Churches in the United States have a tax exempt status. Why?

Is it a separation of Church and State, that keeps the Government from taxing the land the churches sit on?

The tax exempt status should be repealed and churches should be forced to pay their taxes on their land... just like everyone else in America.

What are your thoughts?

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I agree,but it will never happen.
No shit. Of course they gotta pay up.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; Appears to me that giving religious institutions tax exempt status, the Federal Government is "respecting" that establishment by giving them a privilege denied to others.

However, Congress and the Courts have viewed it differently. Tax exempt status for charitable organizations have a long history in the US. Churches, being deemed to do "good works" were included in this category. When the Federal Income Tax was passed by Constitutional Amendment in the early part of the 20th century, exemptions were granted to religious, charitable, scientific and educational organizations. There have been various attempts to remove the exemptions for churches as a result of political campaigning, lobbying, and attempts to "influence legislation." However, these are at best, hit and miss or spotty. The Courts have left a lot of this type of decision process to the IRS under that agency's mandate to "provide needful rules and regulations." Unfortunately, the regulations regarding lobbying and attempt to influence legislation are murky, at best.

Where a denial of tax exempt status has been upheld to a church, the reasoning generally goes something like this. 1) A tax exempt status can be looked upon as a 'subsidy,' and 2) denying the subsidy as a result of political activity by a church does not infringe on the other part of the 1st Amendment guaranteeing free speech to the church.

The argument which will come from the pulpits is that if you deny them tax exempt status, then you should deny it to all other charities, education, and scientific institutions. Don't get me wrong. I don't agree with that analysis, since these other agencies actually do "good works." But I strongly suspect that will be the position of religious institutions.
Yes, that will be their position. And their argument will go as follows-


Now, if real change were to come about, we would railroad an addendum that states that any tax-exempt institution will have to offer up yearly proof of their good works. You know, charities have to show all the nice houses they built, science has to show off science, and education would keep track of all advancing students. Religion would have to show how many souls they saved from hell. Of course, they would also have to show their hell to everyone. Can't do it? Then you pay taxes. Simple, really.


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