The United States Supreme Court has held that tax exemption for churches is constitutional under the Establishment Clause. Moreover, the Court has found that churches and religious organizations may be subject to a general sales and use tax; however, the Court has not addressed whether government may enact a specific "church tax."
The constitution of a number of countries such as the United States could be and have been interpreted as both supporting and prohibiting the levying of taxes unto churches; prohibiting church tax could separate church and state fiscally, but it could also be favorable treatment by the government.
When you consider that many churches have made unsavory headlines for engaging in political activity anyway, it's no wonder why the separation of church and state—and whether or not churches should be stripped of their tax-exempt status—remains such a hot topic.
To that end, the idea that churches are threatened by government overreach is also a hot topic, particularly on the more conservative side of the aisle. For example, in October 2021, Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn made the odd claim that President Joe Biden aimed to "close the churches" as soon as Democrats could pass a much-scrutinized infrastructure bill.
Blackburn's assertion that churches would be closed down as soon as the bill is approved appears to have materialized out of thin air. In fact, where the infrastructure bill does mention churches is quite positive. The bill, which the Senate ultimately passed, provides $50 million in grants to nonprofits, including religious congregations, so they can upgrade their buildings with new energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.
We did tell you this is a hot-button issue. People were all too eager to share their thoughts with us after one Redditor asked the online community,
"Would you support taxing churches? Why or why not?"
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints..."
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) had over $130 billion in the stock market many years back. Yet they are tax exempt."
And did you know that news outlets reported in 2019 that the Mormon Church amassed a fund worth more than $100 billion so its members could prepare for the "Second Coming of Christ"?
Yeah, that was a thing.
"If churches were nothing more..."
"If churches were nothing more than local parishes who served the community, collected donations to keep the lights on, and the priests were working class folks who took the job as a "calling" rather than a business opportunity?"
"I'd be more than happy to let them slide. It would be like taxing a soup kitchen, and who wants to do that?"
"But if the local 'pastor' has a Gulfstream? Tax the sh** out of him. And if they even bring up politics from the pulpit? Tax the ever-loving sh** out of them."
Religious doctrine will always have political implications. Makes sense, right?
"I'm a Christian..."
"I'm a Christian and have served in church leadership, I'm in favor of taxing churches. Churches exist in society and should contribute to it. I do have some caveats."
"One: I think governments should use taxes for the betterment of communities. That includes physical infrastructure, but also caring for the poor, sick, elderly, etc. All of that is a part of the church's overall mission. I see no reason why the church shouldn't be in favor of the government doing those things, and paying taxes in support of that."
"Two: I think churches should be able to write off any charitable giving. That would obviously have to be well defined; however, I think it would incentivize churches actually helping people, rather than misusing funds (which tons of churches do. There are good churches out there that care a lot for their communities, but there are many that don't)."
The ability to write off charitable giving is the devil in the details. No matter how you word it. It will be worked around. There are tons of lawyers whose only job is to know the tax code and give rich people/corporations tax breaks.
Still, this is surely an improvement over a default charitable status that is only reviewed under an occasional audit.
"Churches that provide..."
"Churches that provide community social services should be tax exempt. Churches that have large holdings, or church leaders with lavish homes or engage in political activities should not."
It would be soooo easy for a rich pastor to claim he's compliant with the tax free requirements.
If a church is doing enough social service to actually qualify as a non-profit, then they can file as one. There is no reason to give them any special rules or exceptions.
"I do believe..."
"I do believe in separation of church and state. I feel if a church is donating more to the people than the church then no taxes. I'd rather have the money go to the people than the government."
As I recall, this is the original idea. Churches are not supposed to have influence on the political process and thus would be exempt from taxes because of that. But the church has not been keeping their end of the bargain.
"My aunt runs a church."
"My aunt runs a church. Over 90% of donations actually go towards charity work, such as healthcare and food for the homeless, clothes and school supplies for children. In many impoverished communities, churches are the only institutions truly keeping people housed and fed."
"Churches should be audited, as should any nonprofit. Saying they’re all bad is ignorant. Taxing them all would be robbing the poor."
If only things were this simple. Alas.
"Send your videos..."
"Well you can certainly get them in trouble by recording their sermon telling you who to vote for. It’s against the law for these religious institutions to influence anyone to vote for or against any political candidate."
"Send your videos and complaints to the IRS."
