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Tax Exemptions

Excerpt from Lyles, et. al., Civil Liberties and the Constitution: Cases and Commentaries, 9th edition, 2011, pp. 259.

Tax Exemptions

Some people consider the longstanding policy of exempting church property from public taxation to be an unconstitutional aid to religious establishments. But when the Supreme Court made a definitive pronouncement on the issue in Walz v. Tax Commission of City of New York (397 U.S. 664, 1970), it found such a policy to be in furtherance of the state’s neutrality within the meaning of the establishment clause. The goal of tax exemptions was to help nonprofit institutions that the government regareded as important to the community. Chief Justice Warren Burger made it clear that the tax exemption “is neither the advancement nor the inhibition of religion”; rather, he contended, it is an indirect economic benefit that should be distinguished from the direct subsidy that produces the “excessive governmental entanglement” that the establishment clause prohibits. He also expressed concern for the burden on free exercise that levying a tax on nonprofit institutions would cause. PolS 354, agree, disagree?

In dissent, Justice William O. Douglas focused on the discrimination issue that was raised in the tax exemption policy. He discussed the nature of governmental subsidies and raised the question of whether religious bodies with their vast real estate holdings and their lucrative annual incomes should be allowed this government largess.

The New York law upheld in Walz did not embrace church property used for commercial purposes. However, shortly after Walz was announced, a federal district court in Florida used it as authority to sustain a Florida tax exemption for a church parking lot that was used commercially 6 days a week. Proceeds from the parking lot were used to support the church’s religious activities and charitable projects.

In Texas Monthly v. Bullock (489 U.S. 1, 1989), however, the Court held unconstitutional a Texas law that applied only to religious organizations. A strong dissent was issued by Justice Scalia.

An interesting controversy over tax exemption policy and its impact on the religious clauses was presented in Bob Jones University v. United States [PolS 358] and Goldsboro Christian Schools v. United States (461 U.S. 574, 1983). These church-related educational institutions resisted an Internal Revenue Service ruling denying them tax-exempt status because of their racially discriminatory admissions policies. The schools argued that their policies derived from their religious dogmas and that the tax exemption revocation amounted to a violation of both the free exercise and establishment clauses. But the Court rejected those claims, stating that the government’s interest in eradicating racial discrimination far outweighed any burden on free exercise that was alleged to result from the denial of a tax exemption benefit. The Court dismissed the establishment argument by simply noting that religion is not advanced merely because the tax exemption regulation happens to coincide with the tenets of religions that espouse racial intermixing. Hence the preference argument was without substance.


24 Comments

  1. Tax exemptions to churches I do believe are very unfair for all nearby residents but it does make sense. Regardless, I know some churches that struggle immensely financially and I know for a fact that they wouldn’t be able to meet this requirement. This is what brought my question during the course if this would violate their free exercise clause, due to this disadvantage as a small church. Very interesting conversation.

  2. I think tax exemption to churches in Ney York dies not violate the establishment clause because this tax exemption also was granted to other sectors like public schools, hospitals, and others. Because this tax exemption was not only granted to the properties used in religious practices but also to the charitable organization and most of churches in the United States are used charity organizations. So, it’s hard to determine if the New York violate the constitution by granting the tax exemptions to the churches.

  3. I can see how it would be fair to just tax both religious and non-religious institutions. A lot of people would abuse their tax exemptions for personal financial gain and I think we would see a lot less of that if they were taxed. On the other side, if religious establishments were taxed they would have the right to voice their opinions on how that money should be spent. I think that would create an even bigger problem between church and state. Since, religious institutions can help the community, shelter people and provide aid to those who need it, maybe we should keep them as these safe spaces and not tax them. I feel like there would be a lot more problems that would come about if they were taxed. I don’t see how any one way can result in neutrality.

  4. I had not put much thought into tax exemptions for churches before reading this and I honestly think that granting religious establishments tax exemptions would be against the Constitution. They are allowing religion to advance by receiving a pass from the government. I understand that it is every religious establishment that receives this but I still think that it nonetheless is advancing religion.

  5. Religious institutions can be used to help communities and provide aid and shelter when needed. However, not taxing them on the idea of remaining neutral is not fair to me. Religious institutions take up land and their property taxes should go toward the communities they serve. Furthermore, more and more it appears that some religious institutions are becoming businesses rather than places of worship. For example, some leaders of religious institutions will buy cars/ other items for themselves and claim it was a necessary purchase. Likewise, I feel religious institutions can become political institutions depending on the community they are in.

