I just noticed this again over at S-Town Mike’s (not saying he’s done it before, just saying that I’ve seen it before and seeing him do it just reminded me that I wanted to say something about it):
Why is this even getting play at “Taxing Tennessee”? Just because pastors may have to pay taxes if they publicly endorse parties and candidates? A congregation’s tax-free non-profit status is an entitlement by any other name. Instead of welfare queens, we’ve got a lot of welfare clerics running around making lots of money and not giving anything back to our common public life (and please no explanations about how proselytizing people is a public service).
This is not true. Churches are tax-exempt. Pastors are not. They still have to pay income tax just like everyone else and sales tax on their own stuff just like everyone else. When a pastor manages to conflate his private life and the life of the church so completely that he’s avoiding paying either income or sales tax, he’s committing tax fraud.
Conflating the tax status of pastors with the tax status of churches is a mistake. They are not one in the same. Which is, to me, why this nonsense is even more infuriating. People do conflate pastors with their churches and do conflate the views of the pastor with the established will of the church and those are not and should not be the same thing. A pastor is, at the end of the day, just human and just as likely to be wrong as the next person.
Taking political advice from your pastor is as wise as taking spiritual advice from your senator.