- Activist Feedback
- Essay: Should Churches Be Tax-Exempt?
- This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
1. Activist Feedback
I passed out 650
leaflets at the Third Day Concert in Sacramento last week. It was a
very friendly crowd, and I had several good conversations with a
number of young adult about being a vegetarian and I shared my story
of better health and being more in-tuned with Christ.
2. Essay: Should Churches Be Tax-Exempt? Part 2
Last week I began to explore the question of whether churches, which
can and often do censor objections to consuming animal products,
should be tax exempt. Such tax exemption amounts to a public
sponsorship of churches, since taxes not paid by churches must be paid
by someone else. Arguably, this conflicts with the First Amendment of
the U.S. Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion…” Tax laws that exempt
religious institutions have the effect of favoring religious
institution over other kinds of institutions, thereby facilitating the
establishment of religion.
An argument can be made that
institutions that promote religion should not be tax-exempt. People
should be free to believe and practice any religion they want, but the
general public does not have an interest in seeing religion flourish.
The concern I am raising in this essay about tax-exemption for
religious institutions is that such institutions often do not permit
free speech. Private, for-profit institutions can curtail free speech
on their own property and within their own organization, and they
should have the right to do so. However, they don’t enjoy tax-exempt
Religious institutions aren’t the only tax-exempt
institutions that limit free speech. Nearly all “educational” and
advocacy organizations have political ideologies that restrict the
expression of certain ideas. Groups dedicated to hunting don’t welcome
animal-rights viewpoints, and animal-rights groups don’t welcome
pro-hunting arguments. Academic institutions tend to be more open to
unorthodox ideas, but even they have their biases, including
self-serving positions on animal issues such as vivisection.
It seems to me that the real question is whether tax exempt status for
religious, educational, and perhaps other institutions serves the
public good. Because tax-exempt institutions don’t pay their share of
taxes, members of the public pay for these institutions by having
higher tax rates.
Should religious and/or educational
organizations be tax-exempt? I welcome your thoughts on this matter,
and I’ll weigh in on this question next week.
3. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and
Spiritual Change - The Transfiguration of Jesus