Losing Tax Exempt Status over Marriage Beliefs?

Hi all,

Maybe this is in the wrong place, but I don’t know where else to ask. I’ve seen a lot of stuff on facebook and articles from pundits stating that there is now a movement of some kind taking place seeking to remove the Tax Exempt status from the Catholic church or any Christian church that doesn’t perform same-sex marriages.

Does anyone know if this is true or if it’s just panic from the fallout of the Supreme Court decision?

I dont see how this could be possible. Using that criteria it would mean that Jewish temples and Muslim mosques would also loose their exemption status since they also believe homosexual acts to be sinful, and marriage to be between man and woman.

Personally I think the gov’t is more than willing to use this as a club to beat christianity over the head with, but I don’t see how they can do it without involving every other major religion in the beating, and frankly I don’t think they’ve got the moxy to mess with the jewish and islamic faiths (Weird, I know, but for some reason it’s not PC to step on *their *beliefs… only christians are fair game)

At the same time, liberals are always screaming about separation of church and state when it benefits them. No prayer in public schools because schools receive federal dollars. No ten commandments in front of courthouses because tax dollars etc.

They dont want government to subsidize churches or anything that could possibly be connected to christian belief or even acknowledges the existence of God.

Yet in the same breath they now want Churches to start paying money to the government, effectively supporting it.

If the gov’t cant pay money to a church, why on earth would a church be compelled to pay to the government… if the two are supposed to remain completely separated from one other in every way shape and form?

Again, doesn’t make sense to me… but these days not much does.

Anyone have any thoughts? Heard about this from a legit source?

I think perhaps you have that a bit backwards. A religious organization, when it does not pay taxes on lands and buildings, is in a special category of privilege and exemption. There are strict rules that apply. Many religious organizations DO receive Federal and/or State money to carry out programs. Again, strict rules apply if you get government funding, (for example no discrimination in your hiring or your services).

If tax exemption were to be revoked (and I very much doubt it would be revoked for places of worship), the owners of the buildings would have to pay taxes just like everyone else.

The IRS considers all places of worship (except non-denominational churches) as “churches.” So to the IRS, a Jewish Synagogue, a Muslim Mosque, etc are all “churches.”

Non-denominational churches are not tax except (and considered Religious Organizations by the IRS) because there is no umbrella organization to help police them to insure they don’t break the rules regarding how to keep the tax except status.

You can review IRS laws here: irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Churches-&-Religious-Organizations

And you watch their webinar for Churches here: irsvideos.gov/NonProfits/Churches

The fear is (which at least on SCOTUS Justice acknowledged is a possibility) is congress or the SCOTUS could decide that in order to keep the IRS Tax Exempt status, a Church would need to conduct SSM.

Being forced to pay property tax alone would force several poorer parishes to close (not just Catholic). Some Church buildings are in expensive areas and if forced to pay property tax, could force them to either cut services or close.

Whether secularists like to admit it or not, Churches provide a common good, so it’s in the best interest of the government to maintain the tax exemption.

Plus, one of the original reasons for the tax exemption was to protect the Churches from the government. That way, the government couldn’t threaten them with raising taxes to get the Church to do whatever the government wanted. Well… this is exactly what will happen if the SCOTUS removes the tax exempt status. BTW - I think it will be most likely SCOTUS or a Democratic President that will remove it and not Congress.

Catholic Answers Live discussed this on this past Friday’s episode.

There has been a movement to get rid of tax-exempts for all the religions, not just Christian, for a long time.
This has been going on for decades.
Many people don’t think it’s fair.


Then they need to remove tax except exceptions for ALL non-profits too.

The reason for the Religious Exception is to PROTECT the religions form the State, it came out of the First Amendment.

Removing the exception would be an attack on the First Amendment AND would potentially hurt ALL non-profit organizations in the long run.

Whether people want to admit it or not, religions play a large public service. They help people deal with grief from death and sickness. They help with the poor and homeless, etc.

NOTE: I’m leaving out schools, adoption agencies, pregnancy crisis centers, AA, etc.

There may be renewed interest but the non-religious have been wanting religious tax exemptions to go away for a long time. I think it’s short-sighted because the money Churches end up paying in taxes will be directly taken away from the good charitable works they do. As I believe that Churches do a better job of helping the poor and homeless etc. I would rather see the tax exemption remain in place so they can continue those good works and not see a transfer of those responsibilities to the government which has never been able to do anything efficiently or well.

There are people pushing for the Church losing tax exempt status in general, not just over this one issue. However there are people pushing for gun confiscation too and that has not happened (except in New Orleans). Long story short, I wouldn’t worry about it yet.

Are you sure that’s the reason?
To protect it from the State?
Wouldn’t the religious institutions be even more independent of the state if they *don’t *get the tax exempts?

I thought they got the exempts because religion was seen by the majority at one time as being a “good” service for people…though many don’t feel that way anymore like they used to.
And now, we have major non-religious groups that help with poor, homeless, grief, sickness.


There are many reasons for and against tax exempt status. The two main reasons are. - Private institutions do it much cheaper and better than government would do it and secondly it places some controls on tax exempt groups exerting political power.

Where ever you go in the world it is always more expensive for the state to provide aid than the private sector, its a simple fact. So if the Churches for eg stopped providing aid tomorrow then it would cost the government substantially more than what it currently gives in all forms to such groups.

Through such tax exempt policy it also allows some control of the politics of the tax exempt groups.

Governments have to step very carefully because issues such as homosexual marriage don’t of itself impact a lot upon people of faith. Where it has to be careful is the result of such policies. So for example if they removed tax exempt status from religous groups because they did not perform same sex marriage their would very quickly be extreme large scale violence in the community, because many people of all persuasions would understand the implications of such attack by the government policies as regarding all aspects of life.

Whilst people may decry about so called religous violence it would pale into insignificanse relative to what would happen in an athiestic society.

I would say probably not. The Catholic Church, and some Protestant churches, do not recognise civil divorce, and refuse to marry couples where one or both partners is divorced. No church has ever lost tax-exempt status over that question. The same will apply to a refusal to marry same sex couples in a church.

There are even a few churches that refuse to marry interracial couples, and they are still tax exempt.



Churches themselves probably won’t lose tax exemption. However, other institutions affiliated with them might. An example would be church owned or affiliated colleges/universities.

This has already happened in the past. Bob Jones University lost its tax exempt status because its rules (based on its religious beliefs) forbade interracial dating/marriage among students. The government argued that since this sincerely held belief was discriminatory that the government was not obligated to indirectly support it through tax exemption. The Supreme Court said the government could do this.

Therefore, schools, colleges, hospitals and any other institutions with a religious identity could potentially lose tax exemption because the government feels it discriminates against same-sex married couples. While churches themselves will probably be protected by the First Amendment, these other religious institutions are on more shaky ground.

Agree with you on every point. (I do wish there were a ‘Like’ button on this forum.)

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