In a recent issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, Dr. Eugene Carson Blake warned the churches that exploitation of tax exemption may lead ultimately to “revolutionary expropriation of church properties.” He proposed 1. the repeal of exemptions which enable churches to engage tax-free in unrelated business activities and to compete unfairly with commercial firms; 2. voluntary contributions by the churches graduated annually from one per cent to 10 per cent of the estimated real estate tax on their properties, in order to share the public’s tax burdens now often accelerated by extensive church property holdings.
The essay in CHRISTIANITY TODAY was widely reported. U. S. News and World Report carried a full page summary; CBS echoed quotations nationwide on its network; AP’s George Cornell featured the article in his weekly religion column, as did UPI’s Louis Cassels; The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, as well as other dailies, gave it extensive space; newspapers and religious magazines commented editorially, with Christian Century and Church Management carrying prompt endorsements of the proposal to tax the churches; and some leaders have already urged income tax authorities and also congressmen [the House Ways and Means Committee held a panel discussion December 15 to study tax exempt organizations engaged in unrelated trade or business] to press for revision and reform of the present exemptions.
It is appropriate to consider the comments of the Protestant clergy and lay leaders, among whom the issue of taxing the churches promised to be, as one observer put it wrongly enough, “as popular as mosquitoes in the tent.”
Virtually unanimous support crowned Dr. Blake’s proposal for full taxation of profits from nonrelated business ...1
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