Versus and clobber verses: ‘It’s an almost impossible situation’

Versus and clobber verses: ‘It’s an almost impossible situation’ August 27, 2013

Travis Loller’s Associated Press piece, “Churches Changing Bylaws After Gay Marriage Ruling” offers a decent overview of how some local congregations who have implicitly opposed marriage equality are now making sure this isn’t just an unwritten rule, but a part of their explicit policy.

That’s a legitimate concern for faith-based non-profits, schools and other agencies who want to practice religious-based employment discrimination — they need to get that down in writing as an explicit religious conviction. But it’s unnecessary for churches imagining some nonexistent threat of the government telling them who they can and cannot marry. The right of religious institutions to marry or not marry as they see fit has always been, and remains, unquestioned and unchallenged. (Divorced Catholics looking to remarry, for example, can’t hope to take their local Catholic church to court to force the local priest to bless their wedding. And I couldn’t sue the local synagogue for refusing to allow me to marry there because I’m not Jewish.)

Loller notes that the panic leading to some of this rewriting of marriage bylaws is unfounded. But, of course, being an AP reporter, he can’t just supply those corrective facts. He has to do so in “he said/she said” style by attributing them to the “other side.”

“Critics, including some gay Christian leaders, argue that the changes amount to a solution looking for a problem,” Loller writes in the same way that AP reporters always write things like, “Critics, including some scientists who have studied the matter, argue that the Earth is not flat.”

Still, though, this may be a useful exercise for some churches. Attempting to articulate their implicit beliefs as a formal policy requires them to examine and justify those beliefs in a way they may have avoided doing previously:

In more hierarchical denominations, like the Roman Catholic Church or the United Methodist Church, individual churches are bound by the policies of the larger denomination. But nondenominational churches and those loosely affiliated with more established groups often individually decide how to address social issues such as gay marriage.

Eric Rassbach is an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a public interest legal group that defends the free expression rights of all faiths. He said it is unlikely the government would try to force a pastor to perform a same-sex marriage, but churches that rent out their facilities to the general public could face problems if they refuse to rent to gay couples.

Although his organization has not advocated it, he said it could strengthen a church’s legal position to adopt a statement explaining its beliefs about marriage.

Rassbach is right that it is “unlikely the government would try to force a pastor to perform a same-sex marriage” — although “unlikely” seems a bit understated for something so pointless, illegal and unprecedented. We could also, I suppose, say it was “unlikely” that the government would force churches to baptize unbelievers. Or that it was “unlikely” that the government will mandate conversion to a particular religious sect. Those statements would be true as well if we use “unlikely” in the Rassbachian sense of utterly impossible.

Justin Lee is the reality-based “some critic” Loller allows to speak in lieu of reporting fact as fact:

“They seem to be under the impression that there is this huge movement with the goal of forcing them to perform ceremonies that violate their freedom of religion,” said Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network, a nonprofit that provides support for gay Christians and their friends and families and encourages churches to be more welcoming.

“If anyone tried to force a church to perform a ceremony against their will, I would be the first person to stand up in that church’s defense.”

Loller also allows some unnamed attorneys to correct the misimpression otherwise reinforced by this article:

Some denominations are less concerned about the Supreme Court rulings. The Assemblies of God, the group of churches comprising the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination, sought legal advice after the rulings. An attorney for the group distributed a memo to ministers saying there was no reason to change their bylaws.

But what fascinated me most in this article was Loller’s conclusion, which captures the way the culture is knocking at the door of the church, leaving many in it perplexed:

The bylaw changes are coming at a time when many churches are wrestling with gay marriage in general and are working hard to be more welcoming to gays and lesbians.

“It’s probably one of the most difficult issues our churches are facing right now,” said Doug Anderson, a national coordinator with the evangelical Vineyard Church. “It’s almost an impossible situation to reconcile what’s going on in our culture, and our whole theology of welcoming and loving people, versus what it says in the Bible.”

Poor Doug Anderson can’t reconcile this “impossible situation” because he’s constructed it as irreconcilable. He’s created a contrast and a contradiction, and now he despairs of any way to resolve it.

Just look at that phrase: “Our whole theology of welcoming and loving people versus what it says in the Bible.”

Where does that “versus” come from? Anderson’s “theology of welcoming and loving people” is “what it says in the Bible.” That’s where the command to welcome and love people — all people — comes from.

