Taxing Religion - Is Now An Opportune Time To Try?

With Churches Enmeshed In Sex and Child Problems, Can They be taxed?

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Re: Taxing Religion - Is Now An Opportune Time To Try?

#21  Postby Spearthrower » Jul 21, 2022 5:58 am

BrettA wrote:Eight months has gone by since my last post here, and while I get upvotes for many 'Tax Religion' posts, no one has contacted me here wanting serious work on this taxation problem.


Well, fuck me gently... I thought a 'taxing religion' project would have me beating atheists off with a stick, but it's now a week and only one partially positive response, plus a poster.




My explanation, which is the same explanation for your past comments along the same lines, is quite simple: there are only a handful of Canadians here.

What possible use is my support or lackthereof? What use is Canada taxing religion to me? In what way is this 'opportune time' relevant to all the other people living around the world?

I think the lack of response is more due to the fact that your idea is restricted to Canada, and consequently has no bearing or relevance to others here. I don't think there's anything else to it.
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Re: Taxing Religion - Is Now An Opportune Time To Try?

#22  Postby BrettA » Jul 21, 2022 6:55 am

It's past my bedtime, so I'll be brief, but I have indicated that Canada would be a good country to start (as a prototype), but the idea would be to take the next step is to go world-wide. I thought I was clear enough on that count...

In my opening post on Sep 29, 2021, I asked...
- Could taxing religion be an atheist-led world-wide initiative if there was adequate interest? I say, Yes. :coffee:

The next day, I wrote...
- I'm sure I'm not the only one who is critical of this unfair taxation throughout the world's countries...

Then on Oct. 3, I specified...
- ..in that religions around the world seem to have sweetheart deals with most governments to avoid paying tax.
- A researcher (maybe several) to look into / document illegal/unethical church activities world-wide.
- One or more website developers to allow a 'presence' to the world for this initiative.

And on Oct. 28, I noted...
- Regarding moving its tax base (and workers), I don't yet see an issue, partly because I'm hoping for a world-wide effort

So, remembering my first and fairly strong suggestion which I viewed as an anchor for the rest: "Could taxing religion be an atheist-led world-wide initiative" that received no response, I think I asked more than adequately for non-Canadians to get involved. Ande I'm pretty sure I've specified my world-wide hopes for this. I trust you'll agree with me given the excerpts I've detailed above. So, are you willing to help with this new-ish information?

Canada is good because of the ~6,000 dead First Nations kids (the Pope is in Canada to address the issue of the ~6,000 kids next week), Canada also has a relatively non-religious population when compared to say, the U.S., so that was another reason to start in Canada, from my POV.

I'll also note that the initiative from my POV was to maybe get a half-dozen interested people from RatSkep, and then with a better (vetted) plan, go to sites like Rationalia, Quora and others, maybe picking up a few people from these sites and build strength in numbers from everywhere. I was not prepared to go to these sites when I hadn't got a single committed person. And I still view a Project Manager as key, to lead this.
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Re: Taxing Religion - Is Now An Opportune Time To Try?

#23  Postby Spearthrower » Jul 21, 2022 8:20 am

BrettA wrote:It's past my bedtime, so I'll be brief, but I have indicated that Canada would be a good country to start (as a prototype), but the idea would be to take the next step is to go world-wide. I thought I was clear enough on that count...


I just don't see how that follows.

The culture, politics, legal system, form of religion etc. etc. etc. are all so different between different countries.

For example, here in Thailand a tax on temples is a non-starter. Religion, religious authorities, religious institutions... they're all seen completely different here by the vast majority of the country - 93% of the country describe themselves as Buddhist, and while there's a range of adherence to strictures, such as temple attendance, the idea that it could be taxed is beyond bizarre: monks themselves maintain vows of poverty, temple owned money is used to maintain relics and architecture.

At very very best, Canada could be a prototype for other former colonies of the UK that inherited a theme of Christian supremacism and judicial authority which historically caused pain and problems.


I trust you'll agree with me given the excerpts I've detailed above. So, are you willing to help with this new-ish information?


I'm not sure you're following my criticism here, but I wasn't saying you hadn't said X, Y, or Z, but rather that they don't seem remotely feasible or credible objectives. I've got plenty of experience as a project manager, but I wouldn't even consider this task just from first glance given the scope it covers, the multifarious laws and legal systems, and cultural practices one would need to master before even hoping to make headway. If it was just for Canada, I can see how you might be able to achieve something - particularly given recent history - but I think that's already a suitably lofty goal.
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Re: Taxing Religion - Is Now An Opportune Time To Try?

#24  Postby felltoearth » Jul 21, 2022 1:56 pm

I’m not sure I’d want to politically enfranchise religious institutions by taxing them. They’re intrusive enough now. I would like the government to stop giving them money though. That’s a different problem.


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Re: Taxing Religion - Is Now An Opportune Time To Try?

#25  Postby BrettA » Jul 21, 2022 4:31 pm

Spearthrower wrote:
BrettA wrote:...I have indicated that Canada would be a good country to start (as a prototype), but the idea would be to take the next step is to go world-wide. I thought I was clear enough on that count...

