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A question I asked below....(5 posts)

A question I asked below....ClydeTri
Aug 6, 2003 12:42 PM
Does allowing churchs/religions nonprofit status violate the separation of church and state? For example, a church is chartered as a nonprofit in a state and is exempt from many taxes. Does this in itself show state recognition of a church? But further, the state (city, county/etc) provides services to the church, such as fire/police. But the church does not pay taxes. Is this state sponsoring religion? YOu could definitely make the case that by providing police/fire service the state is providing something of financial worth to a religious entity. Shouldnt churches/religions have to pull their own weight and pay for their services? Anything other is state sponsoring of religion? thoughts...
You are missing the fundamental aspect of the separation.czardonic
Aug 6, 2003 12:48 PM
The Constitution does not preclude the State from recognizing religion as an abstract or general concept. It prohibits the establishment of a single, specific religion as the religion of the State.

As long as the State does not recognize a specific religion in a way that it does not recognize other equivalent religions, such recognition does not signify establishment.
Also...jtolleson
Aug 6, 2003 12:58 PM
the problem with taxing religious entities is that it imposes reporting requirements and governmental oversight which in and of itself could violate the "wall of separation." We not only have an Establishment Clause, we have a Free Exercise Clause, and the latter prohibits the government from imposing a substantial burden on the free exercise of religion.

Your argument has been made in the courts unsuccessfully.

PS -- did you really need to start another thread or were you not getting enough attention down below?
You also neglect the fact thatkilimanjaro
Aug 6, 2003 2:17 PM
non Christian religions also qualify as nonprofits. Hence there is no official sanction of any one religion.
But doesn't "qualifying" imply official sanction?torquer
Aug 7, 2003 7:08 AM
One congregation doesn't have to pay real estate taxes on its building, sales tax on purchases, or employment taxes on its employees. My buddies and I, worshiping at the altar of Wicca, Mammon, Campy, whatever, don't qualify for these benefits. Is that fair? My taxes increase to pay for public services (police & fire protection, street maintenance, etc.) necessitated by that "qualifying" congregation and its meeting hall.

Actually, I am less concerned about those additional taxes I pay (although this is a real problem for some localities that have a large proportion of real estate owned by non-profits), than I am about the government having the power to pick and choose what constitutes religion.

Courts have ruled that church structures are subject to building and zoning codes, as well as environmental and preservation requirements. By the same token, it seems to me that the only equitable way to treat religions fiscally would be to not give any of them special tax status.