Argument for Taxation:
Tax exemption for churches violate the separation of church and state enshrined in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. As long as government taxes all religious institutions equally and without favor, there is no constitutional violation, the constitution does not prohibit it. By providing a financial benefit to religious institutions such as tax-exemption, government is supporting religion.
Argument Against Taxation:
Exempting churches from taxation upholds the separation of church and state as it is embodied by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and has been so held by the Supreme court.
A tax exemption is a privilege, not a right. Nothing in the Constitution says that a religious tax exemption is a right.
Requiring churches to pay taxes would endanger the free expression of religion and violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
Churches receive special treatment from the IRS beyond what other nonprofits receive, yet under the same law. While secular charities are compelled to report their income and financial structure to the IRS using Form 990, churches are granted automatic exemption from federal income tax without having to file a return. This is simply an invitation to secret financial dealings which is going on.
Churches earn their tax exemption by contributing to the public good. Churches offer numerous social services to people in need and if taxes we would lose those services.
A tax break for churches forces all American taxpayers to support religion, even if they oppose some or all of the religious doctrines. Plus, the larger, richer denominations just get larger and richer by advantage over their lesser counterparts.
Taxing churches would place government above religion. The Biblical book of Judges says that those who rule society are appointed directly by God.
A tax exemption is a form of subsidy in a tax supported society. See Regan v. Taxation with Representation, Supreme Court, statement by Chief Justice Rehnquest in 1983.
A tax exemption for churches is not a subsidy and is therefore constitutional. See Justice Burger’s opinion in Walz v. Tax Commission of the City of New York in 1970.
To be considered:
1. There is a group of congresspersons and senators, as well state legislators that believe and are dedicated to making American federal and state governments religious and following what they see as the word of God. They do this through organized political campaigns in funding and organizing to get elected and then follow through, once elected, through caucus.
2. The law against churches intervening in political campaigns was passed by the US Congress in 1954. Since then, the IRS has been successful in using the law to revoke the tax-exempt status of only one church: the Church of Pierce Creek in Binghamton, NY, which had placed an advertisement in USA Today and the Washington Times rebuking Bill Clinton four days before the 1992 presidential election.
3. The first recorded tax exemption for churches was during the Roman Empire, when Constantine, Emperor of Rome from 306-337 CE, granted the Christian church a complete exemption from all forms of taxation following his supposed conversion to Christianity in 312 CE.
4. What is a church? In 2010, the State of Oklahoma awarded tax-exempt status to a Satanist group called The Church of the IV Majesties.
5. According to former White House senior policy analyst Jeff Schweitzer, PhD, US churches own $300-$500 billion in untaxed property. New York City alone losses $627 million in annual property tax revenue due to 9,500 churches being tax-exempt, according to a July 2011 analysis by New York’s nonpartisan Independent Budget Office.
Tax-deductible electioneering through churches is clearly what Republican opponents of the Johnson Amendment (which prohibits such) want to enable and which is what Trump Republicans are going to any extreme necessary to accomplish. The First Amendment of Separation of religion from government be damned. If you are interested, watch closely the actions of Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and the politicians it supports. It’s impossible to just sit in the middle on this debate, because one way or the other it will affect how you live in America, Christian theocracy in politics or sectarian elections.
Help us continue our mission of embarking down the path of answering the sensitive questions and providing products that reflect this journey.