Constitutional Law: Should Religion Be Taxed?

In her attack on the U.S. tradition of granting tax exemption to church-owned property, Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair filed a widely watched suit in Maryland that no constitutional scholar can lightly dismiss. Such exemption, she argued, hikes taxes for other property owners and violates the First Amendment because it amounts to taxation in support of religion.

Last week the Maryland Court of Appeals unanimously rebuffed Appellant O'Hair (who now lives in Mexico). But in speaking for Maryland's highest court, Judge Reuben Oppenheimer frankly conceded her basic point. "Economically," he said, religious organizations "are in the same position as though they paid...

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