But doesn’t the Bible also say that some people must be excluded? Yes, it does. It says that we mustn’t welcome foreigners or the uncircumcised or the unclean. It says that in many places, you can look it up. But it also says the opposite.

So how can we “reconcile” this “impossible situation” in which we have the Bible versus the Bible? Well, for Bible-based believers like Anderson, maybe it would be good to look to the Bible. How does the Bible itself reconcile these conflicting demands of the Bible?

Anderson, in other words, is in very much the same bewildered state that the apostle Peter was in the story in Acts chapter 10. “Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen,” Acts says.

In that vision, he had been shown all kinds of unclean food and God had commanded him to eat it. It was “almost an impossible situation to reconcile” that command “versus what it says in the Bible.”

And that’s when a bunch of unclean Gentiles knocked at his door. That’s when “what’s going on in our culture” forced Peter to resolve his impossible situation. He accompanied those unclean outsiders back to a house filled with even more unclean outsiders — the very people “the Bible says” he was forbidden to associate with. That was, in fact, the first thing he said to them: “The Bible says I’m not allowed to go near you.” (“You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile.”)

“But …”

But the next word Peter says is “but.”

“The Bible says one thing, but …”

That’s terrifying for folks like poor Doug Anderson. They revere the Bible as their authority, their lifeline and lifeblood. And so, for them, if “the Bible says” we must never say “but.” If “it is unlawful” then it is unlawful no matter what else the Bible says about a whole theology of welcoming and loving people.

Who are we to question what “the Bible says”? Who are we to think that it could ever be acceptable for us to say, “The Bible says one thing, but …“?

But here’s the thing: “The Bible says one thing, but …” is something the Bible says.

Throwing off the shackles of clobber texts that force us to contradict love is biblical.


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  • Lunch Meat

    I meant to say “other facilities, which are tax-exempt for religious reasons.” Got ahead of myself.

  • Oswald Carnes

    So, in other words, you’re just another lying bigot goon. Not that it wasn’t obvious from every other think you’ve ever posted.

  • Oswald Carnes

    If churches are worried about losing their tax-exempt status it just shows all churches really give a fuck about is money. Yet another shock.

  • Isabel C.

    I don’t think that churches should get tax-exempt status, at all, any more than any other community organization does. It’s not a hill I’m willing to die on, but if we get right down to it? I don’t really think I should be subsidizing your faith or asking you to subsidize mine.

    Why is this a big deal?

    I do think that “discriminatory” is a perfectly fine label for organizations that, well, discriminate–and “unfairly and bigotedy discriminatory” is a perfectly fine label for organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, etc. There are situations where the government should do something about discrimination and situations where it shouldn’t*, and I can see the argument that churches are a place where it shouldn’t intervene. But words mean things. I’m not going to avoid using the words that mean things just because you and other bigots might get your little fee-fees hurt.

    Why is this a big deal?

  • Jeff

    Do you mean, why should you perceive it to be a big deal? (I assume you don’t actually care why churches think it’s a big deal). Well, from a purely pragmatic perspective, if you cut off churches’ tax exempt status, you’ll reduce the amount that people will give to churches, which will reduce the amount of charitable work that churches are able to do.

  • Jeff

    I’ve posted a lot of “thinks”, it is true. (Sorry to latch onto your minor typo. It’s what we bigot goons do, don’t you know).

  • axelbeingcivil

    The article doesn’t actually support your claim; you said that churches would lose tax-exempt status for refusing to marry gay couples. They didn’t. Instead, they lost tax-exempt status for refusing to rent out a boardwalk property they owned to the couple for their wedding; a property that had received a lot of government money to be revitalized.

    A church losing tax-exempt status on a plot of land that is supposed to be open to use by all, and for which it has received substantial government funds for beautification and from which it receives substantial income, is quite different from the whole organization losing tax-exempt status for refusing to let gay couples marry in their church.

  • Lunch Meat

    While, again, I don’t think this will ever happen–although I wouldn’t be particularly concerned about it if it did, given that I support house churches and the church did just fine without any government recognition or support in the first century–people who give to churches just because they get tax deductions would end up giving more money to other places that also give them tax deductions, which would result in those places doing more charitable work.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    No problem. Before I refreshed the page Disqus was labeling all of Jeff’s comments under your name, so I thought your comment was actually Jeff conflating chapels with other facilities.

