I’ve consistently stood over and against the idea of taxing churches. Now, I’m all for it.
As a matter of fact, I don’t see how anyone of good conscious and sound thinking could see it otherwise.
And it’s all the fault of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).
Because of what Thomas Jefferson referred to as the “separation of church and state” in his understanding of the intent of the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution, and because of my deep desire for it and recognition of how important it is for the health of churches, I have long said that churches must not be taxed. Not only would it create a church state entanglement, but it would also ensure the closure of thousands upon thousands of churches who are already on the brink of financial disaster.
I recognize that some folks react to the financial part of that argument with, “so what?” For me, the “so what” of the situation is that many of those churches play a role in helping folks in need. Many of these needy folks who come to churches have fallen through the sizable cracks in state run initiatives to provide safety nets for their citizens. Those folks then need to turn to the churches, who are more financially stable, putting an undue stress on the financial systems of those churches. Many of those churches are actually already helping folks as much as they are financial capable of helping, which means those in need would be forced further into desperate situations which inevitably will bring a deeper financial strain on public systems which are already overburden. Over the long run that will necessarily mean, in one form or another, taking money from the pockets of average Americans.
That’s not a slippery slope argument. It’s simply a logical deduction based on how the systems work.
Also, it doesn’t matter anymore.
A recent ruling from the SCOTUS (a 7-2 ruling) sided with a Missouri church who was denied government money to resurface their playground because the state constitution prevented the spending of public money on “any church, sect, or denomination of religion.”
The SCOTUS ruling that churches are, indeed, eligible to receive certain public funds sets the U.S. on a course to uncharted territory or as Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, as she dissented from the bench, “Today’s decision discounts centuries of history and jeopardizes the government’s ability to remain secular,” and “leads us… to a place where separation of church and state is a constitutional slogan, not a constitutional commitment.”
The ruling puts us in a place where tax payer dollars will be given to institutions who frequently encourage and practice discrimination towards some of the very people whose tax dollars are being used.
If you don’t think that is royally messed up in addition to being unconstitutional, you are either practicing intentional ignorance and delusion or you are simply heartless… or both.
Because of the SCOTUS ruling, I no longer support churches in being non-taxable.
It breaks my heart for several of the reasons I enumerated above, but the SCOTUS has created an inescapable embroilment between church and state – one that will have a lasting and damaging impact on churches (even those who work for social justice, practice love, and preach equality.)
If churches are to receive public funding and still be allowed to teach and practice discrimination and/or damnation against certain segments of that very public, it is time for them to be taxed.
Yes, that means that the many churches who do good in the world will be negatively impacted financially, along with those whose exclusionary practices have created this massive conflict of interest between church and state, but the highest ruling court in the land has made this bed, now we must lay in it.