Fact Check

Bernie Sanders Plans to Tax Churches?

A fake news piece led some social media users to believe that Bernie Sanders planned to tax churches at a rate of 90 percent.

Published Apr 1, 2016

Bernie Sanders wants to tax churches at a rate of 90 percent.

On 10 March 2016, the web site Fox News the FB Page published the above-reproduced graphic alongside an article claiming that Bernie Sanders had revealed a plan to tax churches at a rate of 90 percent:

What do you think about U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders new proposal that would tax Churches and Synagogues at a 90% tax rate to provide more social programs for the poor?

“The American dream has become a nightmare”, Sanders told Fox News ,”let us wage a moral and political war against the billionaires and giant megachurches, whose policies and greed are destroying the middle class of America.

Sanders claims that about only 1% of Church tithes goes to help the poor and that many in the clergy,especially Protestant ministers in the South,use most of the money collected to buy “condos in Florida and hookers.”

“We have seen it even in the Catholic Church”,Sanders continued,”you give people a bunch of money they don’t have to pay taxes on and they just go crazy and start molesting little kids.”

The tone of the comments attributed to Sanders didn't sound much like anything he has ever said on the record. The concluding paragraph of the item was also implausible:

Senator Hillary Clinton has not given a stance on the proposal but it is expected to be a major talking point at the next Democratic Debate to be held at the new Star Wars The Force Awakens Disney theme park in Orlando FL.

The description of Hillary Clinton as "Senator" was outdated, as the most recent position held by Clinton (and the one by which she was most often referenced) was Secretary of State. The article was lifted and republished verbatim by the web site USA Newsflash on 12 March 2016, and many readers didn't notice the "Satire" label at the bottom.

Both the web site and Facebook page for "Fox News The FB Page" were styled to mimic visual elements of the Fox News channel, but they maintained no affiliation with the network and primarily satirized its reporting. Previous phony items attributed to Fox News by Fox News the FB Page included claims President Obama signed an executive order to remove God from the Pledge of Allegiance, Carly Fiorina said without Christopher Columbus we'd all be "speaking Indian," President Obama blamed the shooting of two TV anchors on white privilege, and Ben Carson said slavery was the best thing to happen to black Americans.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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