The Instigator
Con (against)
3 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
16 Points


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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/18/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,520 times Debate No: 63490
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (48)
Votes (4)




Pro will be going first this is just for clarification purposes

1. Don't accept debate if you just want to troll

2. Reference the resolution

3. don't miss rounds if possible


I accept this debate, and as per the rules put forth by Con, I will begin by arguing that the United States should remove tax exemptions from religious institutions.

In America, approximately $71 billion worth of tax exemptions are provided to religious institutions each year [1]. Basically, the government is subsidizing religions, making everyone pay for them to continue to run. There are multiple reasons why this is problematic.

In America, there is supposed to be a separation between church and state. With the government subsidizing churches, the line between church and state starts looking skewed. For example, with all of the push from the right wing against Obama, churches were actually telling their constituents that God wants them to vote a certain way, or more specifically for a certain candidate [2]. The institution that claims to hold the answer and the key to everyone"s afterlife should never begin to tell people that God wants them to vote a certain way. More specifically, threatening eternal hellfire if you vote for a specific person is wrong on almost every level. When you start to look at the exemptions, it very much resembles what is going on with tax loop holes with large corporations. These large companies (and religions) will benefit by a certain party in power, because that party pushes to maintain or increase the exemptions, therefore increasing the wealth of the organizations. In return, the organizations give back to the party. In the case of corporations, they provide political "donations" to the parties. Once again, in return, they get a party who is willing to push for legislation to make them more money. In the case of religions, they make money from the exemptions and in return, they push specific political ideologies. It is a constant circle in which both sides benefit (one gets more votes and the other gets more money).

It is also problematic because in providing all of these exemptions, it is costing more tax dollars to the majority of the population. It would be one thing if only people of a certain faith were paying for their church to grow in terms of both wealth and power, but when everyone has to pay money, regardless of religious beliefs (or a lack of such beliefs) then there is a serious problem. Consider that certain religious organizations are very vocal against certain other groups. Why should a homosexual atheist have to pay money to subsidize the building of a church that preaches to disallow gay marriage or even to criminalize homosexuality?

To liken religious institutions to corporations even more, let"s look at a list of the ten wealthiest religious leaders in America [3]. Why does any man, preaching the teachings of Jesus Christ need be worth $18 million and have two mansions, or have a $1 million annual salary and own a $1.4 million mansion? Isn"t Jesus the one who said "Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God"?

It almost seems humorous, how hypocritical the extreme right wing has become in America. They are so against paying taxes or have the government be in control of anything, unless the tax money they pay goes towards religion (not just our own religions, but everyone"s) or military. The people who are the most anti-tax and anti-government are the most willing to have government funding religion, and the people who should be most against fighting and killing (war) and against government growing in strength and power, are the ones most willing to put trillions of dollars into the building of massive, deadly weapons to go kill countless numbers of others.

There should not be tax exemptions for religious institutions because it goes against the idea that the church and state are two separate entities in the sense that they both become politically motivated to work together in order to benefit each side. Religions should get their money from the people who are willing (or threatened, by threat of eternal damnation) to donate to the church to which they belong.

Debate Round No. 1


INTRO: Yes rich churches have overall a lot of money and are using it wrong I agree that is a problem that must be fixed but there is one thing this resolution forgets to back up and why judge it can"t be passed. The reason I am going neg today is because I believe the tax exemptions should only be removed from churches that are rich not the poor churches that actually need it.
1.Poor churches need the money
"Not enough to pay off tax emptions
"A lot of smaller churches start out in poorer areas

2.Huge churches don"t need/ the money use it wrong etc.
"Only 3% to 10% of tax emptions used for charity
"In addition to the lack of transparency, it is vital to consider whether any multi-billion dollar operation, religious or otherwise, should enjoy sweeping tax exemptions on their assets or actually needs it. What exactly does the tax exemption promote if an organization already has more than enough money to run its activities from individual contributions?
"Religious organizations with large entertainment venues. There are churches with pools, skating rinks, bowling alleys, huge gyms, etc. Such things are not required in order to practice your "faith". It gives religious groups a very unfair advantage over businesses offering the same services, but which have to pay taxes.
" Also just a little joke thing some of these same tax exempt huge churches claim "god can pay our taxes" so if they believe in this they don"t need these tax exemptions in the first place not to mention they have millions or billions of dollars and they seem to maintain their buildings rather well.
3. Tax exemptions are not justified and poorly monitored

