Should Churches be Tax Exempt?

Leading up to April 15, millions of Americans can be found scrambling to file their taxes for themselves and their businesses, unless they operate a church. According to U.S. tax law, religious organizations are not required to pay taxes because they're considered non-profit institutions and because they provide a public good. However, many are skeptical of this reasoning, arguing that churches can be enormously profitable and that the only benefits they provide are to their own members. Should churches keep their tax exempt status?

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This is really the great information shared with us , it will really helps and guides many.Thanks for the information.

The concept of levying taxes on your congregation was invented by the catholic church, and somehow continued to thrive in protestantism. Did Jesus ever say you had to pay money to save your soul? What would Jesus say about the pope who lives in luxury while millions of poor catholics in 3rd world countries continue paying cash to save their souls? Or protestant pastors who depend on the Sunday offering to pay their mortgage?
If churches tax their congregation so that their members can feel good about themselves and somehow get closer to heaven (sounds like buying your way to me). churches can afford to pay taxes.

Why are they tax exempt to start with? They operate like a business it's BIG business for some of them ---- NO!

I hope this answers your question.

The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'.

Now of course there are churches that help the community by helping teens off drugs , holding AA meetings, feeding and clothing the homeless , etc. However, in my experience churches are sheltered from owning up to bigotry , sexism , bad medical advice , encouraging ignorance, and a host of other society ills. Lets keep the charity exemptions and dump rewards for bad behavior.

I do not believe that churches should be tax-exempt. However I can accept a church operating as a non-profit entity. That may equate to the same thing for a lot of churches, but it does give one big bonus: as a non-profit organization, its tax records become public record. This would be a check against people trying to turn a church into their own private piggy-bank/tax-shelter. Currently church financial records are private. Some churches may be more open, but I bet most of the big ones are not so forthcoming with their finances.

Any church that can follow existing non-profit rules will still be exempt from taxes , and huge religious cooperations would have to finally pay their fair share. Those that break those rules should be punished according to the law .

No man that choses to go to heaven should render (PAY TAXES) to the G-O-V, they should render to G-O-D.

Jesus says anyone that takes an oath is of the evil one or Satan or Lucifer or evil, depending on which version of the Holy Bible that you have (Matthew 5:34-37 Or James 5:12). Your version may use the word OATH, SWEAR, VOW, PROMISE, PLEDGE, WARRANTY, GUARANTY, CONFIRM, AFFIRM or FIRM, whichever word you want to use to hide the fact that you are a child of Satan. All GOV. workers take an oath of some kind like thier hero 'HIEL HITLER' taught his followers to do. If you don't think like them, they will kill you just for a retirement plan so they can buy all the mind altering substances, legal or illegal that they can get to get rid of the wrath of God that is put on them.

Crafted temples is where the throne of Satan is according to Revelation 2:12-13 and God says He does not live in CRAFTED TEMPLES in Acts 7:47-48 & 17:24 but the children of Satan will teach their congregation to lie and say God is in thier heart.

Never destroy the CRAFTED TEMPLES because the children of Satan will rebuild them again while the suffering and starving child are dying because they will not feed the hungry and 'created temples' but will gladly feed the house of Satan, the 'crafted temples'. They will give a GNAT'S amount to the suffering and poor but put a CAMEL'S portion into stained glass windows and temple pinnacles that Satan used to trick Jesus to join the crafted temples and Satan would give Jesus the world. Jesus does not accept the gifts of Satan or his children.

processes, I did not believe that they should be exempt. Now that I see millions of dollars pouring into the judicial system I have changed my mind.

Churches fall in line with soup kitchens and the like. They aren't in the business of making money . Some will say that some large churches are all about money and I wouldn't have much of an arguement against that claim. There are preachers out there who love money, but they tend to be the ones where the pastor gets a very large salary and to that end, they are supposed to pay income tax, so they are being taxed since the pastor gets the majority of the money.