I just don't see how that follows.

I'm unclear on your point here... You don't see how WHAT follows, please?

Spearthrower wrote:The culture, politics, legal system, form of religion etc. etc. etc. are all so different between different countries.

For example, here in Thailand a tax on temples is a non-starter. Religion, religious authorities, religious institutions... they're all seen completely different here by the vast majority of the country - 93% of the country describe themselves as Buddhist, and while there's a range of adherence to strictures, such as temple attendance, the idea that it could be taxed is beyond bizarre: monks themselves maintain vows of poverty, temple owned money is used to maintain relics and architecture.

At very very best, Canada could be a prototype for other former colonies of the UK that inherited a theme of Christian supremacism and judicial authority which historically caused pain and problems.

Well, I disagree. If we know all that (and we obviously do), we can design and write a website using generic wording where that applies (Home Page, for example), and have a 'countries' section where the volunteers from the disparate countries update their own areas (we'd have a template, of course). We would mainly be 'marketing to the broad populations to try to sway them for their next election, but details of say, scripture adherence and temple attendance hardly come into play, AISI (certainly not for a prototype effort). Remember that if we get enough support, it's then passed on to the governments to implement.

And, fine, if this does not apply to Thailand, them we pass on it for Thailand. Same as if we can't get enough supporters to start the process in certain other countries, B-bye to those countries. It's not my idea to have 100% countries go for this, but if we can get one person per country for an initial assessment, then that's the time we start dropping countries.

Spearthrower wrote:[I'm not sure you're following my criticism here, but I wasn't saying you hadn't said X, Y, or Z, but rather that they don't seem remotely feasible or credible objectives. I've got plenty of experience as a project manager, but I wouldn't even consider this task just from first glance given the scope it covers, the multifarious laws and legal systems, and cultural practices one would need to master before even hoping to make headway. If it was just for Canada, I can see how you might be able to achieve something - particularly given recent history - but I think that's already a suitably lofty goal.

What specifically do you think is not remotely feasible or credible, Spearthrower? Again, it's the governments of the countries that need to worry about laws and legal systems - all we're going to try to do is get the population behind us.
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Re: Taxing Religion - Is Now An Opportune Time To Try?

#26  Postby BrettA » Jul 21, 2022 4:39 pm

felltoearth wrote:I’m not sure I’d want to politically enfranchise religious institutions by taxing them. They’re intrusive enough now. I would like the government to stop giving them money though. That’s a different problem.

I'm not sure that "the government to stop giving them money" is a different problem... I think we could include that, too (but it will likely be affected by goverments giving them MORE money if we don't address it.
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Re: Taxing Religion - Is Now An Opportune Time To Try?

#27  Postby Spearthrower » Jul 21, 2022 4:58 pm

BrettA wrote:
Spearthrower wrote:
BrettA wrote:...I have indicated that Canada would be a good country to start (as a prototype), but the idea would be to take the next step is to go world-wide. I thought I was clear enough on that count...

I just don't see how that follows.


I'm unclear on your point here... You don't see how WHAT follows, please?


I expanded on it for the remainder of that post.

I mean that I don't see how it follows that a campaign which may be successful in Canada, particularly opportune due to fairly recent expositions of Christian church sordid history in Canada, would thereby also be successful globally. I think cultures and the role of religions in different societies make such an idea particular rather than universal.


BrettA wrote:
Spearthrower wrote:The culture, politics, legal system, form of religion etc. etc. etc. are all so different between different countries.

For example, here in Thailand a tax on temples is a non-starter. Religion, religious authorities, religious institutions... they're all seen completely different here by the vast majority of the country - 93% of the country describe themselves as Buddhist, and while there's a range of adherence to strictures, such as temple attendance, the idea that it could be taxed is beyond bizarre: monks themselves maintain vows of poverty, temple owned money is used to maintain relics and architecture.

At very very best, Canada could be a prototype for other former colonies of the UK that inherited a theme of Christian supremacism and judicial authority which historically caused pain and problems.


Well, I disagree. If we know all that (and we obviously do), we can design and write a website using generic wording where that applies (Home Page, for example), and have a 'countries' section where the volunteers from the disparate countries update their own areas (we'd have a template, of course). We would mainly be 'marketing to the broad populations to try to sway them for their next election, but details of say, scripture adherence and temple attendance hardly come into play, AISI (certainly not for a prototype effort). Remember that if we get enough support, it's then passed on to the governments to implement.

And, fine, if this does not apply to Thailand, them we pass on it for Thailand. Same as if we can't get enough supporters to start the process in certain other countries, B-bye to those countries. It's not my idea to have 100% countries go for this, but if we can get one person per country for an initial assessment, then that's the time we start dropping countries.


I am just suggesting that I don't think such a goal seems credible, which is possibly one reason why you may not have much interest - it's too grand a target. I'd suggest focusing on Canada, finding like-minded Canadians, and building a ground support there particular to the circumstances in Canada.


