Should Churches be Tax-Exempt? part 3
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


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

Should Churches be Tax-Exempt? part 3

In the last two essays, I have questioned whether religious institutions, which may silence dissent on theological and social issues, should be tax-exempt. This essay, I will offer my own conclusions, as well as some thoughts from other CVA members.
I have reservations about religious institutions having tax-exempt status, because it seems to violate the separation of church and state. The state can choose which institutions it regards as “religious,” thereby giving advantage to religious organizations it prefers. This does not seem to be a problem currently, but I am always wary of governmental power, which can easily be abused.
To the larger question about whether any institutions should be nonprofit, I think it boils down to whether or not they serve the public good, because nonprofit status is tantamount to public support. Do organizations that can and often do limit free speech within their organizations, benefit the public? I think they do, because they often provide valuable dissenting points of view.  While the voices from the government and corporations are very loud, giving nonprofit status to dissenting viewpoints helps to level the playing field in the public arena.
I often find that I disagree with dissenting views, particularly from the far left and far right, but I think that giving them ample opportunity to express their views broadens my horizons and serves the public good.

Go on to: On Science and Religion, part 1
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

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