  6. Manipulating tax exemptions laws to profit from them commercially is the reason why exemptions for religious entities are so hotly debated not only does it actually matter to the churches but it also matters to other people who use that property for profit.

  7. It is understandable that tax exemptions go to institutions that actually assist their communities because they are receiving benefits from such policy. One problem I see is that there could be loopholes in the tax exemption policy that ultimately benefit the institutions that make millions of dollars from it. Basically it puts into question about who should even get the benefits of this policy as Justice Douglas stated in his dissenting opinion in Walz v Tax Commission of City of New York (1970). Therefore it is confusing to know who exactly is going to be satisfied or impacted with the policy.

  8. I think that tax exemptions are a good thing for religious institutions to receive. I think that taxing religious institutions would possibly create conflict between the religious institutions and the state. Since they are being taxed, they may believe they have more of a say in what the state uses this tax money for. This creates an opportunity for the institution to persuade the state, which should be avoided.

  9. I don’t agree with the idea that exemptions are exhibiting ‘neutrality.’ There are also plenty of secular non-profits that aid indiscriminately, regardless of religion. Just as paying for the transportation cost of a private school is, in my opinion, directly aiding a private school with tax payers money, tax exemptions are a way to lampshade direct aid.

  10. I agree with what Melannie commented. Exempting non-profit churches is an issue, but providing the businesslike churches that truly do profit in their standing don’t deserve to hold such large plots of real estate exempt of tax. It makes sense to exempt schools, public or private, because they all benefit the children attending- however churches exclusively promote a type of religion.

  11. Some churches are non-profit and in that situation, I could see the tax exemptions being fair however we have all seen those mega-churches that produce millions of dollars in profits, and their masses are held in stadium-sized venues. Those types of churches do not seem like they need tax exemption. They are ran like businesses.

  12. Tax exemptions are a very interesting topic today as many people are viewing and witnesses more information about it. With that, I would agree with the argument that non-profits churches should not be taxed because they serve their communities in numerous ways, But also, I do think that several “Super churches” in the United States that have taken advantage of this perk granted to them by their government to the point where you see the pastor in a million dollar home and car. Something like that would raise question and debate about how to approach such an issue.

  13. If churches are earning money to give to people/groups who really need it, then it would make sense for them—as an important part of the community—to receive tax exemptions as Justice Burger argues. However, if churches are earning money for their own lucrative benefits, then they are not benefiting the community at all. They are only serving themselves. I believe the Joel Osteen meme perfectly showcases this idea. During Hurricane Harvey, he said he would not be opening his Lakewood Church in Houston to shelter victims. Here’s a link to an article about this: https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hurricane-harvey/joel-osteen-defends-not-opening-megachurch-harvey-victims-n797036

  14. The issue of tax exemptions and religious institutions is hard for me to formulate an opinion on. I’m not religious myself, but I do think religious institutions in communities can often be where many people look to for help and support not even just religiously but with social services as well. So, on one hand I understand that oftentimes churches are struggling financially, and tax exemptions help them stay afloat. Again, it’s hard because this applies to all churches and institutions but some are better off than others if they’re in wealthier areas or if they’re those mega churches. I do not practice religion myself but I know if the church in my area were to close down, many people would lose more than a place of worship but rather a place that provides our community with shelter, food drives, handing out school supplies to those that need it, etc. As someone who has no belief system I want to say no to churches being tax exempt but at the same time I say yes they should be tax exempt because I think religious institutions help communities a lot.

  15. I think the tax exemptions have their pros and cons, on the one hand, the government can argue that it is to prevent an excessive entanglement between the state and religion by eliminating the idea of economic entanglement altogether. However, from a societal perspective, it can also be seen how the government providing tax exemptions to religious institutions and not aiding those struggling economically could signify favoritism. Thus, it is really up to interpretation and intention.

  16. What is the privilage that churches have in order to be able to get tax exemptions? Poor citizens even can’t pay their own taxes and as consequences they have to pay extra fees. In my point of view, churches are not nonprofit organizations. I think goverment is not imposing religion, but is helping churches and its leaders to become more economically comfortable. Some churches received thousands of dollars in tithes and offerings. I think, it is fair if they pay taxes as individuals.

  17. I think this ruling in favor of tax exemption status for religious organizations is key in noting how the state chose to interact with religion after slews of rulings favoring the secular arguments. The state chooses a route they believe mitigates state involvement in religious activity, as opposed to trying more cases about subsidies and fees associated with parochial schooling. The concern about interrupting the free exercise of religious nonprofits should the cease to be tax-exempt is valid, though I don’t believe the courts nor the government undertook this case to protect free exercise, but rather insure nonprofit institutions like libraries, hospitals, playgrounds and other quasi-public good would remain protected under the tax exemption status.

