It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


Religious Tax Exemption and Christians who openly claim their faith is Not a Religion.

page: 2
<< 1   >>

log in


posted on Apr, 26 2012 @ 01:48 AM
reply to post by Lionhearte

Thanks for your view, and the Jefferson Bethke clip.

In fairness, here's an equally touching and melodramatic response from another Christian paradigm: Jesus Loves Religion.

Jesus hates religion?
Well this Catholic Fr. rap disagrees:

edit on 26-4-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

edit on 26-4-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 26 2012 @ 02:11 AM
A Muslim view on Jesus that is surprisingly similar to the idea that the teachings of Jesus are not a religion.
A central point seems to be that Jesus is not Christianity.
Although in this case, it makes Him part of Islam, rather than non-religion.

posted on Apr, 26 2012 @ 02:30 AM

Apparently this is so because religious groups are seen as charitable and a benefit to society, and the convention stretches back to the first settlements.

In the United States, it is also because as a matter of law, "the power to tax is the power to destroy." The federal government was deprived of the power to destroy religion in the First Amendment. After the Civil War, all political subdivisions of the United States also lost that power, in the Fourtheenth Amendment.

It is confusing because the tax code extends charitable exemption to other kinds of activities besides religion. However, purely religious organizations are exempt from some of the reporting and accountability requirements that other kinds of tax exempt organizations must comply with. For example, the IRS cannot audit churches as readily as other kinds of organizations,,,id=179674,00.html

(The URL has commas, which confuses ATS's link maker. Cut and paste into broswer.)

The United States' situation is not easily comparable with other countries'. Here's an attempt to explain the American approach to an international audience,

Note the variety of cases that come up, not just tax cases.

Certain religious groups and cults even came to the US in order to gain tax-free status (for example Rajneesh, who always denied founding a religion in India, but claimed his sect was religious after re-locating to the US),

Well, yes, Osho was a bag of it. However, it is clear that his operation in the United States was "religious" in the sense of the United States tax code. I don't know what the Indian legal definition of "a religion" is, neither for taxes nor for any other purpose. So, while Osho and the truth were estranged, I don't know that he was untruthful about this. He may well have not been a "religion" in the Indian legal sense, even as he was a "religion" by American law.


This has been litigated in the United States. They are a religion there. That doesn't bind any other nation to treat them as such. It is also not obvious why any organization cannot operate in each country according to the laws of that country. Google apparently offers different services in some countries than it offers in others. What FedEx does is different, and differently regulated in different countries. How could religion be simpler, really?

Nevertheless, shouldn't any church or sect that openly denies that they are a religion lose their tax-exempt status?

No. Atheist groups are entitled to tax exemption and other protections as religious organizations. Whether they otherwise deny that they are a religion is irrelevant. The larger principle is that an American government may do only what the constitution empowers it to do. Regulating the consistency of religious pronouncements isn't in there.

(You need to be careful about citing Islamic sources about "religion." That is a term of art for them, and has nothing to do with either American law or the plain meaning of the English word. Also, Muslims have their own sect-specific view about Jesus, his historicity, and the nature of his mission. If Jesus did walk around the American West, as our Mormon friends teach, then he would have qualified for tax exemption.)
edit on 26-4-2012 by eight bits because: errant keystroke

posted on Apr, 26 2012 @ 02:56 AM
reply to post by eight bits

Thanks for your views, which are clearly informed.

Shortly though, Osho/Rajneesh were simply a "charitable organization" in India, and the teaching was against dogma and religion. I recall this from some previous posts I did on Rajneesh. When they came to the US they registered, or announced themselves on the forms as a religion, and many members regarded this as a private joke, since Rajneesh was anti-religion, and then called it an "anti-religious religion". It was really just a cult.

ISKCON had similar problems of definitions. Although they are unquestionably a religion, the founder often denied that they were Hindu, although their main benefactors in the West today are the Hindu communities. Some class it as a religious stream outside any other faith. It's a matter of dispute.

Scientology is another bizarre case. The last I heard three European countries did not accept it as a religion (including Britain). Notably for conspiracy theory both Rajneesh and Scientology were said to have links with the CIA and mind-control programs. I'm not sure all those allegations are true, but it would provide pointers as to why they became "religions" in the US.

A belief in God is not necessary to claim to be a religion, so it figures that atheist organizations could also fit the bill.

So far a legal definition for a "religion" remains elusive.

It says you can fill in the tax forms, but exemptions are not granted lightly.
In practice that is very unclear.

The fact remains - if you claim not to be a religion, or to speak for a religion then you have opted out of tax exemption on religious grounds.

But is this what is happening, or is it just metaphorical lip service?

As for the Muslims and Jesus - they claim that Jesus didn't found a religion, but they can still morally claim a belief in Jesus because in their view He is a prophet of Islam. They don't say Islam isn't a religion.

Ultimately this is what taking religion out of Jesus and vice-versa amounts to.
I think it's a danger to Christianity.