In small churches(the majority of them), they pull in enough money to pay the bills and support a few missionaries overseas. If the government wants to take away the money that these churches use to further the gospel , then they are encroaching on what the church is supposed to do and infringing on the religious freedom of its' citizens.

To pick a couple of hot topics, preaching against homosexuality or abortion , and maybe even telling members how they shouldn't support these sins with their votes, the pastor is fulfilling his calling. Taxing these churches because they are following their faith is infringement.

If they monetarily support candidates there may be an arguement, but to tell followers what they are supposed to tell them, and vote accordingly, is their right.

Would those calling for status revokation do so if these churches were simply feeding and clothing the poor? Both helping the poor and speaking against sin are callings of christians. Why should non-christians determine what they are supposed to do? Freedom of religion means freedom of religion until it actually does infringe on the constitutional rights of another american.

I don't follow anyone, because those that appear to be on the same path usually end up just getting in my way.

The Church of the Subgenius whose membership is 30K, prides itself on its willingness to be taxed.

I think that if churches lost their tax exempt status, honest churches would remain, while the frauds and pharasees would vanish.

This would be the best thing that could happen to the Christian Church in America.

The place we call the church is a building, this is NOT the Church the Church is the people and we are in fact paying taxes . The church building should PAY there taxes.

I don't know about your church but my church impacts my community greatly. Our church regular's often volunteer at soup kitchen's, cleaning up (such as cleaning up a park, and go on mission trips to Africa where they help build hut's, give medical attention etc. etc. Church's should all take up an active role in their community. Which is how they can provide a public good NOT just to church members. Sure they get money from tithing but a lot of that money goes back into the church and community.

is a tax dodge that sometimes uses a few "good works" to justify its existence.

"Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion " - L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology

And in the wake of the tax loophole for churches, we have hundreds of churches in this country that buy their leaders multiple expensive cars (like Mercedes, Lexus, and BMWs - not sensible cars for people that preach moderation and eschewing worldly goods) and palatial mansions to live in. Then again, the whole catholic prohibition of marriage for priests is based on a tax dodge - no marraige means no children , no children means no heirs, no heirs means the church gets all of their money when they die. You'd think that if being a priest made you such a good person, they'd want more children raised by them, not none.

So far this year, this is what my church has done w/ its vast "profits":
1. Has at least 12 people going to a Habitat for Humanity trip to a poor Latin American country to build a house (for 5th time)
2. Has housed homeless families in our facilities. Locally, the shelters do not allow homeless moms w/ boys over age 8 to stay with her. Where are they supposed to go? But they can stay w/ us and the rest of the churches that participate.
3. Has a canned food collection every 1st Sunday of every month.
4. Collected 2 cents per meal at weekly church meals for the hungry (over $300 raised using this procedur just this spring).
5. Taken at least 5 trips to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

Yep, look at the evil things we did with money !

I'm really glad to hear that your church has gone out to do some good in your community. But one data point does not a trend make.

The taxexempt status you church currently enjoys is one that it should realistically continue to, based on the good works you folks do. I think any organization with a dedication to humanitarian efforts should have a tax exemption.

However, the reality exists that some people are abusing the tax exempt status of religious institutions simply because they can. There is no way to stop televangelists and scientologists and goodness knows who else from emotionally extorting vast quantities of money from good natured believers - nothing to stop them from abusing people's dedication to their faith for their own ends and for their own, often massive, profit.

The religious tax exemption is too tempting a prospect for some people to ignore. Churches that behave as non profits should remain so. Those that don't should not enjoy the same protection.

Since "taxation" is a fancy word for "theft by government", we should ALL be exempt from being stolen from. Only the thugs of the state can steal from you and then claim you have no right to fight back.

The Church is taxed.the Church is not the building.Its the christian body the people!Why do you need a big building to worship in? dont you all have house's apt.garages or barns to worship in?
I for one think a big building to worship in is cold,let the love of christ flow.Ever one is welcome worship freely and openly.
So as a Christian I would say tax the building!