  18. I think that, in a way, tax exemptions for religious institutions doesn’t really further neutrality. The entire argument of the majority sums down to claiming that religious organizations have to be nonprofits in their nature. However, while at the very least most religious organizations don’t make money in order to enrich its members and leadership, it does have a per-say spiritual for-profit motivation of trying to increase the spiritual wealth of those involved. In that way, it could be said the ultimate goal of religion is enrichment in a form of way. Thus, in this view, religious institutions are being unfairly given a leg up.

  19. This case was decided in 1970 and in a majority case the SCOTUS decided that tax exemptions did not violate the establishment clause. This decision went back to an argument used this time that the exemption did not purposely favor one religion over another. Not withstanding the consequences and actual benefit of a single religion. When we have discussed bus fare and book costs I think back to the fact that the churches operate free from taxes. One on hand we know that this Country strongly has proclaimed no taxation without representation. Is this a way of saying that they believe the religious voice is not represented in our government? How is that possible when it is also deeply embedded? This balance is very contradictory and subjective…

  20. Justice Douglas mentions the vast real estate holdings and large annual income of churches. I don’t think he has seen the countless small, storefront churches in the inner city black community. They don’t have large annual incomes or vast real estate assets. Many of them are collecting just enough tithes to keep the lights on. Should we still tax them too?

  21. Religious institutions should have to pay taxes, just like any other organization. Their failure to pay taxes, means I’m indirectly supporting them. Roads that are located at the front of their buildings still need to be paved, plowed, and cleaned, police officers and firefighters need to respond to their calls, etc. Religious institutions aren’t paying their fair share, yet are receiving the benefits of a tax payer.

  22. I think there is a double-edged sword here. In order for the government to not foster excessive entanglement with religion it must put up a wall of separation between itself and religious institutions and part of that is paying taxes. While I think there’d be a benefit to these religious institutions contributing to tax revenue, it opens the door for a conversation about what rights they would have based on their contributions. It’s a difficult balance to achieve because I think it would just end up being incredibly messy if the government forced taxes to be paid and gave no representative rights to these religious institutions.

