Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...So, I can't help thinking: how is tax-exemption for churches and other religious institutions not "establishment of religion"???
I note that tax-status has engaged the U.S. Govt in more than a few pointless litigations, e.g., after protracted litigation, Church of Scientology was eventually granted tax-exempt status.
The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is the final adjudicator in these cases: Does this organization qualify as a "religious" institution or not?
Seems to me that this decision is tantamount to an ESTABLISHMENT finding.
Am I wrong?
Why not strip churches, synagogues, mosques, temples,... whatever, of tax-exempt status?
They are free to apply for tax-exempt status as 501(c)3 organizations, but their status as RELIGIOUS institutions is irrelevant.
Colloquially, a 501(c) organization or simply "a 501(c)" is an American tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation or association. Section 501(c) of the United States Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. § 501(c)), provides that 28 types of nonprofit organizations are exempt from some federal income taxes.
ESTABLISHING tax-exempt status for just anyone who claims to be a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, etc., seems to me to be an ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION.
What's more, it simplifies enforcement: pastors are free to advocate political positions from the pulpit - they're just like any other corporate "person"... so long as they're happy to forfeit tax-exempt status and be in all other respects just another corporate entity!
So shoot me.