This was a big deal in Kansas over the last few weeks, particularly ahead of a crucial campaign that secured a win for reproductive rights activists after citizens voted to enshrine reproductive rights in the state constitution, the result of an effort to ensure the state—typically Republican and conservative—remains a safe haven for abortion in the Midwest.
"Yes, primarily because I think if churches or religions in general want to be playing a larger role in the politics of the world, as the various Christian denominations seem to desire in the U.S., then they should have to provide revenue and contribute to the nation or they should shut up."
Straight and to the point, I see!
"Churches should have to go by..."
"Churches should have to go by the same rules as any other non-religious tax-exempt charity. File taxes proving where your money came from and where it went to prove you're using it for charitable purposes."
"Preaching is not, in and of itself, a charitable activity IMHO, so church buildings/expenditures used solely for church services don't deserve tax exempt status. Want to have something not taxed? It had better be actually helping someone."
Now if only we could fund the IRS appropriately...
"I think any business..."
"I think any business that makes a profit should be taxed. If you truly are being charitable then you shouldn't be making profit, all that excess income should be going back into growing the business and helping more people with whatever service you provide. Religious affiliation should be irrelevant."
Reforms would be pretty simple, provided there is bipartisan support in Congress. Enforcing them, however? Another matter entirely, and that's why it's important to stay on top of this issue.
This is a complex issue that is not likely to be resolved soon, and the impact of religious lobbying in Congress is certainly felt more than ever.
Would stripping churches of their tax-exempt status solve quite a few problems—namely the polarization and shoddy campaign finance laws—that have metastisized in American politics?
Answering that is not so easy.
Have some opinions of your own? Tell us more in the comments below!
Being street smart and book smart are two different forms of intelligence.
One acquires wisdom through life experiences while the other gains knowledge through reading books, articles, and from higher learning.
But sometimes there are certain situations where neither applies to a person–even though others may initially perceive them to be intelligent.
Curious to explore this further, Redditor Indianfattie asked:
'What is incorrectly perceived as a sign of intelligence?"
Status and credentials aren't necessarily strong indicators of intelligence.
"Edit: Thank you for the gold and silver! I am so rich. Therefore I am smart! S-M-R-T smart!"
Money And Brains
"People seem to think if you are rich with a good job you must be smart. Generally speaking I've only met one rich person I would consider smart. The rest? Ooooooof. I seriously wonder how some of them passed gradeschool."
"I was surprised when I learned that knowledge isn't necessarily correlated to intelligence. I met a lifelong academic who knew damn near everything about her topic .... but just the facts. It's like, she was a walking encyclopedia, could cough up any info about her field, but she couldn't really process it that well, or draw conclusions, or apply it to a different topic. It's hard to explain. She had a nice 2TB SSD drive full of info in her head but she had a substandard CPU. Since then I've met several people like that. All academics, but I'm not sure that has anything to do with it."
Certain behaviors and personality traits can be misleading.
The Quiet Observer
"Silence. I’ve been told so many times that I’m thoughtful and a deep thinker but really I can’t figure out what to say lol"
The Saying Goes
"There's a very good saying about that, I may be paraphrasing but I've always heard it as: a wise man speaks because he has something to say, a fool speaks because he has to say something."
Way With Words
"A cromulent vocabulary."
"This embiggens me."
Judging By Appearance
"I’m living in China right now and everyone keeps calling me intelligent as I’m bald and left handed."
History has proven leaders don't always make the best decisions.
"Being in charge."
Capable Until Proven Incompetent
"Always maintain a healthy skepticism for anyone claiming to be authority, at least till they prove themselves capable."
Save The Compliments
"if someone’s in an authoritative position, it should be others that praise them and say how good they are, not themselves."
The Peter Principle
'The Peter principle is a concept in management developed by Laurence J. Peter, which observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to "a level of respective incompetence." Employees are promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another.'
"I once worked for a company where the VP was the living embodiment of the Peter principle. She had been with the company for 20+ years, and somehow got promoted to VP of marketing."
"She very clearly had no idea what she was doing and as a result would end up micromanaging to stay busy. And she loved to come around at 4:30 on the Friday before a holiday weekend to 'say hi,' aka make sure no one was leaving early (we were all salaried)."
"This woman was completely incompetent, had no business managing anyone and didn't understand her duties at all, yet somehow she was an executive and made close to $200K per year. Just by outlasting everyone else."
A person with a big vocabulary can be deceiving.
I knew someone from work who boasted a huge vocabulary and always sounded like an academic scholar when he spoke at meetings.
