Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shared sacrifice? Tax the churches and all religious organisations

I do not believe in gods which makes me an atheist I suppose.  I can't accept that some supernatural being made the earth or impregnated a human woman with its offspring or ordered humans to mutilate their male children in return for its undying and eternal favor.

If people want to believe in such myths though, I believe they should be able to do so freely and without discrimination or persecution. But I  do not believe that Christian mythology should be given any more credibility in such maters as the origins of the material world or us as occupants of it, than Greek or Roman mythology.  The idea that there are colleges of divinity or doctors of divinity that are given serious credibility in the world of science or education is ridiculous.

These organizations though carry a lot of weight and influence thinking and politics. The Catholic church for instance has its own state and representatives in the governments of nations where it has a presence. It has been complicit in the deaths and assassinations of Liberation Theologists that were outspoken critics of the US support for fascists and right wing death squads in the Americas.  Once the religion of the feudal aristocracy owning vast quantities of land it is now one of the most powerful institutions of capitalism and the free market.  We spend billions of dollars and much wasted time in the US fending off the influence of these organizations in the education of our children substituting myth and fairy tales for reason and scientific truth.

An article in my local paper today talks about the increasing boldness of these institutions involving themselves more openly in the political process telling their flock who to vote for and preaching openly political sermons.  The Pulpit Freedom Sunday movement, the arm of a Christian legal group called Alliance Defending Freedom based in Arizona, is aiming to take the US Internal Revenue Service on head on as it challenges the 1954 law banning churches from supporting political causes or candidates during services.  The deal is that they get tax exempt status for this small detail. It's an interesting type of Christianity that resides in Arizona, throws around the "freedom" label and says nothing and actually supports the harassment, killing and persecution of immigrants, desperate to feed their children.

The religious organizations go on about the discrimination and oppression they face in society yet they wield incredible influence considering they are institutions that peddle myth.  You can pretty much commit any sort of malfeasance and run for office in this country (in fact it is a plus), anything except admit to being an atheist.  It is not them that are discriminated against but those of us that do not accept their mythology as truth.

The intention of the separation of church and state wasn't the church's encroachment on government but government's encroachment into the church" says one preacher adding that, "If I talk about an issue of the violation of biblical truth, then it ceases to be a political issue. It's a spiritual issue."

The Arizona based Alliance Defending Freedom (except for  undocumented Latino immigrants driven by poverty to seek work elsewhere) wants to transform the legal system and "reclaim America" from "Radical anti-Christian groups" and "debunk" "..the myth of the so-called separation of church and state."  Many of these institutions are the right wing Christian Evangelicals that hate gays, blacks, Jews (except Zionists) and any others that don't believe their stuff.   But the more mainstream institutions like the Catholic and Mormon Churches are very prosperous businesses that get huge tax breaks and tax exempt status on property and land, possible income as well.

So these institutions rake in billions, trillions over the years through tax exemption.  We should allow them to preach any politics they want and repeal the tax exempt status, religious institutions should be taxed like any other business. 

I would urge those political activists that get these initiatives on the ballot to change legislation, to get together and introduce legislation to eliminate this perk; make an issue of it, go an the offensive and place it on the public agenda.  The IRS allows these institutions to violate this law with impunity, we need to make an issue of it and make a real effort to repeal the tax law.  We can use that money in a more productive way, build some schools, hire some teachers.

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