WHY CHURCHES SHOULD NOT PAY TAXES by Dean M. Kelley

WHY CHURCHES SHOULD NOT PAY TAXES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A defense manual for churchmen in the escalating battle over tax exemption. Kelley, a Methodist minister who is Executive for Religious Liberty of the National Council of Churches and author of the influential Why Conservative Churches Are Growing (1972), freely admits that his book is a popularizing ""work of advocacy,"" and he puts together a strong case. He contends that churches are not ordinarily and primarily revenue-producing institutions and that they provide a service that is vital to the well-being and survival of society, viz. articulation of life's ultimate meaning and answers to the deepest human questions. Kelley challenges prevalent misconceptions (e.g., about the extent of abuse), traces the history of exemptions, and suggests that the meager revenues church taxation would bring in would not be worth the long-term harm it would do. He also points out that ministers do pay income taxes and that there are ways to remedy abuses short of eliminating church exemptions--delimiting exemptions, punishing clear violators, and developing functional criteria for church designation. Overall it's the sort of argument that might well make good sense to a Plains, Georgia Baptist and prayer-breakfasting congressmen, though it depends almost wholly on quite arguable premises.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1977
Publisher: Harper & Row