Should churches be taxed?
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27-11-2013, 10:00 AM
RE: Should churches be taxed?
(27-11-2013 09:34 AM)Chas Wrote:  I am not making a case, I am stating a fact.

Personally I think the special privileges given to churches are absurd. When I upgraded my front door lock to one of the new automated mobile-phone controlled models, the hoa for my condo sent me a violation notice saying it's not allowed to modify the external door hardware, since they want all the doors to look identical.

"OK", I said, "my neighbor has a mezuzah on his door. He needs to remove it." To which they said "Oh no, that's protected because it's his religion.", and I replied "So if he believes that a shredded piece of paper stuck to his door will protect his family, that's ok, but if I believe a state-of-the-art home security system will do a better job, that's forbidden? If you believe in something that is provable and factual, there's no special protection. But, if you believe in some unscientific fantasy, suddenly you get special privileges. It's like anti-intellectualism." Of course they just shrugged and said "Sorry."
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27-11-2013, 01:12 PM
RE: Should churches be taxed?
(24-11-2013 03:44 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...the-church

That was exactly why I opened this thread, thanks for the throwback.
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27-11-2013, 01:15 PM
RE: Should churches be taxed?
(26-11-2013 05:58 PM)amyb Wrote:  
Quote:

3. Priests also serve a very important community role. They give a 20 minute lesson on the bible everyday. Plus they also do spiritual direction. Which is essentially free life counseling. And there is also the marriage prep and the performance of marriages and funerals which are all technically free.

Weddings (again, churches don't perform marriages) and funerals are not free, they are "free;" you still have to make a "donation" to cover the time, the cleanup/prep, the candles and stuff, the thing they hand out that tells what they're doing and what songs they're singing, and so on. Being required to make a donation is far from being "free," even if it means you're technically not being charged outright for it. I seem to remember paying a couple hundred bucks for my dad's Catholic funeral service (which didn't last all that long, so it seems like a high hourly wage).

Also, as Ceph said, reading from/discussing the bible is not a general community service; it is of no benefit to nonchristians or even christians who don't attend and aren't making any "donations" to hear it.

Same with "spiritual direction." Only seems useful to people with the same "spirituality" as them who are already giving money to the church.

As an aside, the priests at our local dioceses charge a $250 "donation" for performing a funeral. Dodgy

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who has said it- not even if I have said it- unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. - Buddha
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27-11-2013, 02:49 PM
RE: Should churches be taxed?
Religion is socially useful, it provides a community and emotional support. However, Mosques and Jewish meetings (called...?) shouldn't be taxed. Neither should atheist or pagan places, ect. They all provide a community. It's not fair to not tax one but tax the others, that's the way I see it at least.

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Bury me with my guns on, so when I'm cast out of the sky, I can shoot the devil right between the eyes.
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27-11-2013, 02:56 PM
RE: Should churches be taxed?
(27-11-2013 02:49 PM)Question Wrote:  Religion is socially useful, it provides a community and emotional support. However, Mosques and Jewish meetings (called...?) shouldn't be taxed. Neither should atheist or pagan places, ect. They all provide a community. It's not fair to not tax one but tax the others, that's the way I see it at least.

As I see it, those churches/mosques/synagogues should be converted into social outreach centers that provide community support and places of activities for kids, adults, etc.

On a more realistic attempt, It would be nice if churches had to provide tangible examples of actual beneficial social aid to their communities to maintain tax exemptions.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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27-11-2013, 03:02 PM
RE: Should churches be taxed?
(27-11-2013 02:56 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  
(27-11-2013 02:49 PM)Question Wrote:  Religion is socially useful, it provides a community and emotional support. However, Mosques and Jewish meetings (called...?) shouldn't be taxed. Neither should atheist or pagan places, ect. They all provide a community. It's not fair to not tax one but tax the others, that's the way I see it at least.

As I see it, those churches/mosques/synagogues should be converted into social outreach centers that provide community support and places of activities for kids, adults, etc.

On a more realistic attempt, It would be nice if churches had to provide tangible examples of actual beneficial social aid to their communities to maintain tax exemptions.
Well, I know my local churches provide bible classes and help single mothers with providing a small daycare while they work. Some of them even have english classes for hispanic children new to the country.

