Emperor Constantine the Great Declares Christian Priests Exempt From Taxes Hot

Emperor Constantine the Great Declares Christian Priests Exempt From Taxes

Constantine the Great
Source: Bija

Timeline of History

Religious History
Christian History
Church & State History

Emperor Constantine the Great issues a new law declaring that Christian priests and their families are exempt from taxes, even taxes on money made through regular commercial transactions. This is explicitly designed to encourage people to become priests and is based on the assumption that priests will use their money to help the poor.

Constantine decrees:

"To ensure that organizations serving churches have a great multitude of people, priests and their acolytes shall be exempt from taxation. They will also be protected from the demands of menial compulsory public service. Priests will not even be required to submit the tax payments of tradesmen, nor shall their men, because clearly the profits they receive in stalls and workshops will benefit the poor. ...

This indulgence We also grant for the exemption from tax assessments to the wives, children, and servants, to males and females equally, of priests and their acolytes." [CTh 16.2.10]

Special tax benefits for Christian clergy is a practice that will continue throughout the history of Christianity and represents one of the earliest forms in which church and state begin to join forces. Usually tax exemptions simply serve as a way of boosting the financial health of a church without having to provide direct aid, even though it means that all the taxpayers indirectly contribute to the church. Here, though, Emperor Constantine the Great makes it clear that he wants more people to join the Christian clergy and is offering these tax benefits as an incentive.


Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity

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