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Oklahoma Law Review





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Though the American legal system is deferential toward religion and churches, it is undeniable that the Church of Latter-day Saints-and other like organizations-are not just churches. They are, instead, important participants in the market economy, some of them global business enterprises of major proportions. This twinning of profit and spirit is seamless for many religions, with numerous modem churches preaching a "prosperity gospel" that promises spiritual and temporal blessings in return for donations."' Still other churches-such as the Church of Scientology-directly charge for religious services that are "necessary" for spiritual improvement and advancement in the church hierarchy. And still others accumulate their own reserves of property and wealth. This asset assemblage leads, ineluctably, to enormous income and wealth concentrated in the hands of religious organizations across America.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with religious organizations amassing wealth, it is troubling that they do so while enjoying informational and tax advantages not afforded to other entities. However, these benefits are not "tax advantages;" these are "tax advantages that are expressly made unavailable to other, competing, profit-seeking entities that suffer greatly due to their comparative disadvantage." Indeed, this Article's foundational claim is these advantages are so significant that they have come to shape the aims and actions of many religions, effectively bending the nature of many organizations away from traditionally religious and charitable work and toward profit-seeking. This state is both unintended and inequitable. As such, these advantages should be eliminated.

Recommended Citation

Chad J. Pomeroy, Let My Arm Be Broken off at the Elbow, 71 Okla. L. Rev. 453 (2019).