Nebraska state senator's bill would make churches pay property tax



YES!!! I shared this. I wish this was law in every state of the union!


Except I’m pretty sure it violates the First Amendment.


It seems it would make more sense to undo whatever law exempts churches from property taxes in the first place.


Again, I’m pretty sure that law is the First Amendment, and plenty of people would like to get rid of it.


If you want to bankrupt smaller, mainline, uncontroversial churches leaving only the kind of church which mostly serves as a money extraction scheme*, then I guess that might be a good idea.

  • I’m thinking prosperity gospel.

No that law is not the first amendment, nor is it any part of it.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Property taxes don’t restrict the free exercise of religion, as long as the church isn’t paying more than some nonreligious entity on the same land. In fact, some churches and religious groups lose their tax-exempt statuses as a result of getting too political in the pulpit and no one is suing the government for violating their 1st amendment rights.

Furthermore, A US District Court Judge once ruled the tax-exemption of churches was unconstitutional!


I’d much rather churches be given the choice of having to incorporate and pay regular business and property taxes, or have to file the same 501 c 3 papers and be scrutinized under the same glare that secular organizations must withstand. It’s fundamentally unfair that ideologies based on authoritarianism and paternalism with long-held traditions of abuse and criminal activity (looking at you RCC, and you CoS) get to have privileges that secular organizations with long track records of public service don’t get.


He’s got my vote!

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Yeah, this is nothing to do with the First Amendment…in fact one could argue that it is in violation of it, since if favors some religious positions over others.


The only way this would be fair is if ALL non-profits were to pay taxes. ACLU, EFF, etc.


As a former resident of Omaha, all I can say is, “God bless you, Mr. Chambers.”

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I’d say it’s more of a lateral move. Churches file with the IRS as “church” then have little to no oversight whether they’re actually a non profit, while secular organizations/regular non-profits have to jump through tons of hoops, and risk dissolution for small violations. Churches are indeed very privileged, and it’s about damn time the government stops treating churches as if they’re non-profits by default. If they don’t want to pay taxes, they should prove that they aren’t businesses that aren’t taking in a bunch of money and engaging in politics. What we have now is essentially two sets of law. One for people who are religious, and one for those who aren’t. It makes more sense, and is much fairer to unify the law so that it applies equally to both secular and religious institutions.


[quote]If taxes were paid on the many churches and cathedrals and temples in every city in this State, perhaps the State’s assistance to local governments and schools would be diminished considerably — leaving more in State coffers for other purposes.

Not sure what one hopes to achieve by this, other than further alienate a significant segment of the population and further contribute to the “us vs them” mentality. I can see how someone can see this as a direct attack.

RE: the quote above - perhaps? Why don’t you, you know, do some figuring and see what sort of effect it would have. My guess it would be a drop in the bucket and have a negligible effect.

I get it, they probably see the huge “mega” churches raking it in. The thing is for everyone of those, you have 100 modest ones. Look around, most churches are rather small, many are old and require maintenance. Then there is the fact that there aren’t that many. I mean compared to something like McDonalds. Of all the land out there that is taxable, what percentage of it has a church or synagogue sitting on it? My estimate is a very small number.


I was just wondering if you know where in the Constitution the phrase “separation of church and state” appears? Hint: it doesn’t. The separation of government was to protect the church from government, not to protect the government from church. You have to realize that one of the reasons that this country was founded was because people were being persecuted in England for not following the Church of England. It is the church that needs protection, not the government.

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It depends on what you’d call negligible. In NYC, at least as of a couple years ago, the effect could be huge:

Timothy Dolan, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Cardinal-Archbishop of New York (a “corporation sole”, meaning a legal entity consisting of a single incorporated office, occupied by a single person), is believed to be Manhattan’s largest landowner, if one includes the parishes and organisations that come under his jurisdiction.
-The Economist


You are correct that the exact phrase doesn’t appear in the Constitution, but there’s quite a bit that doesn’t appear verbatim in the Constitution that has nonetheless been interpreted by the Supreme Court and lower courts as being constitutionally supported. Separation of Church and State has been referenced in Supreme Court cases as a de facto interpretation of the First Amendment.


[quote=“LDoBe, post:13, topic:43240”]
If they don’t want to pay taxes, they should prove that they aren’t businesses that aren’t taking in a bunch of money and engaging in politics[/quote]

The problem with that is that negative proofs are difficult if not impossible to justify. Nobody can ever conclusively prove what they aren’t doing.

[quote=“LDoBe, post:13, topic:43240”]
It makes more sense, and is much fairer to unify the law so that it applies equally to both secular and religious institutions.[/quote]

I am not hopeful there. I consider the use or accumulation of money profane, which makes me a nonentity in the squid-pro-quo legal world where everything needs to have a dollar value.

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Clearly the Constitution is a flawed document. That’s why they’ve had to amend it so many times. :smile:

needed, surely?

Besides, separate is as separate does. It’s a good idea for all parties, regardless of why the law was passed.

Personally, I’d like all the non-profits to pay taxes, same as everyone else. And I don’t think giving to charity should be tax deductible, either.

I’d start with the NFL, but churches should pay too. I’d imagine that money that is needed for essential repairs would be tax deductable (or at least should be).

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It’s called basic accounting practices, and corporations are legally required to do it. You list out how much money you’re taking in and from where/who, and how much money you’re spending, and on what, and then everyone can see whether your organization is a legitimate business, a charity, or a criminal organization. It’s also a great technique for detecting embezzlement and fraud.