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It’s time for churches to start paying their fair share

The United States of America is, at least on paper, a democratic society. We have a government, made up of elected officials whose job is supposed to be to work for the people who elected them.

On some level, this is still true today. Although it could definitely be argued that the only constituents to whom our elected officials are beholden are those who line their pockets with the capital they need to maintain certain lifestyles.

Regardless of how one feels about the state of democracy in this country, few would argue that money is a huge problem. People are always running out of it, or in need of it, and theoretically, money is not infinite. There is a limit to how much money does, or at least should, exist.

That’s why we pay taxes in this country. If the government is a body of elected officials tasked with serving the public, well they are going to need money to get things done. Fix potholes, pay judges, police and firemen, keep a functioning military, etc. These things all take money to make them happen.

So on some level, American citizens should actually be into paying taxes, because that’s the only way this thing works. Yet people, businesses and organizations are constantly on the lookout for ways to avoid paying taxes. The worst offender in this department are religious organizations. Churches.

That needs to stop immediately.

Today, churches and religious institutions file taxes as a 501(c)(3) organization. According to IRS.gov, “To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual. In addition, it may not be an action organization, i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”

So once again, on paper, any proponent of a church’s right to their tax exempt status seems vindicated. But anybody with a brain in their head can see what is really going on.

Every year, these religious organizations receive millions of dollars in donations. Tax-free donations. These donations do not have to be reported, as they are not taxable under their filings status. Even though the law explicitly states that these organizations may not attempt to influence legislation, that is exactly what they are doing.

Why else would the Republican party be so aligned with the religious right in this country, that it undermines all of their goals? It is because there is so much money for these political shills to be gifted in one way or another, that they will continuously push for new laws that force the rest of the country to adhere to the asinine, outdated and backwards tenets that their ideologically warped constituents push for.

Not only are these attempts at using law to regulate morality ethically reprehensible, but they aren’t very well thought out either. Take for example the continuous attempts by the religious right to restrict a woman’s access to her own reproductive autonomy.

They want to pass all kinds of laws forcing women to bear unwanted children. However, they want no part of protecting these children once they are here. The same party that wants to ban abortion is also the one that wants to make deep cuts to most forms of aid for families. That is the food stamps and medical assistance that keep many of these families going.

They are then, by some kind of Bizarro World rationale, in favor of things like capital punishment. It is absolutely ludicrous, and the worst part is, we are all paying to subsidize this ridiculous nonsense.

This is exactly how the recent debacle in Indiana over their law that institutionalizes discrimination on a state level happened. Too many churches with way too much money to throw around raising a stink about something that shouldn’t even be an issue. Never mind what destructive legislation they are passing in Congress, the gays want me to serve them dinner. That is the kind of juvenile and socially malignant activity that we are all supporting financially.

Now, I firmly believe in an American citizen’s right to believe in whatever ridiculous nonsense you like. At one point, I too believed that Paul McCartney died in a car crash in 1966. But I’ll be damned if public funds have to go to pay for it.

In a time where schools are underfunded and drastically slashing programs from their curricula, America more or less leads the world in credit card debt, and federal as well as state governments are struggling to stay afloat financially, it seems to me that it’s time to tighten our proverbial belt.

Someone who patronizes a church may receive a sense of satisfaction for their attendance, but the reality is they are being sold a service. Churches have no positive value when it comes to civil infrastructure. Why do we permit billions of dollars of potential tax revenue to be flushed down the toilet by allowing these purveyors of myth to dodge paying their fair share?

Tax-exempt status for religious institutions is a bogus and unfair privilege whose time as a thing needs to draw to a close. Believe in whatever preposterous theology you like. Stop making the rest of us pay for it. You keep your fairy tales. I want my kid to get a decent education.

 

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  • news telescope logo: The Telescope Newspaper
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