My view of him completely shattered when he came in for his shift one morning and seriously asked where he could get some "expresso," "expecially" since he was very tired and could use a pick-me-up.
My colleagues and I just blankly stared at each other since his statements at the time were so jarring.
In the US, teenagers technically become adults at 18, an age when they are presumably able to make decisions for themselves and establish independence.
But some teenagers feel they've emotionally and mentally reached maturity before being of legal age, and for some, long after.
Maybe it was a life-changing event or some kind of turning point that make these young adults feel like they are wise beyond their years.
Curious to explore anecdotes relating to coming of age, Redditor brokenbeanie asked:
"When is the first time you remember feeling like an adult?"
These Redditors experienced an epiphany when they realized trips to the grocery store was routine.
"When I got mad that they rearanged the grocery store."
"When I was buying my own groceries and had survived for two weeks on my own. I figured I must be doing it right since I wasn’t feeling hungry or diminished."
Raising A Pet
"It took me a few years. I had a cat for a year and that's when I was like 'holy sh*t I've somehow managed to keep us both alive for an entire year.' That's when I felt like an adult. That was mid to late 20s. I am also a late bloomer."
Accomplishments without the supervision of another adult were common indicators for people who felt grown-ish.
Learn As You Go
"My first summer in college, my roommate and I housesat for a couple who were out of town all summer. Paying rent and bills, buying groceries. We were both working, thank God, but we didn’t have a clue what we were doing. Lived on boiled eggs, raisin bran, bologna and cheese sandwiches, and ten cent ramen."
No Approval Necessary
"The first time I didn’t have to ask for permission to go out."
Tasked With Responsibility
"In college, I was with some friends at a party and one of them fell and busted his face so badly, he started bleeding badly. I went looking for someone to do something when I realized I was the only sober one there. Not a fun night or feeling."
Regarding making purchases, these Redditors realized they could afford luxuries previously not granted to them.
"Honestly, the first time I bought a car without mentioning it ahead of time to my parents. I was 27 or 28, married (no kids, though), and it was at that point that I realized 'I didn't really run this past anyone............hmm....' All of the college loans without a cosigner, my careers (firefighter/paramedic and nurse),my marriage, vacations... Etc...All the stuff I did as an adult and it took a $32,000 purchase to really feel like an adult"
Answer To No One
"I wanted to buy a box of fruit roll-ups. But was feeling weird about it because as a kid we were not allowed to get it. It was too expensive and my parents didn’t want to buy it. At some point, while I was thinking about putting it down, it dawned on me that I was a grown man with my own income. I bought like 20 boxes."
Remember your first job? That was a defining moment for these Redditors.
Joining The Daily Grind
"Starting my first full-time 9-5 job."
"Same. It was weird not having to clock in or out and being allowed to leave work to go run an errand etc."
"I relate to this so hard. I remember when I got my first big boy job I'd pop my head into the bosses office and be like 'cool if I go to lunch?' Or something along those lines and she'd give me a weird look. After like two weeks she let me know that she did not care about lunch breaks, doctors appointments, or even leaving a little early, so long as the work got done. One of my earliest memories of that adulty feeling."
I remember buying my first movie ticket to an R-rated movie was extremely satisfying.
I conveniently forget what movie it was, but it was most likely for a horror film.
Not that the restriction for those under 17 has ever prevented me from sneaking into another theater after having purchased a ticket for a PG-13 film.
Hey, I never claimed to be a model teenager.
No joke, I will never forget the old Sock'em Boppers commercials. I am well past the age group that plays with these things but that theme song is often in my head. What can I say? I watched a ton of TV as a kid and saw that commercial a million times.
They're now known as Socker Boppers and it's just not the same. Remember that video jingle, "it's more fun than a pillow fight?" Those were the days. Alas, everything good must end.
There are a host of other commercials that have left an impression on people. These people shared their thoughts with us after Redditor No-Caterpillar4212 asked the online community,
"What's a commercial you'll never forget?"
"I still giggle..."
"I still giggle at the LifeAlert "I've fallen and I can't get up" commercials. They even have a newer batch of them out."
There's a criminal in my house!
"Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?"
The world may never know.
"I tried to collect..."
"Yo quiero Taco Bell!"
"I tried to collect all those stuffed Taco Bell dogs they did in promotion around this time. I had almost all of them, but never got my favourite one, with the military hat that says, "Viva gordita!""
I remember those! There were so many. I swear, I had at least one or two but they've now been lost to time.
"This is your brain."
"The "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs" egg commercial."
