God only knows

Here’s a problem for the entire nonprofit sector: a pair of preachers refusing to provide information to Senator Grassley’s investigation of expenses claimed on the religious equivalent of the Form 990.  These evangelical ministers apparently share the view of their co-religionist in the White House that obedience to the law is merely one of several options and that responses to Congressional subpoenas are best delivered with the middle finger of the hand

What difference does this make to other charity leaders?  Well, the Senator wants to examine the preachers’ expenses to determine whether they and their churches have been violating the Internal Revenue Code’s prohibition of excessive personal gain through tax-exempt work.  While there are some significant limitations on what the government can do to secure cooperation from religious organizations–for good Constitutional reasons which this pair of jackasses is exploiting for its own benefit–no such limitations apply to secular nonprofits.  So here’s an enormous spotlight being shone on our favorite issue, expenses and their abuse; and if the actual abusers manage to dodge into the wings, the light’s going to land on some other agency, certainly less well-protected and probably more sinned-against than sinning. 

Not to mention the obvious fact that we owe our privileged status to legislation–legislation that can be modified at any time, in any way that may seem satisfactory to an enraged and stymied legislative branch.

Isn’t that the way it always goes?  It only takes a few to ruin it for all the rest.

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