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If you haven't actively researched or don't know someone who is an active member of a church then it's not surprising you don't hear about church community outreach. Churches (with a few notable exceptions) tend not to be attention-seeking and sometimes church members are oblivious to their own church's community activities. A periodic photo-op for a politician is par-for-the-course for a church. Of course this all comes along with "proselytization"

Since you asked, I'll direct you to the website of the church in Alexandria I used to attend: If you go to the second section you'll see that the church is working with immigrants, the homeless, and victims of domestic abuse. Of course this comes along with proselytization, which leads many people to "throw out the baby with the bathwater" when assessing value.

I am not myself devoutly religious and no longer live in the DC area, but I can tell you that here in Richmond many homeless people rely on the food given by churches in Monroe Park. In fact, the churches have been the primary voice in advocating for homeless inclusion in Monroe Park, against the wishes of local residents who want to cops to kick them out.

"If you can answer the question above, then my followups would be, do these services outweigh the tax-exempt status of religious institutions, and the subsidies they thereby enjoy?"

I cannot speak to that, as I do not share the assumption that a group of people can be a "burden" on society simply by the act of free association on privately owned property.

"Does the opportunity cost of having a non-taxpaying religious institution outweigh the other options for land use?"

I believe that a land-value tax should be instituted and all property owners should pay it. This would likely have the effect of pushes churches out of areas where the land is much more valuable. The problem isn't with churches, but with land policy in general.

by Shane on Dec 6, 2012 12:00 pm • linkreport

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