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Definition of Atheist
Posted: 03 September 2013 05:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 331 ]
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VYAZMA - 03 September 2013 02:34 PM
PLaClair - 03 September 2013 02:21 PM

Does the IRS define the term?

No. I doubt it.  The Federal Court defined “church and minister” loosely I’m sure.
I haven’t read the briefs, but apparently from the USA Today article they determined that the church didn’t need to worship a deity either.
Because buddhists or taoists don’t worship deities.  So I’m assuming that buddhist temples for example must get tax exemptions.

None of this matters anyways PlaClair.  On a few levels…
1. The IRS thing was a sidebar used to try and nail down semantics.
2. That court ruling can be challenged in the future and be taken in any direction.
3. The ironic thing was that the atheists didn’t want the tax exemption, because they didn’t want to be labeled as a church.
Because then they would loose the semantical argument that was raised in No.1 above here.

I have no idea what people mean when they use the word “spiritual.” Presumably they know what they mean. I don’t know what it means and I never use the term. But the IRS has used it and they have not defined it. Whatever a “spiritual leader” is, they are using that undefined term to determine who is eligible for tax relief. Does anyone here think that’s a good idea?

Lois

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Posted: 03 September 2013 05:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 332 ]
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Most people in the United States will tell you that spirituality indicates connectedness - to be a part of a greater whole. That is a perfectly good secular way of looking at things. We are products of and part of the universe - nothing wrong with that.

To that, I add that spirituality includes internal integration, or wholeness; and a powerful sense of vitality. William James describes this well in The Varieties of Religious Experience.

Granted, the idea of spirituality gets thoroughly mushed up. But then so does the idea of secularism.

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 04 September 2013 12:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 333 ]
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Lois - 03 September 2013 11:02 AM

I want something that can’t be so easily misinterpreted.

In the context of the text it is clear what is meant. A minister or priest is seen as a ‘spiritual leader’ in Christian religions. So they mean a person that has a similar role in an atheistic organisation. That’s it, nothing more. Your easy misinterpretation comes from cursory reading. Not the first time.

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Posted: 04 September 2013 12:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 334 ]
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PLaClair,  Post #326

Does the IRS define the term?

Good question, in the middle of harvest now and do not have the time to do the research.
But I do know that the IRS and other government departments, state and federal do define words for their laws. For example words like (employee, employer and business) are common words, yet you can not use the dictionary or Black’s Law Dictionary for the meanings, you have to go to the individual departments and get their meanings for dealing with each department laws and regulations.

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Posted: 04 September 2013 02:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 335 ]
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PLaClair - 03 September 2013 05:47 PM

Most people in the United States will tell you that spirituality indicates connectedness - to be a part of a greater whole. That is a perfectly good secular way of looking at things. We are products of and part of the universe - nothing wrong with that.

To that, I add that spirituality includes internal integration, or wholeness; and a powerful sense of vitality. William James describes this well in The Varieties of Religious Experience.

Granted, the idea of spirituality gets thoroughly mushed up. But then so does the idea of secularism.


Secularism is much better defined. It’s a separation between government activities and anything for which there is no evidence. In fact it’s a fundamental part of true democratic government, despite the fact that believers af many kinds want their own beliefs to be recognized as a central part of it.

Spirituality, no matter how defined, cannot be shown to exist outside human imagination.

Lois

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Posted: 04 September 2013 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 336 ]
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GdB - 04 September 2013 12:04 AM
Lois - 03 September 2013 11:02 AM

I want something that can’t be so easily misinterpreted.

In the context of the text it is clear what is meant. A minister or priest is seen as a ‘spiritual leader’ in Christian religions. So they mean a person that has a similar role in an atheistic organisation. That’s it, nothing more. Your easy misinterpretation comes from cursory reading. Not the first time.


As does yours, and not for the first time.  If they meant it to mean any kind of moral leader, why didn’t they drop the spiritual crap?

Lois

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Posted: 04 September 2013 07:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 337 ]
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Lois - 04 September 2013 02:21 PM

Secularism is much better defined. It’s a separation between government activities and anything for which there is no evidence. In fact it’s a fundamental part of true democratic government, despite the fact that believers af many kinds want their own beliefs to be recognized as a central part of it.

So what? That’s not a common definition of secularism but I get your point: secularism is about staying grounded in reality as we can observe or demonstrate it objectively to be. OK but what do we do about all those things we can’t measure objectively, like love, inspiration and the sense of heightened vitality that is an element of spirituality? Just because these concepts are harder to pin down or measure doesn’t mean that people, and societies, can afford to be without them. Some secularists argue that everything can be reduced to material terms but in point of fact, no one lives like that, or can live like that. Clarity is a very important value but it’s not the only value; and sometimes we have no choice but to sacrifice a bit of clarity and precision for creativity.

