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Thread: Churches and tax exempt status

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Churches and tax exempt status

    In America, churches enjoy tax exempt status - yet many (the best example being the Catholic Church) are immensely wealthy. Much of this wealth is not used to feed the poor or do humanitarian work but rather to buy (and maintain) lavish real estate holdings, expensive cars, etc. For example, just down the road from us, there is a large (massive, actually) monastery on what appears to be 100-plus acres of prime land overlooking the Blue Ridge Parkway. The land alone is probably worth seven figures and the monastery probably that again and then some. But the church pays no income taxes and may not pay property tax on all this extravagance. If you or I acquired 100-plus acres and built a Medieval palace on it, we'd pay full freight in real estate taxes - using whatever was left over of our earnings after we paid exorbitant federal/state income taxes - which the church gets to avoid.

    I would have no problem with tax exemption for churches if I, too, were tax exempt. But why should I (and you and everyone else) be threatened with prison if we don't turn over a large percentage of whatever we earn in taxes - making it much harder to keep a roof over our heads and food on our table, etc. - while an entity called "church" gets to keep virtually all the money it earns and use that money to purchase and maintain splendid properties that very few of the uber-uber-rich could even hope to afford?

    If you and I are subject to taxation, then the churches ought to be as well - in my opinion, anyhow.

    What do you say?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    I would have no problem with tax exemption for churches if I, too, were tax exempt. But why should I (and you and everyone else) be threatened with prison if we don't turn over a large percentage of whatever we earn in taxes - making it much harder to keep a roof over our heads and food on our table, etc. - while an entity called "church" gets to keep virtually all the money it earns and use that money to purchase and maintain splendid properties that very few of the uber-uber-rich could even hope to afford?

    If you and I are subject to taxation, then the churches ought to be as well - in my opinion, anyhow.

    What do you say?
    I feel the same as you.
    The Scientologists practically own downtown Clearwater (my home town).
    Trevor

  3. #3
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    In America, churches enjoy tax exempt status - yet many (the best example being the Catholic Church) are immensely wealthy. Much of this wealth is not used to feed the poor or do humanitarian work but rather to buy (and maintain) lavish real estate holdings, expensive cars, etc. For example, just down the road from us, there is a large (massive, actually) monastery on what appears to be 100-plus acres of prime land overlooking the Blue Ridge Parkway. The land alone is probably worth seven figures and the monastery probably that again and then some. But the church pays no income taxes and may not pay property tax on all this extravagance. If you or I acquired 100-plus acres and built a Medieval palace on it, we'd pay full freight in real estate taxes - using whatever was left over of our earnings after we paid exorbitant federal/state income taxes - which the church gets to avoid.

    I would have no problem with tax exemption for churches if I, too, were tax exempt. But why should I (and you and everyone else) be threatened with prison if we don't turn over a large percentage of whatever we earn in taxes - making it much harder to keep a roof over our heads and food on our table, etc. - while an entity called "church" gets to keep virtually all the money it earns and use that money to purchase and maintain splendid properties that very few of the uber-uber-rich could even hope to afford?

    If you and I are subject to taxation, then the churches ought to be as well - in my opinion, anyhow.

    What do you say?
    Since the churches are nothing more than money making businesses I, too, see no reason why they should not be taxed.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
    Wolds Bikers, Lincolnshire, England.

  4. #4
    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    Since the churches are nothing more than money making businesses I, too, see no reason why they should not be taxed.

    Ken.
    They are more than big business.

    They also have their political agenda.

    -Don- SSF, CA

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    They are more than big business.

    They also have their political agenda.

    -Don- SSF, CA
    Yes - and this negates the main justification given for their tax exempt status. The case of the evangelical mega-churches is especially egregious; ditto the "black churches" (which operate on the other end of the spectrum, politically). Both clearly are pushing a political agenda, yet they get away with it despite the law that says tax exempt organizations must refrain from political advocacy, etc.

    But on a deeper level, my opinion is that these entities are obviously corrupt since it is the teaching of Christ to turn away from all material possessions to literally give the shirt off your back to the poor, etc. - is it not?

