The United States government has a long history of subsidizing churches, indirectly, for benefits that churches and other ostensibly non-profit organizations are perceived to provide to communities.
Churches are subsidized primarily in the form of public services for which they are exempted from tax collection. Churches’ neighbors, on the other hand, pay for air and surface transportation infrastructure and regulation; clean air, water, and food; schools; national defense; Social Security, and more.
Until President Bush’s White House popularized “faith-based initiatives” costing taxpayers billions of dollars that have been funneled to churches with little accountability, churches were required not to channel the free services that they receive into the pockets and campaigns of corrupt political partisans.
“Faith-based initiatives,” while well-intentioned, became a revolving door for billions of federal taxpayer dollars to be channeled from the pockets of taxpayers into thinly disguised projects that support Republican political causes.
In 2008, shameless church leaders abandoned even the pretense if non-partisanship, as they used generously taxpayer-aided pulpits to declare the Christian Barack Obama an antichrist and to crown the nominally agnostic John McCain and other Republicans as their anointed leaders. These religious leaders knew, of course, that the politicians receiving their support would send additional billions of taxpayer dollars into church employees’ pockets. The churches, in turn, become pawns of politicians who gain effective control of churches’ annual budgets.
Various petitions such as this one are now circulating, seeking to revoke the tax-exempt status of churches that channel taxpayer support into partisan political bribery and racketeering.
Advocates of a more libertarian or fair-tax approach seek instead to revoke the tax-exempt status of all churches.
Do churches provide services that justify tax-exempt status?
Should some or all churches be required to pay taxes like everyone else?