Oh, but remember the old Rachel Leigh Cook commercial where she destroyed the entire kitchen and not just the egg?
"The dancing old man..."
"The dancing old man from the Six Flags commercials."
Now this one really takes me back.
The Venga bus is coming!!!
And everybody's jumping!!!
"That mid 2000s..."
"That mid 2000s Chef Boyardee commercial where the can follows the family and rolls home with them."
You mean the one where the can is clearly stalking the family and people are too shy to say otherwise?
At least that's how I like to play it out in my head.
"The Wilford Brimley..."
"The Wilford Brimley diabeetus commercial."
At this point, diabetes should just be called Wilford Brimley syndrome.
"The Budweiser Wassup Commercial refuses to exit my brain to this day."
WAZZZUUUUUPPP!? Any kids watching Scary Movie will not understand that reference in the movie sadly.
"Five eight eiiight, two-three hundred... ...Empiiiiire!"
Good choice. This one is always living rent-free inside my head.
"My bologna has a first name. It's O-s-c-a-r. My bologna has a second name. It's M-a-y-e-r. Oh, I love to eat it every day and if you ask my why, I'll say. Cuz Oscar Mayer has a way with b-o-l-o-g-n-a."
This commercial is likely singlehandedly responsible for teaching children how to spell "bologna."
Apologies if you now have relentless commercial jingles rattling inside your brain right now. You should have known we'd awake some long buried childhood memories!
Have some commercials you remember? Feel free to tell us more in the comments below!
If you're not familiar with the phrase "you are what you eat," it is not a literal statement.
Instead, the line suggests that it is important to eat better quality foods in order to stay healthy and fit.
But the notion that we can go through a transformation of some sort based on our behavior or surroundings can still be a thing depending on certain discussions within context.
Curious to hear examples of what this might be, Redditor standardgenre45 asked:
"What’s something that people turn into their whole personality?"
We can lose sight of ourselves when heavily influenced by another individual or a group of people.
Influenced By Devotion
"Politicians they follow."
Era-Specific Like-Minded Individuals
"The generation they're born in."
We Like, We Follow
"‘Girl bosses’/MLM cult engagers"
"And social media."
People can take on the characteristics that apply to their environments.
"Here in the Netherlands people who live in Amsterdam base their personality on Amsterdam."
When In Colorado
"People move to Colorado and Colorado becomes their personality. They buy a jeep or Subaru and start wearing Chaco’s, and plaster Mountain Life all over everything they own."
Claiming Ownership Of The State
"Not only that, but 'Colorado native' is a whole thing too. I've met many people who have nothing to talk about except how bitter they are that people keep moving in and how much better it was when they were kids."
What The Canadian Said
"It’s that way for a lot of major cities around the world. Here in Canada each province’s capital city has a bunch of people basing their personality off of it."
The Thing About Major American Cities
"Lots of New Yorkers (City not state) guilty of this too. But it’s not just them. Los Angelinos, San Francisans, Chicago and DC are guilty too. Texans are probably the worst about it, especially the further they get away from Texas, then you’ve got people from Austin who are like the elitist Texans, they’re like the oddest mix of hippie and redneck. They often pride themselves on the hippie and denounce the redneck while still obviously being one."
Things having to do with money can be an obsession and really take over the essence of a person.
Living Work Or Work For A Living?
Value Of Conversation
"Or just money in general. I worked with a guy who only ever talked about what things were worth, mostly vehicles. What he was thinking about buying. How much he could sell something for. The trades he wanted to make. How much our customers made. What motorbike he bought before from a guy on the street we happened to be on and what it's worth. That's all. It was annoying as f'k. Any conversation at all, you could be talking about your grandma, and he immediately tries to change the subject to value. It was literally the only small talk he knew. The fact he was poor just made it sad."
Just Cut The Pricetag
"Omg my husband is kind of like this and as much as I love him, it's so frustrating. I'm just not all about money. We don't need to tell the kids how much their gifts cost. Idk. It makes me a little nuts."
Power Of Money
"True, I lived it twice. First time I was a young, driven, ladder climber. Second I was a greedy, grab All the Cheeto’s before everything goes to pot… then when it did in 2008, financial collapse happened, I became lost. I’d let 95% of my identity become my job when it disappeared so did I. Took over a year to get my head right."
Ever been told that you're turning into one of your parents?
That's another phrase often uttered, especially by a sibling who sees that you have slowly taken on the characteristics and idiosyncrasies of your mom or dad.
Learned behavior or genes?
Could be either or both. What do you think?