Religious institutions are tax “deadbeats” says Bill Maher.

Comedian and commentator Bill Maher is “hopping mad” that large U.S. corporations such as GM and United Airlines didn’t pay any federal taxes last year. But you might be surprised what other institution he wants to pay its share to the IRS: churches.

On his HBO show Real Time wiht Bill Maher, Maher added religious congregations to his list of tax “deadbeats,” reports Esquire.

Maher, an atheist and producer of the pro-atheism documentary Religulous, offered some statistics. “There are over 300,000 religious congregations in this country that pay no tax…And they own $600 billion in property.”

He went on to point out that 22 percent of Americans identify as atheist or agnostic (35 percent of young people), so almost one in four Americans is being “forced to subsidize a myth that we’re not buying into.”

But then he rolled up his sleeves, leaving no doubt about his feelings regarding organized religion, which he called:

“a sexist, homophobic magic act that’s been used to justify everything from genital mutilation to genocide.”

He also asked why Americans call for a raise in taxes on tobacco to keep kids from getting cancer, but don’t levy taxes on religion. He suggested putting a tax on Sunday school so kids “don’t get stupid.”

It’s been over 40 years since the Supreme Court last heard a case regarding the tax-exempt status of churches. The decision then centered on The Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment, which the high court noted was not the most clearly-explained section of the Constitution. Regardless, by a vote of 7-1, the Court voted to uphold the tax-exempt status of churches.

Perhaps Maher’s commentary will reignite this discussion in a country very sensitive to the wealthy not paying their fair share of taxes and a shrinking middle class.

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