I’m firmly convinced that when Jesus said “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” he was, among other things, formulating a recipe for how the church and state should relate to each other: they should stay out each other’s business. That is not to say that those in government cannot be guided by Christian principles or that churchgoers should not hold political opinions; it is to say that as institutions, although ultimately they report to the same boss, they should conduct their affairs separately.
But when the church tosses out the transcendent to replace it with the temporal, it ceases to be a religion and all it has left with which to busy itself is politics: such is the condition of the United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada.
Unhappily for the church, even an establishment as spiritually obtuse as the Canadian government has noticed that mainline denominations are more interested in utopia now than heaven later; why should they not pay taxes like everyone else? At least, then, they would be completely unencumbered by otherworldly pietistic pretentions and could fulminate on the misdeeds of Israel to their heart’s content, unfettered by any vestigial impulse to being non-partisan.
Some bishops have caught wind of this and are recoiling in horror: remember, bishops delight in redistributing other people’s money, not the church’s money. Bishop Dennis Drainville thinks making the church pay tax is an “attack on the churches” by “Harperites”; you would think he would welcome a conservative government’s foray into wealth equity.
So what is the solution? If the church wants to play politics, let it pay taxes; it could raise plenty of money by selling all its properties lying idle.