One reason churches in America are tax exempt goes back to the founding fathers; they believed government should not interfere with the freedom of worship. The Supreme Court has said, “The power to tax involves the power to control.” But another reason churches are tax exempt is because churches provide great benefits to society by their good deeds. They serve the poor and needy in the community. One study found that just one church provided $6 million dollars worth of economic value to one community—10 times the church’s annual budget. Recognizing the value religious teaching brings to a community did not just begin. We read in Ezra that the Persian King Artaxerxes realized that too. When Ezra was making plans to go home to Jerusalem, the king gave his support to Ezra. The king decreed that Ezra and his assistants should not be taxed because they provided a service to the king and his kingdom. He said Ezra would be teaching the people God’s laws, which would have profound social implications. Teaching God’s laws enriches the social order, keeps crime down, teaches people to respect and get along with their neighbors, and encourages people to help one another. So since our country permits churches and other charitable groups to serve without taxation, we should be grateful. And churches should use that privilege to serve the Lord and be shining lights in the community.