The Instigator
ScarletGhost4396
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
FourTrouble
Con (against)
Winning
11 Points

Resolved: In the United States, churches should be taxed.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
FourTrouble
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/29/2012 Category: Society
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,993 times Debate No: 24909
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)

 

ScarletGhost4396

Pro

This first round is for acceptance of the resolution only.
FourTrouble

Con

Accepted.
Debate Round No. 1
ScarletGhost4396

Pro

In this debate resolved, I affirm and stand with the PRO. I ask the CON to please refrain from providing any rebuttals in the second round as it is for the formulation of case statements. I have no parameters for this debate, so I move on toward the iteration of my case:

[Thesis]
The exemption of churches in the case of taxation violates the First Amendment, contradicts the word of US law considering the nature of churches, and economically comprimises the US defecit. Henceforth, American churches should be taxed.

[Contentions]

Contention 1: Subsidizing religion violates the First Amendment.
Subsidizing churches constitutes the establishment of a religion with consideration that American government is providing special protection and privilages to groups solely intended toward the practice of faith [1]. This action and the practice of it violates the Establishment clause, as shown below.

Sub-point 1a: Purpose of the subsidization of churches includes the advancement of religion.
The Internal Revenue Service explains the purposes of exemption of taxes in its Code Section 501(c)(3): "
The exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) are charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals. The term charitable is used in its generally accepted legal sense and includes relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erecting or maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency." [2]

Sub-point 1b: American governments are favoritist toward churches.
The following presents an analysis on the guidelines from the Internal Revenue Service: "Churches receive special treatment from the IRS beyond what other nonprofits receive, and such favoritism is unconstitutional. While secular charities are compelled to report their income and financial structure to the IRS using Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax), churches are granted automatic exemption from federal income tax without having to file a tax return. " [3]

Contention 2: Tax exemption of churches is economically compromising.
Constitutional arguments aside, tax exemption of churches is also economically compromising with consideration that the property taxes of such institutions can greatly reduce deficits. According to former White House senior policy analyst Jeff Schweitzer, PhD, US churches own $300-$500 billion in untaxed property. [4]

Contention 3: The nature of churches warrants removal of tax exemptions according to American law.
The removal of tax exemptions can be argued legally as well as constitutionally.

Sub-point 3a: Many churches are political machines.
The United States passed a law in 1954 explaining that institutions that are tax-exempted in no circumstances can support political candidates. "Every fall, the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group, organizes "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," encouraging pastors to defy IRS rules by endorsing candidates from the pulpit. More than 500 pastors participated in Oct. 2011, yet none lost their churches' exemption status." [5]

[1] Robert H. Jackson, US Supreme Court dissenting opinion, Everson v. Board of Education of the Township of Ewing, supreme.justia.com, Feb. 10, 1947

[2] http://www.irs.gov...;

[3] US Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations (5.1 MB) PDF logo (publication 1828 (11-2009) Catalog Number 21096G), www.irs.gov, 2009

[4] Jeff Schweitzer, PhD, "The Church of America," www.huffingtonpost.com, Oct. 11, 2011

[5] Andy Birkey, "Few Consequences Currently Faced by Pastors Who Endorse from Pulpit,” iowaindependent.com, Oct. 6, 2011

FourTrouble

Con

1. Tax exemptions for religious institutions are a deep-rooted historical practice. In Coler v. Corn Exchange Bank, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it requires an extremely strong case to overturn a rooted historical practice. Therefore, the burden of proof is on my opponent to make such a case.

2. The bulk of my opponent's argument focuses on the first amendment, which forbids any law "respecting an establishment of religion." This prohibits direct state aid to religious institutions, but it does not prevent "incidental" aid which is neutral among sects. Thus, in Walz v. Tax Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court reasoned as follows: "The grant of a tax exemption is not sponsorship since the government does not transfer part of its revenue to churches but simply abstains from demanding the church support the state." If churches are taxed, it would actually create an impermissible entanglement between church and state, as it would DEMAND every religious SUPPORT the state. This would be unconstitutional, as it would create a law "respecting an establishment of religion." It would also violate the Free Exercise clause, as it would challenge the religious view that religious institutions have tax-exempt status.

The purpose of the first amendment is to establish religious liberty and to maintain neutrality among different (often opposed) religious groups. It is therefore imperative that churches are given tax-exempt status, as a tax on churches would violate the fundamental premises of the first amendment.
Debate Round No. 2
ScarletGhost4396

Pro

ScarletGhost4396 forfeited this round.
FourTrouble

Con

My opponent forfeited the previous round. Extend arguments.
Debate Round No. 3
ScarletGhost4396

Pro

ScarletGhost4396 forfeited this round.
FourTrouble

Con

My opponent forfeited yet another round. Extend my arguments further.
Debate Round No. 4
ScarletGhost4396

Pro

ScarletGhost4396 forfeited this round.
FourTrouble

Con

My opponent has fully forfeited this debate. Vote Con. Thanks.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by ScarletGhost4396 4 years ago
ScarletGhost4396
Well, the decision is yours. I was just making a request.
Posted by FourTrouble 4 years ago
FourTrouble
I'm not sure why I would refrain from offering rebuttals? As far as I'm concerned, all I have to do is rebut your case...
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by THEBOMB 4 years ago
THEBOMB
ScarletGhost4396FourTroubleTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: It seems like ScarletGhost does this a lot...FF
Vote Placed by Ron-Paul 4 years ago
Ron-Paul
ScarletGhost4396FourTroubleTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: FF.