The Kings Glory Fellowship, a Protestant church in Calgary, Alberta, has lost their tax exempt status because they spent too much time involved in political activities outside the church, including actively campaigning against gay rights.
Religious officials are pretty miffed, including Calgary’s Bishop Fred Henry, who said this incident was “clearly meant to muzzle religious leaders.”
Yes, I can see it now… Dusk falls at the offices of Canada Revenue Agency. The government’s tax regulators congregate in full accountant regalia, sworn brothers in a secret plot to locate Calgary’s religious leaders and attach leather jaw restraints while they sleep.
I’m actually a little disappointed that the truth is so much more boring.
Tax exemptions, you see, are only available for charitable causes, not political ones. If a church wishes to actively affect policy for those that have nothing to do with its religion or beliefs, it becomes part of the public sphere and must contribute to it with income and property taxes. Once they do, they’re free to go outside of their congregations to lecture, publish, organize, put on charming foil hats, bang on pots and pans for effect, terrorize minority groups with neon placards, and do all the other things that wacky, anti-gay lobby and activist groups do. No leather jaw restraints required.
If a church doesn’t want to contribute to the public realm with taxes, then they can abide by their own decision and limit their political influence to inside their private congregations. Well, at least 90% of their influence, anyway. They’re allowed 10% for some reason. See? Who said the CRA isn’t generous?