Atheist Arrogance?

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EvolutionKills:
Anyone that would equate religious dogma to the scientific values of reason, has completely missed the point.

Abomination:
Atheism doesn't demand anything of those who follow it, there is no prayer, no group to join, no tithe to give, no worship for anything. There is no set philosophy every atheist must follow, all are free to follow their own moral compass - with ethics or "The Golden Rule" being the decider. To compare it to a church or a religion is just flat out wrong.

While I don't agree to comparing education and science institutions to churches, there was a point about a very real hypocrisy that exists, at the very least how some can appear intolerant of religion and sometimes command the type of arrogance they admonish in theology. That's what I've really tried to address, and thus far that point doesn't land very far before the finger is immediately pointed back at religion.

Abomination:
If you mean in response to people ostracized for having a religion? I suppose it could go that way. If atheism was the majority in a nation I bet you would see tax breaks for religious institutions flying out the window. Many religious folks would claim it was discrimination to do so, when in fact it would be the exact opposite "Why does your 'charitable' institution get tax breaks when you're driving a Lexus bought with the proceeds?". At the moment there tangible are benefits to being religious but NO benefits to being an atheist.

What a ridiculous fallacy. Faiths do a lot of community work that deserves incentive. Even individuals can donate to charity and write it off on their tax returns; that's to encourage this behavior. There are no "benefits" to being atheist because it doesn't matter what you believe, it's the behavior the government is acknowledging. But don't take it from me, perhaps you'd rather see churches close their doors and rather than run charity benefits, support communities and pay for food trucks so people can have something on their table. This is way past arrogance...

nyysjan:

Which is true, but religion is not the reason for most of that shit (well, it has been used to justify lot of it, but not all of it, and even then rarely the sole cause), just like Atheism is not the reason communists did lot of batshit insane stuff.

I agree with you entirely. The initial suggestion was that the only people killed for their religion were killed because of someone else's religion. I was negating that.

AgedGrunt:

Abomination:
If you mean in response to people ostracized for having a religion? I suppose it could go that way. If atheism was the majority in a nation I bet you would see tax breaks for religious institutions flying out the window. Many religious folks would claim it was discrimination to do so, when in fact it would be the exact opposite "Why does your 'charitable' institution get tax breaks when you're driving a Lexus bought with the proceeds?". At the moment there tangible are benefits to being religious but NO benefits to being an atheist.

What a ridiculous fallacy. Faiths do a lot of community work that deserves incentive. Even individuals can donate to charity and write it off on their tax returns; that's to encourage this behavior. There are no "benefits" to being atheist because it doesn't matter what you believe, it's the behavior the government is acknowledging. But don't take it from me, perhaps you'd rather see churches close their doors and rather than run charity benefits, support communities and pay for food trucks so people can have something on their table. This is way past arrogance...

I believe his point is about the specific tax exemption for religious organizations though, which do not necessarily have to do any charity work[1]. Especially considering all tax-exempt organizations with yearly income above $5000 have to file tax returns... except the religious ones. Plus some dodgy special ruling for auditing a church doesn't help the general impression either.
So if anything this is a gross lack of transparency as it's not exactly hard to claim many activities as religiously motivated and thusly easy to sweep under the nigh impenetrable IRS-shield, which only motivates such behaviour.

If it "doesn't matter what you believe" then surely the believers shouldn't be treated differently from everyone else? Including every other tax exempt organization? I don't think Abomination has a beef with tax exemption for charitable donations or even donations to churches but to have all church property automatically immune to regular scrutiny is just unreasonable.

In fact, did you know that as of 2013 the Roman Catholic Church will no longer have automatic tax immunity in Italy? Granted they store most of their ridiculous wealths in the Vatican anyway but if ultra-Catholic Italy can make the move away from that bad habit then surely it's possible.

[1] see WBC for that, their entire ultimate hate campaign is totally tax-free

Quaxar:

AgedGrunt:

Abomination:
If you mean in response to people ostracized for having a religion? I suppose it could go that way. If atheism was the majority in a nation I bet you would see tax breaks for religious institutions flying out the window. Many religious folks would claim it was discrimination to do so, when in fact it would be the exact opposite "Why does your 'charitable' institution get tax breaks when you're driving a Lexus bought with the proceeds?". At the moment there tangible are benefits to being religious but NO benefits to being an atheist.

What a ridiculous fallacy. Faiths do a lot of community work that deserves incentive. Even individuals can donate to charity and write it off on their tax returns; that's to encourage this behavior. There are no "benefits" to being atheist because it doesn't matter what you believe, it's the behavior the government is acknowledging. But don't take it from me, perhaps you'd rather see churches close their doors and rather than run charity benefits, support communities and pay for food trucks so people can have something on their table. This is way past arrogance...

I believe his point is about the specific tax exemption for religious organizations though, which do not necessarily have to do any charity work[1]. Especially considering all tax-exempt organizations with yearly income above $5000 have to file tax returns... except the religious ones. Plus some dodgy special ruling for auditing a church doesn't help the general impression either.
So if anything this is a gross lack of transparency as it's not exactly hard to claim many activities as religiously motivated and thusly easy to sweep under the nigh impenetrable IRS-shield, which only motivates such behaviour.

If it "doesn't matter what you believe" then surely the believers shouldn't be treated differently from everyone else? Including every other tax exempt organization? I don't think Abomination has a beef with tax exemption for charitable donations or even donations to churches but to have all church property automatically immune to regular scrutiny is just unreasonable.

In fact, did you know that as of 2013 the Roman Catholic Church will no longer have automatic tax immunity in Italy? Granted they store most of their ridiculous wealths in the Vatican anyway but if ultra-Catholic Italy can make the move away from that bad habit then surely it's possible.

You have pretty much explained in far more detail what I was going for.

