Last updated on: 7/27/2016 | Author:

Richard W. Garnett, JD Biography

Paul J. Schierl / Fort Howard Corporation Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame
Pro to the question "Should Churches (Including Mosques, Synagogues, etc.) Remain Tax-Exempt?"

“In the United States, churches and other religious institutions are, generally speaking, exempt from federal, state, and local taxes. They have been for a long time. This deeply rooted practice is good policy and it helps to promote and protect our fundamental right to religious freedom. After all, that right includes the right of religious believers to act in and through religious institutions, so it makes sense to protect those institutions from the intrusions and burdens of tax laws…

[O]ur tradition of exempting churches and religious institutions from taxes is justified and important. The separation of church and state is not a reason to invalidate or abandon these tax exemptions but is instead a very powerful justification for retaining them…

There are also many good policy reasons for exempting churches, faith-based homeless shelters, parochial schools, and religious hospitals from taxes. Many of these reasons also apply forcefully to cultural, artistic, and social welfare agencies of all kinds. It is a good thing to have a vibrant, diverse, and competitive civil society, to support rather than resist pluralism, to increase rather than shrink the opportunities for engagement with others, and to avoid monopolization by governments of too many activities. There are things that, probably, only governments can do, but there are many more things that non-state agencies can do too, and better.”

“Should Churches Be Tax Exempt?,” (accessed July 28, 2016)

Theoretical Expertise Ranking:
Individuals with JDs, PhDs, or equivalent advanced degrees in fields relevant to churches and taxes. Also top-level government officials (such as foreign leaders, US presidents, Founding Fathers, Supreme Court Justices, members of legislative bodies, cabinet members, military leaders, etc.) with positions relevant to the churches and taxes issue.
Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Paul J. Schierl / Fort Howard Corporation Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame, 2015-present
  • Director, Notre Dame Program on Church, State & Society, 2010-present
  • Concurrent Professor of Political Science, University of Notre Dame, 2010-present
  • Lay consultant, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee on
    Religious Liberty, 2011-2014

  • Associate Dean for Faculty Research, University of Notre Dame, 2011-2013
  • Associate Dean, University of Notre Dame, 2009-2011
  • Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame, 2008-2015
  • Recipient, Media Legend of the Year, University of Notre Dame, 2010
  • John Cardinal O’Hara, C.S.C. Associate Professor, University of Notre Dame, 2005-2008
  • Associate Professor, University of Notre Dame, 2002-2005
  • Recipient, Commitment Award, Notre Dame Black Law Students Association, 2004
  • Assistant Professor, University of Notre Dame, 1999-2002
  • Recipient, Charles Crutchfield Professorial Excellence Award, Notre Dame Black Law Students Association, 2001

  • Education:
  • JD, Yale Law School, 1995
  • BA, summa cum laude with Honors, Philosophy, Duke University, 1990
  • Visiting student, Brasenose College, University of Oxford, 1998-1989
  • Other:
  • Born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania on Nov. 6, 1968
  • Raised in Anchorage, Alaska
  • Member, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
  • Former Senior Editor of the Yale Law Journal
  • Quoted in:
    Pro & Con Quotes: Should Churches (Including Mosques, Synagogues, etc.) Remain Tax-Exempt?