Saturday, August 19, 2006

"Hurting for Tax Revenue, Town Ponders a Freeze on Churches"

See the article: Hurting for Tax Revenue, Town Ponders a Freeze on Churches
Fifty-one churches and religious institutions sit inside this seven-square-mile city of 20,000 people, and a handful of others in the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction are asking to be annexed....

The problem: Thousands of acres owned by religious and affiliated institutions are exempt from the property tax rolls, and with only 300 acres of undeveloped land left, Stafford is looking for a legal way to say "enough."
Churches don't pay property taxes, so this town doesn't want any more of them. This is the front-end version of the private use of eminent domain, where pre-existing church land, which does not generate tax revenue, is forced by government coercion, to sell to private developers of commercial property.

At one time, the elite opinion of the U.S. was that religion, in general, was good for the country. This was the idea of the Enlightenment Classical Liberalism, which is now called 'conservatism' here in the U.S. Also, this fits in with the classical definition of the "Separation of Church and State": the state must not interferere with religion, and taxation is an interference.

But contemporary elite thinking doesn't care about intangibles such as "morality" or "philosophy"; instead it is becoming strictly utilitarian, usually with money being the measure of utility. And now we have an entrenched Socialism (called 'liberalism' in the U.S.), which does not like religion at all, seeing it as only a temporary means to a social end, that will eventually be eliminated. Both forces lead to the elimination of church property.

Taxing religion is nothing new, and there are many today—mainly socialists—who are pushing for the elimination of the religious tax-exemption. But the Right is also to blame, setting their sights on valuable property for commercial redevelopment, with governments more than eager to increase tax revenues.

Greed for money and property led to the dissolution of the religious orders in England by Henry VIII. Not satisfied with making himself Pope of the English Church, Henry also gave Church lands to his supporters. The same thing happened in Germany during the Reformation: a huge shift in property ownership from the Church to wealthy nobility.

1 comment:

  1. I hope they have a good solicitor. If they don't, or they don't follow advice, they're very likely to need one.