  • From what I’m reading, it isn’t because they refused to perform a ceremony — the couple wanted to rent their boardwalk pavilion for us of their own ceremony and the church refused, despite a history of allowing the public to rent the pavilion for non-religious purposes. If they had only used it for their own purposes, the judge would have ruled in their favor. In essence, by providing a for-profit, non-religious service to the public, their pavilion lost the tax exemption status associated with the church.
    It is worth noting that the church itself still has tax-exempt status, as does the beach they also own.

  • Isabel C.

    What Lunch Meat said, basically. There are plenty of non-discriminatory, non-religious (or at least non-church-based) charities out there. If churches are concerned about their congregations doing good in the world–which most of the bigoted sort are not, from what I’ve seen/heard–they can turn the collection-plate funds directly over to the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders or whoever.

    In other words: nope. Next objection?

    And I assume that the reason the churches who think it’s a big deal do so is that they want to preserve their profit margin and believe they deserve tax breaks more than other nonprofits because Jesus. Can you offer an alternative explanation?

  • You’ve just moved the goalposts.

    The concern isn’t that churches will be forced to marry gay couples, it’s that they will lose tax exempt status for refusing to do so. There’s no point in debating whether this might possibly happen; it already /has/ happened.

    It has not happened. The church retains its tax-exempt status. The church will keep its tax-exempt status, even if they refuse to marry gay couples. The example you posted is not an example of this.

  • swbarnes2

    When I was in college, I would have thought that all this was marvelous, taking every stupid thing that Fundies believed, and laughing at it. Then I realized how childish that was. That people like fundies aren’t doing a crappy job of drawing conclusions based on 21st century Western liberal premises, they just had a completely different set of premises, and they are drawing conclusions from those, so of COURSE they will be different, and that cataloging and mocking every point of departure from liberal thinking or liberal Christianity is a waste of intellect; that the real question is to figure out what everyone’s premises really are, and how people ought to pick premises.

    If you take as a premise that God is real, and wants to be understood, and the Bible is how that was done, why is it so ridiculous to conclude that it therefore has to be understandable to people without fluency in ancient languages, or PhDs in Near Eastern ancient culture? If people don’t like all the moral conclusions that come from that, people should be arguing against the premises at the core of the thinking, not lobbing spitballs at the conclusions.

    My premises are pretty simple, and it’s easy as pie for me to state them clearly; 1) people make mistakes 2) other people matter as much as I do. Those axioms are utterly incompatible with burning witches alive, or torturing people for believing the wrong thing. You can’t follow those axioms, and think that the Passover story, or the Flood story is moral. But self-labeled Christians have thought that all of that was okay, because they held different axioms.

  • Oswald Carnes

    Mostly, it’s what whiny boy detectives do, but “ignorant bigot goon” and “whiny boy detective” are not mutually exclusive categories.

  • Isabel C.

    So instead you’ve decided to nitpick everyone’s personal belief systems on the Internet because blah blah logic blah blah premises? Because that’s…not Hey I’ve You Guys Heard How I’ve Just Taken Philosophy 201 or anything, no sir, not at all.

    I myself can think of several reasons why God could be real and benevolent and use the Bible as a communication tool while still having translation errors or being open to interpretation. I’m not Christian, but it doesn’t take much thought.

    And it’s not that fundies pick “faulty” interpretations based on yadda yadda philosophy major yadda that makes them mockable; it’s that they pick interpretations that go against humanity and compassion.

    “Simmer down, freshman,” is what I’m saying here.

  • Albanaeon

    You probably shouldn’t lead off with an argument more reminiscent of a gangster’s “be a shame if somethin’ were to happen to those poor people over there…”

    Try “separation of church and state” instead (churches not funding the govt).

  • Michael Pullmann

    “people should be arguing against the premises at the core of the thinking”
    And there’s your problem: You have an erroneous impression of the premises at the core of the thinking.

  • Isabel C.

    This entire line of conversation is making me crave Duncan-Hines brownies, for some reason. ;)

  • Michael Pullmann

    So “the closest somewhat-related situation” was a religious charity (not a church) voluntarily (not forced) withdrawing from adoption placement (not losing their tax-exempt status) because they didn’t want to stop discriminating against people (not because the law forced them to).
    What, exactly, is it going to take for you to admit you don’t have a leg to stand on?

  • Isabel C.