The people that meet in CRAFTED TEMPLES cannot show you a single verse where Jesus complimented or told anyone to build a CRAFTED TEMPLES where God tells them that God does not live in them according to Acts 7:47-48 & 17:24.

The members of the CRAFTED TEMPLES will LIE and say that God is in thier heart while they worship where the throne of Satan is according to Revelation 2:12-13.

No one should render to Caesar ( taxes ), they should only render to God.

A ' church ' is not a 'crafted temples' as the house of LIARS says.

Amen to that

These so-called phony Churches are really extensions of this Nazi Anti-American, Socialist Order. The Nazis did not lose in 1945! They were trusted to run the U.S. Government after 1946, with their CIA and NASA operations.

The Government doesn't want you to know about this. But they know it will be a matter of time before enough people do find out the truth. Not everyone are gullible sheep and lazy simpletons. Some people actually do their homework and piece together the evidences until a clear-case is built, and understanding is acquired.

The Churches in America along with all other Roman Fascist institutions including Synagogues, Temples and Mosques should all be demolished along with the Nazis running our Government. These are not leaders in any way shape or form, these are misleaders, fascists & Satanists!

Man and Mankind is Pre-Adamites and Adamites. All humans today of ALL RACES are Adamites. The Pre-Adamites are a different type of humans, which breathed higher oxygen contents and were much bigger.

When The Creator Gods (Elohim) in Genesis say, "Go and be fruitful and multiply.." They were speaking to the new re-engineered man, as in Adam and Eve.

My point in writing all this is that most so-called "Christians" have no clue what the Bible is saying.

Since all Tax-Exempt "Churches" are promoting nonsense which has nothing to do with the Bible, because they are nothing but Governmental Fronts For Disinformation, Churches should be Taxed.

If Churches refuse to speak, read and teach the Bible in the Greek and Hebrew, by ever using English as the language, then YES they should be taxed by the Government as a non-religious, non-theological domain.

The Bible CANNOT be understood without first being able to read, speak and write Hebrew and Greek. The symbolism in the Bible must be understood first in order to know what it is really saying. The symbolism cannot be understood without the Greek and Hebrew languages.

The "English" language isn't even from the English. Just open up a dictionary, English comes from all the other languages, and is just a Corporate Language invented by Rome and their British subjects, as a new way Rome could control the rest of the world, by promoting their English servants.

Rome still controls all banking, drugs, oil and gold on Earth. The Vatican even set up Islam in 599 A.D. fully-financed Islam by 632 A.D. Mohammed and his Catholic wife made sure the once-advanced Middle East and India were reduced to wastelands for the Vatican. Exporting their high technologies and science into Europe.

The Vatican also set up Adolf Hitler and Nazism, which wasn't a German invention at all. Germany was the poorest nation on Earth in 1924. Suddenly Wall Street and the Vatican, together with Ford, J.P, Morgan, IBM, Bayer, Chase Banking & Firestone pump in 9 BILLION U.S. DOLLARS into Germany in 1925! About 19 Billion Deutschmarks!

All of a sudden Germany has the most advanced and fierce military on planet Earth. Wall Street and The Vatican didn't want to test out their Nazism in their own lands. So they picked Germany. Hitler was a devout Catholic, not any "half-Jew" like disinformers are claiming.

Hitler executed The Vatican's policies, nothing more. If people knew the REAL HISTORY behind all that happened, we would be living in a completely different America and world over!

Wall Street and The Vatican got together to forge a plan for a Global Socialist World. They tested their Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and Nazism in Germany. Then brought it over to America as NASA and The CIA in 1945. That is when they stamped "Novo Ordo Seclorum" on the U.S. $1 Bill reverse side in 1946. Which when translated in English from Latin means, 'New World Order' or 'New Secular Order of the Ages'.

Global Fascist Socialism is being built up, to replace the Constitutional Republic of Citizen's Rights.

The Government isn't too keen on just letting places which rake in millions of dollars to just go tax-free. The only reason Churches in America, which are all phony Christian Churches, since they don't even speak and read the correct languages of the Bible, get away with being tax-free is because these Churches are nothing more than extensions of the Government!

