"Because it costs you and me billions. We are not talking chump change here. Consider that for every tax dollar a religious organization does not pay, you and I pay it on its behalf. Many are among the wealthiest organizations in the world: by 1971, the amount of real and personal property owned by U.S. churches was approx. $110 billion. In New York City alone, the amount was $3 billion in 1989. A 1986 estimate showed religious income in that year of approx. $100 billion, or about five times the income of the five largest corporations in the U.S. All tax free."
This is somewhat misleading. The $110 billion figure may be accurate, but remember that that is all churches combined. If you look at the financial state of any one individual church, you will see something quite different.
My church feeds over 3,000 people per week, operates a thrift shop at no profit, offers counseling, hand out various coupons, offer office space to at least one charitable organization, etc. And we do it at a pretty steady loss, so fund-raising is a very big thing for us, just to keep the place warm and the staff paid and the roof from leaking. We do a lot o good, and it's a constant struggle to keep the place open.
BTW, we're an Open and Affirming Episcopal congregation.
I am not saying that churches should not pay taxes; but the information above is misleadingly presented.