Jan 16, 2021

CultNEWS101 Articles: 1/15/2021

IRS, Exorcism, Flat Earth, Satanic Temple  

" ... While reasons for this growing trend vary, these groups may share one main goal: keeping their donor lists private to protect their donors from public criticism or backlash.

As a professor who studies how tax laws affect churches and other tax-exempt organizations, I believe these groups overestimate the benefits their donors will receive if the groups are treated as churches. Even so, I'm concerned that groups taking this step are reducing the flow of valuable information about these organizations to the public.

To see why I'm worried, here's some background about what's probably the best-known section of the U.S. tax code, section 501(c)(3). It provides two benefits to organizations that meet its requirements for tax exemption. First, these approximately 1.5 million groups – including everything from familiar nonprofits like the Red Cross to National Public Radio to the lesser-known First Church of Cannabis and the Satanic Temple – generally don't have to pay taxes on their income.

Second, some of their donors can deduct their donations from their taxable income through the charitable deduction, creating an incentive to support those groups. While groups must be organized as nonprofits to qualify for the federal tax exemption, not every nonprofit is exempt.

Eligibility requires pursuing a specific purpose, such as religion, education or charity."
"The parents of a 4-year-old Stover, Mo. girl face charges after investigators say their daughter was dunked in an icy pond and beaten to death to remove a "demon."

Deputies arrested Mary S. Mast, 29, and James A. Mast, 28 on Christmas Eve. Mary Mast faces charges of endangering the welfare of a child resulting in death and domestic assault. James Mast faces charges of endangering the welfare of a child resulting in death, endangering the welfare of a child resulting in serious injury. A judge did not set bond for the couple. Deputies placed a second child in the home in protective custody.

Ethan Mast, 35, and Kourtney Aumen, 21, face a second-degree murder and other offenses. They both remain jailed. Despite having the same last names, Mary and James Mast are not related to Ethan Mast.

Deputies responded 1 a.m. on Sunday, December 20 to a rural home near the town of Cole Camp and found the 4-year-old wrapped in a blanket on a bedroom floor. Investigators said the girl was already dead and had "severe purple bruising" over her body, along with ruptured blisters. Sheriff Knox said the girl's parents also had been beaten along with a 2-year-old child. An infant son of the couple was apparently unharmed."

" ... In 1909, a notorious flat Earth preacher led a ballot-box putsch to maintain his stranglehold over an Illinois town. With declarations of "war," two competing governments that claimed to be legitimate, and an armed siege between the two factions' police chiefs at the county jail, the forgotten saga of Zion, Illinois, is evidence that America's political situation could still be a whole lot stupider.

Wilburn Glenn Voliva was a flat Earther who lived on a strict diet of Brazil nuts and buttermilk. He also, for a time, enjoyed dictatorial control over an entire city.

Born in 1870, Voliva trained as a preacher and became a leading member of a faith-healing church headed by John Alexander Dowie. Dowie was a gifted grifter, amassing a large following and absurd wealth while performing sham "miracles" on the desperately ill (some of whom later sued him when their ailments remained). When authorities finally cracked down on Dowie for practicing medicine without a license, he founded the city of Zion, a new "utopia" governed by strict religious law.

Maybe the city was a utopia for Dowie, but not for many others. He spent lavishly on himself and drove the city into debt. Eventually, Voliva deposed him in a church coup, in part by accusing the elderly faith-healer (whose own health was failing) of trying to assemble himself a harem of young wives.

Now at the helm of Dowie's "Christian Catholic Apostolic Church," Voliva effectively ruled the city. Zion had a mayor and a government, but all of them answered to Voliva, who held the title of "general overseer." After wresting control from Dowie (who died soon thereafter, a broken and betrayed man), Voliva set about making Zion even less fun. Alcohol and dancing were banned, smokers were hauled into jail, and many newspapers were verboten.

When Voliva named his political party the "Theocratic Party," it was a simple statement of fact."

Newsweek: Satanic Temple Challenges 18 States' Abortion Laws With Religious Exemption Claim
"The Satanic Temple, a national religious rights organization with chapters in 21 states, has recently erected two billboards in Texas and Florida encouraging followers to challenge state restrictions on abortions conducted during the first trimester by claiming that the restrictions violate their religious beliefs as Satanists. Over 18 states have such restrictions."

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