There are millions of dollars of undocumented, unclaimed, untaxed church income each year. The figures cannot be accurately calculated by the IRS since most churches do not file the "voluntary" paperwork. Preachers are living in million dollar "church funded" homes, driving "church gifted" Jaguars, and wearing "church donated" Rolexes. Whilst enjoying a lavish lifestyle, many are not paying the myriad of taxes that the rest of US citizens are required to pay because church-based money is virtually untouchable, untraceable, and unaccountable. What becomes of the rest of the unaccounted cash millions that filter through the tithing trays? A local church, said to be the largest growing church in America, recently spent $1.2M on Harley Davidson motorcycles as gifts to the top 11 leaders. It is also claimed that they have used over $1M bailing out church members from jail. We are helping to pay for them! You pay for them indirectly, the same way local, state, and federal governments in the United States subsidize religion " to the tune of about $71 billion every year.
The current laws allow for open money-laundering and tax evasion without the likelihood for consequence or penalty.They have no safeguards to determine how many untaxed dollars are passing though the church doors and officials hands. Once a group claims to be a church, the IRS has no enforcement to determine if any illegal activity occurs unless the evidence is gathered and handed to them first. Although it states that all non-profits must not benefit any individuals, and must not spend a significant amount of time or money lobbying lawmakers, there is currently NO WAY TO DETERMINE, REGULATE, OR PUNISH these illegal behaviors.

Major example: Some church leaders have even managed to use the church to hide their assets. For instance, Rev. John Hagee reorganized his TV station (Global Evangelism Television) as a church (Grace Church of San Antonio Churches) to shelter those records, after the San AntonioExpress-News revealed his income exceeded $1 million in 2001. All of his assets, including an 8,000-or-so acre ranch, are now sheltered in the Cornerstone Church. In other words, Hagee hides his millions in assets in his church and escapes taxation on his own personal wealth and property.

So yes I agree that rich churches shouldn't have this money but what you have to understand is their are poor churches that doe. I personaly go to one that has about 10 members without tax emptions we wouldn't survive. NOt all churches are good big buildings in fact a lot of Baptist or apostolic or those religions have buildings in poorer areas.


My opponent has just spent most of his last round argument agreeing with me and providing information to support my argument, with an end note that poor churches should still get exemptions because they need the money.

I would argue that the church money should be spread out within each faith. If a baptist church in one region is struggling, why not get aid from the multimillion dollar baptist church across town? Why should it be up to the government to aid one failing church when others of the same group are doing far more than surviving?

My opponent actually failed to address any of my arguments in the previous round, aside from the ones he supported, so my arguments still stand, awaiting rebuttals. I will clarify one argument that I made that I believe needs to be addressed. There is no one faith that accounts for the majority of the population. Christianity cannot be counted as a single faith, since groups like Catholics, Protestants and Mormons all fall under Christianity and they are all run by completely separate organizations. And even under Protestants, which is the largest group in America, there are so many divisions that disagree on so many fundamental issues. So why would the majority of non-believers of any specific faith want their tax dollars going towards funding a religion that they disagree with. Especially people who are directly impacted or even attacked by members of those churches, like homosexuals or women who get abortions. If the government funded a group, using your tax dollars, that stripped rights away from you, would you want to keep paying for that group?

If church groups want to spread their word around, they need to do it with their own money that they collect. It should not be up to the government to ensure that churches have enough money to keep spreading the word. That money should go to more important things like scientific research on health and climate that offer evidence, proof and results rather than a promise of eternal salvation that can never actually be confirmed as a real service beyond helping some people feel less nervous about death, while terrifying many others with a threat of eternal damnation.
Debate Round No. 2


My opponent is obviously confused about the resolution so I will post it again.

Resolved: remove tax exemptions from ALL religious institutions in the US
so I will add a observation to clarify what this means

Observation: Basically all the con has to do is to show why not ALL churches should have tax exemptions removed

definition of all: the whole amount, quantity, or extent of

Just incase my opponent is still confused. I set this resolution like this on purpose (its based off a congress bill) but anyway all con has to do is show why not ALL churches should lose tax exemptions. In other words I can just say only rich churches should have tax exemptions removed but not poor churches or vice-versa. So yeah I agree with pro that rich churches shouldn't have tax exemptions, but I believe poor churches should so they can become a bigger church.

As I pointed out a lot of these poor churches are also in poor communities so cannot receive as much of a offering and not donations. As I pointed out I go to one of these churches and we survive due to tax exemptions which is why I believe on RICH CHURCHES SHOULD HAVE TAX EMPTIONS REMOVED. Rich churches only use 3% to 10% of tax exemptions for charity anyway and they use the rest to get things like pools and basketball goals that other business have to pay taxes for but poor churches don't so I belive they should be allowed to have tax exemptions.


