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!
Those of us who are conscientious about our finances try to avoid spending money on things we don't necessarily need.
Paying for indulgences is considered a luxury for those of us who keep a tight budget. However, we make random exceptions.
Sometimes, we end up spending a lot of money on something we don't need per see, but we end up having absolute no regrets.
So what could these purchases be?
That's what Redditor LittleGodess777 wanted to know and asked strangers online:
"What was the highest waste of money that you don't regret?"
Going to remote destinations gave these Redditors the ultimate customer satisfaction.
"Just shy of $20,000 to go to Antarctica travelling solo (small cruise ship). More than I've spent on every other vacation I've taken combined."
"Was one of the best trips of my life. It also gave me enough space and clarity to realize how toxic my ex was to me so that I could find the strength to leave not long after I got back."
"I'll always want to go back to Antarctica. The inner peace I found there changed my life."
Quality Time With A Daughter
"A quick 7 day trip to Maui in February a couple years ago with one of my teenage daughters, who happened to be free the same week I had off. Work was grinding me down and I needed a break."
"My wife and the rest of the family couldn't go, they were working or in school. The tickets were expensive, $850 each for bare-bones economy narrow rock hard seats, it was a 12 hour flight that was packed to the brim - I was getting bedsores by the time we arrived."
"We rented snorkeling gear and a car, and spent every day from dawn to dusk snorkeling, sitting on the beaches and hiking in the mountains; we did the Hana road, the Seven Sacred Pools and the Haleakalā volcano national park at sunset, and took tons of photos. We ate spam musubi for breakfast, poke and somen noodles for lunch and loco moko for supper. Slept like babies with the windows open wide in the cool nighttime breezes."
"The best way to blow $5,000 EVER. So much what I needed at that point in my life."
Some experiences are totally worth the investment.
Grandpa At The Concert
"My grandfather absolutely loves the Beatles. He listens to their music every day. He doesn't speak English, but he always tries his best to sing along. It's so endearing. I had heard that Paul McCartney was coming to town for a concert. When I checked the ticket availability, there were only a few left and they were quite pricey."
"Especially for me, a high school student at the time. But I was determined to get him a ticket. And I did! I decided to present the ticket to him on my birthday since the concert would be just a few days afterwards. When I gave my grandfather the ticket, he had broken into tears and hugged me so hard. I had never seen him so happy."
"The smile didn't leave his face for the rest of the day. Leading up to the concert, he would talk to everyone about how he was going to see Paul McCartney and that he had the most thoughtful granddaughter in the world. :')"
"I went to a Renaissance Fair with my husband and some friends. It was his first time, and he’s a pretty introverted person, so while he has fun watching everyone else dress up and act all goofy and old-timey, he doesn’t really participate. When we went to buy our first beer, the wench tried to sell him on one of those big mugs that looks like it’s carved out of wood but it’s just plastic. It cost $100. Yes, you get free refills, but we were not planning on drinking $100 worth of beer that day. I could tell by the look on his face that he wanted it- he looked like a little kid at Disney World. Without thinking, I whipped out my credit card and dropped $100 on a sh**ty plastic mug."
"All day, he walked around proudly with his mug. He even took some big gulps and cheered 'huzzah' once or twice. This might not seem like much but for my quiet, gentle giant, it is huge. I manage the finances in our relationship and I am CONSTANTLY cracking down on wasteful spending, so I think we were both amazed I made such a dumb purchase. Four years later, we still have that mug. He gets a big grin every time he sees it and teases me about my irresponsible impulse. And every time I see it, I just think about how much I love that big galoot..."
Who says buying things can't make you happy?
Best Living Investment
"I spent $300 on a mule. An actual living, 4 hooved, long-eared mule. We raise cattle, so a protection mule was a good excuse. But, really, I just fell in love with him. He's huge and sassy. He'll steal your hat and run away. He's got a Ninja mode where he can sneak up on you, just to breathe down your neck or startle you. He does keep the coyotes away. However, he has proved himself priceless because he eats thistle."
"When we got the lease on the land for our cattle the pastures had been neglected and were in bad shape. Thistle is a spiky plant that spreads across the pasture, choking out grasses. Cow's won't eat it. It's really hard to get rid of. To our surprise, the mule cleared out nearly all the thistle in a matter of months. He would eat the flowers out of the center. He saved us an enormous amount of money and labor. We were able to avoid using chemical weed killers, which we really didn't want to do. Probably the best investment in our whole cattle raising experience."
"My Litter Robot."
"Yes, I spent $600 on a cat sh**ter, but my house never smells, I don't have to scoop litter, and I only have to empty the drawer once a week. Definitely worth it to me."
"My fiancé and I dropped close to three grand on a kitchen table and coffee table from Carolina Game Tables. The kind where you can take the top off and have a board game space underneath. They’re comparatively plain compared to some you see online, no lights or USB ports, no cubbies, drawers or cup holders. Just really solidly build solid wood tables where the top comes off. But hot damn they’ve been awesome!! We use them all the time. One unexpected use was legos. I got a Lego set and started building it on the coffee table and when I needed to stop for the night I just put the lid on until I was ready to continue."
