Tax the Church: Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke says churches that oppose same-sex marriage should lose their tax exempt status.
Appearing on CNN’s Equity Townhall, O’Rourke, when asked if religious institutions should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage, answered in the affirmative.
CNN anchor Don Lemon asked the former Texas congressman the following:
Do you think religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities, should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same sex marriage?
There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break, for anyone, or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us.
And so, as president, we’re going to make that a priority and we are going to stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans.
“Do you think religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities, should they lose their tax exempt status if they oppose same sex marriage?”
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) October 11, 2019
O’Rourke is right. Religious institutions should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage and basic human rights for all.
In fact, the problem is not that O’Rourke went too far, the problem is that O’Rourke didn’t go far enough. Indeed, all religious institutions should be taxed.Taxing churches is long overdue, and a welcome development. A 2015 report from the Secular Policy Institute shows that tax exempt churches cost U.S. taxpayers $71 billion every year.
Among the report’s findings: Each year religious groups receive $35.3 billion in federal income tax subsidies and $26.2 billion property tax subsidies. In addition, religious organizations also enjoyed approximately $6.1 billion in state income tax subsidies, along with $1.2 billion of parsonage, and $2.2 billion in the faith-based initiatives subsidy.
Discussing the problem with tax exempt churches, Bill Maher makes a powerful case for ending tax exempt status for religious institutions, noting:
Why, in heaven’s name, don’t we tax religion? A sexist, homophobic magic act that’s been used to justify everything from genital mutilation to genocide. You want to raise the tax on tobacco so kids don’t get cancer, OK. But let’s put one on Sunday school so they don’t get stupid.
Maher’s right. We should tax the church. There is no reason why the non-religious should subsidize religious superstition.
Perhaps more important, tax exemptions for churches violate the separation of church and state enshrined in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Bottom line: Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke says churches that oppose same-sex marriage should lose their tax exempt status.