On the US legal definition of religion see:

Legal theorists have made serious attempts to provide an adequate definition of what religion is for First Amendment purposes, and the Supreme Court’s and other federal courts’ efforts have been manifested in a string of cases in the context of the First Amendment as well as in statutory interpretation. These efforts should not be seen as entirely fruitless, but they have not provided a generally accepted legal definition of religion. (For a detailed, general review, see Donovan 35-61.)

Well, some say just leave that all to the government.
But without any criteria (especially concerning potentially corrupt organizations funded by other tax payers and the poor for many municipal services, like fire brigades for example) is that good enough?

Either you are a religion or not.

I'm not sure why people insist on being ripped off and being hypnotized into defending this nonsense from an ultra religious discourse in the religion of Christianity that claims to be non-religious.

Religious non-taxation is arguably a drain on poor people for a number of reasons, but the point is that the category of religion was created partly for the good that pious people contribute to society, and once you unravel that you've got a free for all.

And that's exactly what we've got from that discourse.
It's a laugh really.
edit on 26-4-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 26 2012 @ 05:02 AM
This clip on the other hand suggests that Christianity is a relationship with Jesus, and not a religion.

In fact, it encourages the semi-converted to come over to that discourse.

"If you're tired of Christianity; come over to Jesus".

posted on Apr, 26 2012 @ 05:13 AM
reply to post by halfoldman

I just wonder, how non-religious can Christians become?

No more church services (religious tradition), communion, baptism and seasonal festivals?
What about daily Bible devotions and repeated prayers before eating and bedtime?
Can one still say "Amen" after a prayer?

What is religion, and what is a personal relationship?

Pastor Mark Driskoll explains why he hates religion (thereby dismissing 2000 years of philosophy and Christian culture, which basically said the same things).

Oh my hat: "Religious people murdered Jesus"!

edit on 26-4-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 26 2012 @ 08:11 AM
So, if you shout from the rooftops that your version of faith is not a religion, should one take that literally?

I mean how can one really know and compare it?

Anyway, here's the view of a radical atheist on the matter, rather predictably titled:
"I hate religion and Jesus too..."

This clip has some foul language and expletives, but it represents a view, or even a "silent majority".

edit on 26-4-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 27 2012 @ 06:35 PM
I think for starters any Christian group that claims to be "not a religion" should state what they see as a religion, and then they can deconstruct how they are not a religion compared to that.

So far it appears like a marketing strategy.

One could surmise rather indirectly that they are against rules.

But what rules?

posted on Apr, 28 2012 @ 01:54 AM
While it's not unusual to hear atheists bemoan religious tax exemption, it's always interesting to hear apparent believers expressing strong views against such exemptions.

This gentleman is against religious tax exemption and the prosperity gospel, and it can be argued that a lot of religion today is only partly charitable, and mostly a for-profit industry.

edit on 28-4-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 29 2012 @ 09:58 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

My wife and i do not claim religion when we file. We just file as is. IRS doesn't need to know that information.

posted on Apr, 29 2012 @ 10:10 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

To say that Yeshua hates religion is not quite accurate. He hated obscene religion. The jews of his time (and even today) were so heavy entrenched in the arts of usury (which is basically legalized theft), and even the priesthood were screwing people out of sin sacrifices by selling them lame and blemished lambs/goats. It was like everyone was cheating everyone else. They were even doing that in the temple with the money changers and lenders which is when he kicked the tables over and whipped them.

Yeshua kept the law according to how it was meant to be kept, according to how he set it down on Mt. Sinai at the beggining. If you want to break it down, it's like taking your neighbor's wife and banging her in the Holy of Holies, thats how obscene judaism looked to him (not to mention the jews had used the Holy of Holies to worship Astoreth who they saw as the Holy Spirit), which is what he created christianity for...which was messianic judaism based totally on him. We were not called christians until Antioch and it was intended as an insult and taken as a compliment.

posted on Apr, 29 2012 @ 10:14 PM
reply to post by lonewolf19792000

Thanks for sharing.
As I wrote on p.1 I'm sure there are groups who do not file, and the concern is more about the larger groups who are living in material luxury.

Just wondering, on what basis do you make your choice, because didn't Jesus say one can give to God and to Caesar?

posted on Apr, 29 2012 @ 10:20 PM

Originally posted by halfoldman
reply to post by lonewolf19792000

Thanks for sharing.
As I wrote on p.1 I'm sure there are groups who do not file, and the concern is more about the larger groups who are living in material luxury.

Just wondering, on what basis do you make your choice, because didn't Jesus say one can give to God and to Caesar?

Yeshua said "Give to God what is God's, give to Caesar what is Caesar's" (He didn't use the word "God" he actually said the aramaic equivalent of "I AM").

There's 2 ways you can interpret this.

1) Caesar doesn't own anything, he was a squatter on God's planet taking what belonged to God and claiming as his own. Caesar didn't own the ground he was buried in (which some jews shared this exact view).

2) Pay your taxes as commanded by the rulers, pay your love and respect to God because he deserves them. Caesar can have your money, God gets your love and devotion (which was how Yeshua meant it).

top topics

<< 1   >>

log in