The Government's Disinformation Campaigns to keep the masses asleep and medicated with entertainment and false doctrines of these phony Churches in America.

If the Government seeks to suppress the truth about human origins from the Public, they are spending far less money , and actually having an easier time suppressing the truth from the public by permitting the Phony Churches in America to proceed with their erroneous teachings.

Because then they won't understand the Bible and what the stories in it are saying in regards to the Celestial Creators who genetically-engineered humanity in their image.

By letting Churches retain their phony doctrines and disinformation, the Government doesn't have to spend money trying to further disinform the Public. This is why most Churches are "Tax-Exempt".

The only Churches which get shut down and raided by armed thugs and Nazis in our Government are the ones who refuse to teach the lies that the Government "approves" of. As in those few Churches who teach the Greek and Hebrew. Explain Who The Elohim are, what is Mozzerat, what is the "man bearing water", what Revelation is saying. The fact that the Illuminati wrote the Bible in codes modeled after the Egyptian, Greek, Persian and Hindu stories. Riddled in their own version the actual plans they eventually have for the entire world.

The Bible is a very important book to read and understand and has much wisdom to live by. However the historical accuracy of the Bible is null and void.

What is very important about the Bible it that it is actually the Scriptures the Illuminati's and Satanists wrote, who controlled this world from Rome, for the last 2050 years. They are presenting many wise facts adopted from the Hindu, Egyptian and Persian civilizations. But they are also telling you their plans in the future, for when they decide to repress technology no more.

Then in those days when they permit technology to be mass-implemented world-wide, that they would allow all sorts of sciences to dominate the world into a fascist global one world order.

Also they would be under the dominion of the Higher Celestial Beings Who return back to Earth to engineer a new type of human to replace the ones existing today. Some of them benevolent some of the malevolent.

The humans who exist now are from 6,000 years ago, when the new genetically-engineered humans replaced the previous ones. Humans are not 6,000 years old. The Pre-Adamite humans go back many hundreds of thousands of years and millions of years, when the Higher Celestial Beings were down here on Earth, engineering many types of human species. This is the so-called "Extra-Terrestrials" the mainstream speaks of.

The newly created Adamite humans are 6,000 years old. But the older humans are very ancient. I'm not talking about hominoids and all the lies of " evolution " which do not reflect anything in Genetic Science and studying genetic sequences.

Well if you do your homework on understanding symbolism, Hebrew and Greek which is how the Bible is to be read by then you'll understand what is really going on. English is the worst langauge to ever read the Bible or any ancient Eastern Religion's Scriptural Texts in. All so-called "Western Civilization" and religion is of Eastern origin.

If you can read Greek, Hebrew, Sanskrit and Persian you will then be able to correctly understand the Bible and all the Holy Books.

When you do, you will realize all these Scriptures are nothing more than Astro-Theology. That's right, the signs of the Zodiac is how the chronology of these Holy Books are orchestrated by. Mozzerat in the Bible literally means 'The 12 Signs of the Zodiac'. If you bother to do your homework you would know this.

Look in the back of the King James Bible's Glossary of terms, and Mozzerat is defined as 'The 12 Signs of the Zodiac'.

Jesus speaking about the "man bearing water" has nothing to do with any men carrying water in Hebrew society . Water-fetching was a task to any Hebrew male at the time as less than manly and the duty of the woman.

What Jesus is really speaking of is the Age of Aquarius. There is never a reference in the Bible about any "end of the world". It is always the 'End of the AGE'. Not world!

The Bible is an Astro-Theological Story about the origins of humankind. Not historical fact, but metaphoric tales to describe something which is fact. That is why the Bible is referred to as the "Greatest Story Ever Told".

The Bible is really a Book of three Gods. The word "God" was never in the original Bible from the Middle East / Sumeria. The word 'Elohim' was the correct Hebrew word. Which in Hebrew means, 'The Gods'.

