posted on Jun, 4 2009 @ 11:03 AM
I think there are two fundamental reasons why Religious Organizations are granted Tax Exempt Status in the United States.
1.) Religions are generally either Not-For-Profit or Non-Profit organizations. In cases like The Church of Scientology, this is clearly not the case.
Nor is it generally the case in Charismatic Churches where God told the Reverend that he needed 16 BMWs, 5 mansions, and a yacht to perform his
saintly mission on earth. Even in the case of Non-Denominational Christian Churches that find a need to own majority market share of TV & Radio
stations in their region, in addition to building dozens of multi-million dollar "Retreat Centers". Let us not forget the more fringe groups like
The Summit Lighthouse Church that sees fit to spend the money they gain on building Fallout Shelters and amassing large arsenals of guns. However, you
cannot throw out the baby with the bathwater or toss the entire batch of apples because of a few bad ones. As long as the majority of religions apply
their revenue from parishioners to Cost of Operations and use the excess to support charities, then this Tax Exempt Status should remain intact for
all Religious Groups, even those that clearly abuse the privilege.
2.) Separation of Church and State, plain and simple. Do you think it would be right for Government (or the I.R.S. specifically) monitoring the
sources of Religious revenues? It would be horrifically invasive if the I.R.S. kept lists of what people were giving money to what religious
institutions, and that is precisely what would have to happen if Religious Organizations did not have Tax Exempt Status. If the State decided that the
Moonies, for example, needed to persecuted, they could just review I.R.S. records to get a round-up list of all Moonies, or those sympathetic to the
Church of Reverend Moon, and arrest them. One only need look at the Holocaust of the last Century to see what happens when the government is able to
identify the membership of a particular Religion. In order for there to be absolute Freedom of Religion, which is a protected right of our
Constitution, then there has to be anonymity in Religious Belief/Affiliation.
And as far as what constitutes a Religious Organization, that's not really for the I.R.S. or Government to decide. To obtain Federal 501(c)(3) Tax
Exempt Status, it is really simple and basic. All you need are three people to sign the paperwork and file a basic tenets of belief and organizational
structure. Because of this, there are Religious Organizations of every persuasion, some bordering the ridiculous, but that is their right. It's not
for any one of us to deny the right to pursue any one group's religious beliefs just because it doesn't seem like a very good Religion to us. Hey,
the Church of the Subgenius is pretty far out there, but they deserve the same rights as everyone else.
(Also, revenue that is gained by Religious Organizations from non-related business *IS* taxable by the I.R.S. Tax Exempt Status only pertains to
revenue from donations by parishioners or from Church-related fund-raisers such as bake sales and car washes. If the Church opens a Printing Business
or a Web Design Business or operates a Commercial Radio Station, then the revenue that is gained by those business are taxable, just like everybody