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Texas church tax exemptions secure.

Back in 1997, the Texas Comptroller's office granted a routine tax-exemption to the Ethical Society of Austin, a religious humanist group. "Godless Group Gets Religious Exemption," screamed a headline in the state capital's daily paper. Then-Comptroller John Sharp revoked the exemption, declaring that a nonprofit must demand belief in "God, Gods, or a Higher Power" to be considered religious. Current Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn inherited the policy--and an Ethical Society lawsuit that the Comptroller's office just keeps on losing. In April, the Texas Supreme Court refused Strayhorn's final in-state appeal. She pledged to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. After she refused an exemption for a Denison, Texas, Unitarian-Universalist church because its doctrines are insufficiently specific, Fort Worth's daily paper slammed the decision. Displaying her predecessor's sensitivity to media pressure (maybe it's a requirement of the office), Strayhorn reversed herself on May 24 and said the Unitarians could have their exemption after all.

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Title Annotation:Church-State Update
Author:Flynn, Tom
Publication:Free Inquiry
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:Aug 1, 2004
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