According to former White House senior policy analyst, Jeff Schweitzer, American churches own $300-$500 billion in un-taxed property. Yet churches receive all the benefits of army, police and fire protection, as well as city and state services like purified water, garbage collection, and road repairs, all paid for by tax-paying citizens, whether they are affiliated with a church or not.
In addition despite being prohibited from doing so by law, Churches engage in politics with varying degrees of intensity. Some are not so subtle about it: Every Fall, the ultraconservative Alliance Defending Freedom organizes "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," that urges Christian churches to use the pulpit to endorse Conservative candidates. More than 500 churches participate in this annual event, yet NONE has ever lost its tax-exempt status.
The connection of church and conservative politics is reminiscent of Fascism in Italy, where Mussolini supported the church by creating and supporting the Vatican State, and in return received the Catholic church's overt support of Fascism (the church later this, but managed to hold on to the Vatican State).
We don't think that anyone would deny that Churches exist primarily for worship. But we believe that the government has no business subsidizing religious beliefs with taxpayer money. Associate Justice of the US Supreme court, William O. Douglas, in his opinion in Walz v. Tax Commission of the City of New York, stated: "If believers are entitled to public financial support, so are nonbelievers. A believer and nonbeliever under the present law are treated differently because of their faith" therefore the (church) tax exemption is unconstitutional."
What about the charity work that some churches do?
There is absolutely no way of knowing how
much church income goes toward helping the poor because (unlike nonreligious
nonprofits) they do not have to file income tax forms of any kind.
Indeed we argue that if churches paid their fair share of taxes, charity could increase. One hundred percent of the tax money collected from churches could be earmarked for programs that provide food and shelter for the poor. The poor could then receive assistance without proselytization.
We have created a petition with the help of MoveOn.org which will be sent to the President and all the members of congress. If you think that the tax code should be changed, please read our petition, and sign it if you agree.