LETTER: Against tax exemptions for churches

From reader Jane Byers

I am writing in response to last week’s spiritual ad on the Nelson Star’s Tapestry page. Sarah Westnedge, pastor at Nelson’s First Baptist Church, tries to explain why churches have tax exempt status and opines that opposition to this may be because of a false assumption that churches have deep pockets.

I’d like to point out that my opposition to their tax exemption arises completely out of the fact that some churches, including Baptist churches, continue to have homophobic practices and policies. They are sanctioned to do this by the so- called “religious freedom” guarantee under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It is my opinion that churches should not be advantaged by what amounts to public funding unless they adopt as practice Canada’s Charter, i.e. not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation for one. Baptists have a wide range of positions on social issues but I certainly have not seen them stand up for equality for LGBTQ+ people in any significant way. I’ve seen the opposite. We’ve seen the devastation that organized religion has wreaked on our LGBTQ+ and Indigenous populations. Should we still be subsidizing their existence?

Jane Byers (she/her)