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Assets: Taking a Critical Look at Tax-Exempt Status of Churches and Schools

January 27, 1994

The Times Westside article concerning the Santa Monica Methodist Church's plan to build multimillion-dollar apartment buildings and underground garages on church land valued at $7 million follows last month's purchase by Malibu's The Churches of Christ and Pepperdine University of a multimillion-dollar piece of property in Santa Monica.

There's something wrong here. The Methodist Church, the Churches of Christ, and Pepperdine are all nonprofit, tax-free institutions. If they are profit-free, how can they afford to own, buy and build massive real estate holdings? Tax-free means, of course, that they do not have to share the costs of police, fire, schools, etc. with taxable businesses and tax-paying individual Americans.

Perhaps it's time for the tax-burdened American public to look again at their gift to religion. The original idea of allowing "the little church on the corner" to operate tax-free so that it could survive, has opened the door to vast land-holdings and fortunes by various power-seeking giants of religion.

We tax-paying citizens need help in supporting our civic expenses. If a nonprofit institution shows millions of dollars in profit, that money should then be returned to the American public, which gave the church its tax-free gift in the first place.

GEORGE WOOD

Malibu

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