Are Churches Making America Poor?


The Secular Coalition for America wants the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the tax-exempt status of religious organizations that violate 501(c)(3) rules by, for example, promoting political candidates or not using their funds for charitable purposes.

The coalition estimates that stringent enforcement of 501(c)(3) could generate up to $16.75 billion in additional annual revenue – almost enough to fund NASA for a year. Less conservative estimates, including an academic paper that pondered the fiscal implications of taxing all churches like for-profit corporations, put that number at $71 billion – enough to send a Mars Rover into space almost every two weeks.

Though the federal government is funded until January 15, the coalition is already lobbying Congress to make it easier for the IRS to investigate and punish rule-breakers as a way of increasing tax receipts. Currently, the IRS is effectively prevented from doing so both because it would start a political firestorm and because of the Church Audit Procedures Act of 1984, which maintains that investigations can take place only with the blessing of a "high-level Treasury official."

"We're trying to use the current budget crisis as an example, as a way to show lawmakers what can be done," says Lauren Anderson Youngblood, Secular Coalition for America spokeswoman. "We're not doing this to hurt anyone. We're not doing this to attack churches or attack religion. We simply want things to be fair."

Written By: Victoria Bekiempis
continue to source article at


  1. “…not using their funds for charitable purposes” is a tricky one when religion is involved. Surely the churches would argue that “saving souls” is a charitable purpose, and one which basically gives them carte blanche, because we all know that more people are “saved” in huge air-conditioned auditoriums by preachers who drive luxury SUVs, right?

  2. I know a Anglican Minister who believes this should be the case that churches should not be in anyway given Tax concessions other than for any charitable works (I’d add no tax exemption for charitable works that come along with any strings attached). He thinks this for very sound reasons, namely he thinks it allows the church to be potentially beholden to the state, also I think he fears Islamic churches receiving the same.

  3. If there are exceptions, it would have to be things the government might otherwise have to do:

    1. shelter
    2. soup kitchen
    3. food bank
    4. community hall for indoor sports

    Ideally there should be two separate organisations for tax free and taxable activity, just as groups in Canada have two arms for political action and education.

    To make the change palatable to Republicans, it would be tied to a tax break, which would let people increase their donations to compensate if they so chose.

    I would hope giving bibles to Kenyans would not count as tax free. That is advertising.

    In Germany, the government should stop collecting tithes on the behalf of churches, even from non attendees. Even if there is a scandal, the money pours in unabated.

  4. In 2009 Stephen Fry and Hitch debated Ann Widdecombe and A.N.Other about whether religion is a force for good or not and trounced them thoroughly. Religion might bang on about the charity work it does but I submit it actually soaks up vast amounts of money that could otherwise be used for charity instead of being sequestered into cathedrals, churches, mosques, salaries and the operating expenses of preaching about non existent deities to frightened and gullible congregations. During the Middle Ages the monasteries in England accumulated more land and money than anyone except the Crown by tithing the dying rich 10% of their land and possessions to absolve them of sin and promise them a place in heaven. A miniscule fraction of this, or any other religious funds, goes to helping the poor and needy. The vast majority goes towards further edifying the church itself and building more places of worship.

    If this redundant sinkhole of funds was plugged the money so released could abolish world hunger, fund scientific and medical research, provide proper education to children throughout the world and much more. Religion is a leech that sucks blood out of the patient to no good purpose whatsoever and serves only to feed and fatten itself.

  5. The other way churches make America poor is by a con. Give us money and god will give you tenfold. This simply does not work. God is not an investment banker. They should be prosecuted the same way similar can artists are prosecuted.

  6. Proud to say I was at that debate,the A.N.other was John Ayenikan then Archbisop(now Cardinal)of Abuja in Nigeria.He and that batty old cow Widdecombe were evicerated by Hitch and Fry,but the highlight was a lady who worked in African HIV hospitals,who berated him for the catlick’s murderous stance on condoms.As regards taxing churches I simply cannot think of a legitimate reason not to!

    In reply to #4 by Arkrid Sandwich:

    In 2009 Stephen Fry and Hitch debated Ann Widdecombe and A.N.Other about whether religion is a force for good or not and trounced them thoroughly. Religion might bang on about the charity work it does but I submit it actually soaks up vast amounts of money that could otherwise be used for charity in…

  7. Nice try guys, but it really is pissing in the wind.

    The Tea Party is one and the same thing as the religious right, and they were the loonies who shut down the government, and nearly pushed the USA into default in the first place. How the hell are you going to persuade them to sacrifice the comfort of their magicians to save the commy-pinko-faggot Federal government they seek to destroy?

  8. I have echoed this sentiment since Frank Zappa yelled “tax the fucking churches” in around 1982 (see “heavenly bank account”).

    1st…. They should do it voluntarily or their “good word” is bullshit.
    2nd… I have done the calculation on other threads, and the donation would be substantial.
    3rd…. It could be a temporary arrangement so that our churches could save our country ..Talk about charity beginning at home!!!

    4th … and most important their removal of money from the economy is one way; it is a drain. It is not cyclic like the rest of our earnings. My earnings cycle (at the return rate of about 50% — including income, property, and sales tax) Now that i think of it, it might be even higher that 50%. The tax free status of the churches allows money to leave the system without ever cycling.

    So, the actual boost to the economy may be exponentially higher that the simple calculated number for their tax bill.

    Let’s go churches; step up and put your MONEY where your mouth is. Or, are you just a pyramid scheme bunch of scam artists who hire their families as secretaries and consultants at $100,000 grand a year and make certain that their houses cars and other purchases are through your “church”.

    To the government, close the loopholes.

Leave a Reply