Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Godless Wednesday: How Religion Is Subsidized

There's a new academic analysis of the amount of that religion is subsidized by public policy in the United States. The estimate by Ryan T. Cragun, Stephanie Yeager, and Desmond Vega is that at least $71 billion (yes, that is with a B) of tax dollars are not received due to religious exemptions in federal, state and local laws. Thus, you, me and everyone else who pays taxes in the  United States are effectively subsidizing religion in this country.

In their article, Research Report: How Secular Humanists (and Everyone Else) Subsidize Religion in the United States, they make the case for why religion should not be subsidized:
For those individuals who argue that religions should receive subsidies because of their charitable work, there is an easy solution for that problem. If religions want to engage in charitable work, they should separate religious activities and finances from their charitable activities and finances. The charities run by religions could be tax-exempt, but the religious organizations would be treated like civic leagues or sports clubs or any other volunteer organization that exists for entertainment or the benefit of its members. Those groups are not tax-exempt and are not subsidized by the government. 
The authors note that since it is unlikely the subsidies for religion will be ended anytime soon they call for increased tax write-offs for all "entertainment" expenses. What do you think?

hat/tip to Joe.My.God

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