The Instigator
brian_eggleston
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
Bernardio
Con (against)
Losing
11 Points

Religious organisations should no longer enjoy their tax-exempt status

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
brian_eggleston
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/13/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,126 times Debate No: 12541
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (3)
Votes (6)

 

brian_eggleston

Pro

At a time when ordinary people are being told to tighten their belts and to expect massive reductions in public spending in order to repay the huge government debt incurred as the result of the financial crisis, there are two groups of people who continue to live it up:

1 - The greedy and incompetent investment bankers who caused the financial crisis in the first place and who, nevertheless, continue to use the governments' recapitalisation handouts to pay themselves obscene bonuses.

2 – Religious organisations.

While the United States and the European Union are responding to the bankers' abject failure to show self-restraint by imposing restrictions on their bonus payments, they have done nothing to redress the fact that religious organisations are ripping the rest of us off by not paying any tax. [1]

So while decent, hard-working families struggle to make ends meet, televangelists such as Creflo Dollar continue to swan about in their brand new Rolls-Royces [2] and Catholic priests carry on living the life of Reilly in their tax-free, all-expenses-paid parochial houses. [The YouTube clips are humorous, of course, but there is many a true word said in jest.]

And how many hard-working, God-fearing family men can afford to hire young sex-workers to accompany them on luxury, ten-day tours of Europe? Not many, but Baptist Minister George Alan Rekers can. [3] That's partly because he doesn't pay any tax. (In the interests of full disclosure here, by the way, I should point out that Rekers denied knowing that his companion was a male prostitute, even though he hired him from rentboy.com).

To put this matter into perspective, The Church of England (CofE) rakes in �1 billion ($1.52 billion) every year tax-free and yet its own website states that even though "over �200 million is given tax-efficiently each year through Gift Aid" and "a further �60 million is recovered from the Inland Revenue in tax." [4]

In other words, the CofE not only avoids contributing to the public purse, it is actually jewing �60 million pounds a year out of it!

And things are even worse in Germany where citizens are subject to the ‘Kirchensteuer' (Church Tax) which nets protestant priests over EUR8 billion (�7 billion / $10 billion) every year. [5] A similar situation exists in Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Finland and Iceland where citizens are also forced by law to give a percentage of their income to the church.

It seems to me that, with religious observance on the decline to a point where, according to the CofE's own figures only one million people – just 1.6% of the British population - go to church on Sundays [5], the church is becoming increasingly irrelevant in today's more enlightened society. And yet the churches are still growing fat at the expense of ordinary, hard-working citizens who have to make up the shortfall in tax receipts.

This is a scandalous and outdated state of affairs and I believe it is high time that churches paid their way and, therefore, I duly affirm that religious organisations should no longer enjoy their tax-exempt status.

Thank you.

[1] http://www.irs.gov...
[2] http://www.cbsnews.com...
[3] http://www.independent.co.uk...
[4] http://www.cofe.anglican.org...
[5] http://www.kirchensteuer.de... (in German)
[6] http://www.cofe.anglican.org...
Bernardio

Con

Religious organizations, in my opinion, should not pay taxes from church collections and other donations. Money gotten through collections and donations has already been taxed (it comes from a group of people who have already have been taxed). Additionally, the majority of the money gained through collections and donations is used in the purpose of helping others (examples include Haiti, earthquakes, money used to organize soup kitchens, and so on). Additionally, you will note that in certain countries, such as Ireland, 85%[1] of the population attends church. That would mean the Church in Ireland does have significant impact on the population.

Religious individuals, on the other hand, should be taxed. I don't believe that it is fair reverends who earn proceeds through televised programs ought to be allowed to keep any of it, or if they would be allowed, then that income ought to be taxed. Any actual business (such as mass selling, investments, and so on, also ought to be taxed as it is a method of earning). Collections and donations should not be taxed as they are gifts.

I apologize in advance for any spelling and/or grammar mistakes and for unclear sentences.

Additionally, I apologize for having such a short counter-argument, however, I am short on time. I beg your understanding.
[1]http://www.nationmaster.com...
Debate Round No. 1
brian_eggleston

Pro

I would like to thank Bernardio for his considered comments to which I make the following responses:

Ideally, there would be no taxes, but a country must raise funds somehow.

In the past, if a king needed money he would assemble a fleet of frigates and galleons that would be bristling with guns and canons. He would load these ships with cargos of soldiers and send them across the Atlantic to the New World to rape and pillage newfound civilisations, and plunder their gold and have it repatriated back to Europe.

