A solution to Kansas City’s budget problems might be to ask all the churches to pay their fair share of property taxes for the actual space they occupy.
Churches own a lot of land in the U.S. One main cause of our present economic problem is the shrinking of the tax base due to thousands of home foreclosures caused by the subprime mortgage mess. Surely it would be only fair and patriotic for churches to fulfill their function as charities, which gives them tax-exempt status in the first place, to pay taxes for the public good.
Food pantries and homeless shelters are worthwhile enterprises, but helping to maintain infrastructure and services such as the police, ambulances and firefighters, which benefit us all, is surely as important.
Church taxation would not threaten the First Amendment, either, as all religions would be united in their support of the state, not the other way around.
To paraphrase the words of Woody Guthrie, this land is our land. The churches should pay their share.
Elizabeth M. Gerber