Should Churches Be Taxed?

Joseph Thompson

[Reprinted from an undated pamphlet, Simple Talks on Taxation, published by the author]

... Here's a feller says the churches ought to pay taxes.
I think he's right. In fact, you'd think they'd want to, out of good citizenship.
But the church is the house of God!
For all we know, God might feel that he'd like to carry his corner of the public expense. I'm inclined to think he would.
The churches ought to keep all the money they can get, they do a lot of good all the time.
So do you and I.
Yeah. And we can deduct what we give.
We can't deduct our whole income, the way they do, just because we give some of it away, can we?
Oh! It isn't the same. They don't do anything else but just good.
Yes, but they do two kinds of good.
How do you mean?
Well, like the Rotary and the Lions, most of those clubs, they help the needy, they give free meals to down-and-outers, do things fox the blind ... That's one kind of good they do.
What's the other?
The other's different. They give religious consolation, they battle with sin. Some of them even forgive it.
Well, that's all good, isn't it?
Well, yes, you could claim that, but it's only good for the people of the particular church.
Still, it's good, isn't it?
It's only the game kind of good that an athletic club offers for athletes, or a bridge club offers to bridge players, and they pay their share of the public expense.
It isn't the same thing, at all!
Why not?
Well, those clubs are just for pleasure, for one thing.
So are the churches.
You're crazy! They're for hearing God's word! They're for worship! They're for ...
Well, doesn't that give pleasure to a religious person? Going to church?
No. He goes to church because it's his duty. He has to.
Has to? Do you ever have to go to a Moslem temple?
Me? To a Moslem temple! I sure don't! I'm a Baptist.
And you go to the church where all the Baptists go?
I told you. I'm a Baptist.
Ever have any Moslem or Jews or Catholics at your church?
Certainly not. They have their own churches.
So it's Catholics to their churches; Jews to their synagogues, and Moslems to their temples, huh?
Now you're talking sense.
Since they all cater to their own inside group, you might say that they're exclusive worship clubs, huh?
I don't see that that would mean anything. Besides, they're much more than clubs. They're guardians of the people's morals.
What about the law being the guardian of the people's morals?
The law takes care of crime. The churches battle against sin.
So, if you're against sin ... no taxes! Is that it?
Sa-ay! I'm against sin! No more taxes for me!