Lois - 04 September 2013 02:21 PM

Spirituality, no matter how defined, cannot be shown to exist outside human imagination.

Lois

Neither can ethics, morality or law. So what?

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Posted: 04 September 2013 10:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 338 ]
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Lois - 04 September 2013 02:23 PM

As does yours, and not for the first time. 

Examples?

Lois - 04 September 2013 02:23 PM

If they meant it to mean any kind of moral leader, why didn’t they drop the spiritual crap?

Why don’t you ask: “why did they use the word ‘spiritual’?” Why use this pejorative way of ‘asking’?

But to answer the question: I don’t know, you should ask the author. But still one can understand what the author meant. In your posting here you reacted on something that the author just did not intend.

I can guess the answer a little: ‘moral leader’ does not work, as a priest or minister is not just a moral leader for his community. He is the organiser, leader in rituals, he is supposed to have knowledge of the belief practiced etc etc. ‘Religious’ leader would not fit, as atheism is not a religion, and then ‘spiritual leader’ comes to mind.

There are perfect ways to define ‘spirituality’ that do not conflict with a naturalistic world view, so I do think the choice of ‘spiritual leader’ is not too bad.

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Posted: 05 September 2013 01:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 339 ]
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PLaClair - 04 September 2013 07:50 PM
Lois - 04 September 2013 02:21 PM

Secularism is much better defined. It’s a separation between government activities and anything for which there is no evidence. In fact it’s a fundamental part of true democratic government, despite the fact that believers af many kinds want their own beliefs to be recognized as a central part of it.

So what? That’s not a common definition of secularism but I get your point: secularism is about staying grounded in reality as we can observe or demonstrate it objectively to be. OK but what do we do about all those things we can’t measure objectively, like love, inspiration and the sense of heightened vitality that is an element of spirituality? Just because these concepts are harder to pin down or measure doesn’t mean that people, and societies, can afford to be without them. Some secularists argue that everything can be reduced to material terms but in point of fact, no one lives like that, or can live like that. Clarity is a very important value but it’s not the only value; and sometimes we have no choice but to sacrifice a bit of clarity and precision for creativity.

Lois - 04 September 2013 02:21 PM

Spirituality, no matter how defined, cannot be shown to exist outside human imagination.

Lois

Neither can ethics, morality or law. So what?

In this case we are talking about tax relief. If something as tenuous as spirituality can be used to determine who is eligible, why not ethics or morality? (I see law is a different category).


You wrote: OK but what do we do about all those things we can’t measure objectively, like love, inspiration and the sense of heightened vitality that is an element of spirituality? Just because these concepts are harder to pin down or measure doesn’t mean that people, and societies, can afford to be without them.

Lois: We are talking about tax law, not whether societies can afford to be without those concepts.  Nobody is suggesting that tax law rest on love, inspiration or a heightened sense of vitality. To make spirituality a requirement for tax relief for moral leaders is as ridiculous as making love, inspiration or a sense of heightened vitality a requirement.

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Posted: 05 September 2013 01:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 340 ]
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GdB - 04 September 2013 10:24 PM
Lois - 04 September 2013 02:23 PM

As does yours, and not for the first time. 

Examples?

Lois - 04 September 2013 02:23 PM

If they meant it to mean any kind of moral leader, why didn’t they drop the spiritual crap?

Why don’t you ask: “why did they use the word ‘spiritual’?” Why use this pejorative way of ‘asking’?

But to answer the question: I don’t know, you should ask the author. But still one can understand what the author meant. In your posting here you reacted on something that the author just did not intend.

I can guess the answer a little: ‘moral leader’ does not work, as a priest or minister is not just a moral leader for his community. He is the organiser, leader in rituals, he is supposed to have knowledge of the belief practiced etc etc. ‘Religious’ leader would not fit, as atheism is not a religion, and then ‘spiritual leader’ comes to mind.

There are perfect ways to define ‘spirituality’ that do not conflict with a naturalistic world view, so I do think the choice of ‘spiritual leader’ is not too bad.


Only if you can define “spiritual leader” or “spirituality” in the first place, which you evidently cannot do. (Perhaps your demonstrated habit of cursory reading is the culprit).  If something as practical as tax law needs interpretation, “spirituality” or “spiritual leader” needs defining.  It’s necessary to define terms in legal documents and lawyers usually go out of their way to define them so they won’t be challenged. Or the terms should not be used.  There are plenty of ways to describe who gets the tax relief without resorting to undefined terms.  The tax code is confusing enough without the use of such wobbly terms.