  23. Luke HaddadOct 15, 2020
    I think a super good point is the church not being taxed is seen as the government not forcing the church to support the state. This is a really good reason and I agree with the courts standing. I can see why this would make businesses mad knowing taxes are super high in this country.
    Reply
    Ben Lee
    Ben LeeOct 11, 2020
    I believe separation of church and state is often viewed as a one way street; the church should not be involved in the affairs of the state. But this demonstrates why it may also go the other way. I agree, a wall of separation is not a wall if one side can pass it.
    Reply
    Jyah Vora
    Jyah VoraOct 5, 2020
    I believe that in order to maintain a wall of separation and to avoid excessive entanglement, the government should excuse churches from public taxes. I believe that taxing a non-profit is unfair and would put many churches at a disadvantage. Therefore by not taxing, I believe that it keeps the church and state’s interest separate. Plus, I feel like if the government were to tax churches, we may see a reversal of court cases relating to public funds given that public funds wouldn’t be public because the church is also participating.
    Reply
    Emma Whaley
    Emma WhaleyOct 1, 2020
    In this excerpt from the text, it discusses the constitutionality of tax exemptions for church property from public taxation because the government considers non-profit organizations important to the community. I agree with the court on the fact that it is not an advancement or inhibition on religion because church non-profits are not the only non profit organization that have these tax exemptions, so by including all non profits in this, no religion is advanced or inhibited. I also think that if the government were to tax churches and church property, no matter how vast their real estate and annual income, that it would lead to an invasion of state in the church, and cause an excessive entanglement.
    Reply
    Ashanti Simpkins
    Ashanti SimpkinsOct 5, 2019
    I agree that taxes should be kept out of religious organizations just because the establishment Clause does not want to establish or prohibit/interfere with religion so keeping federal taxes away from religious organizations is the best thing to do to keep that “wall” up
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 4, 2019
    I agree that not taxing religious organization neither prohibits nor inhibits religion. It makes more sense to not tax these establishments because if they did then there would be an issue with tax reimbursements etc and cause more chaos.
    Reply
    Jacob Mattenson
    Jacob MattensonOct 3, 2019
    I’m going to piggyback off of @jstrom3@uic.edu when I say that to ensure that a religious organization is providing a tangible public good would inherently present an excessive entanglement of the government and religion. Legally speaking, that might not be viable, politically, that’d be like “kicking a hornet’s nest wearing nothing but a Speedo.”
    Reply
    Omar Leon
    Omar LeonOct 2, 2019
    I agree that’s churches and religious institutions have a large real estate and many might think that they should not need the tax exemption from the government but I also believe that it would not be right to tax religious institutions due to the fact that they are living off of donations and fund raisers. It is a non profit organization that, in my opinion and experience, have no way to pay for that taxation. Most of the people working in churches are volunteers but the money they collect has to be used to pay for utilities and all other services that might be needed. I think that religious institutions need the tax exemption in order to make by.
    Reply
    Joseph Strom
    Joseph StromOct 1, 2019
    The goal of helping nonprofits by not taxing them in certain ways is hard to hate, and many places of worship do genuinely help their communities in various ways– akin to other nonprofits. The problems occur when (1) places of worship do not serve their communities and/or (2) vast wealth is accumulated by the organization for the betterment of a select few. These should not be allowed, as they are not in the spirit of tax-exempt nonprofits as they were intended to be. There should be no commercial or profit driven purpose of these places if they want to be tax exempt (whether or not that can be changed and enforced Constitutionally is a deeper question tho).
    Reply
    Marissa Scavelli
    Marissa ScavelliOct 1, 2019
    In Walz v. Tax Commission of the city of New York the court held that grants of tax exemption to religious organizations do not violate the Establishment Clause. Although I do not necessarily agree with the Chief Justice Burgers opinion. First of all, I find it a bit unfair that religious establishments do not have to pay taxes. With that in mind, I think it could actually violate the establishment clause because it can be easily perceived that the U.S. is establishing religion by allowing church properties to be tax free; this could be viewed as enhancing religion. I think the people could still have freedom of religion even if the church is paying taxes. I understand the other side of the argument as well since it’s considered for the public good, I just don’t think the argument is that strong. There are other establishments created for the public good yet they still pay taxes. Also, from my experiences in the Catholic church, it seems like they’re making good money since they ask for donations and pass around a basket during every service. I wonder what they do with all this money since they’re not paying taxes? I think the churches should be paying some taxes to occupy the land in which their church resides. This is just my opinion.
    Reply
    Daniel Garcia
    Daniel GarciaOct 1, 2019
    I agree with the argument that non-profits like churches should not be taxed because they serve their communities in ways that may be hampered should they be taxed. However, I do think that several “megachurches” have taken advantage of this gracious sentiment granted to them by their government. As a result, you routinely see in America pastors and church elders who are extremely wealthy. In my opinion, this hurts the church’s reputation and if this abuse continues, I think that the argument of allowing churches to remain a tax exempt 501-C3 will slowly start to deteriorate.
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted user
    I agree with your point. US tax law allows mega TV preachers to get away with almost anything… I am talking to you Joel Osteen
    Oct 1, 2019•Delete
    Kevin Lyles
    Philip Garza
    Philip GarzaSep 30, 2019
    I can see how this is not a violation of the Establishment Clause because it’s not like certain religious churches are exempt from taxes. All religious churches are exempt. Whats intersting in this case is that the decision was 7-1 which means there was only 8 judges instead of the typical 9.
    Reply
    Ines Josefina Castaneda
    Ines Josefina CastanedaSep 29, 2019
    Help non profits but not help those who are economically struggling and not tax the rich……
    Reply
    Michelle Solayman
    Michelle SolaymanSep 28, 2019
    Why are there only 8 Supreme Court justices at the time of this decision?
    Reply
    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin Lyles
    a vacancy on the court. Waltz was argued Nov 69 and decided May 70. excerpt from lyles, chapter 7, Wading in the Water: “Four Supreme Court justices retired during Nixon’s first term and Nixon was determined to move the Court further to the right. Chief Justice Earl Warren, the architect of the Brown decision, retired in 1969 and was replaced by Warren Earl Burger from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Harry Blackmun, a federal appeals court judge from Minnesota, and the Senate, was appointed in 1970 after the failed nominations of Clement Haynsworth and G. Harold Carswell to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Justice Abe Fortas. A chief objection to Carswell, who sat on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, was his racist past. For instance, in a speech on August 2, 1948 in Gordan, GA, Carswell said:
    I am Southern by ancestry, birth, training, inclination, belief and practice. And I believe that segregation of the races is proper and the only practical and correct way of life in our states. I have always so believed and I shall always so act. I shall be the last to submit to any attempt on the part of anyone to break down and to weaken this firmly established policy of our people. If my own brother were to advocate such a program, I would be compelled to take issue with him and to oppose him to the limit of my ability.
    Despite these remarks, Nixon did not withdraw the nomination that eventually failed confirmation in the Senate 45-51. Nixon also replaced Hugo Black (again, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan) with Lewis Powell in 1971 and nominated William Rehnquist to replace John Harlan in 1972.”
    Sep 28, 2019 (edited Sep 28, 2019)•Edit•Delete
    Kevin Lyles
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 3, 2017
    I find it very curious that the court issued two opinions in the same term; Forbidding the state of Kentucky from displaying the 10 Commandments in county courthouse displays, yet in Texas, the 10 Commandments were allowed to be put on display on the State Capitol grounds. The justices all took different sides. 4 of them said they would allow the display at both, 4 said they would have forbade the display at both, and only one Justice, Bryer, felt there was a distinct difference between the states cases given the religious aspect of the area and on a large monument that had already been there for four decades.
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 3, 2017
    Courts have a history of ruling based historical precedent and procedure. ‘Tradition’ has been utilized and has succeeded however that argument would fail catastrophically if arguing for segregation or women’s suffrage. Historical procedure has largely reflected the environment of their respective times so why should we accept arguments that are based off unevolved eras?
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 3, 2017
    A tax exempt seems like the obvious choice in order to distance a state-church relation. It’s funny, a couple of days ago I saw an article in which the Church of Satan openly rejects the tax exempts in order to distance themselves from other religions.
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted userOct 3, 2017
    It makes sense that religious institutions would be tax exempt to keep church and state as far away from each other as is possible. The government potentially hounding a church for taxes could be seen as an inhibition of religion so entirely eliminating that possibility keeps the relationship between church and state at an arms length, in theory.
    Reply
    Kevin Lyles
    Kevin Lyles
    please mention this in class
    Oct 4, 2017•Edit•Delete
    Kevin Lyles
    Patrick Scaletta
    Patrick ScalettaOct 3, 2017
    The Court noted in Walz v. Tax Commission of the City of New York, that the tax exemption was granted to a broad spectrum of corporations or associations and not solely to religious organizations. It was reasoned by the Court that the tax was not effectuated to further the purpose of religious organizations. The tax exemptions granted to religious bodies actually minimize the entanglement between church and the state. In a way, the exemptions inversely uphold the Establishment Clause.
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted userSep 23, 2015
    Tax exempt status to churches is, in my mind, the most the government can do without getting involved too deeply in the affairs of a church. Justice Burger worried about the effect that a tax on non-profits like churches would have and how that would hinder their free expression.
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted user
    “Justice Burger worried about the effect that a tax on non-profits like churches would have and how that would hinder their free expression.”

