Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Should churches be taxed?

Many have questioned why churches should retain tax-exempt status. Huge property holdings by some churches allow them, to operate with quite a lavish budget with a bit more pocket change than Jesus was accustomed to carrying.

By what logic is this profiteering allowed to continue?

Keep in mind that they're not required to
disclose records, either. This applies to Muslims as well, which has frustrated the U.S. Treasury's attempt to "follow the money" after 9/11.

Several of the Founding Fathers would have taxed them if they could have: Jefferson, Adams, Madison, and Franklin were among those who had no special affinity for organized religion as it was then.

"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not care to support it, so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one." - Ben Franklin, (Poor Richard's Almanac, 1754)

Image at right shows Houston Mayor Bill White addressing my Presbyterian Church congregation on city-state issues.

Here's a valid point from SM's Atheist "Bible":

"It is not just one tax that religious organizations are excused from paying, but an entire constellation of them. Clergy are exempt from federal taxes on housing and can opt out of Social Security and Medicare withholding. Religious employers are generally exempt from federal and state unemployment taxes, and in some states, religious publications are exempt from sales tax. Church benefit and retirement plans do not require the church employer to match its employees' contributions. Churches are automatically exempted from filing annual public informational reports on their financial status and activities, and donations made to churches are eligible for income tax deductions. And, of course, the two major tax breaks: church groups do not have to pay income tax and do not have to pay taxes on property which they own.

Repealing churches' tax exemption threatens no one's freedom of religion. If a church sought to rent property from a private owner to conduct religious services but could not afford the rent that the owner was asking, would the church members' freedom to practice their religion have been destroyed? ..."

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