Should Religious Groups Have Tax-Exempt Status?

You have probably heard the arguments by secularists against tax exemptions for religious groups.  However, Australian Senator Nick Xenophon is arguing that cults should have their tax exempt status pulled, as reported in ReligionNewsBlog article “Cults thrive on tax-free status, senator says”.

Would pulling their tax-free status really work, though?  I suspect that it would at most slow them down.

I know someone, who says he is a Christian, who argues that churches should not be tax exempt.  He views it as a way for the government to control what churches do and say.

Indeed, some churches have been threatened, even in the US, with pulling their 501(c)(3) status due to sermons which cross some sort of political line.  While Canadian religious groups can obtain tax exemption as well, there have been individuals brought before and censored by quasi-legal boards that are outside the judicial system.

So, let’s hear your thoughts.  Is 501(c)(3) tax exemption inviting the world’s system into our churches?  Is it giving the government too large of a hammer to control pastors and groups?  At what point should the idea be rejected?


  1. If we did some digging, I'd think we'd find some U.S. ministries which have disassociated themselves already from the tax exemption — perhaps as a protest of the government, for whatever reason.

    But if you're giving to a church organization simply for a Schedule A deduction, you're giving for the wrong reason in the first place.

    "God loves a cheerful giver," II Cor. 9:7 says — and while that's read a lot in COG's on special Holy Days, I think that goes for tithes as well.

    Yet some ministries use that exemption almost as an incentive to promote donations, especially in late December.

    (I haven't been able to deduct tithes and offerings for several years — because my automatic tax exemption on Form 1040 is high, and my modest income has put even T&O's below that threshhold.)

  2. P.S. If I oppose this Aussie's proposal, does that mean I have Xeno-phobia? 🙂

  3. John D Carmack

    Actually, I was thinking more along the lines that supporters of his proposal would be xenophiles.