    I could see that one, though I’m actually on the other side of it–granting tax exemptions to organizations on the grounds of belief seems more church-and-state mingly than just saying hey, you take in X, you pay Y, and that’s true whether you get together to pray or learn karate or watch old cartoons.

    But that’s at least an argument I can respectfully disagree with.

  • AnonaMiss
  • I’m cool with churches getting tax exemptions because they don’t get to influence or control our laws, and one of the founding principles of our nation is that taxation without representation is a Bad Thing.

    So obviously, since they have absolutely no ability to exert influence over the political discourse, they shouldn’t pay taxes.

    Wait, WHAT?

  • LoneWolf343

    Or, at least, care about it more than people.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Do you actually recognize that you lied in your initial claim?

    Do you actually recognize that churches not being allowed to discriminate on lands they lease to the public *isn’t illegal,* or what you’re trying to say it is?

    The question “Could it happen?” is a bald-faced lie and moot. You know why? Because thousands of churches have been violating their tax exempt policies for years now by preaching politics and jack shit has been done. Hundreds of Right-leaning Christian leaders have been blatantly shoving your religion into everyone elses’ politics/lives, and not only have they not been punished for it, the GOTea has been passing laws to make sure they can *do it more.*

    One other thing I’d like you to think about. If this situation were reversed, and we were talking about an -insert non-Christian religion here- person who disagreed with Christianity, and their deep personal beliefs not being protected, would you be championing that person’s rights to not have to violate what they believe? Somehow, I doubt it.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Yes, you did lie. You claimed that a church lost tax exempt status for refusing to host a gay marriage in their church building.

    1) It was not the church in question. It was a pavilion they owned, which was involved in a program to encourage churches to lease their tax havens for public usage.

    2) Churches are not legally allowed to discriminate when they allow property to be used by the greater public. They have to follow non-discrimination laws.

    3) The church did not lose tax exempt status.

    4) this was several years before gay marriage was even law in New York.

    So…Please explain how this supports your claim?

  • Original Lee

    Just as an historical aside, in many European and European colonial churches, the people were required to pay what was effectively a church tax, in many instances even if they didn’t belong to that church. IIRC in Maryland at one point, everybody had to pay a certain amount to the Anglican Church, even if they were Catholics or Quakers (not sure about Jewish), and the local government enforced collection of this tax. Even in Germany as recently as 30 years ago, the government would take part of your paycheck to support a religious organization unless you actively “stepped out of the church” by filling out some forms and jumping through some bureaucratic hoops.

    That’s part of the reason why churches in the U.S. are tax-exempt, I think. If the government is staying out of collecting taxes from the people for the churches, then logically the government should stay out of collecting taxes from the churches for the people.

  • Carstonio

    There is no valid “moral objection” to placing children with same-sex couples, just irresponsible demagoguery that the kids will grow up to be gay themselves. Catholic Charities is essentially saying that it’s better for kids to go without parents than the agency be tainted by any contact with homosexuality. By no stretch of the imagination can that position be moral. Almost like they really believe that homosexuality is contagious.

    Placing children with adoptive parents is not inherently a religious mission, although many religions do have doctrinal reasons for doing this as a public good. Religious organizations who seek to become contractors for a government service shouldn’t demand that the contracting rules and procedures be tailored for their benefit.

    Ultimately the sexual orientation of any individual or couple shouldn’t be up for approval or disapproval by anyone else. If the agency really believes that children are harmed by being raised by same-sex parents, they why isn’t it campaigning to make this illegal, to have social service agencies forcibly remove the children?

  • Carstonio

    That assumes that a sizable portion of the donations actually goes to charitable work and not to proselytizing. In my perfect world, the two functions would be done by separate organizations with the latter subject to taxation, since that’s not much different philosophically from a for-profit business. But pragmatically I don’t know how the tax code could be structured so that only a religious organization’s charitable work would be tax-exempt.

  • Jeff

    I’m not sufficiently conversant with the facts of this case in particular or the beliefs of the Catholic church in general to know what specific reason they oppose adoption by homosexual couples, but whatever the reason, quite obviously the situation they were seeking to avoid was getting slapped with a discrimination lawsuit.
    There are lots of things that churches do that aren’t inherently religious, but that nevertheless have tangible benefits to their communities. Hosting AA meetings isn’t inherently religious. Making space available to community groups isn’t inherently religious. Running a food pantry or a homeless shelter isn’t inherently religious. Running a school isn’t inherently religious. But these kinds of services, and others, do benefit people. And if churches start to get hit with lawsuits for discrimination, well, few churches have the financial resources to take on something like that, and probably the decision many will make will be to simply disengage from providing services that might expose them to such lawsuits.

