The Maetreum of Cybele is seeking donations to fund its continuing legal fight to have its tax-exempt status recognized by the Town of Catskill. I was in court when a panel of appellate judges (New York's second-highest jurists) heard testimony which led to a ruling in the Maetreum's favor, one which was covered by the likes of Forbes and the New York Law Journal.
Like many small towns in this state, Catskill is apparently loathe to take a property off the tax rolls. Both state and federal governments continue to heap unfunded mandates on local municipalities, which must also manage rising health-care costs and a tax cap which ensures that the revenue will never keep up with the costs without cutting what the law will allow, such as programs for senior citizens and other "discretionary" expenses.
Seeing the Maetreum of Cybele win its tax fight was satisfying: justice prevailed, a small Pagan congregation gets treated with respect, the separation between church and state is preserved (if not strengthened) by a decision that basically said that local governments don't get to decide what religions look like.
The underlying principle -- that religious institutions don't get taxed -- is being upheld in a fair and consistent manner. But in the belief that a good idea bears up under examination, all this hubbub inspired me to ask whether or not it's a good idea not to tax churches in the first place.