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Why should religious institutions get special treatment?

This article outlines five ways that religion gets special treatment in this country. 

5 Ways Churches Get Preferential Treatment and Benefit from Legal Loopholes

US law is honeycombed with examples of special benefits that organized religions enjoy

By Rob Boston | 27 July 2012

Many conservative religious leaders insist that houses of worship in America today struggle under intense persecution. To hear some of the Catholic bishops tell it, religious freedom may soon be a memory because they don't always get their way in policy debates.

It would be highly ironic if the United States, the nation that perfected religious liberty and enshrined it in the Constitution's First Amendment, had become hostile to the rights of religious groups.

But that's not what's happening. In reality, U.S. law is honeycombed with examples of preferential treatment and special breaks for religion. Some of these practices may grow out of the First Amendment command that the "free exercise" of religion must not be infringed. Others are traditions or were added to the law after lobbying efforts by religious groups.

Here are five ways American law extends protections and preference to houses of worship.*

1)Tax Policy

2) Criminal Investigations

3) Political Lobbying

4) Employment Law

5) Ceremonial Uses of Religion

*The article explains these in-depth, but is too long to be pasted here.  Please read the provided link.

Answer Question

Asked by jsbenkert at 10:56 PM on Aug. 17, 2012 in Religious Debate

Level 37 (89,331 Credits)
Answers (13)
  • I think there ARE specific issues where religion makes a difference. But I also don't think that religious institutions should be getting preferential treatment in these areas. I think in areas where it affects an individuals right to freedom of religion, there are laws that have to be bent - for example. Our local community bans ALL open flames. You are not permitted to burn garbage, or even have a "camp fire" on private or public land. HOWEVER, there are religions which use open flames in some of their rituals, to refuse to allow them to do so, would violate their right to practice their faith. That said, there is no such thing as a religion which bans the collection of taxes, so it wouldn't in any way interfere with someone's rights (or the rights of a group) for churches to pay their taxes... So there ARE areas where an INDIVIDUALS right to religion overrides specific laws, but not these!

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 11:11 PM on Aug. 17, 2012

  • I don't believe they should. At all.

    Answer by frogdawg at 12:27 PM on Aug. 18, 2012

  • The reason churches are tax exempt is part of the separation of church and state. Any entity that is taxed is subject to state oversight. Churches, like sovereign governments residing in the U.S. are not taxed in order to maintain their freedom from governmental interference. The do not exist by virtue of government largess. It helps guarantee that religious freedom remain intact in this country

    Answer by adnilm at 4:23 PM on Aug. 18, 2012

  • I don't think they should. I understand somewhat why they do, but still don't think they should.

    Answer by 2autisticsmom at 7:08 PM on Aug. 18, 2012

  • I tend to agree with James A. Garfield who said:

    The divorce between Church and State ought to be absolute. It ought to be so absolute that no Church property anywhere, in any state or in the nation, should be exempt from equal taxation; for if you exempt the property of any church organization, to that extent you impose a tax upon the whole community.


    Comment by jsbenkert (original poster) at 11:11 PM on Aug. 18, 2012

  • Any entity that is taxed is subject to

    Answer by adnilm at 8:57 AM on Aug. 19, 2012

  • 1)Tax Policy - Churches are made up of people who have already been taxed by the government. If the government would tax a church they are actually double taxing the people.

    2) Criminal Investigations - It does make it much harder but it shouldn't. If a church follows their religion then they would not support creeps. I'm sure there are many churches that have fired ministers over misconduct but you hear the worst which the innocent should be protected.

    3) Political Lobbying - A minister is not allowed to endorse anyone from the pulpit. Most try to avoid it even in their day to day lives as it can come back to bite them if something bad comes out about the individual.

    4) Employment Law - A church should be allowed to hire within their religion. An athiest working in a Catholic church would not promote the church. This would work both ways.

    5) Ceremonial Uses of Religion - As long as a church does not get unsafe

    Answer by baconbits at 4:12 PM on Aug. 20, 2012

  • I don't see the problem. Now if they want a bonfire and live in a drought area there's a problem.

    Many organizations have these same rights. Boy Scouts, 4-H, FFA, Girl Scouts, school sports, etc. It's not just religion that enjoy these. Most try to stay out of politics but sometimes it just doesn't happen.

    Answer by baconbits at 4:14 PM on Aug. 20, 2012

  • By this question I am assuming you also think that ll other not for profits should lose thier exemptions?
    Just asking.

    Answer by Dardenella at 5:16 PM on Aug. 20, 2012

  • 1 Taxing churches ~ Every dollar that is donated to a church has already been taxed. Churches aren't 'selling' any item for profit. Most own their property, but taxed entities are entitled to government funding. Is that what is wanted?
    2 Criminals should all be investigated, prosecuted, and sentenced equally.
    3 Political lobbying. If a church is paying taxes, they have every right to participate fully in all gov't. activities. If you do away with religious special interest groups, you'd better be prepared to do away with ALL lobbying. No more minorities, gay, agricultural, business, or environmental, etc. input/dollars.
    4 Employment ~ anyone who wants freedom FROM religion had better respect the rights of those who freely CHOOSE a religion ... or they risk being forced to choose one at some point in the future.
    5 Ceremonial religious practices that do not harm others should be left alone.

    Answer by Farmlady09 at 6:25 PM on Aug. 20, 2012

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