I never said that charitable organizations shouldn't be tax exempt, but that religious institutions for some reason ARE tax exempt even if they do charity or not. The problem is they're granted tax exemption because it is assumed they will work purely as a charity... which as we all know is not and never has been the case of a majority of religions. In fact, only SOME of the of the revenue these organizations receive actually goes towards the charitable works, the rest goes towards any number of things - such as conversion material in an attempt to gain more members and therefore more revenue. I am not discounting the few religious organizations that do a lot of charitable work and have spawned such organizations as the Red Cross, or Red Crescent - but only the revenue that is shown to go towards those charities should be tax exempt; the rest should be taxed accordingly.

tstorm823:

nyysjan:

Which is true, but religion is not the reason for most of that shit (well, it has been used to justify lot of it, but not all of it, and even then rarely the sole cause), just like Atheism is not the reason communists did lot of batshit insane stuff.

I agree with you entirely. The initial suggestion was that the only people killed for their religion were killed because of someone else's religion. I was negating that.

But that is why they were being killed - Maoism was a religion that simply replaced a god for a man.

[1] see WBC for that, their entire ultimate hate campaign is totally tax-free

Abomination:

Quaxar:

AgedGrunt:

What a ridiculous fallacy. Faiths do a lot of community work that deserves incentive. Even individuals can donate to charity and write it off on their tax returns; that's to encourage this behavior. There are no "benefits" to being atheist because it doesn't matter what you believe, it's the behavior the government is acknowledging. But don't take it from me, perhaps you'd rather see churches close their doors and rather than run charity benefits, support communities and pay for food trucks so people can have something on their table. This is way past arrogance...

I believe his point is about the specific tax exemption for religious organizations though, which do not necessarily have to do any charity work[1]. Especially considering all tax-exempt organizations with yearly income above $5000 have to file tax returns... except the religious ones. Plus some dodgy special ruling for auditing a church doesn't help the general impression either.
So if anything this is a gross lack of transparency as it's not exactly hard to claim many activities as religiously motivated and thusly easy to sweep under the nigh impenetrable IRS-shield, which only motivates such behaviour.

If it "doesn't matter what you believe" then surely the believers shouldn't be treated differently from everyone else? Including every other tax exempt organization? I don't think Abomination has a beef with tax exemption for charitable donations or even donations to churches but to have all church property automatically immune to regular scrutiny is just unreasonable.

In fact, did you know that as of 2013 the Roman Catholic Church will no longer have automatic tax immunity in Italy? Granted they store most of their ridiculous wealths in the Vatican anyway but if ultra-Catholic Italy can make the move away from that bad habit then surely it's possible.

You have pretty much explained in far more detail what I was going for.

I never said that charitable organizations shouldn't be tax exempt, but that religious institutions for some reason ARE tax exempt even if they do charity or not. The problem is they're granted tax exemption because it is assumed they will work purely as a charity... which as we all know is not and never has been the case of a majority of religions. In fact, only SOME of the of the revenue these organizations receive actually goes towards the charitable works, the rest goes towards any number of things - such as conversion material in an attempt to gain more members and therefore more revenue. I am not discounting the few religious organizations that do a lot of charitable work and have spawned such organizations as the Red Cross, or Red Crescent - but only the revenue that is shown to go towards those charities should be tax exempt; the rest should be taxed accordingly.

The idea (in my opinion wrongly) is that advancing religion is itself a form of charity-- is inherently a good thing.

[1] see WBC for that, their entire ultimate hate campaign is totally tax-free

tstorm823:

1. You can't change the past.
2. Because the present is entirely dependent on the past you can't change the present.
3. Because the future is entirely dependent on the present you can't change the future.

Your making gigantic assumptions that undermine the debate we're having by assuming determinism without even bringing God into the discussion.

Hmmn, not really. I was torn about putting this in the second part of the post but I decided to put it first. It was intended as a summary of the results of cause and effect, to show you how I'm not ignoring it- in fact, my entire argument (I think) depends on it.

Or perhaps the decisions are made before your brain has fully processed them by an immaterial and eternal part of the human identity. Just throwing that one out there.

Sounds like dualism to me. I'm not convinced because it adds a needless extra claim when cause and effect are perfectly good and pretty well agreed, and for the following reasons:

1. If the brain is merely rationalising the decisions of the "soul", then what is perceiving- the brain or the soul? It seems like the brain does, but that diverges from the common perception of a soul.
2. No natural evidence
3. Standard arguments against dualism etc.. etc.. I'm sure you know them.

Well, maybe this is where you are getting confused. It is true that you can't change the future, since there only is one future that will exist. All you could do with free will is decide the one future. The future existing already is not saying that the future exists before it happens, it's saying that it exists outside of time altogether.

That's not really arguing against determinism. Saying that you can switch railway tracks doesn't escape the fact that you're still on tracks.

~~~~~~~~~~~

There is only one future that will exist, but there are many futures that can exist. So how can God know the futures that will not exist?

If he knows the future via inductive reasoning, and we have free will (defined as the ability to change the future), then he cannot know the futures that will not exist because they do not exist in any way that can be observed. He cannot know, therefore, he is not omniscient.

If he knows the future via deductive reasoning, then we're back at the original point that an Omniscient God= logically inevitable future= no free will.

If you are no longer arguing that we can change the future, but that we are in fact picking from a number of possible (yet predetermined) futures. Then I argue that your choice is entirely determined by past events, therefore you do not really choose.

To say that the future exists outside of time doesn't make any sense. Both types of theories of time that I know of feature the future as a property of time, either a (kinda) destination or a coordinate (A and B-type). And I can't think of a way to justify that assertion.

But maybe that's due to a failing of the English language.

Is your idea somehow analogous to Schroedinger's cat? Where the future is the theoretical cat that is both dead and not-dead? Are you arguing that that cat exists and can therefore be observed?

If anyone reading this can chime in to aid understanding I'd be very grateful. We both seem to be smacking our heads against walls.

Seanchaidh:
The idea (in my opinion wrongly) is that advancing religion is itself a form of charity-- is inherently a good thing.

Do not forget that being a christian is (for some reason) considered marks in your favour when seeking parole.

If such a status is awarded to being a member of a particular religion how can one claim there is religious equality? If being a Christian is said to reduce your chance of engaging in criminal activities does it not inversely say that NOT being a Christian increases your chances of turning to crime?

Abomination:

Seanchaidh:
The idea (in my opinion wrongly) is that advancing religion is itself a form of charity-- is inherently a good thing.

Do not forget that being a christian is (for some reason) considered marks in your favour when seeking parole.

If such a status is awarded to being a member of a particular religion how can one claim there is religious equality? If being a Christian is said to reduce your chance of engaging in criminal activities does it not inversely say that NOT being a Christian increases your chances of turning to crime?

Taking part in any contemplative programs is considered favorable for parole because it's considered to be a key component to rehabilitation. It isn't about Christianity specifically. Actually, the vast majority (~80%) of those who 'convert' in prison take up Islam as opposed to the other choices.

Kopikatsu:

Abomination:

Seanchaidh:
The idea (in my opinion wrongly) is that advancing religion is itself a form of charity-- is inherently a good thing.

Do not forget that being a christian is (for some reason) considered marks in your favour when seeking parole.

If such a status is awarded to being a member of a particular religion how can one claim there is religious equality? If being a Christian is said to reduce your chance of engaging in criminal activities does it not inversely say that NOT being a Christian increases your chances of turning to crime?

Taking part in any contemplative programs is considered favorable for parole because it's considered to be a key component to rehabilitation. It isn't about Christianity specifically. Actually, the vast majority (~80%) of those who 'convert' in prison take up Islam as opposed to the other choices.

"contemplative" is a fun word - it can mean any number of scenarios. At the end of the day it's a priest - not a mental health professional - who signs off on it and completion of the course involves having your religion be defined as something that isn't atheist.

And oh, Islam? Islam - Christian; tomato - tomatoe. We all know who loses when either of those factions gets involved in a pissing contest as to who is more moral: everyone.

Abomination:
"contemplative" is a fun word - it can mean any number of scenarios. At the end of the day it's a priest - not a mental health professional - who signs off on it and completion of the course involves having your religion be defined as something that isn't atheist.

And oh, Islam? Islam - Christian; tomato - tomatoe. We all know who loses when either of those factions gets involved in a pissing contest as to who is more moral: everyone.

Er...it is meant for any number of scenarios. Prisons have programs for Yoga and such as well, and those also count as contemplative. There aren't any Priests doing Downward Dog. The point I was making is that it's not a religious thing specifically.

This is something I have noticed a lot, too. I live in the States so I can't speak for the rest of the world but I've met my fair share of douchebag atheists who like to get on their intellectual high horse and preach about there being no proof that God is real so anyone who thinks that there is even a possibility of him being real is a fucking idiot (which is ironic because while there is no proof for god, there is also none against it so speaking in absolutes on either side makes you a fucking moron), but it can be pretty fun to fuck with them, especially when I can outsmart the shit out of them. But anyways, just like the people who tell people who are in any way different from them that they are going to hell they are a problem. Granted, they are an annoyance rather than a serious disturbance, but a problem none the less and I wish there was a nice, clean way to fix both sides but there isn't. So instead, I just live my life like this: Every belief is OK so long as it doesn't hurt anyone, and it is great if it inspires you to help someone. Look at The Salvation Army, Martin Luther King and Ghandi. Salvation Army wouldn't even exist without Christianity (although, they need to work on their stance on homosexuality a lot) and they help countless people. King and Ghandi are both two of the most important figures in history and they where both extremely influenced by their faith, so much as to say it is very likely without it they wouldn't have done all the great things they did.

We just need to watch out for people like Westboro and these uptight atheists that seem to be growing in numbers. I think we should all be on board with hating them #funnybecauseitshypocritical

AgedGrunt:

What a ridiculous fallacy. Faiths do a lot of community work that deserves incentive. Even individuals can donate to charity and write it off on their tax returns; that's to encourage this behavior. There are no "benefits" to being atheist because it doesn't matter what you believe, it's the behavior the government is acknowledging. But don't take it from me, perhaps you'd rather see churches close their doors and rather than run charity benefits, support communities and pay for food trucks so people can have something on their table. This is way past arrogance...

This ignores the fact of just how lax the regulations are in favor of religion. All you have to do is claim you're a church, and you get tax exemption, with little to no paperwork. You don't have to PROVE that you do, in fact, provide a benefit or service for the public good. Do secular non-profits get the same lax treatment? Not at all, they a vetted and scrutinized (and rightly so) to make sure they EARN their tax-exemption status.

How many churches and religious organizations get into politics? Endorsing specific candidate, parties, or platforms? Did you know that said organizations forfeit their tax exemption status if they get involved in politics like this? But this sort of activity appears rampant, churches openly and loudly violate this, and should thus have their tax exemption status revoked. As far as I know, all audits into churches were halted under Bush, and nobody under Obama has started them back up. In essence, churches have had free reign in politics while retaining their tax exemption status. This is illegal. This is the real almost decade long scandal at the IRS, not this recent Tea Party nonsense.

All I want is for churches and religious organizations to not get a tax-exempt free pass. Have them jump through all of the same hoops as secular organizations, so that they have to leave a paper trail open to the public. I want them to be held accountable. Also, I want to see a resumption of audits to make sure that churches are not getting involved in politics, and a loss of their tax-exemption status if they are.

It is 'past arrogance' to not hold religious organizations to the same level of accountability as secular ones.

Yes, there are atheists like that. There are religious people like that. I'm an atheist in which this kind of thing never comes up. Religion and such never comes up, and I don't bother trying to convince other people because their minds are already made up.
By definition every group is arrogant because they think their right, making the other group wrong. Even if you're tolerant you still believe that the other group is an infidel and will go to hell. There are no middle grounds.

Brotha Desmond:
Yes, there are atheists like that. There are religious people like that. I'm an atheist in which this kind of thing never comes up. Religion and such never comes up, and I don't bother trying to convince other people because their minds are already made up.
By definition every group is arrogant because they think their right, making the other group wrong. Even if you're tolerant you still believe that the other group is an infidel and will go to hell. There are no middle grounds.

I don't believe in Hell...

Kopikatsu:

Abomination:
"contemplative" is a fun word - it can mean any number of scenarios. At the end of the day it's a priest - not a mental health professional - who signs off on it and completion of the course involves having your religion be defined as something that isn't atheist.

And oh, Islam? Islam - Christian; tomato - tomatoe. We all know who loses when either of those factions gets involved in a pissing contest as to who is more moral: everyone.

Er...it is meant for any number of scenarios. Prisons have programs for Yoga and such as well, and those also count as contemplative. There aren't any Priests doing Downward Dog. The point I was making is that it's not a religious thing specifically.

While it isn't a religious thing specifically it is still considered a positive trait for some reason. Priest, cleric, minister, reverend, iman or whatever term one wants to apply - an individual of a religious institution will visit a prison hoping to convert those within. Upon doing so the priest is viewed as having done the work of his or her god and the felon has a point in their favour for parole.

Abomination:

But that is why they were being killed - Maoism was a religion that simply replaced a god for a man.

You're defining religion as a rediculous strawman that makes it so any bad organization in history is a religion, and then acting like that makes religion bad. It's sort of a stupid thing that you're doing.

Danny Ocean:

That's not really arguing against determinism. Saying that you can switch railway tracks doesn't escape the fact that you're still on tracks.

Well said. Especially since we don't have absolute control over the course of our lives regardless of free will, and a train with tracks to switch can hardly say to have it's destination determined by its departure. You're analogy woks for me real well.

If he knows the future via inductive reasoning,

Why do you keep doing that? I've never even suggested that, and quite often said just about the opposite.

and we have free will (defined as the ability to change the future),

And I just told you that this was an improper way of expressing this concept.

then he cannot know the futures that will not exist because they do not exist in any way that can be observed. He cannot know, therefore, he is not omniscient.

by assuming that God functions in one, very strictly limited way. Also, you're reaching out for the inherent paradox of omniscience in the first place, but that does not really matter in the discussion of free will, so I'm not letting you make that excuse.

If he knows the future via deductive reasoning, then we're back at the original point that an Omniscient God= logically inevitable future= no free will.

Stop pretending God's omniscience is just super logic powers. It isn't that he reasons the outcomes before they happen, He just knows.

If you are no longer arguing that we can change the future,

I never did.

but that we are in fact picking from a number of possible (yet predetermined) futures. Then I argue that your choice is entirely determined by past events, therefore you do not really choose.

Wait, what? Your choices are infinite, first off. Second, do you even have a definition for predetermined at this point? If the vast majority of them don't happen, then they aren't predetermined. Finally, your belief that all your choices are decided by past events is still a major, unsubstantiated assumption by you..

To say that the future exists outside of time doesn't make any sense. Both types of theories of time that I know of feature the future as a property of time, either a (kinda) destination or a coordinate (A and B-type). And I can't think of a way to justify that assertion.

It actually makes exactly perfect sense. If we could observe all of reality objectively and then ignore time as a factor, all events of all time and space would be equally existant, whether or not they are the past, present, or future of our current perspective.

tstorm823:

Abomination:

But that is why they were being killed - Maoism was a religion that simply replaced a god for a man.

You're defining religion as a rediculous strawman that makes it so any bad organization in history is a religion, and then acting like that makes religion bad. It's sort of a stupid thing that you're doing.

The Nazi party wasn't a religion, the Huns and Mongols weren't either.

The Japanese during World War II WERE a religion - the Emperor was considered to be divine.

North Korea is a theocratic form of ancestor worship.

If the requirement for something to be a religion is that they worship a divine or supernatural being then Buddhism isn't a religion and neither is Confucianism.

The Maoist ideology of China during the Cultural Revolution demanded that people conform to a set standard of belief. Religion was stamped out because it competed, not because it was considered a foolish notion.

Religion requires faith, it requires an ideal or following that you believe despite not having actual evidence to back it up. Mao is great and wonderful, you will say this, you will revere him as the father of China - failure to do so will result in punishment. You will revere no other gods or idols above him, he is the only one worthy of your praise in such a manner. This is dogmatic.

Abomination:

Religion requires faith, it requires an ideal or following that you believe despite not having actual evidence to back it up. Mao is great and wonderful, you will say this, you will revere him as the father of China - failure to do so will result in punishment. You will revere no other gods or idols above him, he is the only one worthy of your praise in such a manner. This is dogmatic.

Exactly. Dogmatism is the core problem. It just so happens that religions and pseudo-religious political and personality cults are VERY dogmatic.

Dogmatism shuts down curiosity, punishes questioning, and brooks no disagreement. It's practically the antithesis of free thought, and I think it's one of the greatest obstacles to peaceful human flourishing on this planet.

Churches are exempt from taxes because of the first amendment.

The separation of church and state so often believed to exist is

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

I actually think this text should be taken as literally as possible, personally. This is from the era of the State church, and most of these men would've been raised Anglican because that WAS the state church. They would've paid taxes to a church they may have no agreed with, to support its buildings and clergy.

However, I believe the train of thought is

If Religious institutions must pay taxes -> A religious institution cannot afford its taxes -> free exercise is reduced because they can't pay their bills and therefore lose their place of worship/whatever.

While a sect may be overall wealthy, individual churches are often not so well off. And how do you tax a church, exactly?

They aren't making any real income, everything is done by donations and fundraisers and charity. They have priest, but priest already pay taxes ( http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc417.html ). The individuals within the church, the laypeople, already pay taxes. Everyone pays taxes except for the church organization itself, which can include thousands of people or as few as one, because of the nature of religion, e.g. sectarianism, but all the people within that organization pay taxes.

So again, how would you tax a church? What would you tax it as? What level of taxation would you level on it?

Also I agree that dogmatism is the problem, but the only reason their are more dogmatist religious people is because their are more religious people, period. The ratio is probably more reasonable; that is, dogmatic person per individual belief rather then overall.

Given time, if people abandon religion in favor of whatever, then I guarantee that you will have just as many dogmatic people around still. Dogmatism is a human trait, not a religious one.

Bentusi16:
Churches are exempt from taxes because of the first amendment.

The separation of church and state so often believed to exist is

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

I actually think this text should be taken as literally as possible, personally.

So you're saying any organization claiming to be a church (like the WBC) should receive special treatment that is above special treatment regular non-religious organizations receive already?
Why should a church that sends bibles to Haiti victims be exempt from releasing their financial records and being audited by the IRS while a secular group that sends actually helpful stuff to the same victims has to report their details? Isn't that more "respecting an establishment of religion" than prohibiting it?

Bentusi16:
They aren't making any real income, everything is done by donations and fundraisers and charity.

Well, regardless of the source based on the Economist's estimation the US-branch of the Roman Catholic Church has in 2010 spend roughly $170 billion, which is more than Apple's worldwide revenue over the same period, putting them with only 16 other companies with revenue over $170 billion. So that's quite some cash unaccounted for, since they have no obligation to provide any financial records on that, contrary to any other non-religious charity organization.
Especially troubling when it comes to moving money away from bankrupt parishes before their assets are seized, which for example has happened after the rape scandal settlements a few years back. So this issue really isn't about abolishing general tax benefits to churches but how they are treated as special cases and given much more opportunities to cheat with much lower chances of being found out.

Bentusi16:

If Religious institutions must pay taxes -> A religious institution cannot afford its taxes -> free exercise is reduced because they can't pay their bills and therefore lose their place of worship/whatever.

And if i worship Gill Bates the god of business and i require a multimillion dollar business to worship in? You cant tax me or my business because it might shut the business down and that would violate my ability to freely exercise my faith.

The government should:

Allow you to think what you want.
Allow you to express those thoughts via all means you personally can afford and use by your own power.
Allow you to congregate on land you personally decide is for your faith if said land belongs to you or you are permitted to enter there by the owner for all proceedings or its public domain.

The government has no reason to:

Buy you a laptop to express your faith via the internet.
Ensure you always have a building specifically dedicated to your faith. Many pagan faiths and tiny one person faiths do not. Should the government build them a church?
Explicitly award you a place to congregate just for you.

Its rather straight forward. You have the RIGHT to drive. The government doesnt have to buy you a car. Its YOUR desire and youre free to practice that desire but its your responsibility to make it happen via your own work. If it sinks thats tough im afraid.

Quaxar:
> I believe his point is about the specific tax exemption for religious organizations though, which do not necessarily have to do any charity work

>> If it "doesn't matter what you believe" then surely the believers shouldn't be treated differently from everyone else? Including every other tax exempt organization? I don't think Abomination has a beef with tax exemption for charitable donations or even donations to churches but to have all church property automatically immune to regular scrutiny is just unreasonable.

> He did not have specific details, but I appreciate your take. I'm still not sure what it is, but this isn't the first time other people have chimed in to underwrite and clarify others' bad remarks.

>> Except that was neither what I meant nor how he talked about tax breaks. He described an atheist nation where "tax breaks for religious institutions [fly] out the window" as the "exact opposite" of discrimination, which appeared to conclude that said institutions are money-grubbing rackets. Well he didn't discriminate, and that was my beef.

Abomination:
I am not discounting the few religious organizations that do a lot of charitable work and have spawned such organizations as the Red Cross, or Red Crescent - but only the revenue that is shown to go towards those charities should be tax exempt; the rest should be taxed accordingly.

That's a fairly disingenuous allegation that still implies nothing short of the vast majority don't do honest charitable work that qualifies for tax breaks, but at least you give some organizations a pass, so that's progress.

EvolutionKills:
This ignores the fact of just how lax the regulations are in favor of religion.

It is 'past arrogance' to not hold religious organizations to the same level of accountability as secular ones.

I didn't ignore any facts, I was responding to what I felt was a rather unfair perspective on religious institutions regarding taxes. There's certainly an argument for accountability and integrity in acquiring tax-exempt status, and I do support scrutiny to a certain extent, but let's at least be reasonable and fair in how we talk about it.

Better still, let's talk relevant topics.

AgedGrunt:

Abomination:
I am not discounting the few religious organizations that do a lot of charitable work and have spawned such organizations as the Red Cross, or Red Crescent - but only the revenue that is shown to go towards those charities should be tax exempt; the rest should be taxed accordingly.

That's a fairly disingenuous allegation that still implies nothing short of the vast majority don't do honest charitable work that qualifies for tax breaks, but at least you give some organizations a pass, so that's progress.

I am very certain that the vast majority do not spend all of their untaxed revenue on charity work.

How much charitable work does a religious organization have to perform in order to receive the tax breaks? The answer is none. It's (a-hah) on faith that they will provide charitable work but it isn't a requirement.

BiscuitTrouser:

Bentusi16:

If Religious institutions must pay taxes -> A religious institution cannot afford its taxes -> free exercise is reduced because they can't pay their bills and therefore lose their place of worship/whatever.

And if i worship Gill Bates the god of business and i require a multimillion dollar business to worship in? You cant tax me or my business because it might shut the business down and that would violate my ability to freely exercise my faith.

The government should:

Allow you to think what you want.
Allow you to express those thoughts via all means you personally can afford and use by your own power.
Allow you to congregate on land you personally decide is for your faith if said land belongs to you or you are permitted to enter there by the owner for all proceedings or its public domain.

The government has no reason to:

Buy you a laptop to express your faith via the internet.
Ensure you always have a building specifically dedicated to your faith. Many pagan faiths and tiny one person faiths do not. Should the government build them a church?
Explicitly award you a place to congregate just for you.

Its rather straight forward. You have the RIGHT to drive. The government doesnt have to buy you a car. Its YOUR desire and youre free to practice that desire but its your responsibility to make it happen via your own work. If it sinks thats tough im afraid.

The government doesn't pay..for anything in a church.

I think your confused. Just because someone is not paying taxes doesn't mean they are benefiting. The churches still have to buy their own ground, build their own buildings, pay their bills of various sorts, etc. The ONLY thing they aren't paying is a federal tax and most state taxes. The parishoners and clergy are still paying their own federal income tax, they are still paying sales tax, etc.

But the federal government is not paying for anything. Every church I've ever been to has either been paying off a mortgage, renting, or own their land, that they paid for. Occasionally a church might get land 'donated' to them by a parish member but they still have to pay the inheritance thing or whatever the hell it is.

I would really like to see examples of the government actively paying for churches to be built that aren't just being preserved for historic value. Like, actual new churches that are being built on federally granted land with federally granted money. Because that would be a violation of the first amendment.

Quaxar:

Bentusi16:
Churches are exempt from taxes because of the first amendment.

The separation of church and state so often believed to exist is

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

I actually think this text should be taken as literally as possible, personally.

So you're saying any organization claiming to be a church (like the WBC) should receive special treatment that is above special treatment regular non-religious organizations receive already?
Why should a church that sends bibles to Haiti victims be exempt from releasing their financial records and being audited by the IRS while a secular group that sends actually helpful stuff to the same victims has to report their details? Isn't that more "respecting an establishment of religion" than prohibiting it?

Bentusi16:
They aren't making any real income, everything is done by donations and fundraisers and charity.

Well, regardless of the source based on the Economist's estimation the US-branch of the Roman Catholic Church has in 2010 spend roughly $170 billion, which is more than Apple's worldwide revenue over the same period, putting them with only 16 other companies with revenue over $170 billion. So that's quite some cash unaccounted for, since they have no obligation to provide any financial records on that, contrary to any other non-religious charity organization.
Especially troubling when it comes to moving money away from bankrupt parishes before their assets are seized, which for example has happened after the rape scandal settlements a few years back. So this issue really isn't about abolishing general tax benefits to churches but how they are treated as special cases and given much more opportunities to cheat with much lower chances of being found out.

Actually I'm all for all organizations being accountable for their actions via a public disclosure of expenditure, but that's not the same as paying taxes. Paying taxes is paying taxes. And the IRS should probably be able to audit whoever the hell they want to. And the catholic church is not 'all religions'.

But auditing is again, not the same as paying taxes. Auditing is just them making damn sure you're doing with that charity money what you said you were.

And unfortunately, yes, groups like the WBC are protected by the umbrella at the moment. But what the hell else are you going to do? You can't just otu and say 'no, you're not a religious group' because then the federal government has the power to declare any religion they want as 'not being a religious group'. It's a slippery slope, and I'm a staunch anti-federalist. I don't want to give the federal government more power to declare what is and isn't something.

Now, again, being able to audit them? That would be ok. But, let's go further.

You audit them. Ok. Let's see you pass a law that any organization that is charitable has to provide at least half its income to charitable causes or works.

Now, your job is to define charitable causes or works. What about the logistics to get those charitable causes and works into place? It's quite expensive to run planes for the red cross, for example, but the planes ARE being directly used to assist in charitable causes, assuming you agree that the red cross is doing charitable work as you've predefined it.

And if you find out someone is not, what do you do? Seize assets? What if they fall below that line, by 5% let's say the red cross is using 45% of its funds in the charity you've defined. That's below the line. Do you fine them? Seize assets? Make them start paying taxes? Shift them from 'non-profit' to 'for profit'?

Bentusi16:

The government doesn't pay..for anything in a church.

I think your confused. Just because someone is not paying taxes doesn't mean they are benefiting. The churches still have to buy their own ground, build their own buildings, pay their bills of various sorts, etc. The ONLY thing they aren't paying is a federal tax and most state taxes. The parishoners and clergy are still paying their own federal income tax, they are still paying sales tax, etc.

But the federal government is not paying for anything. Every church I've ever been to has either been paying off a mortgage, renting, or own their land, that they paid for. Occasionally a church might get land 'donated' to them by a parish member but they still have to pay the inheritance thing or whatever the hell it is.

I would really like to see examples of the government actively paying for churches to be built that aren't just being preserved for historic value. Like, actual new churches that are being built on federally granted land with federally granted money. Because that would be a violation of the first amendment.

Youve missed my point but thats mostly my fault, i illustrated it poorly.

Your line of thinking was that if expenses of the building become too great to keep that building that is in effect denying someone free practice of faith because they now lack a place of worship. My point was SURELY by that logic the government NOT building every religious faith a church is denying them the same place of worship and thus restricting the practice of faith.

Because in my mind reducing the costs by relieving taxes is the government assisting in reducing the cost of upkeep. Its not too dissimilar to reducing the cost of upkeep by building it for you THEN paying taxes on it, actually in the long run the government would probably profit from that moreso than leaving them tax exempt. If it is unfair and restrictive to lack a place of religious worship my point was that its unfair to all faiths who can not afford a specific dedicated building to practice in at all, like single person faiths. The government doesnt owe you help in setting one up, either by reducing costs by building it for you or reducing costs by making it totally tax free if youre a billion person faith or a one person faith shouldnt matter. If you cant have a church without the government assisting in cost reduction thats tough. If my faith is particularly extravagant in its worship and needs a diamond idol i will just have to live every day unfulfilled and unable to properly worship. Thats just tough luck. If your faith demands or requires material possessions that cost currency to perform thats just too bad if you cannot afford those things. I fail to see why a government should assist you in affording them. I need a monster truck to worship inside. Can mine be tax free? I mean who can afford a monster truck amirite?

Im happy for churches shown to do charitable work to pay REDUCED taxes for things relating to that charity work. But as far as im concerned the physical church is more like a swanky club house. Unless it can be demonstrated to actively contribute and be essential for the work and donation i dont see why its tax free. I want them to be audited is all. It doesnt matter what is and isnt a religion. If what the organisation does is for the objective good of all via charity work let it be tax free. If its for the subjective appeasement of a subset of religious people? Pay those taxes.

Bentusi16:
Actually I'm all for all organizations being accountable for their actions via a public disclosure of expenditure, but that's not the same as paying taxes. Paying taxes is paying taxes. And the IRS should probably be able to audit whoever the hell they want to.

Fair enough, that was all I really asked.

Bentusi16:
And the catholic church is not 'all religions'.

Indeed not, but they were the only ones I was able to find specific data on. Or rather, a half-decent estimate of data from the Economist based on public financial records of some bankrupted parishes and other exotic sources. Because, again, it's nigh impossible to have proper records since they for some reason are the only non-profits not required to publish them.

Bentusi16:
And unfortunately, yes, groups like the WBC are protected by the umbrella at the moment. But what the hell else are you going to do? You can't just out and say 'no, you're not a religious group' because then the federal government has the power to declare any religion they want as 'not being a religious group'. It's a slippery slope, and I'm a staunch anti-federalist. I don't want to give the federal government more power to declare what is and isn't something.

Your's isn't all that unslippery either. If the gouvernment can't call any religious group "unreligious" why don't I claim tax exemption on account of being the head of the First Jedi Temple or the First United Church of the Fonz?
So clearly there are arbitrary rules already in place because I cannot imagine that this will ever work. But this is probably going too far anyway.

BiscuitTrouser:

Bentusi16:

The government doesn't pay..for anything in a church.

I think your confused. Just because someone is not paying taxes doesn't mean they are benefiting. The churches still have to buy their own ground, build their own buildings, pay their bills of various sorts, etc. The ONLY thing they aren't paying is a federal tax and most state taxes. The parishoners and clergy are still paying their own federal income tax, they are still paying sales tax, etc.

But the federal government is not paying for anything. Every church I've ever been to has either been paying off a mortgage, renting, or own their land, that they paid for. Occasionally a church might get land 'donated' to them by a parish member but they still have to pay the inheritance thing or whatever the hell it is.

I would really like to see examples of the government actively paying for churches to be built that aren't just being preserved for historic value. Like, actual new churches that are being built on federally granted land with federally granted money. Because that would be a violation of the first amendment.

Youve missed my point but thats mostly my fault, i illustrated it poorly.

Your line of thinking was that if expenses of the building become too great to keep that building that is in effect denying someone free practice of faith because they now lack a place of worship. My point was SURELY by that logic the government NOT building every religious faith a church is denying them the same place of worship and thus restricting the practice of faith.

Because in my mind reducing the costs by relieving taxes is the government assisting in reducing the cost of upkeep. Its not too dissimilar to reducing the cost of upkeep by building it for you THEN paying taxes on it, actually in the long run the government would probably profit from that moreso than leaving them tax exempt. If it is unfair and restrictive to lack a place of religious worship my point was that its unfair to all faiths who can not afford a specific dedicated building to practice in at all, like single person faiths. The government doesnt owe you help in setting one up, either by reducing costs by building it for you or reducing costs by making it totally tax free if youre a billion person faith or a one person faith shouldnt matter. If you cant have a church without the government assisting in cost reduction thats tough. If my faith is particularly extravagant in its worship and needs a diamond idol i will just have to live every day unfulfilled and unable to properly worship. Thats just tough luck. If your faith demands or requires material possessions that cost currency to perform thats just too bad if you cannot afford those things. I fail to see why a government should assist you in affording them. I need a monster truck to worship inside. Can mine be tax free? I mean who can afford a monster truck amirite?

Im happy for churches shown to do charitable work to pay REDUCED taxes for things relating to that charity work. But as far as im concerned the physical church is more like a swanky club house. Unless it can be demonstrated to actively contribute and be essential for the work and donation i dont see why its tax free. I want them to be audited is all. It doesnt matter what is and isnt a religion. If what the organisation does is for the objective good of all via charity work let it be tax free. If its for the subjective appeasement of a subset of religious people? Pay those taxes.

Part of your belief here seems to be because you consider religion to be unnecessary or unimportant. You also don't seem to see any difference between a anglican church that has been there for 350 years, and a baptist church that consist of a bunch of metal chairs and a simple altar in what used to be a pawnshop.

It's not the rich congregations that are going to suffer if you start taxing churches.

And what exactly would these churches be paying taxes on? Donations? If that's true, shouldn't every place that pulls in donations be taxed on the donations? Doesn't that sort of throw the entire 'non-profit' idea out the window?

Bentusi16:

Part of your belief here seems to be because you consider religion to be unnecessary or unimportant. You also don't seem to see any difference between a anglican church that has been there for 350 years, and a baptist church that consist of a bunch of metal chairs and a simple altar in what used to be a pawnshop.

It's not the rich congregations that are going to suffer if you start taxing churches.

And what exactly would these churches be paying taxes on? Donations? If that's true, shouldn't every place that pulls in donations be taxed on the donations? Doesn't that sort of throw the entire 'non-profit' idea out the window?

I dont consider it unecessary or unimportant, just equally as important as any other grouping of likeminded individuals on any other topic or purpose, assuming said grouping is non profit. Im not so annoyed at eligible groups being tax exempt, or groups that fall beneath even the lowest tax bracket being tax exempt (id be unhappy with a flat tax on such organisations, youre right larger groups should deal with the largest tax as opposed to shredding smaller churches). Here this illustrates my point:

http://atheists.org/american-atheists-files-suit-against-irs

The IRS grants tax exempt status more easily and quickly to groups labelled as religious, and since atheism isnt a religion the grouping of like minded people pays significantly more to keep itself up as a group that is entirely non profit. Why? Why is some peoples ability to group up based on a single shared factor more important than others deemed so by the government?

I agreed with your idea here:

It's a slippery slope, and I'm a staunch anti-federalist. I don't want to give the federal government more power to declare what is and isn't something.

And as such i say we call ALL groups that are:

Non profit
The meeting of like minded people
Doing some form of charity work
For society at large

And, totally irrespective of their shared value, judge if they should receive tax exempt status on fair and equal footing. If an organisation with the same members and same meeting place with the same funding is religious and gets tax exempt easier than the identical one that isnt religious and doesnt thats inherently unfair, thats the government deciding what is and isnt a religion and that anything inside that line deserves their help moreso than anything else.

You say what do you do when that group fails to pay taxes, seize property? And i say if that is what they do for EVERY other group that fails that is unlucky not to be religious and its what they HAVE been doing to them then yes. Do that. It sounds harsh but if its harsh to do it to the religious why isnt it harsh to do it to the non religious?

BiscuitTrouser:
SNIP

Exactly, I 100% agree.

Bentusi16:
Churches are exempt from taxes because of the first amendment.

Actually, that's not true. Churches are exempt from taxes by statute. In fact, they've had to survive legal challenge on First Amendment grounds rather than looking to the First Amendment for defense of their tax exemption. This is the controlling precedent on this matter, I believe:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walz_v._Tax_Commission

Now while it does say that taxing religious organizations would be more of an entanglement than not, that does not imply that taxation would be an excessive entanglement. It's really all about that first prong-- the idea that religious organizations are included in a long list of things which are deemed to have some kind of social utility, and are only granted the exemption based on being a member of that list of similar things. I don't really agree with the reasoning, but it is a plausible case.

afroebob:
This is something I have noticed a lot, too.

I live in the States so I can't speak for the rest of the world but I've met my fair share of douchebag atheists who like to get on their intellectual high horse and preach about there being no proof that God is real so anyone who thinks that there is even a possibility of him being real is a fucking idiot (which is ironic because while there is no proof for god, there is also none against it so speaking in absolutes on either side makes you a fucking moron)

A smart atheist is an agnostic-atheist. I.e. One who does entertain that it's possible for 'God' to exist, it is just so overwhelmingly unlikely that it's not even worth giving a second thought about.

In general, agnostic-atheism and 'atheism' are basically the same thing, the title 'agnostic-atheism' is basically just a clarification. Now whether your supposed "douchebag atheists" were actually agnostic-atheists can't really be certain as I myself am an agnostic-atheist however for all intents and purposes do not show any respect to the idea that there could be a god just because it is as absurd as proposing the existence of fairies, the Flying Spaghetti monster and so on.

Finally a clarification on whether the existence or non-existence of God are of equal merit. Just because there is no conclusive evidence one or another to say whether theists or atheists are right that does not make both stances of equal merit. The theists insist that there is a god, however they provide no evidence; the atheists insist there likely is no god by virtue of there being no evidence. Both propositions are indeed possible however because the former has no evidence for its claim therefore the latter is most likely correct.

Lol Pot:
A smart atheist is an agnostic-atheist. I.e. One who does entertain that it's possible for 'God' to exist, it is just so overwhelmingly unlikely that it's not even worth giving a second thought about.

Well, there are also those who believe that the concept of a "deity" is fundamentally impossible, or self-contradictory.

I don't believe that any moral judgement, whether or not it comes from an all-knowing deity, could be "objectively true", for example. It goes against the very nature of morality and opinion. If morality is necessary to somebody's definition of a "God", therefore, I believe that person's "God" to be fundamentally impossible (not just exceedingly unlikely).

If we're purely talking about a universe-creator, then I agree completely with you.

Lol Pot:
[quote="afroebob" post="528.401935.17066988"]Both propositions are indeed possible however because the former has no evidence for its claim therefore the latter is most likely correct.

Well, your statement of their being no evidence isn't quite true. If you said no proof, yes your 100% correct, there is no proof. Evidence, there is some depending on how you look at it. It is already been established that Jesus was a real person according to most historians, even ones who don't believe in God. What isn't established is whether or not he actually did all the miracles he is said to do. However, there where a lot of people who claimed to have seen these miracles and what not, so if you consider what would I guess be an eyewitness testimony as evidence than yes, there is some evidence. However, don't take this as me saying there is a STRONG amount of evidence, eyewitness testemonies can be wrong, they can be tricked, etc. etc. I guess what I am saying is there is evidence, its just how strong that evidence is extremely debatable.

Abomination:
I am very certain that the vast majority do not spend all of their untaxed revenue on charity work.

How much charitable work does a religious organization have to perform in order to receive the tax breaks? The answer is none. It's (a-hah) on faith that they will provide charitable work but it isn't a requirement.

We would need to define charity work, but it sort of appears to me that some want to exclude things that aren't tangible donations or charitable service (such as building homes). I would contend that religious services and counsel are beneficial to a community and deserve some credit.

To get back to the fundamental point, government makes incentives with tax breaks. It's a bit like the capital gains tax traditionally being low relative to income; this encourages investment. Some throw a fit over stuff like that, find it to be an unfair advantage without seeing the whole picture. All they see is the figurative man in his Lexus cheating the system.

AgedGrunt:

Abomination:
I am very certain that the vast majority do not spend all of their untaxed revenue on charity work.

How much charitable work does a religious organization have to perform in order to receive the tax breaks? The answer is none. It's (a-hah) on faith that they will provide charitable work but it isn't a requirement.

We would need to define charity work, but it sort of appears to me that some want to exclude things that aren't tangible donations or charitable service (such as building homes). I would contend that religious services and counsel are beneficial to a community and deserve some credit.

To get back to the fundamental point, government makes incentives with tax breaks. It's a bit like the capital gains tax traditionally being low relative to income; this encourages investment. Some throw a fit over stuff like that, find it to be an unfair advantage without seeing the whole picture. All they see is the figurative man in his Lexus cheating the system.

First, while you would contend that religious services and religious counsel are beneficial - many would not. Because much like any religiously themed act it can (and frequently does inhabit a fair portion of either side) be bad or good. Who does it benefit? It benefits those who pay for it, those who attend the services themselves. That isn't a donation - that's a service that has been bought and paid for. The priest gets paid and gives a rousing speech.

Second, the big picture is fairly simple - at first religious institution were tax exempt because of all the charitable work they supposedly did. Today we see that is not the case any longer, yet they still retain their tax exemption - and even a "shield" against investigation - purely on the basis that they classify themselves as a religion. It is no surprise this lack of any tangibility and tax benefits has led to people turning it into a business in everything but name.

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