LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A federal judge in Kentucky has dismissed a lawsuit brought by an atheist group challenging tax exemptions for churches and religious groups in the federal tax code.
U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman ruled Monday that American Atheists Inc. was speculating about being potentially injured by the tax code or treated differently from other organizations.
“At this point, the Atheists have no idea whether they could gain classification as a church or religious organization under (the tax code) because they have never sought such a classification,” Bertelsman wrote.
Three groups—American Atheists, Atheists of Northern Indiana, and Atheist Archives of Kentucky—had argued that the current tax code provisions unfairly favor churches and pastors, reports the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). According to ECFA, their suit objected to:
*]the church exemption from the requirement to file applications for recognition of tax-exempt status (Form 1023),
*]the church exemption from filing annual information returns (Form 990),
*]the clergy housing exclusion,
*]the exemption from income tax withholding and FICA taxes for ministers, and
*]the specific audit procedures for churches.
They have discovered that Evangelization works for Christians and they are now working to spread their Gospel of Disbelief far and wide. Make no mistake about it, atheism is a religion in itself, with dogmas and beliefs. I wish them luck in seeking tax-exempt status because it seems they deserve it as much as anyone.
To answer your first question, it depends on if you’re using the correct meaning of the word secular. If you believe secular means either non-religious or even anti-religious, then that would be wrong. If you accurately believe secular means to be neutral to religion, then really it’s something that doesn’t just benefit atheists but everyone. It truly means that groups are given an equal shake, not just religious vs. non-religious but also preferred religious vs. non-preferred religious.
All non-profits should have the same regulations, whether that means increasing the oversight on churches, decreasing the oversight on non-churches, or a combination of the two. There are numerous churches out there that aren’t as charitable as the Catholic Church, but because they are listed as churches there is no tracking the quality of their works. The documentation required of non-profits that aren’t churches allows someone to gauge their value not only monetarily but as an organization as a whole.
You should know that American Atheists and Atheists of Northern Indiana, two of the organizations in the suit, are already both non-profits. The third, Atheist Archives of Kentucky, I believe is also a non-profit but I can’t say for certain.
What’s funny is that the reason the suit was dismissed is because the groups did not try register as churches to get the same breaks that churches get, and therefore they had no standing to complain of unfairness – since by not trying they couldn’t state that they weren’t denied the same perks. So this is diametrically opposed to your assertion that atheist groups are secretly religious in their own way.
I think a lot of people would vote for an agnostic-atheist president.
If not in the next election, by the time we have the one after that. I’ll bet many past presidents were in-the-closet atheists hesitant to speak their true thoughts on the subject.
Yeah, there isn’t a single admitted atheist currently in Congress.
For purposes of demonstration, however, the cat can represent former Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), who left Congress in 2012 as its only avowed atheist. Much like the flying feline, he fell a bit short of his mark after having his legs taken out from under him by another Democrat, thanks to California’s “top-two” primary election system.
A few months after retiring, former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) also announced his nonbeliever status, a declaration he made more than 25 years after coming out as the first openly gay member of Congress.
That Frank felt more comfortable going public with his sexuality in 1987 than he did with his secular beliefs at any point during his House career says a lot about the stigma surrounding atheism in electoral politics. In 2011, Herb Silverman of the Secular Coalition of America told the Guardian that his group was aware of 27 members of Congress other than Stark “that have no belief in God.” It’s unclear who they were, or are, but none of them – perhaps except Frank – have since decided to speak out.