by Dr. D ~ August 21st, 2013
(FFRF Logo: Wikipedia)
Is Atheism a ‘religion’? The US government says it is for tax purposes.
In a ironic turn of events, during a lawsuit that the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed to do away with the clergy housing exemption in the tax code, the Justice Department has declared that the leader of the Wisconsin FFRF is eligible for that very exemption.
The foundation filed a legal challenge to the clergy tax exemption in 2009 in California then later dropped the suit and re-filed it in their home state of Wisconsin in 2011. In the government’s legal brief in Federal court, the Justice Department contended that a belief in God wasn’t legally necessary to be considered a ‘religious organization’. Both Buddhism and Taoism do not include a belief in a deity and yet are still considered a religion so atheism could qualify as well. Therefore the leader of the FFRF is eligible for the very clergy exemption in question since atheist groups can essentially function as a religion for it’s members.
From that perspective, the Justice Department moved to have the case dropped since the FFRF can not show any real proof of harm and therefore their standing is now under question. In the meantime, the FFRF does not consider themselves to be a ‘religion’ and has refused the exemption and a federal judge has ruled that the case can more forward.
For additional information, read this article from The Blaze: “Atheism a Religion? Government Says Yes for Tax Purposes”
Response: Is Atheism a religion? What is a religion anyway? Here’s one definition:
“an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to the supernatural, and to spirituality.”
“a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith”
Some of the definitions could clearly apply to atheist groups like the FFRF regardless of their protests to the contrary. Their members do share a common cause and a set of beliefs or un-beliefs in this case. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out in the courts. *Top