Last updated on: 2/6/2013 | Author:

Ryan T. Cragun, PhD Biography

Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Tampa
Con to the question "Should Churches (Including Mosques, Synagogues, etc.) Remain Tax-Exempt?"

“While some people may be bothered by the fact that there are pastors who live in multimillion dollar homes, this is old news to most. But here is what should bother you about these expensive homes: You are helping to pay for them! You pay for them indirectly, the same way local, state, and federal governments in the United States subsidize religion—to the tune of about $71 billion every year…

Hypothetically, the leader of a drug cartel could have one of his lieutenants start a church and file for tax-exempt status. Once granted, money from the sale of drugs could then be donated to the religion, which could use the funds to build extravagant buildings (including a ‘parsonage’), host extravagant ‘services’ (a.k.a. parties) for members of the religion, and pay extravagant salaries to its ministers (including the leader of the cartel). Drug money could be laundered through the church’s bank accounts with little risk of being caught by authorities. If drug cartels and the Mafia aren’t already doing this, we’d be surprised…

[A]s the perceived ‘benefit’ to society of religions becomes increasingly irrelevant as more and more Americans cease to utilize their ‘services’ by disaffiliating, it will also be increasingly unfair for a large percentage of nonreligious Americans (almost 40 percent in some states) to subsidize the recreational activities of others. These subsidies should be phased out.”

Cowritten with Stephanie Yeager and Desmond Vega, “How Secular Humanists (and Everyone Else) Subsidize Religion in the United States,” Free Inquiry magazine, June-July 2012

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Tampa, 2007-present
  • Founding Co-Editor of Secularism and Nonreligion, 2011-present
  • Quoted and/or research cited by the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, National Catholic Reporter, Dallas Baptist Standard, The Christian Century, The World (Public Radio International), Huffington Post, Reuters, Daily Mail, NBC/CNBC, Chicago Tribune, and other publications and programs
  • Secretary and Treasurer, Mormon Social Science Association, 2011-present
  • Webmaster for the Mormon Social Science Association, 2002-present
  • Recipient, Faculty Development Award for CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange) guided trip to the United Arab Emirates, Jan. 2012
  • Conference Organizer, Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2012
  • Recipient, Excellence in Research and Scholarship Award,
    College of Social Sciences, Mathematics, and Education, University of Tampa, 2011-2012

  • Recipient, Joyce Keller Faculty Volunteer of the Year Award, University of Tampa, 2010-2011
  • President, Mormon Social Science Association, 2009-2011 (President-Elect, 2006-2008)
  • Recipient, Excellence in Research Award from the College of Social
    Sciences, Mathematics, and Education at the University of Tampa, 2009-2010

  • Member, Student Paper Award Committee, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, 2008-2009
  • Editor, Newsletter for the Mormon Social Science Association, 2002-2009
  • Norris Johnson Teaching Fellow, Raymond Walters College, 2006-2007
  • Education:
  • PhD, Sociology, University of Cincinnati, 2007
  • MA, Sociology, University of Cincinnati, 2004
  • BA, Psychology, University of Utah, 2000
  • Other:
  • Member, American Sociological Association, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Mormon Social Science Association, Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network, Center for Atheist Research, and Mormon Social Science Association
  • Recipient, Delo Grant, University of Tampa,
    2009-2010 (with Mary Anderson), 2010-2011 (with Vicky Blyde)

  • Recipient, Dana Grant, University of Tampa 2008-2009, 2009-2010 (with John

  • Recipient, Taft Graduate Fellowship, University of Cincinnati, 2005-2006
  • Quoted in:
    Pro & Con Quotes: Should Churches (Including Mosques, Synagogues, etc.) Remain Tax-Exempt?