In Genesis 1:26 it says, "Let US make man in OUR image to OUR likeness;..

Who is "OUR" and "US"? Well more than one astro-theological Creator was involved in the creation and later genetic hybridization all of the species within the Human Race.

The reason the Bible is important to read, is because the hidden occult powers which rule the entire planet Earth in this age for now, is telling you their plans for all of humanity within the Bible.

But in hidden or occult mannerisms. The word 'occult' comes from the Latin word 'occultus' which literally means 'hidden'. Occult may involve Satanism and Evil, but not necessarily. Occult things are hidden or encoded things, nothing more. Whether they are evil or good, both could be occult, if they are encoded and hidden.

Now knowing this, and the fact that so-called "Christian" Churches in America are illiterate in the Hebrew and Greek languages, why should they even be classified as a "Church" when they're using the English language to understand something not compatible with it?

Honestly, the Pseudo-Christian "Churches" of the English-speaking world are noting more than extensions of the Government’s Disinformation Campaign to keep the real truth about human origins hidden!

If you don't pay your taxes , even if it is $1,000 in taxes and you refused to pay it and escaped to the Rain Forests in South America, the IRS will spend $5,000,000 to hunt your down to the ends of the Earth and bring you back to America to stand trial in a public arena for not paying your taxes. Also to make an example to you, to the public.

Religious organizations should be subject to the exact same laws as normal organizations. Regardless of whether or not they are involved in politics .

To do anything but this assumes that the goals and people involved in religious organizations and churches are somehow first-class, more important than the goals of those not involved in religious.

Am I a second-class citizen for not being religious? Why must I pay for churches with my tax dollars?

Yes the church building and pastors home. But NO to the otherproperty, farms and businesses owned by a church. Their business holdings are not adding a benefit and are competing unfairly!

Reading through the debate about this is almost comical. The "churches" want rights from that were formally granted by kings in Europe to apply in the 21st century. The 'symbolic sovereignty" is so endangered because most people live in the real world, not because of any legislature. Please, most of the world has to pay property taxes to the Roman Catholic church because it was the first former owner of so many land grants around from colonial governments.
That somehow the "churches" being tax exempt makes them better social workers and doers is laughable. Look how many programs exist that were formed by tax paying private companies: they may get tax reductions but they do pay taxes. I see no reason to except the "churches", do your good deeds, pay your taxes, get your tax breaks like any other institution.
The false premise of if they can't pay their taxes they will be shut down by the federal gov. is ridiculous That is like saying the federal government is against the pursuit of happiness because it taxes people. It might shut down one or another church, but not for religious reasons and it definitely would have no effect on religious freedom ; as any other religious institution (especially those directly related to the threatened one) could help them raise the funds to pay for their taxes. I'm sure most all churches could raise money from their supporters to save one or another church.
This was one of the demands of Pope John Paul the II's demands on communist Cuba: give the church a tax break. Since (contrary to popular belief) religion is not banned in communist Cuba, they just don't get any tax benefits. They pay like anyone else and if they want to raise money they have to get it from their parishioners.
So just get over the 18 century royal treatment and start paying your dues!

So soup kitchens, collecting food and clothing to help the poor, setting up homeless shelters, giving teenagers a safe, fun alternative to the destructive choices many of there friends choose, donating tons of money and provide thousands of volunteers to places that have suffered though disasters like Louisiana after Katrina, mean absolutely nothing to the "Benefits of society "?
People are so blinded by there own ignorance and hatred and close minded views of the world, that they can't see what's right in front of them. Churches as a whole strive to better there communities. To help those in need. Are there some run by corrupt individuals? Yes, of course. Human nature is full of sin . But so many more go out of there way to show love.

The kind of love that catholic pastors provide the little children they molest ?


Although i see your point, i have to bring up that there are many other organizations that help the poor, set up shelters, help teenagers, and so on, that are not tax exempt. If churches strive to better their communities, then i must tell you. I live in a small town, where there are 7 huge churches. SEVEN! What if as a teenager i wanted an alternative to destructive choices, and going to church ? Believe me, putting in another church this year did not make my community any better. We are not close-minded, we just desire consistency. I suppose if every organization that was helpful to " society " was tax-exempt i wouldn't have much of an argument. By the way, people don't get credit for doing things they are suppose to do, such as churches being helpful.

