Tag Archives: for-profit church

Excuse Me? What’s a “For Profit” Church?

A couple of weeks ago, the local news reported on a gathering of anti-gay activists protesting Indiana’s recognition of same-sex marriage. It was a small crowd (probably since people who understand how court rulings operate realized that a protest couldn’t/wouldn’t change anything), and I just skimmed the description of attendees.

Then I stopped. Read it again.

Among the participants listed were “Pastors of several For Profit Churches.” My husband’s snark when I read that description to him was “Aren’t they all?” (Yes, I know that blanket condemnation is unfair.)

I’d never heard of churches established to be for-profit enterprises. When I consulted Doctor Google, there were links to a number of articles advising churches on methods for establishing for-profit subsidiaries, and many more detailing the financial shenanigans of churches from “Mega” to storefront–but nothing about churches actually established as “for profit” entities.

The classification of a church as “nonprofit” or “for profit” has obvious tax and constitutional consequences. Traditional churches can claim certain exemptions from civil rights laws, for example, under the Free Exercise Clause. Whether a “for profit” church could do so is–so far as I know–an unanswered question.

A couple of months ago, there was a case involving a wedding chapel in Las Vegas that wanted to refuse service to LGBT customers. The owners claimed a religious liberty exemption from applicable civil rights laws. As I recall, the fact that the wedding chapel was a for-profit business meant that the exemption didn’t apply.

When you think about it, admittedly for-profit churches sort of give “coming out” a whole new meaning….