Should Churches Be Taxed?

Should churches have to pay taxes, especially since they get the same benefits from roads, schools, and police that other residents and businesses receive?  It’s a question that had many religious institutions bristling.

Via Huffington Post:

With cash-strapped states and cities facing a slew of tough choices, there’s a growing debate nationwide about whether religious congregations should help foot the bill.

“It makes no sense to tax churches and to limit their ability to provide their services, and it does damage to the constitutional separation between church and state,” argues Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing Catholic and Baptist churches in the city of 10,000.

He acknowledges that church-state separation is generally not an argument made by his conservative Christian law firm; but in this instance, he says “there should be a separation here.”

Houses of worship are generally exempt from federal and state taxes, in part because nonprofits are viewed as providing beneficial services for society.

As a result, municipalities often don’t gain any revenue from the property on which they sit, and Stanley views the fees as a way to get around the churches’ tax-exempt status.

There is, of course, a huge amount of irony in churches declaring that they shouldn’t be taxed because of a separation of church and state, especially considering how much they usually claim that such a separation does not exist in the constitution.

It’s also interesting considering the amount of political involvement many churches have been partaking in, in some cases going out of their way to challenge the idea that religious institutions should not participate in politics, and trying to draw attention to their tax exempt status.

Prominent Christian conservative Alex McFarland reacted to the possibility of churches being taxed with much expected rage:

According to Dr. Alex McFarland, author, speaker and expert on Christian Apologetics, few true freedoms will remain if churches are taxed based on the number of people who enter their doors to worship.


“How sad that we have reached a level of greed and financial mismanagement that money comes into play regarding one of our most basic freedoms—freedom of religion,” McFarland says. “Our country was founded on being able to worship freely and without reservation.”

I assume the emphasis is on the “free.”

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Terry King
Terry King1 years ago


Edvanir L.
Edvanir L.2 years ago

This is a really hard one...

Caleb R.
Caleb R.2 years ago

Are you all for real? To tax churches would definitly violate the church goer's rights. Them money that is in a church is not just from business it has in it's schools and bake sales but also the people who contribute! To tax a church would in turn cuase the church goer to pay the goverment more than their own taxes. Basicly we would not be charging an athiest but charging any person who supports a church. Furthermore a church is not a business it is a nonprofit organization put here on earth so that we may honor God. To tax poeple who worship could be to discriminant between poeples.

Joe R.
Joe R.3 years ago

Tax 'em.

Nicole Bergeron
Nicole Bergeron3 years ago

As much as they have been in politics and attempting to create laws that benefit them, they very well should be.

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado4 years ago

Provided that the followers of church give their 10% tithe all the services of such church would be free of charge and receive basic services needed by education, housing and maybe hospitalization.

Ralph Hull
Ralph Hull4 years ago

Of course churches should be taxed, just like all the rest of us. Either that, and better yet, none of us pay taxes. Then we will have to struggle on our own, make things happen for ourselves, just like I do every day. Nobody gives me anything, I have to struggle for it. Churches as based on money, don't kid yourself. Money generates taxes, so there you are, aren't you?

Sue P.
Sue Parry4 years ago

I think churches should at least have to pay local property taxes.

Alexandra Spurlock
Alexandra S.4 years ago

The moment a church involves itself in politics-- whether it be by telling its members who they should vote for, or donating money to political causes-- they should lose their tax-exempt status because at that moment they have moved from being a church to being a political action committee.

Hanka T.
Hanka T.4 years ago

why shouldn't they be taxed? the church is an anachronism, there are no intermediaries in our relationship with God.