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Church Tax Subsidies


Churches don’t pay property taxes. This amounts to a big subsidy to these groups. Churches need to provide some substantial service to justify such a large subsidy. It is time to phase out this special privilege.

Why Were Churches Originally Given The Exemption?

Way back, the church ran things. The church was the power. They made the rules. No one has had the nerve to take their undeserved bone away from them since.

200 years ago churches got a subsidy because people believed that more churches created a more peaceful and ethical society. We have since found out the opposite. For 25% of people, churchgoing makes them behave better but for 75% it makes them behave worse.

Formerly, churches also performed services for society such as running hospitals, providing for the poor, providing recreation and organising community events. Today churches are basically social clubs. They get together to sing, listen to a lecture and have coffee and sandwiches. They don’t serve the community any more, yet they still get the subsidy as if they were still pulling their weight.

Why Phase Out the Churches’ Tax Exemption?

I oppose special tax privilege for the churches on nine grounds:
  1. The churches get a tax break, but a group like the Humanist Society doing exactly the same thing does not. This is unfair. It amounts to a state interfering in freedom of religion by favouring faith-based life philosophies based on a belief in invisible, undetectable beings over other more rational philosophies/religions based on what can be shown to be true.
  2. For the most part, churches are no longer providing a service to the general community, so why should the get any break? If church is still providing a traditional service such as a thrift store or soup kitchen, then only the costs of providing that service should get the tax break. I would consider looking after a beautiful historic church building as a service, provided it is open to the public.
  3. The churches flagrantly violate the no-politics rule, which gives them an unfair edge promoting right wing political agendas. It is doubly galling for a left winger to be forced to subsidise their bigotry.
  4. The churches represent a small percentage of people. Originally they were the majority so back then it was not such a blatant subsidy of the majority to a minority.
  5. Churches often use prime land that would be much better utilised. Once a week meetings to sing is a silly way to use prime downtown real estate.
  6. Many congregations have dwindled to a handful of people, but because of the tax rules they have millions in the bank. They hog a valuable real estate property for a tiny number of people and we subsidise them to do so.
  7. The tax subsidy hurts business. For example, example the Baptists have a church in downtown Victoria built in 1998 that takes almost an entire block. There is no way they could afford that if they had to pay the taxes. Without the tax subsidy, they would have built outside the downtown core where rents are cheaper. By subsidising them to build downtown, it pushes up rents generally downtown, which has pushed many businesses into bankruptcy.
  8. The churches teach values to the young counter to the Canadian constitution. They teach is your moral duty to persecute homosexuals. They teach the inferiority of women, and to a certain extent they are teach racism. At the very least, churches tend to be racially homogenous.
  9. Some churches teach the kookiest things, even child molesting. It is one thing to give these folks freedom of speech and quite another to demand that atheistic taxpayers subsidise their insanity.

Conclusion

It is time to phase out the tax subsidies. I am tired of subsidising bigotry and social clubs.
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