In response to ‘taxing churches’
In a recent Letter to the Editor, Mr. Merrick argues that churches should not be tax exempt. While he is entitled to his own opinion, he is not entitled to his own facts.
The Constitution prohibits Congress from establishing a government religion; passing any law restricting the free exercise of religion; and prohibits any religious test as a precondition for public office. I challenge him to show any other proscription of religion in our founding documents.
The founders prohibited any federal tax other than per capita (every adult pays the same amount of tax) as a protection against tyranny. That safeguard was in place until the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913 (the beginning of deficit spending). Clearly, there was no original intent to tax churches.
As to what constitutes a religion, Chief Justice James Kent, considered one of the two fathers of American jurisprudence; in The People vs Ruggles (1811) stated: “…We are a Christian people and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity and not upon the doctrines or worship of those imposters (other religions)…”
America is tolerant of the practice of other religions (or none) but is not influenced by them. When the founders referred to “religion” they universally were referring to Christianity. See the charters for each of the 13 original colonies if there is any doubt about that.
Mr. Merrick’s misstatements regarding the importance of Christianity (and the role of churches) in the founding and preservation of the American Republic are historically insupportable. To a man, the founders unequivocally stated that the liberty embodied in the American Experiment could not survive without the moderation imposed by Christianity. History has proven them prescient in that regard, especially as courts have drifted from what the Constitution says to what activist judges wish it said.
For those actually interested in what the founders said, and meant, and did, an excellent resource is the exquisitely documented “Original Intent-The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion” by David Barton.
“Know the truth and the truth will set you free”
Frank D. Banta