In Texas, there is a demonstration at the state capitol today. Â They’re demanding that their state leaders begin taxing megachurches in the state in order to help local schools. Â The project is headed by the state’s American Atheists. Â Their director, Joe Zamecki, has released a statement stating why he thinks this is a good thing. Â Read it, and see if he makes his point:
Public education in Texas is in a financial crisis. This yearâ€™s state legislature is about to slash spending on education, to include the laying off of possibly hundreds of teachers, and the closing of public schools all over the state. Apparently the state budget is short this year, by billions of dollars.
Right now, parents, students, teachers and others are rallying around their schools, and speaking out about the very real need to keep the teachers and schools we have now, as one of our stateâ€™s top priorities.
Meanwhile mega-churches and televangelists in Texas are doing very well. So the recurring theme of church taxation is in the air again, although itâ€™s still a somewhat shocking idea to most people. Not so shocking as in the past.
Joel Osteenâ€™s Lakewood Church alone is doing famously well, operating in the physically largest church building in the USA, tax-free. Like so many Texas mega-churches, Joel and his church have the ease of marketing that some corporations have, so we feel that they and other successful mega-churches could help with public education too. Weâ€™ve proposed just a 1% tax on profits taken in by just the top 1% of the most profitable mega-churches and televangelists in Texas. They can easily afford it.
Not the small, poor churches we hear about so much. This is not an idea to harm or hinder any churches in their operations. We feel that giving churches blanket tax-exempt status is giving them a special privilege. The overwhelming financial success of some of those churches has some economists standing in awe. The idea isnâ€™t new, and it isnâ€™t going away, as long as Texasâ€™ children have a grossly inferior system of education, a financial balance like this is needed.
Studies show that our state is lagging behind in education very badly, and knowing that the current legislature with the Texas governor are working hard together, itâ€™s clear that spending cuts will happen before any tax increases or new taxes are implemented. So without that normal financial balance, Texans are considering alternatives. This is one idea for an alternative that could solve the issue of insufficient tax funds.
As unusual and unpopular as this type of idea is, it just needs to be said again, loudly. And for those who feel that a church tax would invite churches and religious activists into the public schools, the legislature, and other areas of secular government existence: too late. Theyâ€™re already well established in those institutions, which is one reason why we have a state/church separation movement. They just need to pay their admission fee, finally. It would really help the people of Texas.
So… they don’t want to tax the ‘small, poor churches’ just those that large churches that need to ‘pay their admission fee’.
No word on how they would decide which churches are poor and which ones are rich.
They’ve vowed to protest every weekday outside the Texas capitol until lawmakers take action.
What[box type=”info”]What do YOU think? Should churches be taxed? Why or why not? And regardless of your answer to that question… do you think laws will ever be changed to require churches to pay taxes?[/box]
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