    I just don’t understand how a tax on a church would hinder ones free expression. Under this logic, any expense will hinder the expression of a church. Should we argue that the gas and electric bills for a church also hinder their ability to FREELY exercise their religious views? What about the cost of building the church itself or redoing the parking lot? Perhaps we should make it law that churches get everything free since any expense will inhibit their right to freely exercise religion. (sarcasm)

    My point here is, I do not think the framers meant that anything religious related should literally be free of cost. That is just impossible. There are costs to everything. What I believe they meant is that no one shall be punished for expressing their religious views, whether they are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, etc. and that no religion will be discriminated against compared to another. You do not need a church to practice any religion. Gather in a park or in someone’s home, etc. To me, this isn’t really an issue of the Establishment Clause because under the status quo churches do not have to pay any taxes. The type of church does not matter, churches from all religions are tax exempt, meaning that the government does not favor any religion over the other. If they did, that would be Establishment. In the opposite scenario, having property taxes on all religious establishments follows the same logic. So long as they are being taxed equally, no religion is established.

    The last time I checked the First Amendment states you have a right to freely express your religion, but not to freely express it in luxury.
    Sep 23, 2015 (edited Sep 23, 2015)•Delete
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    Kevin Lyles
    Deleted user
    Deleted userSep 21, 2015
    The tax exempt approach that is taken is described as furthering neutrality within the Establishment Clause. Along with that, the intent is to support non-profit institutions that are important to communities. This is something I support considering it does support neutrality and further uphold the Establishment Clause.
    Reply
    Comments above copied from original document
    Razan Abu
    Razan AbuSep 28, 2014
    Interesting to see the new factors such as time and context that the Court can consider to make varying rulings. Court seems to continuously stretch its power.
    Reply
    Comments above copied from original document
    Deleted user
    Deleted userSep 24, 2014
    its interesting to see the courts ruling on the kentucky and texas cases. Again the court give a ridiculous reason of tradition and that its been in texas for forever and kentucky can’t display the ten commandments because kentucky clearly shows a religious intent and texas doesn’t.