  • but churches that rent out their facilities to the general public could face problems if they refuse to rent to gay couples.

    Fred, I’m with you on everything you wrote, but I’m curious why you didn’t write about this phrase.

    It seems to me that there might be something to that.

  • That may be in reference to what was discussed in the comments — a church which owned real estate and had tax exemption status on the property due to renting to the public refused to rent to a gay couple, losing the tax exemption on that property (but then obtaining it again when they applied for a different exemption type).

  • Lunch Meat

    I think you missed the important point that Boston Catholic Charities was partnering with the state. In all of the areas you mentioned, in most cases, the church would partnering with private groups or working independently. As I understand it, non-discrimination rules do not apply to private non-profits running a homeless shelter or food pantry, and AA, Boy Scouts and other groups can choose whether or not and under what circumstances to make agreements with churches (I could be wrong in the specifics here). But I see no reason why the government can’t require groups partnering with it to follow its rules. I’m not an expert in adoption law, but I believe that there are no non-discrimination regulations applying to private adoptions, so BCC can still manage adoptions for people under its own rules, just not while working with the state.

  • Carstonio

    Many houses of worship have long refused to officiate for weddings for interfaith couples, or couples of other religions, and I know of no lawsuits for that reason. The distinction you fail to recognize is that Catholic Charities was acting as a government contractor, not a private entity. So if it practiced discrimination while receiving government money for adoption placements, the ultimate liability belonged to the government. If Catholic Charities dealt only with private adoptions, it would be free to refuse any couples it wished. Your extrapolation seems to assume that the First Amendment doesn’t exist.

  • Carstonio

    You and I made the same point at almost the same time. I would argue that the government has a responsibility to ensure that its partners abide by First Amendment rulings.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    But again, in all your examples there is nothing new. The legality of these things vary across jurisdictions, but there are a plethora of avenues for discrimination that have nothing to do with LGBT people or same-sex married couples. If an AA meeting isn’t allowed to turn away an atheist, they aren’t allowed to turn away a lesbian. If a homeless shelter can’t be whites only, it can’t be straights only. If an adoption agency can’t refuse Jewish couples, they can’t refuse same-sex couples. But if you think religious-run organizations should be exempt from non-discrimination laws, then all those examples should apply, not just the anti-gay ones.

  • Lunch Meat

    I’m pretty sure there are ways to get around that if it’s the church’s own facilities used for religious functions as opposed to an outside property. I think the church we were married in didn’t rent its chapel to us, but we paid a fee for cleaning or something. It depends on how and to whom and under what rules they make the space available, I think.

  • Jeff

    All three of you (KR, C, and LM) make good points, but I still think there are bigger repercussions to this kind of thing than you’re considering. It’s true that the BCC was a government sub-contractor in this specific situation, but the concern about anti-discrimination cuts more broadly. To wit, I’m sure you’re aware that, e.g., wedding photographers and bakers have been compelled to provide their services to same-sex weddings, even though they are morally opposed to such unions. So it’s not just as simple as saying “churches can’t sub to the gov’t” — churches participate in public life in many ways that could run afoul of anti-discrimination laws, or at least, could expose them to anti-discrimination lawsuits.

  • Carstonio

    wedding photographers and bakers have been compelled to provide their services to same-sex weddings

    Citation, please. I’ve heard only about businesses that freely chose to discontinue wedding services entirely even though no lawsuits were even being threatened.

    Please stop using “morally opposed” to describe their position, because it has nothing to do with morality. If they really felt that homosexuality was detrimental to the public good, they would campaign for it to be a criminal offense. But no, they seem more interested in swaddling themselves in their feelings of offense, at things that aren’t any of their business in the first place.