Bury me with my guns on, so when I reach the other side - I can show him what it feels like to die.
Bury me with my guns on, so when I'm cast out of the sky, I can shoot the devil right between the eyes.
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27-11-2013, 06:15 PM
RE: Should churches be taxed?
(27-11-2013 01:12 PM)TheKetola Wrote:  
(24-11-2013 03:44 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...the-church

That was exactly why I opened this thread, thanks for the throwback.

I mentioned that we should probably just merge the threads, but....meh. I searched with a few different combos of keywords and nothing came up. Le sorries. Smile I could holler at a mod or something if you'd like.
(27-11-2013 03:02 PM)Question Wrote:  
(27-11-2013 02:56 PM)ClydeLee Wrote:  As I see it, those churches/mosques/synagogues should be converted into social outreach centers that provide community support and places of activities for kids, adults, etc.

On a more realistic attempt, It would be nice if churches had to provide tangible examples of actual beneficial social aid to their communities to maintain tax exemptions.
Well, I know my local churches provide bible classes and help single mothers with providing a small daycare while they work. Some of them even have english classes for hispanic children new to the country.

The daycare thing is a nice service as long as the staff watching the children and babies are qualified to do so. There was (was) a small church across the street from one of my elementary schools. The person on call didn't know the heimlich and....bad stuff went down. I don't know if you can sue a church or what exactly the heck happened, but now they teach high schoolers karate in there. Our megachurch will only let people watch the kids if they have Day Care experience and/or a degree or certificate in early childhood development.

Idk. It's somewhat like asking for marriage counseling or life advise from someone who doesn't have a degree in psychology. You get what you pay for.

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03-12-2013, 10:41 AM
RE: Should churches be taxed?
(24-11-2013 01:35 AM)Cephalotus Wrote:  Exactly what the title says. Should churches be taxed?

I can only speak from experience in the United States, as I'm uncertain how this works in other countries. Here it's a hot issue every few years then it gets completely forgotten about. It's been a while since the concept got any press whatsoever, and this made me realize I've never really talked this out with an intelligent audience.

I know what a lot of you were thinking when you read the title. It was along the lines of "Hell no, because then churches would be allowed to advocate specific political candidates." For a while I felt the same way myself. Then I remembered that around election days, the local pastor would usually have a sermon prepared that focused on abortion or some other decidedly political issue. They don't have to explicitly state something to imply that God wants them to vote a certain way. They've been sneaking politics in all along.

Thoughts?
Here in the US, the main argument against churches being taxed is the separation of church and state. The establishment clause that Chas brought up would fall under this and I agree that the potential for treating various churches unequally is a valid concern. However, in my mind, there is probably an acceptable solution to that issue if we put our minds to it, so I don't think it's enough to justify not taxing churches.

I also think the separation of church and state is a bunch of BS. It sounds nice, but in practice, it separates state from church, but not church from state. The members and clergy of churches still use roads and public utilities. If there was a fire or crime, they'd be calling 911 like anyone else. If they want separation, then they should get separation - 100% - or pay taxes like everyone else who uses these services. They aren't free and I, as an atheist, certainly don't want a part in footing the bill for organizations that teach lies and nonsense - or worse, take deliberate advantage of its members.

Another argument for not taxing churches is the non-profit factor. Again, I call BS. As Dark Light's post shows, there is obviously plenty of profit in at least some churches. Non-profit should mean they collect enough money to cover their operating expenses (including reasonable living expenses - yeah, I know, that needs a clear definition - for it's clergy and staff) and charitable contributions. I would include a decent building and its proper maintenance under operating expenses, but lavish is not the same as decent. "Lavish" is simply how profit is being used.

In addition, collecting donation money from members is one thing, but what about church fairs and the active sale of things like Christmas trees and Halloween pumpkins? The same money made there under "fund raising" is called "profit" for other non-church-related people selling the very same goods and services.

Brian37 argued that churches shouldn't be taxed because taxing them would allow their heavy influence in politics. However, churches already influence politics heavily, at least in the US. When is the last time you heard someone running for office where the candidate's religion wasn't brought up? Why are abortion and homosexuality such hot-button political topics? How many huge contributions are made to specific candidates by religious people over issues such as those? I don't think a lot would change. And how is it different from specific businesses pouring in huge funds for their own agendas? The threat here is really about general campaign financing issues, not whether churches are allowed to make political contributions.

Personally, I think churches should be taxed on all their income. But, at the very least, I think the laws need to be tightened up regarding what is considered taxable church money and what is not. It doesn't have to be all or none. There could be a reasonable amount determined for operating expenses and charitable donations that is not taxable and then the rest gets taxed.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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