We Need More Mosques

The Freedom From Religion Foundation noticed a billboard was on church property in Columbus, Ohio, and the church was not paying property tax.  It was clearly receiving money from the sign company, but was not paying the $20,000 to local governments it would have paid had it been a regular business.

All across the country, times are tough.  We are becoming ever more aware of who is not carrying their fair share of the burden to pay for our governments’ services.

The property tax system is not simple.  Churches normally pay what is called special assessments, levies for streets, sewers and water lines in their neigborhood.  But, they do not pay for the fire or police services. Those services are free to churches, paid for by the rest of us.

City services, like police and fire, make up about one third of our property taxes.  The other two thirds is for the local school district.  Churches also avoid that tax.

While some may question levying school district taxes against churches, all other businesses have to pay them.  And, when a church uses up space that homes could be built on,  our homes have to cover the losses.

Cities should set a date,  like January 1, 2013, and say no new chruch exemptions after that date.  Existing churches would have ten years to come on board.

Politically, this would happen if we had more Mosques.  People who hate Islam would not want to subsidize them.

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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15 Responses to We Need More Mosques

  1. .E says:

    The exemption from property taxes is granted to tax exempt organizations. So how would certain exempt orgs be eligible and some not?

    Maybe there should be no exemption proprty or income tax. Spread the fun.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      .E The term “tax exempt” is usually applied to the income tax exemption one can take for a donation, the so called “501C3″. The property tax exemption is for churches, so far as I know.

  2. Bob Jorgenson says:

    I’m an equal Abrahamic text hater, Jon. I find the koran, torah and bible equally as distasteful as eating a bowl full of rotten rats.
    I’m not sure I totally agree with you on the mosque thing though, I think in many cases they wouldn’t be taxed anymore than churches are. I think if an issue was made of it, the opposite of what you are saying Jon would happen, that mosques wouldn’t have to pay the taxes. When push comes to shove, religious people, Jewish, Islamic, and Christian curiously tend to stick together.

    I like how Sam Harris puts it, religion is just a word, like sports is just a word. I’d say Islam (Mohammedism) is heavy weight boxing contending against everyone, Christianity is perhaps a strenuous obstacle course type of sports, and Judism is golf?

  3. entech says:

    If you want something to complain about consider Australia. No only are they tax exempt but they get government subsidies for their sectarian schools. They not only pay no tax but taxpayers support them?

  4. Darren says:

    Would we really be better off without the good work that non-profit organizations do? Taxing, say, the local homeless shelters doesn’t sound like a wise idea. Many of these non-profit, including churches, are shoestring operations that would be crushed by property taxes. Government will never be able to run a soup kitchen for less cost than the people at Churches United for the Homeless. Or comfort the dying in the way that Hospice does.

    These organizations are run for the benefit of humanity, not to make a profit. The best thing would be for government to keep their treacherous hands off.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Darren 2:43 Thanks for commenting. There is much merit in what you say. It’s just hard to sometimes to say where charity ends. When a church is actually running a soup kitchen that government would need to provide were it not there, one has a good case for property tax exemption. But, the church building itself does not provide a serive government would provide were it not there. I don’t see any need for the exemption. It’s especially not needed for gigantic parking lots used only once a week. There is no greater good served by a church tax exemption of a parking lot. There is just strom drainage backup.

      • Henry says:

        “When a church is actually running a soup kitchen that government would need to provide were it not there, one has a good case for property tax exemption.”

        Perhaps. What is the basis you are relying on for government to have the duty to provide a soup kitchen? Is government obligated constitutionally to provide specific welfare? I can note recent tradition provides basis for government feeding the poor.

        Most churches practice their beliefs by feeding the poor. Would you give favor to a church practicing their beliefs? What about the churches you do not see (most) with a soup line out their back door? Are you confident they do not feed the poor?

  5. .E says:

    Churches, hospitals, share house, salvation army are all 501 c 3 organizations. How do you separate?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      .E The Municiple Code defines what the a property tax exempt organization, a church owned property. It is not related to 501C3. Our Freethinkers group is a 501C3. If we bought a building, we would not meeting the requirements for a property tax exemption. (I don’t happen to think the 501c3 is good policy either. We need to use it because it helps give us legal standing in an indirect way.)

      Here is Fargo, a Catholic group bought what was once the old Dakota Hospital group, now a new hosp. on 32nd Ave S. The former owners paid property tax, the new Catholic owers don’t. It was a b’ness deal.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        I was incorrect in saying property tax exemption is determined by local city ordinances. It is determined by state government. And, some nonprofit, nonreligious groups get property tax exemptions as well as 401C3 tax exemptions as some commenters correctly pointed out.

        Where I live, roughly 40% of the property in the city is exempt from paying for the services that are provided. The costs for providing the schools, fire and police are piled onto those homes and businesses that pay. The exempt properties include big parking lots, homes of clergy and some businesses operated by nonprofits and religious groups. A related problem arises from tax exempt bonds that local governments use to build things.

        All of this shifting taxes from one group to another results in confused thinking–costs seem lower than they actually are.

  6. I have to share a true story I read some time ago. When a mosque was going to be built in one city, a citizen brought a trained pig to the site and had it urinate all over the property. End of mosque- building. This appeared on a national —which I cannot remember at the moment. I think the story was in connection with the hoo hah over the mosque by Ground Zero.

  7. entech says:

    Interfaith dialog and mutual respect!

  8. Not an interfaith dialogue….just a desperate action to stop a mosque from being built. I am rather surprised that something like this has not been done at Ground Zero.

  9. entech says:

    So respect for a ‘person of faith” only extends to your own faith. Perhaps not even to all Christians, only to your own variety, perhaps your own congregation. Dove World Outreach Center or WBC anyone.

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