From one of my three regular readers:
I fail to understand how you can attack non-profits and churches, don’t you realize all the good that comes from there actions? It’s true you can get revenue from them but at what cost? You’ve lost your moral compass. If these charities didn’t exist, who would provide help to those in need? The government? Surely you’re not that naive.
This tax churches and non-charities thing needs to stop. It shows that you’re a mean spirited person and also shows why atheists shouldn’t be trusted. It’s clear from your blatherings you have no morals or scruples. Do us all a favor and keep your ideas to yourself.
Well John (surname and e-mail kept private to protect the guilty) – you’re certainly entitled to your opinion and I wish you would have left this as a comment rather than sending it to my inbox. This is one of the more scathing responses received from my exercise of my first amendment rights while blogging.
Where to start, first, I’m not generally attacking non-profits (though I have to admit, I am generally attacking churches.) My beef does not happen to be with the 85% of non-profits with annual revenues less than $250,000 per year. In fact, I applaud such organizations because I believe they actually are doing good in their communities. Case in point, our local PTO on the coast raises around $150,000 per year to supplement the public school’s curriculum and staffing. Virtually all of the money raised is used for the programs and no one is drawing a rich salary and benefits from the proceeds.
Where I have a problem with non-profits is when the revenue exceeds such a level (and I am open to argument that $250k may be too low a threshold) that it becomes clear that the organization in question, secular or religious, is using the non-profit tax designation as a means to not pay taxes on their business. And you can argue all you like about the term business, but when an entity is bringing in a substantial amount of money on an annual basis and holds substantial assets over time, it is a business and it is a business that should pay tax for the greater good.
Coming back to the church portion for a moment, religion is a means of control for the population. When the churches sent tens of millions of dollars into California to promote their moral imperative of “protecting traditional marriage” they crossed the line between church and state in a big way. There needs to be recognition of this and changes need to be made so that if churches wish to participate (read fund) such activities, there should be a cost of so doing. That cost, rightfully, should be the revocation of their tax-exempt status. Then they can feel free to lobby as any other business in the state with no objection from the likes of me.
Next, there is an assertion of “good that these organizations do” from John. Well, I guess that all depends on how you define good. If that means discriminating against those who do not share your views, I guess that would qualify as good to you John. If that means dangling help in front of those who need it most in exchange for surrendering their free will, I guess that is good to you John. If that means engaging in “holy wars” to fulfill vague predictions recorded by ignorant sheepherders over 2,000 years ago, I guess that’s good to you John. But when I consider these and many other instances of “good,” I have to wonder just who’s moral compass is broken?
Finally, keeping my ideas to myself. Sorry to disappoint you John, but there’s not a chance of that happening. I’ll ignore the other pejorative aspects of your missive, but rest assured, part of my personal mission, being a good ancestor, is speaking out about things I think are important and more importantly, taking action. The time is right to close the non-profit (churches included) loophole in the California tax code and the time is right to start to free minds from the willful delusions of organized religion. Those are things worth fighting for and things I will fight for.
So John, have something more to say? Leave a comment. For that matter, anyone interested is welcome to do so. I moderate for spam, not for content and am perfectly happy to have divergent viewpoints represented. It is a (moderately) free country after all.