Churches and Food Stamps

Churches and Food Stamps February 28, 2014

This one’s been making the rounds. I swiped it from Stuff Christian Culture Likes:

1. [citation needed] I’m not sure where the numbers are coming from. But let’s assume it’s correct.

2. As someone who works in the not-for-profit sector, I’m leery of this. I take the point, that if the government imposed taxes on churches we’d have enough additional revenue to feed the hungry and house the homeless. While the churches do a great deal of charitable work, perhaps we could get more bang for our buck by taxing them.

Problem is, there’s more to the ‘not-for-profit’ sector than providing material needs, and much of it is intangible. I work in museums, which are considered educational institutions. Since museums exist to educate the public rather than advance their own interests we are not charged taxes. Even while we charge at the door, run a gift shop and pay a decent salary to our top administrators. (… the archivists, not so much.)

(Actually, New York museums have a weird semi-public status under the Board of Regents. But NY is unique.)

If we’re going to be consistent, we’re going to have to take seriously the claims that churches exist to provide spiritual and cultural benefit, and therefor should be considered not-for-profit.

All that said, I still would like churches to be as closely monitored as museums. I’d really love to see churches have to fill out Form 990 and show up on Guidestar like everyone else.

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