    Christians are amazing for the capacity to entertain mutually exclusive and contradictory thoughts in their heads at the same time.

  6. #6
    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Christians are amazing for the capacity to entertain mutually exclusive and contradictory thoughts in their heads at the same time.
    And during the other times:


    "A Christian is a man who feels repentance on Sunday for what he did on Saturday and is going to do on Monday."
    --Thomas Ybarra

    -Don Quoteman SSF, CA

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    While there are faults in the Church and money troubles like everything else ,there are some positives. Like I said before the best people I've met throughout my life well many of them got to church and are better for it. Would I have started my foodpantry charity event if I didn't go to Church? Well I don't know but I remember the Priest talking about doing stuff for the community not just on Sundays. I am part of a English motorcycle club and only north American member and this group does plenty of charity events so I wanted to do that too on this side of the pond. I think the combination of both motivated me to do something positive in the community.
    I think there are two kinds of Christians. One is the dude that goes to Church occasionally but really doesn't have his heart or mind into it. He's there probably because he'll feel guily but not sure from what.
    Then there are the people that go but don't leave their believes in the pews they are trying as hard as possible to live the way of Jesus. This is very difficult as there are plenty of doubters,shortcomings and weaknessess to overcome. I tell you when I come across a good human being that is a devout believer or even sombody that has high moral ground weather a believer or not well those kind of people are my personal heros. I have many examples of regular everyday people that work hard,respect life and go to Church that are people who live life truthfully with good familiy values. That being said I think all of us weather we believe in God or not must decide if we are going to be on the side of good or evil? I am not sorry for teaching my children about God or them going with me to Church on Sunday but there is much more to it then that to be a good human being. I'm probably the last person to be talking about this as I'm not all that good a person but just my thoughts if anyone cares.

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    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    ...... That being said I think all of us weather we believe in God or not must decide if we are going to be on the side of good or evil? I am not sorry for teaching my children about God or them going with me to Church on Sunday but there is much more to it then that to be a good human being. I'm probably the last person to be talking about this as I'm not all that good a person but just my thoughts if anyone cares.
    Adam my friend, as you may have guessed, from many of my posts, I am not a Christian - I just live my life in a way that I would like to think helps others wherever possible and causes trouble for no-one (except for those who abuse my trust, help, generosity or friendship). What I will say, seriously, is do not worry about the fact that you did not teach your children about God/Religion. In fact, by that very omission, you did them a great service. It means that, as far as religion is concerned, they will have to learn, think and decide for themselves - for that I congratulate you.

    Ken.

    Edited 7/10/09.
    Correction.
    My above response was made in an incorrect context - I read Adam's post as saying "I am sorry for not teaching ......", what Adam actually wrote was "I am not sorry for teaching ....."
    Mea Culpa!

    Ken.
    Last edited by Ken; 10-07-2009 at 10:13 AM.
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    Ken and everyone;

    My kids are doing alright. Well there not so much kids anymore but my son is dating a gal who like him have beliefs and issues and not at all a Church goer. I want them (my kids) to be good adults and not cheats or weasels. I think in this respect my ex wife and I did pretty good in raising them.My heroesa re people like yourself that are good people with a great moral sence.Perhaps Ken your strongest quality is your non judgemental.

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    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    I am not sorry for teaching my children about God or them going with me to Church on Sunday but there is much more to it then that to be a good human being.
    But how can we teach kids what we don't know ourselves? When it comes to any of that God nonsense, we can only guess. Should we teach children that our guesses are facts?

    "
    Knowledge is knowing that we cannot know."
    --Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Here is what we need to teach children:

    "Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. "
    -The Buddha

    -Don Quoteman




  11. #11
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post

    "Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. "
    -The Buddha

    Those are the words of a very wise man and should be heeded by everyone.

