Friday, June 18, 2010

No Tax Breaks for Ministers?

Michael Newdow is in the news again. He might quite a stir a few years back when he sued over the phrase "under God." Now he is campaigning against the practice of giving tax breaks to ministers.

It's an interesting topic. Normally I look back at practices early in our history, but in our early history there was no IRS. However, in general it seems the Founders did not want to burden churches. After our Constitution was ratified, many towns still supported their ministers with town funds, including paying their salary. Ministers were considered a common good for the community.

And even before the Constitution, tax revenues supported ministers. Look at this article (scroll down to the "Role of religion" section):

We can also look to Thomas Jefferson, who brought the phrase "separation of church and state" that we so often mis-use today. As President of the United States, Jefferson signed the treaty that used Federal money to pay for a priest to spread the Gospel to the Kaskaskian Indians:

It seems to me the Founders would not have had much heartburn about tax breaks to ministers, but that is a difficult point to prove absolutely. It's interesting to ponder, though.

Read more about Newdow's action here:

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