitions on taxes on sales beteeen residents and firms of different states is beyond me. If it were a real "use" tax, it would also have to be a personal property tax applied to everything used that is purchased by everybody in or out of state.
I hope the churches will attack this tax not only as corrosion of the separation of church and state, but also as the imposition of a fundamentally dishonest, deceptive, tax fraud on them and every other resident or organization in South Dakota.
On the other hand, there is incredible hypocrisy on the part of organized religion and religious individuals ineatly indicated by the two stories.
** Stay tuned for more on this. Right now, my wrist is giving me fits--Doug Wiken