Unfortunately though, these days the United Nations take a dim view of such activities and it is, therefore, necessary for the government to collect money from the general populace instead.

This inevitably leads to the double-taxation my opponent referred to. You pay tax on the money you earn and when you buy something with the money left over the recipient pays tax on the profit from the sale.

But my opponent suggests that churches shouldn't pay tax because they "help others" in places like Haiti.

I looked into this and discovered that a Baptist group from Idaho did indeed travel to Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake to "help others" - they were arrested and accused of attempting to traffic 33 children out of the country. [1]

Presumably their intention was to sell the youngsters on to paedophiles rings in America and if they had not been caught they would have succeeded in their mission – their mission being to "help others" sexually molest vulnerable children.

Meanwhile the Jewish Orthodox Union uses their tax-free donations to fund the Institute for Public Affairs [2] which is an American lobby group that opposes humanitarian aid being sent to victims of military aggression in Palestine, rejects the United Nations and international law and supports the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem and the illegal Jewish land grabs in the West Bank.

At the same time, there are widespread concerns that tax-free donations made to mosques may be channelled into the hands of Islamic terrorist groups. [3]

With regard to countries such as Ireland where church attendances are higher, the income from tax paid by the churches would be very helpful in reducing their budget deficits and allow them to spend more money on schools and hospitals.

In conclusion, the activities of religious organisations may seem worthy and noble by some: Christian paedophiles; racist Jews; Islamic terrorists and others; but not everybody welcomes having to pay more tax to make up for the shortfall in receipts from tax-exempt churches, temples, mosques and synagogues.

Thank you.

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk...

[2] http://www.ou.org...

[3] http://www.foxnews.com...
Bernardio

Con

Agreed, a country must raise taxes to run a government though I question my opponents comment on the fact that pillaging is now illegal is a bad thing. I, personally, enjoy the fact that people can't run around burning and stealing.

I also concede that there was a, emphasis on a, single group of Baptists who were trying to use the situation in Haiti to there advantage. However, the information that did not get to the media were all the other parishes that collected and sent money for actual aid to refugees.

As far as the Jewish Orthodox Union using money for illegal activities is something that ought to be fixed, but you'll note that the Catholic Church does not use their tax free status for illegal activities. If you suggest that one example of someone(s) doing something bad ought to influence laws for everyone, then we ought to all be in single cells. there are people who use the ability walk outside so that they might steal from others which is certainly illegal. Your logic dictates that we should not be allowed outside.

Islam is a religion of peace. Therefore, if a mosque is truly Islamic, donations will not be used aid terrorists. If it is a mosque of radical Islam, then the UN ought to be acting in order to shut down a terrorist cell. Additionally, I would like to point out that single examples should not influence all other examples. Furthermore, laws for taxation differ from country to country. I would like to point out that there are countries where a Church Tax[1] is imposed. So in certain countries, such as Denmark[1], you would first be speaking out cutting government support to the church.

Also, I would like to point out that corporations such as Wal-mart con the government out of millions[2]. Isn't that a slightly bigger problem ( Wal-mart is also guilty of sexual discrimination, employment of illegals, and many other crimes[3][4]. I am much more fine with the church getting free money then with Wal-mart getting free money.)

In conclusion, there are many counter-examples to the ones referring to the usage that my opponent has provided as to the activities of religious organizations, I have provided examples of other organizations that steal more money from the government than the church does and conduct other illegal activities, and I have pointed out that many governments grant financial support from the treasury to churches.
Again, I apologize for any mistakes, and thank you.

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2]http://www.reclaimdemocracy.org...
[3]http://www.reuters.com...
[4]http://www.foxnews.com...
Debate Round No. 2
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
In the United States, religions are generally treated like any other charitable organization, which is that the income from donations is tax exempt, but the salaries of clergy and others in the church organization are subject to tax. Investment income is also taxed. There are a few odd exceptions; a clergyman receiving free housing in a church-owned parsonage is not taxed on that as income.
Posted by Bernardio 7 years ago
Bernardio
I apologize for such a short response, but it's after midnight at my current location, and I seem to be coming down with some serious bacterial infection. I would like to thank brian_eggleston for using precise arguments and sources and concur with his last statement, I actually think that religious organizations (which technically could be even three people, by certain state laws, that worship the same chair) should lose their tax exempt status.
thanks for a great debate.
Posted by brian_eggleston 7 years ago
brian_eggleston
I would like to thank Bernardio for a really good debate. Probably, in reality, we would agree on many points but without an argument, there can be no debate!
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