Any group that is not for profit gets to be tax exempt. So the groups you refer to that don't get to be tax exempt are trying to make a profit first, that's why they don't qualify for tax exemption .
There is consistency. You want to help others, and not make a profit, you get tax exemption. Pretty simple.

How is tax exemption demanding credit for the good deeds they do? To say that would mean "every single" not for profit organization (March of Dimes, Salvation Army, Red Cross, Childrens Cancer Society, etc), are demanding credit for the good deeds they do. Tax exemption isn't a merit badge. It simply allows organizations to have more money to help those with needs.

I also never said churches where the only option available to battered women, teenagers, homeless or any other people group in need. However the fact is many churches do offer these services, at no cost to the individuals receiving the help. Just because other places do similar things, doesn't make what a church does less beneficial to society .

I'm sorry you feel the 7 mega churches in your area do nothing to help your community. I don't know anything about your area, or the churches near you. But have you checked them out at all? Do all 7 honestly do absolutely nothing for your area? Not a single one has collected clothes or food for a homeless shelter? Sent volunteers to help victims of natural disasters? Opened there doors to help a family whose house burned down? Never built a house in a foreign country?
Could it be that they don't make a big stink about the good deeds that they do? That they aren't looking for world glory?

They could be a bunch of jerks who are using the donated money to drive around in Rolls Rocyes, as I already said I don't know.

I just know what my home church does and the church I attended before I moved, and the sister churches my churches were affiliated with do. The pastors don't drive around in brand new cars. They don't live in massive houses. They don't have huge salaries. (As a member I voted on budgets, and all staff salaries were listed)

I am also curious which organizations help the poor, teens , women, etc and don't get tax exemption. Could you list there names?

all i'm going to say, is that if you think churches don't make a profit, you're insane. a list would not be viable because it would include organizations that also make a profit, such as churches.

How mature. And closed minded.
I already stated not every single church is doing what God commanded. To say "All" churches make a profit, is to be extremely stereotypical. The same as saying all blonds are ditzes, all Hispanics are illegal immigrants , and all people from the middle east are terrorists. Which is insulting, and shows a lack of intelligence.

I will no longer go back and forth with you on this subject because you have made it abundantly clear that you will continue to think what you want, without any real evidence to back up what you think.You have only nit picked on 1 or 2 things I have said, without giving any real information in return. When asked for clarity, instead of sharing, all you do is call others insane, and go on your merry way, content in your closed-mindedness.

I already said I have seen the budget for my church, and know where the money goes. My pastors car is over 10 years old, which he has learned to fix himself, so he doesn't use church funds to fix it.

Are there churches that do bleed there congregation dry to line there own pockets? Unfortunately yes. But to say all is wrong.
To base your assumptions, on such a limited view is truly doing yourself no favors.

Which churches are the ones doing what god commanded? Are you speaking for god? How do you know what he/she commanded? Oh, yeah, the bibel, right, cause we know how perfect that book is..

Lets make it a little easier. Which Christian churches are doing what Christ commanded? The one that doesn't judge others. About the only thing that made Jesus angry was when someone tried to put guilt on somebody else.

Religious institutions being tax -exempt is a violation of separation of church and state . End of story.

I fail to see how religion benefits us as a society . It prevents intellectual and scientific development by promoting bogus ideas such as Creationism/Intelligent Design, and always act in their own interest. Religion has caused me and several other non- religious people in this nation undue stress (don't get me started on Mormon and JW missionaries and street preachers), and if they want to force their ideas on us both socially and politically, they should have to pay taxes like everyone else.

Of course, I don't understand how anyone who has half a brain can believe in a deity anyway when there is absolutely zero evidence for the existence thereof, but that's another debate altogether.

