I’ve thought carefully about the issue in years past and came to a startling conclusion.
If we agree that government may not pass a law which restricts the free exercise of religion, then we need to be on the lookout for laws that do exactly that. And not only laws which do so expressly but also those which have that clear effect.
My favorite examples are schools or community centers.
Imagine a community of Christians about to build a Christian school or community center. But then a law is passed to lay a tax for the state to build a school or community center for that same community… taking from citizens the funds which were to be used for their Christian projects, the only difference being is that the government school or community center will have scrubbed religion from both, supposedly due to the 1st amendment.
But instead what has actually happened is that the state has passed laws which convert the property of those Christians into religion free zones.
In other words, restricting the free exercise of religion.
To prove this is the case, one need only imagine a 100% tax rate, where all things are provided by the state… the means to have, or even store a bible would be gone. The State cannot provide a bible…. and you can’t keep it in your government supplied home anyway. People could no longer pray in “their” homes. There could be no churches… no synagogues, no mosques.
So it is the act of taxation and then local use of said funds to replace things like religious schools with simply “schools” where religion is prohibited, clearly violating 1st amendment protection. Taxes to build secular buildings necessarily prevents the building of non secular structures… therefore violating the first amendment.
Taxation is scrubbing away religion, one tax increase at a time.