    Ken.
    Die dulci fruimini!
    Ken.
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  12. #12
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    Ken and everyone;

    My kids are doing alright. Well there not so much kids anymore but my son is dating a gal who like him have beliefs and issues and not at all a Church goer. I want them (my kids) to be good adults and not cheats or weasels. I think in this respect my ex wife and I did pretty good in raising them.My heroesa re people like yourself that are good people with a great moral sence.Perhaps Ken your strongest quality is your non judgemental.
    I am a fan of morality that is freely chosen because one has decided to do the right thing based on judicious reasoning - as opposed to doing something because "that's what the church/bible" (or whatever) says.

    There's this notion that one must be religious to be moral, to behave decently, etc. I think that for the broad masses, this may (unfortunately) be true. Critical/abstract thinking - the "thought habit" of questioning and evaluating any proposition/idea on its merits, based on the evidence, reason, etc. - is a fairly rare thing. It's not that most people are stupid. It's that most people are average - and when an average person is given little or no education (that is, taught how to think as opposed to skills training) and then, from a fairly early age onward, saddled with almost constant arduous work (typically either manual labor or some rote assembly-line style process that can be performed almost unconsciously), he is not likely to have either the inclination nor the time to think and reflect, to read "good books" - and so on.

    Thus, for the average person, religious belief serves as a sort of automatic morality. He tries to be good - as defined for him by the church/bible, etc. He does not ask "why?"

    The depressing thing is we (humanity) will probably never get to the point that such automatic morality, imposed by the authority of a ghostly, unseen (but all-seeing) father figure floating amorphously "in the heavens," etc. will ever not be necessary to maintain basic civility among the masses.

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    Eric;

    Your right I can understand religion being for the masses. I'm glad for example my son who is in his twenties questions beliefs and the Bible. I know he is a good kid with a strong seance of right and wrong. My daughter is the same way but they both very young. I don't know if they will be going to Church as adults much. I just think it's a good way to start my Sunday. It's like I'm wiping the slate clean for the upcoming week and start out on a good foot. Like I said before were else can you meet some pretty good people in the community?
    I agree that one does not have to go to Church to be moral. My brother is agnostic and Dad never goes but both of them could take me to school on moral issues. I think a sence of right and wrong are instilled in us from our upbringing.
    All I'm saying and I struggle with this mightily but when I meet someone that is strong,has a great moral compass and believes in God one thousand percent and is unquivering in his or her beliefs those people are very special. I'm talking the ones that are always volunteering to help others. Those that put others ahead of themselves. They not only go to church but live like Jesus is right next besides them. In my opinion you can see the face of God in some people. I think Eric and everybody it's very difficult being a believer today but no matter what I just want to be a good person.

  14. #14
    Administrator Ken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    Eric;

    I think Eric and everybody it's very difficult being a believer today but no matter what I just want to be a good person.
    And no-one could possibly ask more than that, Adam. Go through life living up to those feelings and, when your time finally comes, people will say 'Adam? yes, I remember him well, he was a good man.'

    Ken.
    Last edited by Ken; 10-11-2009 at 05:13 PM.
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    Well today I'm going to church and helping serve breakfast and other stuff. I tell you church is actually very good and can be fun too as well as rewarding. I'm never going to stop not going and as long as people know the difference between right and wrong well then this is the key to life. I still say there is a afterlife and I'm not at all afraid to die. I ride a motorcycle sometimes without a helmet too,and like to take things to extremes. I teach my kids to believe in God but don't hold back and enjoy life some before we go.

  16. #16
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Ken;117500]
    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    Eric;

    I think Eric and everybody it's very difficult being a believer today but no matter what I just want to be a good person.[/quote]

    And no-one could possibly ask more than that, Adam. Go through life living up to those feelings and, when your time finally comes, people will say 'Adam? yes, I remember him well, he was a good man.'

    Ken.
    Yes, indeed.

    I'm not quite sure what triggers it, but in my own life a moment came when I consciously realized that I'd like to at least try to do the right thing in any given situation. It was not a religious epiphany at all. Sort of a humanistic awaking, if you will.

    The best way I can think of to articulate it is that it's kind of mental/moral puberty, when you cease being a child and begin thinking and acting like an adult - or at least giving it a good try!

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