Don’t Tax the Churches

Let’s kill this terrible idea once and for all

Barry Lyons
6 min readJun 19, 2021
Credit: Matt Wuerker (POLITICO)

[Update: September 5, 2023. I wrote this essay a couple of years ago, but I recently had a back-and-forth with a guy on Formerly Twitter who said I was wrong. My interlocutor got me thinking about some things that maybe I ought to have included in my piece from 2021. Below I have added an Update to my essay.]

What are taxes? Here are some definitions:

“A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer by a governmental organization in order to fund government spending and various public expenditures.” (Wikipedia)

“Taxes are mandatory contributions levied on individuals or corporations by a government entity — whether local, regional or national. Tax revenues finance government activities, including such public works and services as roads and schools, or programs like Social Security and Medicare.” (Investopedia)

“[A] tax is an amount of money that you have to pay to the government so that it can pay for public services such as road and schools.” (Collins Dictionary)

Now, what does “separation of church and state” mean? Here’s an excerpt from a letter that that President Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut. It was his response…



Barry Lyons

Not a fan of sports or religion. I guess that makes me a bad American.