According to Peter Brierley in his UK Church Statistic 2: 2010 – 2020 the actual number of churches increased between 2008 – 2013 and is expected to continue to do so between 2013 and 2020.
– In 2008 the total number of churches in the UK is 49,727
– In 2013 the total number of churches in the UK is 50,660
– Its estimated that in 2020 the number of churches will be 51,275
The Huffington post has reported on claims that if US churches paid taxes they would fund ALL the food stamps for every person on welfare in America, with enough left over to house the entire homeless population. So I guess you’ve probably figured out, if you didn’t already know that Churches do not pay taxes. Yes, God is exempt from contributing to the benefits of society like the rest of us feeble humans have to. The omnipotent ones definitely have privileges. The reasoning behind Churches not paying tax is that they are not classed as businesses under the Charities Act 2006. Churches can make investments into other businesses and profit from that, which we saw in the Wonga Scandal, where the Archbishop of Canterbury invested £80,000 into the company that owned Wonga. Wonga being known to target vulnerable people has had negative press for years, which doesn’t look good for Church involved.
In the UK, the Church of England has a £5.5 billion investment portfolio but it’s all pretty transparent within the public eye. There are lots of expenses involved and 60% of its income comes from gifts. If the Church of England was forced to pay taxes, it would cease to exist.
Let’s consider this for second.
The UK debt is currently at £1.73 trillion pounds and increasing and £2.45bn of that is NHS debt. We are going to get to a point where hard choices have to be made in terms of where money is going to come from. We can increase taxes & shut down community centres but that’s not going to be enough. If, we looked into taxing the Church then we could potentially save the NHS and people could still get into heaven. Surely God wouldn’t send people to hell because they couldn’t physically get to church. Plus, with virtual reality looking increasingly sharp, church congregation could continue in the digital world, which would change the way churchgoers worship. Obviously the ministers and Church staff would be out of a job, but as Kanye West says ‘God will provide’.