The government exempts religious associations front taxation and, in return, restricts their putatively political expression and activities. This exemption-and-restriction scheme invites government to interpret and categorize the means by which religious communities live out their vocations and engage the world. But government is neither well-suited nor to be trusted with this kind of line-drawing. What's more, this invitation is dangerous to authentically religious consciousness and associations. When government communicates and enforces its own view of the nature of religion—i.e., that it is a private matter—and of its proper place—i.e., in the private sphere, not in politics—it tempts both believers and faith communities , to embrace this view. The result is a privatized faith, re-shaped to suit the vision and needs of government, and a public square evacuated of religious associations capable of mediating between persons and the state and challenging prophetically the government's claims and conduct.
Richard W. Garnett, A Quiet Faith? Taxes, Politics, and the Privatization of Religion, 42 B.C.L. Rev. 771 (2001), http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol42/iss4/2