Last updated on: 7/29/2016 | Author:

Mark Oppenheimer, PhD Biography

Opinion columnist at the Los Angeles Times
Con to the question "Should Churches (Including Mosques, Synagogues, etc.) Remain Tax-Exempt?"

“The Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage makes it clearer than ever that the government shouldn’t be subsidizing religion and non-profits… It’s time to abolish, or greatly diminish, their tax-exempt statuses… [T]he religious exemption has forced the IRS to decide what’s a religion, and thus has entangled church and state in the worst way. Since the world’s great religion scholars can’t agree on what a religion is, it’s absurd to ask a bunch of accountants, no matter how well-meaning…

[T]he IRS famously caved and awarded the Church of Scientology tax-exempt status. Never mind that the Scientology is secretive, or that it charges for its courses; or that its leader, David Miscavige, lives like a pasha. Indeed, many clergy have mid-six-figure salaries — many university presidents, seven-figure salaries — and the IRS doesn’t trouble their tax-exempt status. And many churches and synagogues sit on exceedingly valuable tracts of land (walk up and down Fifth Avenue to see what I mean). The property taxes they aren’t paying have to be drawn from business owners and private citizens — in a real sense, you and I are subsidizing Mormon temples, Muslims mosques, Methodist churches.”

“Now’s the Time to End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions,” TIME magazine, June 28, 2015

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Opinion columnist, Los Angeles Times
  • Columnist, “Beliefs,” New York Times, 2010-June 2016
  • Host, Unorthodox podcast, Tablet magazine
  • Lecturer in Religion and Literature, Yale Divinity School
  • Contributor, New York Times Magazine, The Nation, The Forward, Tablet, Mother Jones
  • Director, Yale Journalism Initiative
  • Recipient, Koret Young Writer on Jewish Themes award
  • Recipient, Hiett Prize in the Humanities
  • Education:
  • PhD, Religion, Yale University, 2003
  • BA, History, Yale College, 1996

  • Other:
  • Has taught at Yale, Stanford, Wesleyan, Boston College, and New York University
  • Twitter: @markopp1
  • Quoted in:
    Pro & Con Quotes: Should Churches (Including Mosques, Synagogues, etc.) Remain Tax-Exempt?