Televangelist Pat Robertson on Monday accused a viewer of having a "liberal mentality" because she suggested that tax-exempt status was essentially a government handout to churches.
"Whose church are we?" the viewer named Wendy asked in an email to Robertson. "Are we God's church or the world's? Jesus said, 'Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's.' Taxes."
"Why are churches taking a handout from the government?" Wendy wanted to know. "The just shall live by the government or by faith?"
Robertson seemed outraged that the question had been asked.
"I don't know what handout you're talking about. We don't take a handout from the government," he quipped. "Not paying taxes, it's your money. The fact the government doesn't take it away from you is not a government handout, and time immemorial, what belongs to God is what belongs to God!"
"That money in the church is given by people to the Lord," the TV preacher continued. "It doesn't belong to the government. So, that's not a handout to keep the government from taking it away from you."
Robertson said that the viewer had "this liberal mentality that everything that you have belongs to the government, and it's a benefit and privilege that they don't take it away from you."
"That's the reverse, it belongs to you," he insisted. "And they shouldn't take what belongs to God."
Last year, the documentary Mission Congo accused Robertson's tax-exempt organization, Operation Blessing, of funneling donations to the pastor's diamond mining operation.
Robertson's CBN also enjoys a tax-exempt status, but the IRS temporarily revoked the status for two years over the network's involvement in the 1988 presidential election.