LandLaws and Religious Institutions
Thearticle explores the laws relating to land utilization and theInstitutionalization affects the zoning of the houses of worship.According to the article, the zoning of the houses of worship maysignificantly affect the homes and houses of worship (RutherfordInstitute, 2000). According to the article, the U.S. Supreme Court provided the basisof establishing the legal clauses of zoning of homes and religiousbuildings. The case that led to the creation of this legal climate isthe Employment Division v. Smith, which involved an antagonism of twoholdings in relation to the legal issue. On one side, the court’sruling represented the holding that the Free Exercise Clause is notviolated by the practices of religion if they are general applicationlaws. This means that only the laws that are specifically establishfor religious practices, affects them (Gill, 2010). On the otherhand, the congress made a divergent law under the Religious FreedomRestoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) (RutherfordInstitute, 2000).In this act, government agencies are required to show genuine stateinterests before affecting certain laws that restrict religiouspractices.
Thesecond article explores the property tax maintained by the church.The article explains how the property tax is applied in relation toreligious institutions, especially under the exemptions that areapplied for religious property. The article enlightens that theproperty tax has exemptions for the property that is owned and usedby organizations that are determined to be non-profit organizations(Departmentof Revenue, n.d).According to the article, these are particularly the religiousdenominations that are recognized and genuinely used for worshippurposes (Departmentof Revenue, n.d).However, there are limitations to the exception provided in theclause as the law requires. The main limitation is the size of theland, which is capped at five acres of land a size that should notexceed by more than one third of an acre. At the same time, thearticle explains that there is a requirement of an annual renewal fora single or specific tax years. This renewal must be complied with,if the religious organizations have to be eligible for the propertytax exemptions.
Inmy opinion, laws that affect religious organizations should be boththe general laws and those that are specifically established forreligious practices. This is because the religious institutions arenot special parties to the running of a country. At the same time,these organizations should also have specific laws and policies thatguide their operations, ownership and relation with the government. Ialso feel that religious organizations should enjoy the exceptions oftax since they are not motivated by profit. Unlike otherorganizations, they have a different motivation towards theiroperations. In my opinion, the two articles give how governmentpolicies affect the operations of the church and the developments ofthe church issues. The state and religions are two different entitiesthat have their own guidelines. However, the state controls thereligious institutions through the establishment of the laws and thepolicies of the land which are supposed to be followed by all peoplein a country. The religious organizations being part of the people ina country, they are supposed to adhere to the laws and the policiesthat guide the country. I feel that the laws relating to the churchshould be both the general law and the specific laws.
Inrelation to these, the following are questions that arise and requiremore consideration. They are: To what extent should religiousinstitutions be limited by the general laws such as religious landlaws? Should the religious institutions comply with the requirementsof the land property tax guidelines in order to enjoy the exceptionsof the tax act?
Departmentof Revenue, Maintainingyour Church’s Property Tax Exemption. DepartmentofRevenue’sProperty Tax Division at (360) 534-1400
Gill,Antony. ARDAGuiding Papers Series: Septics,Sewers and Secularization: How Government Regulation FlushesReligiosity Down the Drain. Web,Accessed, 4 March, 2016, <http://www.thearda.com/rrh/papers/guidingpapers/gill.asp>
RutherfordInstitute, 2000.The religious land utilization and institutionalized persons act of2000: how zoning of houses of worship and home worship may beaffected. TheRutherford Institute, ReferenceNo.: A-5 Updated: 6/22/01