Should Churches be Tax-Exempt? part 2
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Should Churches be Tax-Exempt? part 2

Last essay 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 status.
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 essay.

Go on to: Should Churches be Tax-Exempt? part 3
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