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26 May 2012 @ 06:34 pm
Religious organizations in the US get a free ride when it comes to paying taxes. Both directly and indirectly. (Red numbers indicate estimated amount lost to local, state, and federal governments in 2011. I don't have reliable estimates for entries without numbers.)
  • They don't pay federal income taxes. $35.3 billion lost.
  • They don't pay state income taxes. $6.1 billion lost.
  • In some states, they pay no property taxes. In other states, they get huge discounts on property taxes. (e.g. - They pay less than 10% what other businesses pay, and in Florida, they pay about 1/55th what other businesses pay.) $26.2 billion lost.
  • They don't pay investment taxes. $41 million lost.
Religious organizations also get tax subsidies.
  • Their donors get tax breaks.
  • In some states they don't pay sales taxes.
  • Related business income tax subsidy.
  • They get a parsonage subsidy. (Ministers, priests, rabbis, and reverends who live in parsonages get to deduct their living costs from their income tax - unlike other professions.) $1.2 billion lost.
  • Religious professions can opt out of the SECA tax.
They also receive taxpayer funds directly from the government.
  • They get money from President Bush's Faith Based Initiative which is still in effect.$2.2 billion lost.

All US taxpayers are funding religions to at least $71 billion per year - and perhaps well over $100 billion per year.

Last year, many state and local governments laid off teachers, fire fighters, and police officers because of budget shortfalls. If those states taxed religions as they tax other businesses, those states would have more funds. Religions benefit from police and fire protection, but they don't pay for those services as everyone else does.

Religions own over $600 billion dollars in US property. Isn't time for them to pay their fair share?
09 December 2011 @ 11:37 am
The local Interfaith Forum that I belong to discussed miracles the last time we met.

Speakers on the panel set out their own faith position and invited questions from the floor.
We had a Christian and an Islamic Speaker on the subject, and a Reformed Jewish Chair, and it covered some interesting points.

We learned that, from an Islamic Point of View, the Koran itself is considered miraculous, in that it is a Divine Revelation from God, owing nothing to human skill or knowledge. this is very different from the Christian perspective of the Bible that allows a certain amount of the human personality to speak under inspiration. Hence we see that Luke writes a more articulate and elegant Gospel than Mark - for Luke was a highly educated man of his time, and Mark wasn't. Hence, Luke's Gospel uses a wider vocabulary than Mark, who puts his Gospel in simple terms and is somewhat repetitive in his style. Read more...Collapse )
03 April 2011 @ 08:09 pm
Misotheist: A person who believes that God exists and hates God.

The motivation for many misotheists is human suffering.  They see people suffer and ask why an all-powerful deity would allow such suffering to exist?  Others point to the many divine actions in the Bible, Torah, Quran, or other holy books where God deliberately harms people.  A few misotheists believe God is indifferent to human suffering, or created humans for ulterior motives.

Some known misotheists (or people thought to be misotheists):
  • Job's wife.  (Known for telling her husband after he suffered one calamity after another that God is not worthy of worship.)
  • Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel.  (He wrote that he could not come to disbelieve in God, but could no longer love God after living though a Nazi death camp.)
  • One of the founding fathers of the USA, Tom Paine. (Thought to be a misotheist based on his book, The Age of Reason.)
  • Author Salman Rushdie.
  • Another author, Anne Provoost.
Are you a misotheist?
If somebody could prove the existence of God, would you become a misotheist?
Prominent Republican politician, Mike Huckabee said he wants all Americans to be indoctrinated at gunpoint.

Huckabee has just been caught on video, at a Christian supremacist conference, stating that Americans should be forcibly indoctrinated at gunpoint. The organization which hosted the “Rediscover God In America” conference, United in Purpose, has edited Huckabee’s comment from footage of his speech, but not before People For The American Way’s Kyle Mantyla captured the unedited footage, in which Mike Huckabee states, “I almost wish that there would be, like, a simultaneous telecast, and all Americans would be forced–forced at gunpoint no less–to listen to every David Barton message, and I think our country would be better for it. I wish it’d happen.”

David Barton is the leading promoter of a brand of falsified American history altered to support the claim that America was founded as a Christian, rather than a secular, nation.
27 February 2011 @ 02:03 pm
Having finished the Left Behind series (but none of the 'prequels'), all I can say is that airline captain Rayford Steele is Professor John Robinson to Nicolae Carpathia's Dr. Zachary Smith*

(* well, towards the end; the mutation of the two characters as the series progresses mirror each other. 'Colonel Zachary Smith' starts the CBS show as a cold-blooded killer under deep-cover who eventually becomes an ineffectual fop. The same fate befalls the so-called 'scary' Antichrist in LaHaye's series. Too bad; he was almost convincingly evil in the beginning, but by the end, The Little Rascals could have taken him out...)
31 January 2011 @ 08:51 pm
Just started reading Dan Brown's biggest competitor, Tim Lahaye ("Left Behind"), since even some Protestant clergy feel he tweaks the facts to suit the story, as Brown has been thus accused. I just wanted to drop this little tidbit I found:

" - attended Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Bob Jones is a Fundamentalist school known for intense anti-Catholicism. It also did not admit African American students until the 1970s and, between 1950 and 2000, maintained a policy against interracial dating among students. The school explained that intermarriage among the races would further the cause of 'One World Government' and thus the Antichrist. "

Hate to see what these dudes think of sliced bread...
31 December 2010 @ 04:39 pm
Since it's New Year's Eve and folks will likely get up to You Know What, well... I've been to a Pentecostal wedding where not only was it a dry reception, but the groom couldn't even dance with his own bride...*

Anyway, for those who insist that every reference in the Scriptures that condones the drinking of 'wine' means that they meant Woo-Woo Gape Goo**, and only that, I leave you with the words of someone who carries a bit of clout - most likely even in YOUR church:

"Islam, not Christianity, is the teetotal religion."

- C. S. Lewis (from "Mere Christianity")


(*why? It might lead to - what? They're married...)
(**old Flintstones Welch's Grape Juice spot - couldn't find it on Youtube - sorry...)
28 December 2010 @ 06:55 pm
I was going to post this over at agnosticism, but I dropped it here instead as it's a little over the median.

I guess I've been wanting to believe in something of late because I'm facing a pain too big to swallow, and it seems only a force That Big could be the answer to my dilemma. That, and I'd love to have something else to blame my unhappiness on right now besides myself, having done the best I could with what I had at the time and I still fumbled it, and I'm sick of beating up on myself. That, and I'd hate to think that 'this' is all there is and we only get 70 - 80 years at it.

But as for any 'revealed' religion, why couldn't God have 'revealed' himself to a whole whack o' clearly intelligent people at once in the same place, that way there'd be no argument about what happened or what he/she/it/they want, unlike the way it's apparently been since God started selling hamburgers, so folks can keep their dogma; I'll just say that there very well is/could be something bigger than us watching but no-one knows what it is/wants (other than to love each other) no matter who they are or what Special Books they've read, straight from God's mind to your purse-sized Daily Affirmations that you picked up at the Red & White check-out stand.
20 November 2010 @ 07:00 pm
How important is silence?
Current Location: Cambridge, UK