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As of today, it remains a commonplace practice in many world’s countries to allow Church being exempted from taxation – despite the fact that the constitutions of these countries do not contain any provisions, as to Church’s ‘specialness’, in this respect. What is also rather peculiar, in this respect, is that many people consider the mentioned state of affairs thoroughly natural – just if the religious believers are indeed superior to their secular-minded counterparts, and therefore deserve to be treated much better than everybody else.
Nevertheless, once the practice of allowing Churches not to pay taxes is being subjected to a logical/analytical inquiry, there will be indeed be only a few remaining doubts in the aftermath, as to this practice’s utter inappropriateness. In my paper, I will explore the validity of this suggestion at length, while promoting the idea that it is not only that Churches should be forced to pay taxes, but that the ‘Church tax’ should be particularly high.
One of the main arguments, deployed by those who argue that Churches should continue remaining exempted from taxation, is that they provide people with the opportunity to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of religion (Kelley, 1977). Therefore, taxing Churches would prove unconstitutional.
Another argument, which is being commonly brought forward by the advocates of the current status quo, concerned with Churches continuing to enjoy their ‘no-taxed’ status, is that the matters of religion are not ‘taxable’, by definition. This argument is partially based upon the naïve assumption that just about any Church is ultimately concerned with shining the ‘light of God’ upon people and providing them with the answers to all questions.
Nevertheless, one does not have to be particularly bright to be able to realize that the mentioned assumption does not hold much water. The reason for this is that, as practice indicates, the activities of just about any Church are being ultimately concerned with making it possible for the affiliated clergymen to ensure the never-ending flow of monetary donations from the ‘members of the flock’ – this is the actual purpose of every of the world’s organized religions.
One can easily test the validity of this suggestion by the mean of attending the religious service at a particular (preferably Protestant) Church and trying to donate its ‘eternal non-monetary blessings’, during the ceremony when monetary donations are being collected.
Apparently, many people prefer to live in the state of perceptual arrogance, which in turn prevents them from being able to realize that the world’s organized religions (and consequently their Churches) are overwhelmingly about making money – as it happened to be the case with just about any commercial enterprise.
For an analytically minded individual, this situation is thoroughly explainable – Churches sell believers the illusionary hopes of winning favor with God – hence, helping the concerned individuals to feel better about themselves, and about life (or death), in general. In return, those who claim themselves to be the ‘mediators’ between God and ordinary people (priests), receive money. This, of course, presupposes that there exists the utterly lucrative market of religious services, in which Churches are trying to ensure their share (Cooper & Petersen, 2008).
What it means is that there is no conceptual difference between psychologists, on one hand, and priests, on the other. Yet, whereas the former are being taxed, the latter continue to enjoy a ‘free ride’, in this respect. This, of course, cannot be interpreted in any other way, but as the violation of this country’s constitutional provision that, in the eyes of law, all the citizens are absolutely equal – regardless of whether they happened to be the religious believers or not.
There is another reason why Churches (especially Christian) should be required to pay taxes, which in turn has to do with the fact that, contrary to how the Bible prescribes them to, they never cease trying to influence the process this country’s socio-political policies being designed (Davidson, 1998).
The validity of this statement can be well illustrated, in regards to the strongly negative stance, adopted by the members of just about any Christian denomination, in regards to the genetically modified foods. According to these people, consuming this type of food is ‘unholy’, which is why there is no need in developing the GMO-related technologies (O’Leary, 2000).
However, if the government sticks with Christians, in this respect, it will have no other option but to increase taxes, as the mean subsidizing the increasingly ineffective ‘GMO-free’ agriculture. This, of course, will affect all the country’s citizens – not only the ‘bible-thumping’ ones. In other words, the very fact that Churches do take an active part in what they refer to as the ‘earthly affairs’, irreversibly calls for taxation to be imposed upon the self-proclaimed ‘God’s spokesmen’, as well.
Once we apply Christ’s idea that ‘a tree is known by its fruits’ to Church, there will emerge yet another reason to be demanding for Churches to be taxed – all due to the fact that, as practices shows, the religious teachings are being peddled by Churches, affect people in the necessarily negative manner.
The reason for this is apparent – by living in accordance with the Church’s religious conventions, one will inevitably have the measure of his or her evolutionary fitness being reduced rather dramatically. The validity of this suggestion can be illustrated, in regards to the would-be consequences of one’s willingness to be physically abused on a continuous basis, without trying to put up any resistance – just as Jesus commanded. In other words, the influence of Churches on people can be well compared to that of cigarettes or alcohol.
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It is fully understood, of course, that due to being intellectually immature, many people do have a need to believe in the ‘big daddy’ up in the sky, who is there to take care of them. Churches do provide religious individuals with a guarantee that there is God, and he will live up to the terms of his contract with ‘worthless’ and ‘wicked’ humanity. This, however, is not being done for free – priests demand a concrete monetary sum for just about every religious ritual that they perform either privately or publicly.
Moreover, some Christian Churches (Catholic and Orthodox) operate the extremely lucrative candle-making industries. Therefore, there is nothing odd about the apparent paradox of the high-ranked clergymen, who never get tired praising the virtue of humility, having a taste for driving luxury-cars and wearing golden watches.
Obviously enough, the self-appointed ‘God’s representatives’ do like this state of affairs – hence, their rhetoric about the sheer inappropriateness of the idea of subjecting Church’s mafia to taxation. Such their rhetoric, however, does not stand much of a ground, because its conceptual premises are discursively fallacious. Moreover, it exposes them as to what they really are – social parasites.
Therefore, just as it was mentioned in the Introduction, requiring Churches to pay taxes is not enough. The sellers of ‘God’s shiny truth’ should be taxed twice as much as it is being the case with the producers of cigarettes or alcohol. After all, the ultimate consequence of both of the mentioned ‘trades’ is degradation, illness and death. What makes the mentioned ‘shiny truth’ even more harmful than cigarettes, is that, while ‘consuming’ it, people never get to be warned of the would-be negative consequences.
Thus, it will only be logical to impose high taxes on the costumed peddlers of ‘salvation’ – this will allow this type of people to prove themselves useful, for the first time in history. The only exemption should be made for those Churches that are being ‘rightful’ enough to be able to prompt God performing the miracle of ‘transubstantiation’, which could be publicly observed.
In order to be exempted from taxation, a priest would have to prove that he is indeed concerned with the ‘divine’ matters alone and that money has no meaning for him – both of these objectives could be simultaneously achieved if he succeeds in turning a stone into a golden nugget, for example. If he fails, in this respect, it means that he is just like everyone else – a taxpayer.
I believe that the deployed line of argumentation, in defense of the idea that Churches should be required to pay taxes, if fully consistent with the paper’s initial thesis. Apparently the situation when Churches continue being exempted from taxation is indeed utterly intolerable – the more people realize the validity of this suggestion, the better it would be for the society’s well-being.
Cooper, S. & Petersen, L. (2008). Church growth and decline: A test of the market-based approach. Review of Religious Research, 49 (3), 251-268.
Davidson, J. (1998). Why Churches cannot endorse or oppose political candidates. Review of Religious Research, 40 (1),16-34.
Kelley, D. (1977). Why churches should not pay taxes. New York: Harper & Row.
O’Leary, D. (2000). Biotech: Unholy harvest?