  • Lunch Meat

    This happened in New Mexico recently: One of the judges agreed this forced the photographers to compromise their beliefs, but rightly said “That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation,
    the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a
    people.” Although people like Al Mohler are disingenuously claiming the judge said that Christians are being forced to compromise their beliefs and the SSM movement isn’t, the fact is that this is a compromise we all make. The couple who won the lawsuit, for instance, would have to compromise if they went to work at a bookstore and had to sell Bibles that they didn’t believe. I can’t open board meetings at my job with a prayer to Jesus, but neither can it be opened with a Shema or a Pagan ritual. So yes, we all can be exposed to anti-discrimination lawsuits if we run businesses. The constitution never guarantees us a right to own a business. Business owners have the right to offer services to everyone or not run their business. It’s the price we pay for living in a society that protects differences of opinion.

  • Right. They were basically just foisting off their taxes on the public by saying the public had a share in the ownership of the property, if I properly understand it. Now they’re straight up claiming the grounds as for use in religious functions, even if they’re still renting them out to people.

    Insert rant here about churches owning beachfront real estate.

  • Jeff

    You may be correct with regard to the photographers, I may be misremembering. What do you mean that it has nothing to do with morality? You aren’t saying that churches, and (some) Christian individuals, don’t have moral objections to homosexual behavior, are you? Because that’s obviously not accurate.

  • Carstonio

    Thanks for the link, and I agree. I maintain that the photographers weren’t being forced to “compromise their beliefs” at all. Those beliefs should only apply to their own sexual orientations and no one else’s. They’re acting as if they have the right to decide what orientations other people should have. They’re arguing for a definition of the conscience that would make it impossible for them to live in a pluralistic society, and very likely that’s no accident. Far more reasonable for them to take a live-and-let-life attitude with clients, with the orientations of both owners and clients being off the table.

  • Lunch Meat

    I should add that if they love their job but can’t stand the thought of providing a service to a wedding they disagree with, they have other options than just “going out of business.” For instance, they could find a large-ish church in the area and seek to be hired as photographers for all of their services and events. Or they could be the kind of photographers that take pictures of whatever they want and then sell the prints. But again, we’re not guaranteed a right to stay in business without having to follow the rules that other businesses follow. You may be concerned about the ramifications of this, but I’m concerned about business owners being able to get out of regulations that might cost them just by citing religious beliefs.

    Also, one of the objections this particular photographer had is that by taking pictures of the wedding and making it look pretty, they were participating and celebrating it. I think–and this is just my opinion as a Christian–if they are concerned about using their skills to make something they disagree with look good, they should consider whether they may have inadvertently made (for instance) an abusive couple look good, but overlooked it because the couple was straight. If they want to use their art to only speak what they see to be true–which I understand–then their photography should be a personal service they provide to friends and relationships they support. Otherwise, it’s a business and they should treat it like one.

  • Carstonio

    Exactly. A professional photographer’s work at a wedding is not an endorsement of the couple’s union. Any photographer who feels otherwise has a highly exaggerated sense of responsibility, almost paternalistic.

  • Lunch Meat

    Well, I can see it if they have an artistic view of their work–but artistic expression mixed with a job is going to run into more problems than just non-discrimination lawsuits. Other problems are just going to be more easier to ignore.

  • And if a wedding photographer had a relgious objection to miscegenation, of course you’d stand by their right to refuse to serve mixed-race couples?

  • I think on some level, they actually do think they should be able to do that. They think of their choice not to exclude jews from adopting and atheists from AA as magnaminity on their part, not a right due to those people.

  • Isabel C.


    I don’t know that the logical argument follows, though. Church tax classifies church as a government-provided service, thus violating church and state. Making churches pay the same tax as any other organization is just saying that, hey, you’re an organization that takes in money and uses US infrastructure; you pay your share for that just like anyone else does. The government isn’t “getting involved” in martial arts by collecting taxes from the karate studio in my example below, for instance, nor is it either endorsing or persecuting my brand of paganism by collecting taxes from me.

    But it’s a fascinating fact to know!

  • Original Lee

    Church tax recognizes the church as part of the governmental authority, rather than a government-provided service, so it would violate the separation of church and state. Many European governments did not recognize the separation of church and state until fairly recent times. The Founding Fathers deliberately incorporated the (then) radical notion that the church could not have governmental authority into the basic structure of our nation, which is part of the reason why there is no church tax. If the U.S. did not have separation of church and state and the Episcopal Church were the official state religion, and followed the model in use in most colonies at the time (and assuming that no changes were made between now and then), you would still have to tithe to the Episcopal Church, even though you are not Episcopalian. IIRC, Catholics in Great Britain until fairly recently had to pay a tax that went to support the Anglican Church.