Atheists challenge the tax exemption for religious groups

Print More
RNS photo by Tyrone Turner

RNS photo by Tyrone Turner

Active RNS subscribers and members can view this content by logging-in here.

(RNS) Ryan Cragun doesn't want to completely revoke the tax-exempt status of religious organizations. Instead, he thinks tax exemptions should only be allowed for nonprofit groups -- religious or secular -- whose services the government would have to supply if those organizations disappeared. By Kimberly Winston.

  • Kindness

    This is my experience… Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth….

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it …..but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else….. Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also… much the world arranges “surrounding dark matter into something to be debated” in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don’t know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently…. most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

    We don’t like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. “Follow me”.
    It’s the hardest thing to do… but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)… as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth…
    do we do what it says in todays society… is it relevant… so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person…which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ….in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life….. You will be forgotten…. history will repeat iteslf…. the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed….. your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated….. your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix… Repent…. Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are” in” the world but not “of ” the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence….. Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament… You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ….see and hear truth … see how christ sets an example … feel the truth….

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don’t get what you want ….you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. …your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour…. can’t explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You’re all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I’ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don’t wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It’s just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

  • Dimitri Cavalli

    The Council for Secular Humanism, Freedom from Religion Foundation, and Edd Doerr’s Americans for Religious Liberty are all 501 c (3) nonprofit organizations, which makes contributions to them tax-deductible and and bound by the very same IRS guidelines for houses of worship. These facts are not mentioned in this article.

    If we want to get rid of tax exemption, then do it across the board. No more 501 c (3) or 501 c (4) nonprofit organizations. Getting rid of nonprofita would hurt secular activists more than organized religion and impact many liberal activist groups including American Atheists, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU), the ADL, the ACLU, NOW, NARAL, and Catholics for Choice.

  • Rick

    In response to Mr. Cavalli’s response–the article does not advocate for eliminating taxes for non-profit organizations. It only advocates for the elimination of unfair tax policies on religious organizations–for example, special treatment of the clergy in relation to housing.

  • Everyone

    To the comment by “kindness”–No, I do not feel like believing in preposterous notions set forth by Bronze Age zealots and political committee in an attempt to explain what we now clearly can, with evidence and reason. I am happy that you have found bliss in ignorance, but I cannot ignore your religion’s advocation for genocide, subjugation of women, endorsement of slavery, disregard for human life and its history of following up on those “values”. You speak of freedom? Free yourself from these dangerous delusions. Before you craft some not-so-witty response, keep in mind–every other religion in the world says theirs is right, and we as humans have just as much reason to believe them as you.

    I wish you the best of luck in ridding yourself of the insanity known as “religion”.

  • Atheist anon


    Your comment never addressed the issue in this article and is quite irrelevant. It is unfair for religious institutions to remain free of paying taxes while still trying to contribute to society. This is in no way an attack on the institution and whatever it’s core tenants may be, but rather a move towards equality for all.

  • vegeta

    This is only natural. While some churches do help the less fortunate, but to me and to the wider public this is not the case. We see rich pastors building multimillion dollar churches, living in mansions, talking politics, giving money to anti gay organizations, paying off child rapists to shut up, hiding child rapists within the church walls (and not just catholic churches). So, this is a PR problem that religions have. These tax exempt rules are a tradition. A tradition b/c at one point they did serve the local community with their funds. As with all traditions this one needs to change. Im sure the arguement “well its just a handful of this people making the rest look bad” will come up. But the Public image is far too damaged and the moral authority of christians and the churchs is not there, so it will fall on deaf ears. In reality i will say this, there is no chance of this tradition changing any time soon. So, the religious can relax and go about not giving ceasar what is ceasar’s.

  • Wynalazca

    A tax exemption is not a subsidy. It boggles my mind at how stupid people can be.

  • Fuzzy

    In life, you cannot avoid two things… Taxes and Death.
    It’ll come to them.. someday.

  • Brandon

    if they have to pay taxes won’t their money be used by the gov’t, which would give them some kind of rights to push for what the taxes are used for? i just think it’s a bad idea to let the religion into the state.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Wynalazca; yes it is. When someone is exempt from tax, the balance of the people are forced to subsidize the church. Wether it is power delivery, road repairs, schools, hospitals, on and on. Avoiding tax is asking for a hand out from everyone else.

    Bottom line: many churches come outright and demonize Democrats and wade into politics. Once they do that they should forfeit their tax free status.

