Churches Are Parasites on The Taxpayers
by James A. Worrell
“The appropriation of funds of the United States for the use and support of religious societies, [is] contrary to the article of the Constitution which declares that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment.’”
“Because it is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of Citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthed itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it. Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? that the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?” —James Madison (1751-1836) Fourth U.S. President—
Is there separation of church and state in America? Without a doubt, the answer is “NO.” The entanglement is gross and getting worse.
The first entanglement is that every state exempts churches from ad valorem taxes. Those are taxes assessed against the owner of real property. These taxes are usually assessed by county, and the money raised is used to fund local education and city/county services such as fire and police. There may be other government beneficiaries of these taxes such as street and sewer maintenance.
The truth is, churches own a lot of real property, and that property is not being assessed to pay the taxes that must be borne to sustain government services. Since the churches don’t pay property taxes, the burden of county and local government services is passed on to the other real property owners.
If a church catches fire or is burglarized, you can bet the pastor/priest will call on the fire department or police department for services. These are services for which the churches pay no taxes to support. In other words, the rest of the property owners are forced to provide free fire and police services to churches. The churches are also getting free services from all the agencies funded by property taxes.
This tax-free ride for churches allows them to use their donated funds for advertising and for circulating their propaganda to the public. A person paying property taxes is denied this advantage in the market place of free ideas.
A second entanglement is the deduction for donations to churches. The Internal Revenue Code allows donors to take a deduction for money they give to their churches. This means that church donors pay fewer taxes because of the deduction, thereby passing the tax burden of government on to all the other taxpayers who do not donate to churches and do not get a similar tax deduction.
According to http://www.america.gov/ $96.82 billion dollars was donated to churches nationwide in the year 2006. That is the latest year for which figures are available.
This is truly amazing as it means that people who don’t give money to churches are required to pick up the tab for over $96 billion dollars. With that amount of money, the voice of religion grows louder.
All non-profit organizations are required to file an IRS form 990. This form shows how much money the organization received and what its expenditures were. Any non-profit organization must make this form available on request. Yet, under the Internal Revenue Code, churches are not required to file a 990 tax form, or any other form. The IRS is prohibited from inspecting the books of churches to determine where the contributions go or how the churches spend the money.
Churches claim to be charitable organizations, but no one knows how much of the $96.82 billion dollars goes to charity or to build more church buildings or to fatten the preacher’s pocket. Of course, with the Catholic Church, much of the money goes directly to the Vatican. Thus taxpayers are supporting a foreign government with their unfair tax laws. The Vatican is a state.
No man or woman should be forced by law to support another person’s religion, yet this is exactly what the ad valorem tax exemption and the charitable deductions of both federal and state tax codes does.
Now, let’s top this off with President George W. Bush’s faith-based tax giveaways to churches. Congress has passed a law that churches can discriminate in hiring.* This means your tax dollars are given to churches for the supposed purpose of social services, but if you are not a member of that church, they can discriminate and not hire you. Thus, they keep the free money among their own members.
There is absolutely no oversight on how these tax dollars are spent or used by churches. Bush’s giving of tax dollars to churches is the latest entanglement of church and state.
I don’t know where it will stop, but churches that claim the high ground of morality are really nothing more than leeches on the public’s pocketbook. The separation of church and state is more of an ideal than a reality.
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*Title Vii of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Exemption Sec. 2000e-1. [Section 702]
(a) This subscriber shall not apply to an employee with respect to the employment of aliens outside any State, or to a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities.