A Petition to Abolish Tex Exempt Status for Religious Organizations in California
Posted: 19 February 2011 01:11 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I know that many on this board share my ideals, so I wanted to share some thoughts. I’m sure you know that a few weeks ago in Texas a local atheist organization organized a rally. They were asking the Texas legislature to tax religious institutions in order to pay for education.

In light of the economic circumstances of the country, I think that the secular community is missing out on the chance to push this issue. It seems that now more than ever is the time to raise the possibility of taxing religions.

I’m not saying that I think we can succeed, although I hope we will, but that it needs to enter the zeitgeist, for lack of a better term. If we can get people, particularly elected officials, to explore the option, one day ten or twenty years from now it could become a reality.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I think it is worth a try. Therefore, I wanted to reach out to the leaders of the secular community. I’ve begun a petition on Change.org to send a letter to Gov. Brown. Obviously this is not nearly enough; but what if every secular organization starts a petition in their respective states?  Therefore, if you live in the state of California, please consider signing the petition to ask Gov. Brown to tax religious organizations. 

Link to the petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/ask-gov-brown-to-abolish-religious-tax-exemption-to-pay-for-schools-health-care

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Posted: 19 February 2011 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Looks okay to me. It’s worth pointing out that some religious organizations should still quaify for tax exempt status, but not on the basis of being religious, but on the same criteria that every other nonprofit needs to meet.

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Posted: 19 February 2011 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I agree Andrew; however, the method by which they conduct their charities needs to be scrutinized as well.  If they’re using tax-exempt funds, they shouldn’t be allowed to proselytize, or force people to listen to sermons in order to access the charity.

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Posted: 19 February 2011 02:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Gallant Skeptic - 19 February 2011 01:42 PM

I agree Andrew; however, the method by which they conduct their charities needs to be scrutinized as well.  If they’re using tax-exempt funds, they shouldn’t be allowed to proselytize, or force people to listen to sermons in order to access the charity.

AND their financial records need to be transparent, just like any other organization. I signed the petition. Thanks.

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Posted: 19 February 2011 04:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I agree, but I think California churches are already subject to real estate taxes on ANY use of their facilities that isn’t strictly religious. 

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Posted: 20 February 2011 02:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 19 February 2011 01:27 PM

Looks okay to me. It’s worth pointing out that some religious organizations should still quaify for tax exempt status, but not on the basis of being religious, but on the same criteria that every other nonprofit needs to meet.

That seems to be the way they should go about it to me as well, but it seems pretty unlikely in even the most progressive states. There would be outrage all across the nation, I think. They would organize and come down hard on it as they have done with issues less imposing to them than this one, the WBC came and protested the funeral of a girl that was murdered here, they and others would go ballistic over this.
It really is too bad, but they have an insane amount of influence.
If something like this did pass, it would be an impressive step forward though.

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Posted: 20 February 2011 09:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Droogs - 20 February 2011 02:19 AM
TromboneAndrew - 19 February 2011 01:27 PM

Looks okay to me. It’s worth pointing out that some religious organizations should still quaify for tax exempt status, but not on the basis of being religious, but on the same criteria that every other nonprofit needs to meet.

That seems to be the way they should go about it to me as well, but it seems pretty unlikely in even the most progressive states. There would be outrage all across the nation, I think. They would organize and come down hard on it as they have done with issues less imposing to them than this one, the WBC came and protested the funeral of a girl that was murdered here, they and others would go ballistic over this.
It really is too bad, but they have an insane amount of influence.
If something like this did pass, it would be an impressive step forward though.

I agree that at this point it may not be possible, but I really want to press the issue now because I want it to enter the zeitgeist of the nation.  Because of the economic environment, I think there is a better chance that people will talk about it.  If we can just get people talking about it, then in ten or twenty years it could happen.

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Posted: 07 March 2011 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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It appears that the Republicans in the US House of Representatives have begun the process of eliminating the deduction on Federal Income Tax for religious institutions. They have passed a bill that would eliminate the tax deduction for health insurance that provides fro abortion insisting that such a tax deduction is a “government support for abortions”. If their logic is sound (doubtful) then it stands to reason that a tax deduction for religious institutions is also a government support of religion, which I believe is unconstitutional.

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Posted: 07 March 2011 11:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Veritas - 07 March 2011 09:55 AM

It appears that the Republicans in the US House of Representatives have begun the process of eliminating the deduction on Federal Income Tax for religious institutions. They have passed a bill that would eliminate the tax deduction for health insurance that provides fro abortion insisting that such a tax deduction is a “government support for abortions”. If their logic is sound (doubtful) then it stands to reason that a tax deduction for religious institutions is also a government support of religion, which I believe is unconstitutional.

I think it has always been a viable argument that religious tax exemption is equal to government promotion.  However, politicians are afraid to change anything because in today’s political environment moves against religion are political suicide.  The real problem is that religions have too much power, and they have too much power because they have too much money.  Their wealth allows them to proselytize and recruit large congregations as well as promote religious dogma in Washington.

This is why I think it’s imperative that the secular community become more militant about this issue.  Atheists are wasting valuable media time squabbling over taking god out of the pledge or off the dollar when this is the real issue.  And right now, I don’t hear this even being discussed in the mainstream media, and it should be.

What the Republicans are doing now by denying abortion rights to women is very worrisome because the government is now denying health privileges to a group because of religious dogma.  This goes beyond government promotion.  In fact, I see this as a slide towards theocracy. 

When one considers how much influence the evangelical community has over Washington, it is very scary.  Particularly if one considers that evangelicals are the same people who believe that the Earth is 6000 years old and that humans lived along side dinosaurs.  These are clearly people who will refuse to be persuaded by evidence or facts in order to cling to their flawed and antiquated dogma. 

Therefore, I agree with you.  By logic, if the Republicans want to deny abortion to women because it represents government promotion of health care then by precedent, they should abolish religious tax exemption.  However, I fear that this will not happen because what we are actually seeing is a religious infiltration of the government that will never allow the funds to be cut off.  Again, this is why now more than ever, I feel that it is imperative that atheists take a more aggressive stance.  Too often when I turn on the T.V. and see a member of the secular community being interviewed or on a talk show, there is no mention of religious tax exemption.  They seem to be more concerned with improving the perception of atheists in America or taking god out of the pledge of allegiance.  While these issues are also important, I see them as symptoms of the greater problem that is the wealth that religious institutions are able to accrue in order to promote their ideologies. 

Unfortunately, I often I feel I spend as much time arguing with apathetic or complacent atheists as I do arguing with the religious.  There are too many members of the secular community who are too happy to leave things as they are.  They would rather leave ‘those silly people’ to their folly than speak out or do anything about it.  And while we are facing an opposition that is both militant and aggressive in pushing their world view on others, I see this as a very real and dangerous problem.

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Posted: 07 March 2011 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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They would probably claim that the exemptions are still valid since they are “non-profit” organizations.  LOL

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Posted: 07 March 2011 09:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Occam. - 07 March 2011 03:07 PM

They would probably claim that the exemptions are still valid since they are “non-profit” organizations.  LOL

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...like the Vatican.

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