Steven Singer: If Churches Get Public Funds, They Should Pay Taxes and Anticipate Government Regulation | Diane Ravitch’s Blog - Re-Blog Link
Written by JoAnn Chateau

I couldn’t agree more:

“What conservatives seem to forget is that the wall of separation between church and state wasn’t erected just to protect the state from influence by religion. It also was set up to protect religion from the state.” ~ Diane Ravitch 


About the author

JoAnn Chateau

JoAnn Chateau likes progressive politics and loves the canines. She sometimes writes fiction about Chester (the Alpha Bichon) and his friends -- with a dash of humor and dab of Poli-Sci. JoAnn's views and insights are tinted by her past profession in Counseling, Christian theological studies, and Library and Information Science training. Retired now, JoAnn enjoys the creative life.


  • Churches should have been paying taxes for many years. They must abide by certain restrictions to retain their tax-exempt status. The restriction they often violate is the prohibition on political campaigning. From the website: “Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.”

  • Ravitch’s point is spot on, although I would never underestimate the lengths at which conservatives will go to twist the rules in their favor. From my perspective, conservative ideology – whether cultural or economic – is fundamentally authoritarian and therefore antithetical to democracy and the rule of law (i.e. republicanism). If the tax issue is raised as the separation of church and state is dismantled, conservatives will simply legislate a tax exemption for churches or just refuse to enforce the existing law.

    • Excellent explanation. I suppose authoritarian rule could follow laws and respect principles, but it is generally lawless due to human weakness. This is one reason why democracy is so important, the participation of many helps maintain objectivity, avoid corruption, and keep things fair.

  • I agree completely. Trinity Church in Downtown Manhattan has billions of dollars in real estate holdings around NYC. And lots of people live in the streets. Just imagine what could be done with some of that money…

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