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First Liberty Briefing

First Liberty Briefing is an exclusive podcast hosted by First Liberty Institute’s Deputy General Counsel Jeremy Dys. In about 90-seconds, once a week, Jeremy recalls the stories that have shaped America’s religious liberty, from the founding era to current legal battles and more. It’s an insider’s look at the stories, cases, people, and laws that have made America the world’s leader in protecting religious liberty.
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Mar 16, 2020

Despite an article in Christianity Today claiming tax exemptions are leading churches to be more parasitical than independent, tax exemptions help to protect and promote the autonomy of churches. Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.


The January 2020 edition of Christianity Today features the headline, “The Hidden Cost of Tax Exemption.”  The author makes his case for why American churches may be better off for refusing what he calls the “government largesse” of tax exemptions.

The article portrays churches in America as “basically parasitical” with pastors feeding on the benefits their churches drain from their host community without returning much noticeable benefit. The story contends that the appeal of the tax exemption is rooted in a historical desire to propagate racism and further discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

The story ends with these words, “It might not be such a bad thing to lose tax-exempt status . . . The true church of God, after all, is not reliant on its special status in the tax code. We can walk by faith and not by government largesse.”

In truth, rather than make churches more ideologically faithful, the loss of tax exemption for churches would invade upon church autonomy and curb religious liberty. 

The “true church of God” is less a target to be taxed or a parasite to be crushed and more a quiet blessing upon a world in need of the peace they preach and acts of service they humbly perform. A local gathering of religious believers should be viewed as a human right of religious association and free exercise worthy of protection, rather than a potential stream of revenue.

To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.

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