A Progressive Defense of Tax Exempt Status for Churches

Rev. Dwight Welch is right on the money (sic) with this one. Yes, there are some “churches” and religious organizations that take advantage of the tax system to enrich themselves.

But most, even very large and well known conservative organizations (such as the one I once worked for), are sincere in their goals, beliefs and desire to minister to the needs of others, no matter how distressing we may find their theology and public statements to be.

To remove the nonprofit status of religious organizations, as Rev. Welch points out, would be a disaster for most churches in this country.

To try and craft new regulations to weed out bad actors is probably not necessary, and would most likely create an even more difficult regulatory landscape for both the public and for those tasked with enforcing such regulations already.

Such regulations already exist. What is needed is the ability (and will) to enforce them – which may well require rethinking our tax enforcement mechanisms (not the laws themselves) to make them less susceptible to political pressure.


I’m a person on the left and I’m gay and thanks to marriage equality, I’m married too. I’m also clergy. And so my defense should make various sides of these issues unhappy. But since I see so many articles on the left that call for taxing the churches I thought it would be worth clearing up some misnomers.

A) “What is particularly egregious about the tax benefits going to religious organizations is that they receive these benefits, ostensibly, because they are charities.” No, they are receiving this tax benefit because they are a non profit. But looking at percentages won’t help get a full picture of the charitable support.

I served a church, First Congregational, in Sheridan WY. As a % of it’s budget, it is true that operating expenses took up the bulk of its financial resources. But it also houses the local soup kitchen, the only one…

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Author: Allen

A would-be historian turned IT Professional who responded to the call to the Ministry, and is now focused on social justice and community service. He is the proud father of a daughter and son, and enjoys life with his wife near Boston. You can follow Pastor Allen on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PastorAllenV/.

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