Religious structures in the United States are virtually completely privately owned. The only exceptions are chapels on the premises of public colleges and public cemeteries. These are non-denominational when they exist. Religious structures in the United States (churches, schools, hospitals, etc.) can be any size or type. There are small churches with no more than 50 people, one large church that can hold 10,000 people. They all have different types of architecture that reflect their cultural roots. Some are simple, some are not. Some are painted white, some are not. Some have a bell tower, others don't. But they all share one important thing in common: they are private property.
In most states, all that connects these buildings to their religious organizations is a license agreement. This means that if there is no congregation or other organization to pay taxes, use the land for anything other than religious purposes, or otherwise maintain the property, it will eventually be lost through foreclosure or other actions taken by lenders or government agencies.
All over America you will find churches that have been converted into stores, restaurants, or other businesses. Sometimes they remain as churches for many years after their conversions because no one comes to pray there or use its facilities.
It is important to understand that while the ground around these buildings may be private property, this does not mean that anyone can do what they want with them.
Church structures are private property in the United States, with title holders varied according to denomination. The right of ownership cannot be taken away from the title holder without due process (i.e., through eminent domain).
In most states, including all states where there is no local religious law, churches can decide what role they want to play with regard to real estate. Some churches may choose to own property themselves while others may allow this function to be done by an independent third party. If a church chooses to own property itself, it can do so either individually or through a non-profit organization. The important thing is that the church keep control over the property, and not let it be used for other purposes than worship.
If a church does not want to own property itself but instead allows this function to be done by an independent third party, it can still have a say in how this person handles its assets by reviewing the management agreement or other contract that is created between them. The church would also be able to remove its trustee at any time with notice.
Churches can also choose to rent property. This is usually done when the church does not have the money to buy property or wants to use the funds elsewhere.
Are churches considered private property? Due to the separation of religion and state in the United States, religious facilities are not owned by the state. As a result, unlike a public park, church properties are not owned by the general public. Rather, they are owned by the religious organization that establishes them.
Many people believe that because churches are involved in matters of faith and spirituality, they should be exempt from civil law including parking regulations. This is not the case though. Just like any other business, churches must follow the rules set forth by their city or town if they want to be able to operate within its limits.
In most cities, churches are required by law to have a license to perform marriages. They may also be required by law to have fire safety systems installed in places where people gather (such as chapels) or to hire licensed personnel (such as priests) to conduct services.
If a church does not have these requirements imposed on it, then it can be assumed that it has done so voluntarily. This means that in the absence of civil law requiring them to do so, many churches choose not to have licenses or insurance. The risk of losing their property rights if they do not follow these practices is not worth it to some organizations.