Pope Francis Takes Aim At Churches That Choose Greed Over Helping The Poor: ‘Pay Taxes’

As Pope Francis gears up to bring his message to the United States, televangelists and preachers who run their “churches” like a business or political organization should be running scared.

During an interview with Renascenca, the pontiff took a shot at churches that “worship the God of money” instead of helping the sick and the poor as Jesus commands.

In Italy, some churches operate as hotels and still avoid paying taxes because they use tax loopholes that exempt religious organizations from paying taxes. Basically, a church acts as an umbrella for property and businesses it owns to evade taxation, kinda like what many televangelists such as John Hagee do here in the United States. After the San Antonio Express-News reported on Hagee’s $1 million plus income in 2001, Hagee reorganized his TV station (Global Evangelism Television) as a church (Grace Church of San Antonio Churches) to shelter tax records. Hagee now shelters all of his assets, including an 8,000 acre ranch, in the Cornerstone Church.

This is precisely the kind of immoral and unpatriotic bullshit Pope Francis despises, so he slammed Italian churches that refuse to take in refugees because they would rather run a for-profit business instead:

“Certain congregations say, ‘as the convent is empty, we’ll turn it into a hotel, and we can host people as well as meeting our own needs’. Well, if you want to do that, pay your taxes like everyone else! A religious school is tax-exempt because it is religious, but if it is functioning as a hotel, then it should pay taxes just like its neighbor. Otherwise it is not fair business.”

Other preachers in the United States such as Pat Robertson run their “churches” like a ponzi scheme in which they beg people to give them money and promise that God will show them favor in return. Many preachers have made millions of dollars fleecing the flock so they can live in lavish homes, drive fancy cars, and fly in private jets. Meanwhile, the poor are struggling like never before, children are starving, and people are going bankrupt because they got sick. But many churches and the preachers who run them would rather spend money on themselves instead of helping others, which is why Pope Francis is absolutely right about telling churches to pay taxes.

If they are in religion to benefit themselves financially, they should be forced to pay taxes, pure and simple.

Combined, churches in the United States have billions of dollars in cash and assets that are not subject to taxation because of tax exemptions that preachers abuse for their own personal gain. Churches are supposed to care for others. They are supposed to use money to help people in need. They are NOT supposed to act as tax shelters for personal property and other ventures so that that the preacher can evade taxation and get rich.

Churches, especially those in right-wing circles, have also began to use the pulpit to preach politics to their congregations in flagrant violation of the separation of church and state. Furthermore, how can Republicans expect people to seek charity from churches instead of help from the government when church leaders would rather hoard money and use it to enrich themselves instead of using it to benefit people who really need it? Clearly, it’s time for the IRS to crack down on these greedy churches, and it’s time to end the tax exemption status they have taken advantage of for decades. Pope Francis would certainly approve.

Featured image via Wikimedia