While we’reon the subject, perhaps you can tell me how you know what the author intended or did not intend? A little spiritual abra cadabra, perhaps?

Lois

[ Edited: 05 September 2013 01:59 AM by Lois ]
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Posted: 05 September 2013 02:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 341 ]
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Lois - 05 September 2013 01:55 AM

While we’reon the subject, perhaps you can tell me how you know what the author intended or did not intend? A little spiritual abra cadabra, perhaps?

Textual interpretation. Just read the sentence in the context of the article.

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Posted: 05 September 2013 06:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 342 ]
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This is funny, a group that created a religion that made it spiritually wrong to pay taxes.
CHURCH OF SPIRITUAL TECHNOLOGY, Plaintiff,
                          v.
                  The UNITED STATES, Defendant.

The theological hostility to paying taxes evident in the scriptures also supports the close attention of the IRS.  Although CST is fully entitled under the Constitution to believe that paying taxes is spiritually wrong, it cannot then be surprised that its position invites scrutiny. [FN48]

FN48. Tax exemptions are a matter of legislative grace, and organizations seeking a tax exemption “are expected to follow the reasonable standards enacted by Congress and devote themselves exclusively to the pursuit of religious purposes.”  Parker v. Commissioner, 365 F.2d 792, 795 (8th     Cir.1966), cert. denied, 385 U.S. 1026, 87 S.Ct. 752, 17 L.Ed.2d 674 (1967).

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Posted: 05 September 2013 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 343 ]
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GdB - 05 September 2013 02:04 AM
Lois - 05 September 2013 01:55 AM

While we’reon the subject, perhaps you can tell me how you know what the author intended or did not intend? A little spiritual abra cadabra, perhaps?

Textual interpretation. Just read the sentence in the context of the article.

Interpretation is the watchword. Your interpretation is no better than mine and nobody’s interpretation is the standard.

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Posted: 05 September 2013 09:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 344 ]
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Lois - 05 September 2013 08:46 AM

Interpretation is the watchword. Your interpretation is no better than mine and nobody’s interpretation is the standard.

Multiple choice question about the text “Feds say OK to atheists on religion tax break”.

See the sentence:

The Internal Revenue Service does require, among other things, that a “minister” be seen as a spiritual leader and provide services for a religious organization.

What would the author mean with ‘spiritual leader’?

a) An atheist leader who believes in spirits
b) An atheist guru
c) A leader who likes alcohol
d) A leader who has similar functions as a minister of a church.

What is your answer?

Are all answers equally valid answers on the question? Every interpretation is just as correct as the other?

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Posted: 05 September 2013 05:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 345 ]
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Lois - 05 September 2013 01:42 AM
PLaClair - 04 September 2013 07:50 PM
Lois - 04 September 2013 02:21 PM

Secularism is much better defined. It’s a separation between government activities and anything for which there is no evidence. In fact it’s a fundamental part of true democratic government, despite the fact that believers af many kinds want their own beliefs to be recognized as a central part of it.

So what? That’s not a common definition of secularism but I get your point: secularism is about staying grounded in reality as we can observe or demonstrate it objectively to be. OK but what do we do about all those things we can’t measure objectively, like love, inspiration and the sense of heightened vitality that is an element of spirituality? Just because these concepts are harder to pin down or measure doesn’t mean that people, and societies, can afford to be without them. Some secularists argue that everything can be reduced to material terms but in point of fact, no one lives like that, or can live like that. Clarity is a very important value but it’s not the only value; and sometimes we have no choice but to sacrifice a bit of clarity and precision for creativity.

Lois - 04 September 2013 02:21 PM

Spirituality, no matter how defined, cannot be shown to exist outside human imagination.

Lois

Neither can ethics, morality or law. So what?

In this case we are talking about tax relief. If something as tenuous as spirituality can be used to determine who is eligible, why not ethics or morality? (I see law is a different category).

You wrote: OK but what do we do about all those things we can’t measure objectively, like love, inspiration and the sense of heightened vitality that is an element of spirituality? Just because these concepts are harder to pin down or measure doesn’t mean that people, and societies, can afford to be without them.

Lois: We are talking about tax law, not whether societies can afford to be without those concepts.  Nobody is suggesting that tax law rest on love, inspiration or a heightened sense of vitality. To make spirituality a requirement for tax relief for moral leaders is as ridiculous as making love, inspiration or a sense of heightened vitality a requirement.

I thought your comments extended far beyond the tax laws, so apparently we are talking past each other.

Except for this: we both know that you would make the same points in any other context. If I am incorrect about that, I’ll accept your correction. However, if I am correct, then how would you respond to my points?

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