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Atheism Atheism a Religion? Government Says Yes for Tax Purposes

Discussion in 'Interfaith Dialogues' started by Tejwant Singh, Aug 23, 2013.

  1. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Atheism a Religion? Government Says Yes for Tax Purposes​


    The Blaze Fred Lucas 3 hours ago

    Federal Govt Wants Clergy Tax Break for Atheist Leader.

    The leader of an atheist group sued because she didn't believe she qualified for tax exemptions afforded to clergy. When the government says she does qualify - as a minister - she got even angrier.

    "We are not ministers," Annie Laurie Gaylor, chief of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, told The Tennessean newspaper. "We are having to tell the government the obvious -- we are not a church."

    The lawsuit is over the personage exemption for clergy, which allows ministers to claim part of their salary as a tax-free housing allowance.

    Gaylor's Madison, Wisc.-based group is organized, united by faith that there is no deity, and essentially builds fellowship around those beliefs. Thus, the Department of Justice filed a brief stating that Gaylor, as the group's leader, is eligible for the exemption since atheist groups can essentially function as a religion.

    That complicates the foundation's federal lawsuit, first filed in 2009, after the foundation board voted to give Gaylor and her husband Dan Barker a housing allowance of $15,000 per year. The couple then claimed they didn't qualify for the same tax exemption as clergy so the foundation sued the federal government. In August 2012, a federal judge ruled the case can move forward.

    But the Justice Department contends that since Buddhism or Taoism don't include a belief in God and are still considered religions, atheism could qualify as well. Thus, a minister can be seen as a spiritual leader and provide services for a religious organization - and a belief in God isn't legally necessary.

    "Plaintiffs may not presume that a law's reference to religion necessarily excludes beliefs that are specifically non-theistic in nature," the government argued in a motion to dismiss the suit.

    Gaylor contested, "That's not what we are after."

    The foundation first filed the legal challenge to the exemption in 2009 in California, but later dropped the suit due to concerns about standing. It re-filed the suit in Wisconsin in 2011.

    Larry Crain, a First Amendment attorney and president of the Church Law Institute, told The Tennessean the government might be right.

    "They make an interesting point," he said. "If they apply for the exemption, they might get it."

    http://news.yahoo.com/atheism-religi...141610417.html

    Round table chit chat:

    1. What is your opinion about the tax free status for the places of worship?

    2. Many of these places become the magnets for politics for some members/ party. What is your opinion about that?

    3. Should politics be taught or expressed in these places? Please give your reason on whatever side you are on.

    4. As we see from the article above, Atheism does not want tax exemption because it has no clergy. How is it different from Sikhi?

    Just pound your hands on the round table while expressing your views.
     

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    #1 Tejwant Singh, Aug 23, 2013
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  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    vineesohal ji

    I checked the link on your comment. That web-site has some of the best sound quality of anything I have heard played on the net.

    :winkingkaur:

    Unfortunately I had to delete it because it is off-topic; it has nothing to do with the thread.
     
  4. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Tejwant ji

    Two things in the story do confuse me, and perhaps there is more to the story than we realize - because of under-reporting.

    Why would anyone turn down a big tax exemption? Is there a background issue?

    No church is required to apply for tax-exempt status. There are advantages and disadvantages. So, did the judge rule that the foundation/minister had to apply for the exemption? Or is the minister over-dramatizing her windfall for publicity purposes?

    Religion has been nosing around in politics since the days of the Egyptians. This is a wonderful article to bring to the table at a Labor Day party, after there is nothing more to say about the weather.
     
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  5. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Spnadmin ji,


    Guru Fateh.

    In my opinion, this Atheist margarita is cloudy with salt on purpose by the Atheist Society or whatever it is called. It did the same by putting their own Commandments in front of the 10 Commandments at a private property.

    I think their sole agenda is that no religious place should have a tax free status, which I happen to agree with. Many Gurdwaras' managements, which shall be not named have a common thing among them, which is to take checks from the wealthy Sikhs and give them cash instead without charging anything. In this way, the wealthy used it as charity to avoid paying taxes.

    When I came to know about these unsavoury "common practices", I urged the committees even travelling to Northern California, to charge these people 25% fee so the Gurdwaras could have some money in return.

    Sadly, all my pleas went to deaf years even to those who I have very close relationships with. This is the reason, I refuse to be in any Gurdwara committee.

    This is the reason about the round table questions and I will request all to pitch in.


    Thanks & regards

    Tejwant Singh
     
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