  • Hami

    Let me think. Do we want a new bridge in our city or give tax break to $%^& clergymen

  • corwin1681

    its funny, i looked up religious tax exemptions, and every time a religious figure tells their followers to vote a certain way – they violate the rules for exemptions, and have to start paying taxes. (and we all know how church tells people not to vote for anyone who is pro choice)

  • BJT

    I think we just need better reinforcement of the rules. Tax exemption isn’t a favor, its how we keep them from having a say to what tax money is used for. If they however still have influence on how others wield their money and their votes (as many do), they ought to lose that status. Not every church, synagogue or mosque deserves to lose that status.

  • Dave Henders

    So you want to buy contraceptives? I’ve sorry, an old misogynistic man sitting aloft a golden throne in Rome has other ideas. “Sinful” women’s health programs decrease the number of Catholic babies born into the world by reducing teen pregnancies, so they must be put to an end. The proper thing is to not educate teenagers about their own biological systems, that way it is a surprise when another tithing baby comes along!

    Oh, most European countries caught on already and have given people rights? Not to worry, there is always AFRICA to bend to our will

    In fact the best way to conduct a women’s health conference is to head it with 12 men, no actual woman are needed at all to discuss a vagina. Paid for by the Church (TM).

    Seriously, some of the priests don’t have gold watches or the option to vacation abroad, Christians are being OPPRESSED. If you don’t tithe to support the “habit”, you will go to hell.

  • Fiona Mackenzie

    Perhaps churches once served a useful community function, maybe in caring for the sick and elderly. That is long gone, and church-operated hospitals and service agencies are now funded by US, the taxpayers. Why do we cycle our money, with the inevitable losses, through anti-constitutional deniers of religious freedom, who use it to push their own personal beliefs onto the recipients of publicly financed services in every way imaginable, completely defiant of the law?

  • Fiona Mackenzie

    Since I was old enough (somewhere in my teens) to understand that separation of church and state was being rampantly violated, I have been uncomfortable about it. Now, though, with proselytizing unrestrained even by simple courtesy, and children faced with the thrust of someone else’s religion in their faces at every turn, I take it much harder.

    We, the taxpayers, are spending $35 million of our tax money to underwrite a creationist museum in Kentucky, where children are taught that people once rode dinosaurs and all of science is a lie. I’m sure we could find a better use for that money today, when the rich and the deeply religious are working together to cut off public care for those in need, public operation and maintenance of our nation, even public schools.

  • John Ceccon


  • Alex

    Why does Christianity and republicans go hand in hand? Yes the evasion of taxes. I am not saying Christianity in anyway is bad (however like in any group of people there is bound to be some unsavory individuals) but many businesses owned by the church and church members do duck many taxes that any other people of groups are expected to pay, and often this is exploited to make huge profits in the pretense of “Being the good for all”.

  • Jay

    If they want to get rid of the exemption, then they ought to eliminate the non-profit exemptions for all nonprofits, after all we can make FAR more for the national budget by doing that.

    Oops that would include their own nonprofit status.

    How hypocritical.

  • DearbornGuy

    Exactly Jay. Just to be clear… churches and religious organizations across this country are doing tremendous work for the poor, the down-and-out. And doing it more efficiently and compassionately than any government agency. The difference between what churches do, and government do, however, is philosophy. The role of church-supported charity was always meant to aid those most in need until they could get them back on their feet. The role of governement “charity,” not so much.

  • Mike

    I bet the Council for Secular Humanism is also tax exempt.

  • Ed S

    The entire history of tax exemption for religious organization stems from the exemption of the church of england from the king. It came to the US in the form of divinity schools, also exempt, you know them, they are Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth..whose land charters specifically state that they were given land and exemption in an effort to “convert the savages.” From this launching point, all educational institutions, but for the recent spate of for profit universities, have gotten exemption and those “public need or public good” statutes have been broadly interpreted. So, if you are going to challenge religious exemption, then the exempt sector should in fact be abolished entirely, and taxed like every other corporation….

  • Samuel Jordan

    This country was set up with separation of church and state …If these clowns (organized religion aka gop (greedy old pricks) want to jump into the pond and try to controll politics they should be taxed at even a higher rate than everyone else . Maybe then they wont have so much money to throw at dangerous candidates . When organized religion started campaigning for george bush , (I don’t capitalize unimportant things) , I knew that organized religion was working for the wrong deity. the two most dangerous organizations in the world are …organized religion and the gop (greedy old pricks) … not necessarily in that order . Pretty much ALL wars are started for their profit or their use / misuse !!!Can you imagine how much better the world would be if the republican cult would finally die out like the other dinosaurs ???I’m sure in another 1000 years the republican party will evolve into loving , caring human beings … but I’m getting tired of waiting !!!