"Don’t regret a cent."
A Healthy Companion
"I spent too much money on a big treadmill for a very small apartment. But I've ran 15-25 km on it every week for the past several years and it's been incredibly helpful both physically and mentally."
Art Of Happiness
"Art work. Can I always afford it, no. But my walls are full of orginal, 90% local art. They make me happy to look at, I'm sure I made the artist happy too."
Basic Cozy Comfort
"My Couch. I moved out of my moms house last year (2019 so no covid) and I always wanted a good couch. I tested so much. I went to so many funiture stores. Looked at so many different models. And then choose mine. Its actually from Ikea. Three seats and long enough to let someone sleep on it. In a grey but I saw they were also having a black cover so I am thinking about getting that one. Extremely comftable. I wanted a couch where you could chill out and love how fluffy it is without losing the ability to sit on it. In some couches you are not able to lean on the back and still have a straight back. You can sit on the back board and the armrests. They are flat so you can also put a cup of tea on them. Its also not too low so you dont feel like sitting on the ground (which I do strangely often compared to my love for this couch) but you can let yourself fall onto that damn thing! It also looks easy and simple."
"So I dont want the suggestion of someone who tried a LOT of couches and happens to be me then buy the Vimle couch from Ikea."
Early this year, I decided to take a trip to London.
I've been to Paris, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Venice, Rome, Athens, Copenhagen, and most major cities in the US but never have I ever been to London.
I've always wanted to go but there was never the right time.
When I realized that life is short and that I don't want to miss out on treating myself to delayed experiences, I made the time to go and embark on my sojourn.
The trip wasn't a part of my annual budget, but the memory I made from that incredible travel experience catching up with friends who live there, seeing my first West End show, and taking in the historical and landmark sites are all life-enriching experiences I'll never forget.
Within reason, if you have a bucket list destination under your "someday" list, make it a "now" list. Because tomorrow is never a guarantee.
We all have movies which we can watch over and over again.
Even if they're thrillers with a twist you never saw coming, or a comedy with jokes you've heard over and over again, some movies are so captivating or comforting, that they have endless rewatchability.
Then there are the movies we never want to see ever again.
And not because they were awful, far from it, these might be found on the list of some of the greatest movies ever made.
But rather, movies which took us on such an emotional journey, that we simply couldn't put ourselves through it again.
"What movie is so good you'd recommend it to all your friends, but so emotionally traumatic that you'll never watch it again?"
Just Too Real
"The 2003 Gus Van Sant film, not the Disney nature doc."
"It takes place in the fictional Watt High School, in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, and chronicles the events surrounding a school shooting, based in part on the 1999 Columbine High School massacre."
"The film stars mostly new, and non-professional actors, which gives it an even greater sense of realism."- Horta
A True Story, Thus All The More Devastating
"'Hotel Rwanda' fits."- Wallstreet-beer-guy
A Must See, But Just The One Time
"'Come And See'."
"Wonderful movie, but even more devastating than 'Grave of the Fireflies', in my opinion."- Mimameird
"I'll give the same answer every time this comes up: 'Mary and Max'." Reddit
A Different Type of Christmas Movie
"'The Hunt' (2012)."
"A Danish film by Thomas Vinterberg starring Mads Mikkelsen."- lfctfcoi
A Warning We Hate Being Reminded Of
"Made in 1984, it's a harrowing depiction of a major nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union."
"It is incredibly bleak and tragic."
"The most effective representation of the horrors of nuclear war that I've ever seen."
"Everyone should watch it once, in my opinion."
"But no one needs to see it twice."- Scaphismus
But All Viewers Will
"'Boys Don't Cry'."
"It made me depressed for days."- IrianJaya
Young Leo At His Most Heartbreaking
"What's Eating Gilbert Grape."- photogeek8
Just Try Sleeping Afterwards...
"1978, truly the most effective psychological horror film I have ever seen."- gaccha_antiquechair
A Journey Worth Taking, Just The One Time...
"Watched it when it first came out'"
"Can’t put myself through it again though."
"It’s so hard going and heartbreaking."-Reddit
There is something remarkable about movies that can so easily elicit an emotional reaction.
Leaving us grateful to have seen it.
And making us even more grateful to go on The Holiday with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz for the 2,700th time to lighten our spirits afterward.
Every now and again, when we go out shopping or treat ourselves to a nice meal at a restaurant, we can't help but find our jaws drop when we notice a price tag.
Sometimes, we might force ourselves to admit that the main course, cashmere sweater, or advanced cooking product was worth every penny.
More often than not, though, we find ourselves wondering if the item in question is, indeed, worth its exorbitant cost.
The answer almost always being no.
Redditor Thic_water was curious to hear the most overpriced clothes, food or merchandise anyone has ever come across, leading them to ask:
"What’s the most overpriced thing you’ve seen?"
How much would the upgrade cost?...
"When I was in Dubai 2 years ago there was a cell phone store in the mall that sold phones that ranged from $30k -$120k."
"They were basically phones covered in diamonds and gold."
"That's $100k for something that is probably already obsolete."- holla09
A Cauliflower By Any Other Name...
