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

I understand that, but business corporations tend to self-identify as an economic/financial entity. Not all churches do so. Also, the difference in legal status is probably partly due to more abstract concept of ownership and liability. Churches generally do not claim to own the organization or property on behalf of actual people. The only way I, running a church, can be compelled to pay taxes on “The House of God” is if The State wants to assert that my religion is bullshit. Some of them probably are. But some people respect these organizations precisely because they do away with primitive concepts of property and ownership.

You do realize that Jefferson clarified what he meant by the first amendment, right? He absolutely meant “separation of church and state” and says exactly as much in his other writings. To say that the first amendment doesn’t intend to enact a wall of separation between the church and state is historical revisionism at best, but I’ll try to be polite here.


[quote=“daneel, post:19, topic:43240”]
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.[/quote]

If there is no profit, what would they pay their taxes with? The reason these organizations exist is to do kinds of work which offers no financial incentive. If they need to “make money” to do so presents a conflict of interests.

How so? If all religions are equally subject to tax law, then there’s nothing to object to.


Hey now, without the primitive ideas of property and ownership, it becomes awfully hard to keep your grasp on more nuanced ideas like responsibility, culpability and civil society. The reason why I can comfortably live in my house, and not have to worry about other people wandering in and depriving me of the things I need and use is because our government protects the concept of my ownership of the objects that belong to me. I’m sure you wouldn’t like it either if anyone could take your car/bicycle/propeller beanie, and nobody would be willing or required to help you try and get it back :wink:


[quote=“LDoBe, post:25, topic:43240”]
Hey now, without the primitive ideas of property and ownership, it becomes awfully hard to keep your grasp on more nuanced ideas like responsibility, culpability and civil society.[/quote]

How do you figure? It’s on ok system, but certainly not the only system. How do creating desire, status games, and fighting over resources efficiently achieve civility? Why can’t you simply devise contracts with people to establish responsibility and culpability?

Our government? Speak for yourself! People are only required to help me with anything if they and I agreed about this. Nobody else gets a say.

Do the things that you “own” know that you own them? Do they like you? Or is this just some scheme you dreamed up for your convenience? I frequently encounter these circular arguments that I really want the protection of property, because, if I didn’t - all my belongings would be gone! This misses the point that I do not believe in “belongings” in the first place. They are imaginary attachments. The truth is that I am born and die without anything whatsoever. There is nothing to own, and nobody to own it.

If your government isn’t inclined to participate in my weird rituals, they should not be expecting to find me in theirs.

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This is the same guy who once sued God. They enacted term limits just to get rid of him, but after a one term break, he won the seat again. He’s the fun kind of political crazy.

PROPERTY taxes. Not income taxes. AFAIK non-profits DO pay this.

ETA: I’m from NE, Chambers is awesome.

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I have the creeping feeling we’re arguing orthogonal points to each other’s philosophy… Not bad, but I feel we’ve gotten into the weeds here.

What I’m trying to say, and probably failing at, is: in the US, corporate entities that participate politically are required to pay taxes just like citizens. Churches participate politically to a significant extent. Without churches, movements like the teaparty, or women’s suffrage for that matter, wouldn’t have been able to organize the way they have. Yet, churches are untaxed, and in large part, are unsupervised in their political campaigning, whereas analogous secular non-profits are heavily restricted from political involvement, and in fact are carefully monitored for such activity. This is clearly unfair. I think we might be able to agree on that. Where we seem to disagree is you believe that concepts like money and posession of objects and property is invalid, and (possibly?) practically unnecessary. Therefore, you argue that levying any further taxes is wrong, since it perpetuates a cycle of invalid belief in the necessity of ownership. Correct me if I’ve misrepresented your position.

I’m kinda scratching my head realizing it’s probably my fault that I’ve gotten off-topic here, but not knowing how to get out of this general civics discussion and back onto the general topic of whether it’s a good or bad thing to tax religious organizations.


Ok, sounds like you understand my position fairly well. Apologies for my defensiveness.

Not all religions are political either. But I agree that as institutions they should not have it both ways, being only “separate” from the state when convenient.

My general problem with taxing churches is that what they “own” supposedly doesn’t usually belong to them by church doctrine. But of course, some aren’t sincere with this, and use it to live luxuriously anyway. On the other hand, you can find some hardcore renunciants and ascetics way on the opposite side of the spectrum.

One possible benefit might be making it easier to start new religions. Even though the US is supposedly the most religiously tolerant country, they make it practically impossible to start new ones. They demand impossible proofs of “belief”, precedent behind the ideas, how many people participate. But “freedom” shouldn’t be a popularity contest. This is part of the problem of political entrenchment of religion and politics here, they do give favorable treatment to the biggest groups, who in turn become yet stronger and wealthier. And newer religions are routinely dismissed as frivolous nonsense or crass cash-grabs. I am skeptical, but perhaps if churches were taxed, they would be less adverse to people starting new ones since they wouldn’t have material gains as an excuse.

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I don’t see how a church paying property taxes would be a 1st Amendment violation, but we have bigger problems, like our elected representatives not doing their jobs while spending far more money than would come in if churches paid taxes…

Personally, I can’t say I like religion enough to consider the creation of new religions to be of any benefit. That being said, I can absolutely agree that it’s unfair, unreasonable and probably illegal for the government to act the way it does in setting up tests for new religions. As it stands newly minted religious movements are discriminated against when they try to apply for their non-profit/tax-free status while the current hegemony doesn’t get hassled at all, and that sticks in my craw as well. The solution that’s attractive to me is to just tax everyone the same, and require religious organizations to show they’re doing the same work as their secular counterparts, and endure the same scrutiny for political and profit-keeping activities the secular organizations undergo, if they want to enjoy the benefit of not paying taxes. The reason I like it is because it’s fair in multiple directions. It’s a fairer deal to the secular organizations, and it’s fairer to the budding religious movements who have to hold up to the same standards of scrutiny as the big dogs (provided a progressive tax scheme that doesn’t bankrupt all the new guys.)

Simple as can be. I’m really enjoying the discussion btw.


Bit of a myth that religious freedom story. The way I read it, the puritans set up colony so they could be free to persecute.
“Although they were victims of religious persecution in Europe, the Puritans supported the theory that sanctioned it”
America’s True History of Religious Tolerance

Edit: I fully support the taxing of churches, but the Jesus character quote is being misrepresented. What was meant by “render unto Caesar”, was to do away with money altogether. ie To give up one’s possesions and follow the path set out.


As an atheist, I have one word for this proposal: AMEN!

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Here’s the text: “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.”

Nope. Don’t see a first amendment violation in that text. Exempting religious groups/churches is a political choice. Pandering really. And of course even that exemption is subject to be pulled if the IRS finds a church is engaging in what amounts to partisan politics. So again, no.

The phrase “separation of church and state” originates with Thomas Jefferson. See his “Letter to the Danbury Baptists.”


i sure am glad those churches are doing with their tax free money things like: providing for the poor and disabled (like Jesus would have told them to do) and sure am glad they collect money every day in some places like Arkansas to make their church the golden calf… oh wait, a church larger than a college campus? never-mind that. the homeless can live there… oh, they cant? oh my.


And the very small number of houses of worship for Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, etc. in Nebraska will just get caught in the crossfire if this happens.

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Why should they be any more protected and favored in treatment than atheist community centers, sunday assemblies, and unicef offices?

Strawman or just beggaring the point?