Should Churches be taxed –and what does it have to do with Covid 19, anyway

Here’s a letter from Gwynn Evans to the Times Colonist that leapfrogs from the complaints of churchgoers about worship lockdowns (but not restaurant lockdowns) to his own complaint that churches get special tax exemptions. Following it is my rebuttal to the TC, which they probably won’t run.

There might be better ways to gather

A while back, we heard people claiming a lack of consistency in the rules in B.C. imposed on church assembly restrictions versus those for bars and restaurants, claiming churches were short-changed.

On the other hand, I am not aware of any churches having volunteered to forgo their extra tax breaks.

Give all the non-religious service clubs, charities, and secular interest groups, doing charitable work or not, equal treatment with churches, whether in taxation or COVID regulations, with no exceptions.

It is just as bad that in the secular sphere some think tanks are supported by large corporations using their strength in the economy to pass on money attracting tax breaks. This is taken in the course of business from unwitting ordinary citizens to advance already powerful corporate interests.

The lobbying and one-sided “education” serves to block out alternative paths of thinking that might indicate better ways.

Glynne Evans

Glynne Evans thinks that if churchgoers want to complain about being “shortchanged” over Covid restrictions that shut down services that leave restaurants open, then other charities and non-profits benefitting society should be given the same tax exemptions as churches. Yes, it looks like a non sequitur to me too, and one based on a false premise.

Hello! Charities and non-profits do get the same income and property tax exemptions as churches. Donors to churches and charities get the same tax deductions.

And for good reason: they benefit society. Church attendance correlates so strongly with family stability,longevity, lawful behavior, charitable and community activity, higher grades and educational attainment as to approach causation. I refer doubters to this summary of research on the social and psychological benefits of church attendance https://marri.us/research/research-papers/95-social-science-reasons-for-religious-worship-and-practice/.

As a board member of the Victoria Humanist Society, which is a chronic foe of church tax exemptions, Evans should know this.

That’s where my letter ends. You should know that every year or two , city councils all over BC ponder who gets property tax exemptions—the Oddfellows, the Scouts, the churches and so on. Churches are exempted on the property their church itself sits, but the municipalities decide on the exemption over the rest of their property (the parking lot, the hall if free standing, etc.) Humanists regularly attend and argue against exemptions for churches.

The premise behind the church exemption is that churches do a public service, care for the poor for example, and relieve a burden on the city. Please pay attention to what councils are up to—and secular .humanists.

About faithvictoria

Steve Weatherbe is a journalist with 30 years experience, specializing in religion and public issues, a conservative Catholic Christian, a supporter of Evangelicals and Catholics Together, living in Victoria, British Columbia. Canada

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