Connect with us

News

America Spends $71 Billion Annually Subsidizing Tax-Exempt Religion

Published

on

A new report by a research team at the University of Tampa finds that tax-exempt religious organizations are subsidized by the U.S. government — meaning, you and me — to the tune of $71 billion each year. As a rule, religious organizations and many of their their employees — such as ministers, priests, rabbis, etc. — can be exempt from paying local, state, and federal taxes, income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, investment taxes, etc.

“What we found suggests that religious institutions, if they were required to pay taxes the same as for-profit corporations do, would not have nearly as much money or influence as they enjoy in America today,” the report, published at the Council for Secular Humanism, states:

Do religions engage in charitable work that addresses the physical needs of the poor? Many do, but that is not their primary focus. Religions are quick to trumpet when they do charitable work—ironically for Christians, since the Bible explicitly says not to (Mathew 6:2). But they don’t do as much charitable work as a lot of people think, and they spend a relatively small percentage of their overall revenue on such work. For instance, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS or Mormon Church), which regularly trumpets its charitable donations, gave about $1 billion to charitable causes between 1985 and 2008. That may seem like a lot until you divide it by the twenty-three-year time span and realize this church is donating only about 0.7 percent of its annual income. Other religions are more charitable. For instance, the United Methodist Church allocated about 29 percent of its revenues to charitable causes in 2010 (about $62 million of $214 million received). One calculation of the resources expended by 271 U.S. congregations found that, on average, “operating expenses” totaled 71 percent of all the expenditures of religions, much of that going to pay ministers’ salaries. Financial contributions addressing the physical needs of the poor fall within the remaining 29 percent of expenditures. While these numbers may be higher as a percentage of income than typical charitable giving by corporations, they are not hugely higher (depending on the religion) and are substantially lower in absolute terms. Wal-Mart, for instance, gives about $1.75 billion in food aid to charities each year, or twenty-eight times all of the money allotted for charity by the United Methodist Church and almost double what the LDS Church has given in the last twenty-five years.

In other words, you are paying a lot more in taxes to subsidize the salaries of people whose work you may not agree with, and whose work, should it have to be done by the government, in many cases, wouldn’t need to be. How much is $71 billion dollars? A quick Google search returned these findings. The annual budget for the state of Florida. The entire budget — including all the food stamps issued — for the Agriculture Department in 1993. The entire amount the nation of Thailand will spend on infrastructure in the next ten years. Or, this:

The New Bottom Line coalition has estimated that the big banks could write down the principal of underwater mortgages at a one-year cost of $71 billion saving underwater families an average of $543 per month, pumping billions into the economy and creating one million jobs. The banks have the money – this year’s compensation pool is projected to be more than double that.

Considering the heightened political activity religion in America has taken in the past few years alone, including organized and intentional flouting of laws and IRS rules regulating their tax-exempt status, it’s time Americans come to the realization that there is no need for — nor are we in a position to continue to subsidize — tax exemption for religious organizations any longer. To the LGBT community, TaxTheChurches.org writes:

This issue should be a no-brainer for you. You know where all the prejudice, injustice, hatred and discrimination in our culture is rooted, don’t you? The Judeo-Christian bible teaches that you are an “abomination.” Who you love, and how you love, is therefore wrong, abnormal, amoral, unnatural and evil – as opposed to right, normal, natural or good – by virtue of your immoral “choice.” You are demonized by an increasingly intolerant “Christian” culture, and denied basic human rights by these fundamentalist zealots that YOU subsidize with YOUR taxes. Think about this the next time you take a good look at your pay stub or your tax return.

Hat-tip: Zack Ford at Think Progress

Continue Reading
Click to comment
 
 

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

News

Dominion Lawsuit: Sidney Powell, Mike Lindell and Rudy Giuliani Pushed Trump Lies for Fame, Glory — and Pillows

Published

on

Attorneys for Dominion Voting Systems accused Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell of spreading lies about Donald Trump’s election loss for fame and glory.

The voting technology company’s lawyers argued Thursday in a court hearing that Trump’s former campaign lawyers and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell believed they could attain power and influence by helping the former president remain in office by overturning his election loss with baseless claims of fraud and tampering, reported CNN.

“That’s the place they could get in-person audiences,” said Dominion attorney Megan Meier. “[Washington was] the place where Powell could become a household name.”

Attorneys for Giuliani, Powell and Lindell — who have been sued for $1.3 billion in the defamation suit — at times attempted to re-litigate the election during the four-hour hearing, which began a few hours after a New York court suspended Giuliani’s law license over his election fraud lies.

The former New York City mayor did not attend the hearing, but Powell and Lindell did.

Another attorney for Dominion argued that the case can remain alive in court, even if jurors find the defendants’ claims “improbable,” because the case isn’t about “the marketplace of ideas,” as Lindell’s attorney has argued.

“There is a quantum of information available to [Lindell] by the time he made these statements,” Clare said. “He made the preconceived notion that the election was stolen.”

The lawsuit accuses Lindell of using election lies and Qanon conspiracy theories to promote his pillow company.

“[He] sells the lie to this day because the lie sells pillows,” the suit alleges.

Continue Reading

News

Rudy Giuliani Suspended From Practicing Law Over ‘Demonstrably False and Misleading Statements’: Report

Published

on

Rudy Giuliani has been temporarily suspended from practicing law over his  false and misleading statements about the 2020 presidential election.

“A disciplinary body says he made ‘demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump,'” Reuters’ Jan Wolfe reports, citing a New York Supreme Court document.

The document goes on to say that Giuliani’s “conduct immediately threatens the public interest.”

“The suspension is a stunning blow to Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who previously served as a top Justice Department official, and the head prosecutor for the federal Southern District of New York,” CNBC adds.

This is a breaking news and developing story. 

 

Continue Reading

News

‘You Don’t See Buildings Falling Down in America’ Shocked Mayor Says After 12-Story Condo ‘Literally Pancaked’

Published

on

Mayor Charles Burkett, on the scene of a partial collapse of a 12-story 100-unit condominium building in Surfside, Florida said he’s lived in the town his entire life and has never seen anything like this.

“You don’t see buildings falling down in America,” Burkett, stunned, told CNN Thursday morning, “and here we had a building literally fall down.”

He said it’s “less likely than a lightning strike.”

One person is reported dead after the building collapsed around 2 AM with CNN saying a “considerable portion” of the building is gone. Burkett suggests there may be more fatalities.

“The problem is the building has literally pancaked,” he says. “It’s heartbreaking because it doesn’t mean, to me, that we’re going to be successful, as successful as we want to be, to find people alive.”

 

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.