Unfortunately the only argument that my opponent has offered the entire debate is that he thinks poor churches should get tax exemptions because they need the money. That argument is lacking in any substance or sources. The rest of the debate, my opponent has spent his time either agreeing with most of my points or playing a game of semantics.

My argument still stands that ALL CHURCHES SHOULD HAVE TAX EXEMPTIONS REMOVED and I will clarify my argument one last time. I believe it is dangerous to link, in any way, a person's faith with government. If governments are providing tax exemptions to churches, it leads to manipulation in various ways. For starters, if one political party is pushing to increase exemptions, it could (and does) lead to churches using their power to sway voters... and when a pastor/priest/minister tells someone that they had better vote a certain way, too many people will blindly follow.

My opponent agrees with me that too many churches make far too much money. My thoughts are that rather than just draw a line in the sand and say if you make $_____ per year then you don't get tax exemptions, I would cut all tax exemptions and put it in the churches hands to help each other out. Instead of one baptist minister owning two million dollar mansions while another baptist church can barely maintain 10 parishioners, why not share that money amongst the churches? They all work for the same God, right? If we draw a line in the sand in order to determine who can and who can't get tax cuts then that will just promote loophole finding and ways of reallocating money so that they fall just under the line. It happens all the time in businesses across America and really, religions are just businesses.

To recap this debate, I backed up my initial arguments with relevant sources while my opponent offered none. I debated my side of the debate at hand while my opponent tried to counter with semantics and spent most of his time agreeing with me, offering next to no actual argument to support his side of the debate, aside from "a lot of these poor churches are also in poor communities so cannot receive as much of a offering and not donations". Please consider all of this when voting, and don't just vote based on whose side you agree with.

Thank you for taking the time to read this debate.
Debate Round No. 3
48 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Saska 2 years ago
Thanks Yama, but most of the comments were just moneystacker and I discussing our debate, which wasn't very productive or well done from either side. And I bet if Religion wasn't on the title we wouldn't have gotten as much attention.
Posted by YamaVonKarma 2 years ago
This is my first time seeing a finance debate make the front page. Kudos to both of you.
Posted by Xalder 2 years ago
@Max.Wallace how can both be correct? One argues that all exemptions should be removed, and the other opinions that poor churches should in some way still get exemptions.

Which I could agree with as long as all non-profit organizations, not just religious ones, were exempted from taxation when "poor."

Then the argument would go to what makes a non-profit org (religious or non) "poor" or "not poor."

Which, overall makes me think that really all non-profit should be treated equally. If you can't keep your organization (religious or non) going in the place you choose to center your non-profit, then perhaps you should find a larger organization can help with your particular area. There's such a thing as having a central organization with other levels that go down through states, counties, and local.

Overall it should be possible for even small non-profits should have the ability to manage some success. If small churches, local food shelves, and youth outreach programs are all facing difficulties, then it will be evident that the laws will need tweaks to allow these groups to have the opportunity to sustain themselves and possibly grow their services.
Posted by Max.Wallace 2 years ago
You are both correct, in my pea brain.
Posted by Saska 2 years ago

There is special treatment for religious non-profit groups. Non-religious non-profit groups may also gain tax exempt status. However, since these organizations are not classified as religious, it costs them significantly more money every year to maintain that status.

"In order to qualify for nonprofit tax-exempt status, any religious or secular organization must demonstrate it exists to benefit the public. After that basic element is established, religious non-profits are almost always declared automatically tax-exempt under the current IRC rules and definitions. However, secular non-profits face a lengthy application and a fee, which can be as high as $850. "

As for the poor churches comment. I didn't aim my argument specifically at poor churches. I aimed my argument at all churches and my opponent agreed with me in all cases except for the case of poor churches. Given that poor churches was the only area of disagreement between us, the argument has shifted to stating why poor churches deserve different treatment and my argument is that they don't. They should all have their tax exemptions removed.
Posted by Khaos_Mage 2 years ago
@ Saska

Abuses happen all the time, but there is no special treatment in taxation between a church or a non-profit charity. Further, the figure you state is more the effect of donation to the church, which if made instead to Red Cross or United Way, would have the exact same effect of "subsidization".

Further, the fact of poor churches is irrelevant, as churches are non-profits. Even if they were taxed, if the church spent all its money at the end of the year, there would be no "subsidization" of the church, as there is nothing to tax. The only tax they would owe is property taxes and sales taxes.

