Tax the churches!
It's time to re-examine the tax-exempt status of churches. Yeah, I know, it's supposed to be rooted in the separation of church and state -- the churches don't pay taxes, and in return they stay out of politics. But lots of entities which are just as clearly separate from the state lack any such exemption, and church non-involvement in politics has long ceased to be anything but a pious fiction -- with threats up to and including excommunication for votes on specific issues such as abortion, some of them are taking clearer and more exact political stands than political parties themselves do. In fact, with tax-exempt status being granted purely on the basis of an institution's claim to be religious (and given to few non-religious entities), it seems like an actual violation of the establishment clause -- religious groups get a special and very valuable privilege granted to few others, solely because they are religious. That looks an awful lot like government promotion of religion.
Let's face reality. The churches these days are all over politics like priests on an altar boy, and that's not going to change. We should let them act openly, just like the NRA and the AARP and every other outfit with a cause to push. And they should be subject to taxation on their income and property, just like everyone else is. No more legal hairsplitting about what is and isn't religious, and no more special privileges.
It would require guts for any politician to take up this cause, of course. But with Americans' religious belief declining, respect for institutional religion at an all-time low, and the economy under strain, the time is surely ripe to chivvy these sacred cows into the milking shed.