A Tennessee church continues to fight against a local
government's attempt to tax part of its property. An appeals court
has heard arguments from both sides.
Christ Church in Nashville has non-profit
facilities that Davidson County intends to tax because not all
people who use them are people of faith. Tennesse state law
requires all non-profit groups, including churches, to file for tax
exemption for each piece of property -- and states that an
essential condition for consideration for exemption status is that
the property must be actively used for religious purposes.
But Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney Erik
Stanley tells OneNewsNow the church facilities in question, a
bookstore-café and a gymnasium, are used in outreach efforts
to draw people to Christ.
"The record in this case is
filled with instances where lives were changed because of the
contacts that the church had with the community through the
activities center, through the gym, through the café and the
bookstore as people who would not normally come to the church came
to the church," Stanley details.
In denying Christ Church a tax exemption, the ADF attorney
suggests the county is trying to define what is religious and what
"The situation Christ Church is facing is really emblematic of
where a lot of churches find themselves as struggling governments
across the country try to find new sources of revenue and they
frequently look to the church," Stanley explains.
"But [government officials] don't understand that taxing
churches just doesn't make sense," the attorney emphasizes, "and in
fact, it raises a host of constitutional problems if the state
interferes and limits the ability of the church to carry out its
He adds that the societal contributions of the church far
outweigh any tax revenue a government might receive.
The Tennessee Court of Appeals should issue a decision within
the next couple of months.