The separation of church and state is more in the effect that churches are not weakened by the hand of government (i.e. taxation), either by taxing a church in taxes for revenue they did not collect (e.g. property taxes) or by taxing individuals for donating (e.g. if I donate 10% of my income to the church, I would be taxed on that income, which may well be a total expense of 15% of my income.) If a church has to spend 20% of their donations in taxation, it severely hinders their ability to tend to their parish.

And, yes, it would have been better if Con had presented any sort of case against you. However, you clearly won this debate.
Posted by Saska 2 years ago

I'm from Canada and not 100% aware of all American taxation laws. I was under the impression that churches we're exempt from certain taxes, not all. My argument was geared towards political parties lobbying for more exemptions. Either way, fighting over whether or not to have exemptions leads to religious influence on voting, which is dangerous. No religious leader should be able to say that God wants you to vote a certain way... too many people would believe it.

How are tax exemptions a separation of church and state? When religious non-profit groups get exemptions that non-religious non-profit groups do not get, that is the state showing favour to religious institutions. To separate the two, government should treat religious like everyone else who is a non-profit group and not give special treatment to religious groups.

Churches are subsidized through tax exemptions, are they not? They don't have to pay tax on their income because of their religious status... that is basically the same thing as a subsidy. And if the government was taxing church income, it would be bringing in more tax money, which could either lower taxes from other areas or just increase government funds which would then go into public programs like education, transportation, etc... So it may not directly cost people more money, but indirectly the money still comes from other people's pockets because the churches don't have to pay tax.

I admit my opening argument wasn't perfect, but if my opponent addressed my arguments at all, or offered the challenges that you just did, it could have sparked a far more interesting debate.
Posted by Khaos_Mage 2 years ago
Wow, Pro's R1 attack was awful and should have been decimated.
It is clear you don't know how taxation works.

They are tax exempt, you cannot increase this amount.
Second, separation of church and state is a big reason for the tax-exempt status.
Third, the churches aren't subsidized, nor does it cost another person more in taxation because of this exemption.
Posted by missmedic 2 years ago
churches don't declare (because they don't have to) amounts or who donates other non-profit non-religious groups do, this is unfair.
Posted by Saska 2 years ago
We've had this argument already. Now the votes are coming and showing that people are siding with me. I will spell this out clearly for you:


I was trying to be polite in my last comment and help you for future debates, and you respond with more personal attacks? I am not going to sink to your level. Let's see if I can break this down in a clearer way:

The debate can be broken up as such:

There should be A & B & C. Where:
- A is tax exemptions for rich churches should be cut
- B is tax exemptions for middle income churches should be cut
- C is tax exemptions for poor churches should be cut

As pro, it is my job to argue A & B & C, which I did.

As con, it is your job to say NOT A & B & C.
Now you are entitled to say A & B, but NOT C, which is your argument, however when doing that, considering that we are both arguing for A & B, your job as con is to prove why NOT C.

You spent next to no time arguing NOT C. Your only attempt at NOT C was saying that they needed the money. In order to win this debate, you should have put for a case, backed by sources, explaining WHY NOT C. Such as claiming why poor churches need money, what they use it for, why they should be treated differently than wealthy churches, etc.

Literally the only things you said about poor churches was "As I pointed out a lot of these poor churches are also in poor communities so cannot receive as much of a offering and not donations." and then a few comments about you attending a poor church. None of that is based on fact or evidence, just your own opinion.

Does this make any sense? If not, then this discussion is pointless because I have explained this in detail many times over and am not getting through to you.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by FuzzyCatPotato 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: why should we care about poor churches? all of pro's reasons unrebutted.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: con wasted one round to agree to pro, and the rest seriously had little power in them to rebut pro.
Vote Placed by Risen 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Con never cited any sources, spent almost a whole round agreeing with pro, and had numerous spelling and grammar problems (ex. do is not spelled doe).
Vote Placed by Atheist-Independent 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct: I must grant Pro conduct points due to Con playing semantics midway through the debate and essentially skewing the debate is that they could win. Had Pro CLEARLY stated the premise in the first round I would not have taken off conduct points. S/G: equal. Arguments: While I did not like Con's semantic based arguments, it cannot be denied that con fulfilled the BoP by showing that poor churches deserve tax exemption. Had pro rebutted this point I would have granted him the points, however he resulted in arguing against Cons change of the rules. Sources: pro was the only one to use sources.