What is particularly galling for me as an atheist, as a member of the LGBT/T communities and as a woman is the fact that I am subsidizing people who hate me and use that subsidy to preach policies that are harmful to me.
(see the second article, as well)
From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/belief/153448/how_we_all_pay_for_the_huge_tax_privileges_granted_to_religion_--_it%27s_time_to_tax_the_church/
By some estimates, the property tax exemption alone removes $100 billion in property from U.S. tax rolls, and that's only the tip of the iceberg.
By Adam Lee
December 14, 2011
December 14, 2011
Would the world be better off without religion? That was the topic of a recent debate in the NYU Intelligence Squared series. One of the audience questions concerned the enormous wealth hoarded by churches, which Christian apologist Dinesh D'Souza defended as follows:
I think in the case of the Vatican, the wealth of the Vatican is in priceless treasures, tapestries, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, art. Now, let's remember... it was popes, the Medici popes and so on, who commissioned those paintings. If it wasn't for Catholicism, we wouldn't have the Sistine Chapel.
This was the only line of the night that got boos from the audience. It's easy to see why, since D'Souza was clearly trying hard to overlook the obvious reply: The reason it was the church that commissioned those artworks, and not some other buyer, is because the church had all the money! The great composers, painters and sculptors of the Renaissance worked for whomever could afford to pay them, which is why they often ended up working for the church even when they were notorious freethinkers, as in the case of Giuseppe Verdi. If it wasn't for Catholicism, we might not have the Sistine Chapel, but it's a near-certainty that we'd have different artworks, equally majestic and famous, by the same artists. As Richard Dawkins has suggested, wouldn't you love to hear Beethoven's "Evolution Symphony"?
I bring this up because, thanks to the Occupy protests, inequality has come to dominate the American political conversation. Poverty and inequality are at their highest levels since the Great Depression, and there's a growing clamor to raise taxes on the wealthy to provide more opportunity for the rest of us. I think this is an excellent idea, and I'd like to suggest that beside Wall Street bankers and stock traders, there's another group of the mega-wealthy that's often overlooked.
Why don't we consider taxing the churches?
Not all churches or all ministers are rich, but some of them are very rich indeed. And that's no surprise, because society subsidizes them through a constellation of generous tax breaks that aren't available to any other institution, even non-profits. For example, religious organizations can opt out of Social Security and Medicare withholding. Religious employers are exempt from unemployment taxes, and in some states, from sales tax. Religious ministers -- and no other profession; the law specifies that only "ministers of the gospel" are eligible for this benefit -- can receive part of their salary as a "housing allowance" on which they pay no taxes. (Compounding the absurdity, they can then turn around and double-dip, deducting their mortgage interest from their taxes, even when their mortgage is being paid with tax-free money in the first place.) And, of course, churches are exempt from property tax and from federal income tax.
Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/belief/153448/how_we_all_pay_for_the_huge_tax_privileges_granted_to_religion_--_it%27s_time_to_tax_the_church/
From LGBTQ Nation: http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2011/12/minnesota-archbishop-wants-catholics-to-recite-prayer-opposing-gay-marriage/
Minnesota Archbishop wants Catholics to recite prayer opposing gay marriage
Friday, December 16, 2011
The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., is calling on Catholics in his diocese to recite a special prayer during mass to promote passage of an anti-gay marriage amendment to the Minnesota state constitution.
“Much rides on the success of our struggle to defend marriage,” said Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt, who made the plea in a letter posted on the archdiocese’s website.
To help assist in the strengthening of our state-wide efforts to defend marriage in our civil constitution, I am pleased to offer to your community of faith the enclosed prayer.
Through the powerful intercession of the Holy Family, grant to this local Church the many graces we need to foster, strengthen, and support faith-filled, holy marriages and holy families.
Blah, blah, blah...
Continue reading this creep's bullshit at: http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2011/12/minnesota-archbishop-wants-catholics-to-recite-prayer-opposing-gay-marriage/