"A couple of years ago, Mark's and Spencer Food, a high end supermarket in the UK, tried selling 'Cauliflower Steak' which was a thick slice of cauliflower for £2.50."
"It was covered in plastic."
"You could literally buy a whole cauliflower in the same row a bit further down for 40p."
"They were crucified for it, it was hilarious."- patchyj
"Oh, Canada" Indeed...
"$800,000 for a 500 square foot 'condo' in Toronto."- B-416
"Cell phone plans in Canada."- Unending_beginningsFlag Celebrate GIF by sendwishonline.comGiphy
An Ironic Miscalculation...
"I remember seeing a basic scientific calculator for like $300."- Saper-Ja-
"I swear, people sell oddly-shaped Cheetos for THOUSANDS."
"Literally THOUSANDS."- KipsyCakes
The Counters Better Glisten...
"I saw a small thing of Lysol wipes being sold for $22 in a store last week."- rickeysneekzzzSick Art GIF by Jimmy ArcaGiphy
All Right Then...
"A few years back Nordstrom was selling a rock in a leather pouch for $85."- Happy_Fun_Balll
Can You Say Outdated?
"I saw an external ZIP disk reader in the clearance bin of Wal-Mart for 10% off it's original price."
"So it was going for $180 and had parallel ports."
"in 2011."- AudibleNod
Will They, Though?
"In a downtown consignment shop, an oil painting of sheep grazing in a meadow had a price tag of $18,700."
"It was by an unrecognized artist."
"When asked why it was priced so high, the shopkeeper said 'because someone will like it and buy it'."justin timberlake GIFGiphy
Sometimes, people might price things stratospherically high in hopes that some might assume it must be of great value and pedigree.
But no matter where it's from, or what it's made of, a rock in a pouch is just that.
A rock in a pouch.
What other things would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.
No matter the country, the law is a difficult beast.
Laws can change street by street.
So who knows if you're doing what's right?
But every civilian fancies themself an expert.
Guess what genius... we're wrong.
But on TV...
Redditor IfItQuackedLikeADuck wanted the legal eagles to share some truth.
So they asked:
"Lawyers, What's a law that isn't real that normal people insist exists?"
The law is tricky. So help us out.
We see you...mean girls amy GIFGiphy
"People that think it's illegal to be video taped in a public space."
"In the UK, people often claim that if an item is listed for sale in a shop then the shop legally has to sell it to you at that price. This is not true at all as the shop doesn't have to sell you anything at any price."
"Often as a gesture of goodwill shops will honour erroneous prices, but they are under absolutely no obligation to do so."
"Probate attorney here. I’ve had many people ask me when the 'reading of the will' is going to take place. I explain to them that only happens in movies. But one of these days I am going to have one, and hire a mysterious blonde wearing a veil to sit in the corner quietly."
"Then I’ll tell everyone that she inherits everything. Provided, of course, that she must adopt the decedent’s cute but troublemaking six year old child no one knew about. Or she can spend the night in a haunted house. Her choice."
"That commercial use of a photograph means selling the photograph."
"Commercial use means that there is an implied endorsement. You can take and sell photos of Eric Clapton all day long. Put that same photo in an advertisement for a certain guitar without a release and you can be sued."
Not true...Big Boi Smh GIF by OutkastGiphy
"An arrest isn't magically invalidated if the police don't read you your rights on the spot."
"There could be a whole thread of just misconceptions people have from watching Cop TV."
I knew Olivia Benson was lying.
$$$ TalksBugs Bunny Money GIF by Looney TunesGiphy
"In California, it's not illegal to discuss your wages with your co-workers, despite what your boss might say."
100 Feet Away
"Am a lawyer. This is not a law that doesn’t exist, but a law that is misunderstood. Typically, you can’t just go get a restraining order against anybody. Most states have specific laws for who you can get restraining orders against (typically household members or former romantic interests). Usually, it’s only in domestic violence cases or for victims of crimes. You can’t just get a restraining order and comically use it to keep someone 100 feet away."
"*in the United States, at least."
Damn you Sam
"'When my parents die, the government is going to seize a big chunk of the inheritance and I'll get nothing.'"
"In the US this is a very common misconception. Although state inheritance taxes vary, the US federal taxes on inheritance don't actually kick in until the estate's value exceeds US$5 million."
"So, for the vast majority of working class folks, the federal inheritance tax won't have any effect. But people will still talk to their family lawyers and ask about how much Uncle Sam is taking away when mom or dad die."
"It's a law that exists but widely misunderstood is the concept of Entrapment. If the police put a Bait vehicle in a high crime area, that is NOT entrapment. If the police are watching a bar known to overserve to see if there are impaired drivers at the end of the night that is NOT entrapment. Entrapment only occurs when a gov agent suggests committing a crime that you were not otherwise going to commit."
SecretsAngry Inside Out GIF by Disney PixarGiphy
"A real, but widely misunderstood law is HIPAA. People think it protects you from literally any discussion of your health issues by anyone at all. Nope. Not even close."
I need a lawyer. NOW!
Do you have any misconceptions to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.