Thursday, August 12, 2010

First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...
[First Amendment]
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.
[Wikipedia, 501(c)]

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.


  1. Frankly, I like it. It's a way to increase tax all the right places. There's no question that the fundamentalists want to return to the kind of power in government that they had under Bush.

    I applaud. Not shooting, here. But I think there would be a real war over it.

  2. Churches are give tax exempt status as non-profit organizations. In order to make them tax exempt you'd have to do away with tax exempt across the board. That would kill many charitable organizations. It has been argued that giving charities tax exempt status saves the federal, state and local governments more than they would receive in revenues.

  3. oops that should read in order to take away tax exempt status.

  4. i've no objection to churches organizing as 501(c)3 organizations.

    BUT: as 501(c)3 orgs, they are a-political!

    ... as soon as you utter "FOX News" (e.g., Perry Stone), you're outta the game!