    Nida Khalid
    Reply
    Comments above copied from original document
    B Bhatti
    B BhattiSep 24, 2014
    I feel the weakest reason to do something is because it has been done that way for “x” amount of years, generations, seconds, etc. Just because something has been done one way does not mean it is or WAS done under fair or legal means. We have plenty of examples through history that stand to show us that “tradition” is just a bullshit means for older people to tell younger people what to do.

    That’s another thing (VERY off-point tangent): Using your age as reason to win an argument is only acceptable if A) you’re so old you’re face is on money; or B) it is expressly written that your age gives you authority in some regard (e.g. drinking at 21 years of age in Illinois).
    Reply
    Comments above copied from original document
    Deleted user
    Deleted userSep 24, 2014
    “it was clear that the Kentucky displays were there because of religious content” another excuse to let the government favor religion. The reasoning given by Texas for keeping the commandments up is ludicrous, putting up the ten commandments and saying that it is only a monument with secular/historical purpose is stupid, you’re playing the people as stupid!

    Steven Bidochka
    Reply
    Comments above copied from original document
    Deleted user
    Deleted userSep 24, 2014
    I found the ruling to be quite amusing, mainly because of the reasoning behind the decision to allow the commandments to stay put in Texas.

    -Rachel Gilmore
    Reply
    Comments above copied from original document
    Deleted user
    Deleted userSep 24, 2014
    I thought it was interesting to hear about the two cases, Kentucky and Texas, because I have never heard about them before. I can see why Kentucky forbade the Ten Commandments in the courthouse and I am surprised the Ten Commandments were able to stay on the State Capitol grounds in Texas.

    – Olivia Basiorka
    Reply
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    Deleted user
    Deleted userSep 24, 2014
    These Establishment Clause cases are exciting because you never know how the Court is going to rule or what the reasoning will be.
    Reply
    Comments above copied from original document
    Deleted user
    Deleted userSep 23, 2014
    Summary

    The Ten Commandments
    -There were two different opinions passed in the same term where the Court forbid Kentucky from displaying the Ten Commandments in county Courthouse displays but allowed Texas to do so.
    -The claims were made differently because “it was clear that the Kentucky displays were there because of religious content” but Texas displays had been around for 40+ years (surrounded by secular displays and monuments)
    -Court’s ruling suggested that religious displays are okay “as long as religion is not taken too seriously or seen as too central”

    Tax Exemptions
    -people find policy of exempting church property from public taxation unconstitutional aid to religious establishments
    -Walz v. Tax Commission: policy furthering state’s neutrality of the meaning of establishment clause
    -New York law upheld Watz; Florida used it obtain tax exemption for church parking lot
    -tax exemption’s goal = help non-profit institutions government found important to the community
    -Chief Justice Warren Burger: “tax exemption ‘is neither the advancement nor the inhibition of religion'”; indirect economic benefit instead
    -Justice William O. Douglas: focuses on discrimination issue in tax exemption policy; questions whether if those who have real estate holdings/annual incomes should be allowed to take part
    -Texas Monthly v Bullock: Texas law applying to religious organizations held unconstitutional
    -Bob Jones University v United States and Goldsboro Christian Schools v United States; church related educational institutions – resisted Internal Revenue Service ruling denying them tax-exempt status; had racially discriminatory admissions policy
    -Schools claimed such policies due to religious dogmas; claimed tax exemption violated both free exercise clause and establishment clause.
    -Court rejected claims; racial discrimination held higher; court dismisses the idea of establishment clause violation;

    -Aashiqui Lad
    Reply
    Deleted user
    Deleted user
    I think it’s interesting that the Court made two separate opinions when it came to the cases regarding the Ten Amendments because forbidding one with the reason that the displays were around for religious content, but allowing one because “it had been around for 40+ years”. I don’t think the amount of time, or surrounding really does make that much of a difference to allow Texas to keep their displays but forbid Kentucky.
    -Aashiqui
    Sep 23, 2014 (edited Sep 23, 2014)•Delete
    Comments above copied from original document

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