What does drinking have to do with taxing the church ? just asking..

Leave it to a Scotsman to be full of intelligence and wisdom! As a Scottish American, I second everything you said. Religions have gone way past being social organizations for the mentally weak, they have money and power, and they are not afraid to use them in very non-religious and dangerous ways.

How do you figure that there is no evidence of God? Have yu considered the fact that the Laws of physics state that energy cannot be created or destroyed? The Law of Entropy (Second Law of Thermodynamics) suggests that energy could not have always existed. Therefore, the Big Bang certainly didn't happen by itself. Now, the leading theory of First Cause is that two dimentions parallel to ours collided and caused the Big bang, but there's a problem with that: 1) How is a plane of existence tangible enough to do this; and 2) where did the energy that allowed for this collision to occur in the first place come from? If our understanding of physics is correct, we should already be able to explain that, but we can't. It is logical to cosider an intelligent Will of some form to exist outside of our Laws of Physics that created all the factors that allowed for the creation of all that exists. We commonly refer tot hsi intelligent Will "God". Just Who God is and His/Her/It/Their nature/s is/are is up to individual interpretation (i.e. "faith"). It is a basic rule of thumb in Science to consider anything to plausible until definitively proven otherwise beyond the shadow of a doubt.. Like the polar opposite of the justice system, in which the suspect is innocent until proven guity; in Science, the theory is plausible until proven othrwise.

Everything you said absolutely doesn't prove the existence of a god , and could just as easily be used to prove the existence of santa clause or unicorns, or my personal favorite, the Flying Spaghetti Monster (all hail her noodly appendages). You are the one claiming god exists, so you are the one who has to prove your case.

Way back when, before there were government-built schools, hospitals, societies, etc., who do you think provided these services?

Religion does not stifle intellectual/scientific developments necessarily. Unfortunately, the Church has a long history of burning libraries and discouraging literacy, but that is not an issue of religion itself. I have met many bright, scientific minds who put faith in a God. Not every religious person believes in Creationism, let alone God. Not all religious people force their ideas upon others. Speaking of which, doesn't America have freedom of speech? Sounds like they're using theirs.

And of course I cannot understand how anyone could think that lack of evidence is enough to disprove an idea. I have chosen not to believe in God, but I made this decision based on the same facts as any other religious person.

Churches are tax exempt because they are non-profit organizations. It has nothing to do with separation of church and state . Groups that support abortion , such as Planned Parenthood are also tax exempt for the same reason. So I guess it's not exactly "end of story" is it?
Second, if you don't see how religion benefits society , then you're dense. All major religions preach some of kind of moral high ground and teach love and respect for others. And before you go off half-cocked saying that Christianity preaches hate, I invite you to talk to a preacher. And not the Reverend Wright kind of preacher, either. Visit one at a small church that isn't on TV and see what he says. He will tell you to hate the sin, not the sinner. There are bad apples in every religion, including atheists. So don't judge the whole based on a few.
Your last statement is insulting, ignorant, and hateful. Just because you don't believe it doesn't make the belief any less valid. Remember that even the big bang theory requires a leap of faith that other may consider foolish. I mean, where did the very first matter come from? Science has not explained that, and most likely never will. But you take it on faith that it was there, somehow, and it exploded and here we are.
It's funny that those who lambaste those who believe in a higher power for being intolerant usually follow it up with statements like Bagpiper's. If that's tolerance, I think I'll pass.

The survey results on this site demonstrate that the public does not support tax exemption for churches, as stated by an "expert". It is time to do away with this state-sanctioned support of religion. The churches have become very involved in politics, and violated public trust too often.

Although I agree with the position that churches should not be tax exempt, the status of an online poll hardly accurately represents public opinion (also assuming that the usership of this site represents a balance sub sample of the population at large).

Besides the fact the the demographic an online poll reaches is usually biased, polls can be hacked, crashed and swung by anyone with a bit of technical knowledge or a large reader/fan base.

Please be careful in taking polls as evidence of anything in the future.