BrettA wrote:
Spearthrower wrote:[I'm not sure you're following my criticism here, but I wasn't saying you hadn't said X, Y, or Z, but rather that they don't seem remotely feasible or credible objectives. I've got plenty of experience as a project manager, but I wouldn't even consider this task just from first glance given the scope it covers, the multifarious laws and legal systems, and cultural practices one would need to master before even hoping to make headway. If it was just for Canada, I can see how you might be able to achieve something - particularly given recent history - but I think that's already a suitably lofty goal.


What specifically do you think is not remotely feasible or credible, Spearthrower? Again, it's the governments of the countries that need to worry about laws and legal systems - all we're going to try to do is get the population behind us.


I think I've expressed what I find unfeasible here, and recall that I was attempting to 'answer' why you may have not had as much interest as you seem to have expected.

I think the target is too big. It's out of reach. Anyone who has the capabilities to envision this from a practical perspective cannot help but note the extreme difficulty involved.

I don't think there is any universal model here. I don't think you'd find support in most countries in the world, in many you might even find it illegal. Thailand, again just as an example, would almost certainly block such a web-page, and even if transparently challenged, the government could rely on overwhelming support for the role of temples and monks because it's woven deeply into Thai society. Thais know there are bad monks, but this doesn't translate to opposition to the religious organisation here.

The hurdles you'd face would be monumental, and as such, I can't see how it could be performed by anyone on a voluntary basis other than as a deep passion project, and it'd almost certainly require expertise in a range of areas too. Just doesn't seem realistic at all.

However, if it was just in Canada, I think that's achievable - probably still not easy to achieve, but a plausibly attainable goal. I really think it needs a few like-minded Canadians, though.
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Re: Taxing Religion - Is Now An Opportune Time To Try?

#28  Postby felltoearth » Jul 21, 2022 6:10 pm

BrettA wrote:
felltoearth wrote:I’m not sure I’d want to politically enfranchise religious institutions by taxing them. They’re intrusive enough now. I would like the government to stop giving them money though. That’s a different problem.

I'm not sure that "the government to stop giving them money" is a different problem... I think we could include that, too (but it will likely be affected by goverments giving them MORE money if we don't address it.

I think the opposite is true. If you tax religious institutions they’ll feel entitled to receive something from the government in return.

I’d rather just not tax them and turn off the tap.


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Re: Taxing Religion - Is Now An Opportune Time To Try?

#29  Postby BrettA » Jul 29, 2022 9:49 pm

felltoearth wrote:
BrettA wrote:
felltoearth wrote:I’m not sure I’d want to politically enfranchise religious institutions by taxing them. They’re intrusive enough now. I would like the government to stop giving them money though. That’s a different problem.

I'm not sure that "the government to stop giving them money" is a different problem... I think we could include that, too (but it will likely be affected by goverments giving them MORE money if we don't address it.

I think the opposite is true. If you tax religious institutions they’ll feel entitled to receive something from the government in return.

I’d rather just not tax them and turn off the tap.

Well, I think that it's people like you, Fell, that we need to convince to join up, if anything really gets going as a project. I'm not sure of the validity of your point, but it needs to be stated. My feeling is that we've given religion special priviledges that no one else has, and then we still give them more $. So, I think if we treat them as 'normal', they won't ask for more or we can refuse based on the fact that they ARE the 'norm' (just like any other biz).
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Re: Taxing Religion - Is Now An Opportune Time To Try?

#30  Postby BrettA » Jul 29, 2022 10:49 pm

Hmmm... ISTM that most of your critique is fear-based (fear of losing, fear of the unknown, fear of the differences in culture, etc.). I don't think that losing in Canada is a big deal and the effort itself may inspire other countries or States to try in their jurisdictions. And if we win in Canada, it would be nice if we've developed some basic systems to support the effort, and being an optimist, I think that we can in fact win, here. So, I don't mind if we win (or lose) in Canada, to the point that it would necessarily "follow that it would it would be successful globally." I'd be happier than a pig in shit if we managed to win in Canada and if a half-dozen EU nations won also. It would also leave the counties losing with the tools to try it again, long after I'm dead and gone.

And that leaves the point of participation in a Canadian try. First, if we have a team which better represented the World than a solely Canadian effort, we (including atheists in other nations) already have a system to reach out to their population. I'd hope that said system would be Wiki-like, such that the people getting involved add/edit data relating to themselves, themselves. Sure, some data would not apply to other countries, but with an appropriately flexible/distributed design would minimize effort to a large degree for other nations. Indeed, getting other nationals (ex of Canada) to participate gives those nations one step ahead.

Plus, I disagree that "at very very best, Canada could be a prototype for other former colonies of the UK that inherited a theme of Christian supremacism and judicial authority which historically caused pain and problems.". I may be wrong, but I think as "at the very least", systems designed for a Canadian effort could be successfully utilized in many EU countries as well.

So, I'm going to try for other atheists, say in Quora if I can figure out how to collect the UserIDs from positive feedback from my "Tax Religion" posts, and Rationalia, to see if I can get more bodies. I trust you won't jeopardize my efforts, and your objections above will stay for others who read this thread.

Now, does anyone here have the email addy for someone in Rationalia Admin who could help me re-join them, because I can't go in via the normal join process (I've tried and I don't have what they need).
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Re: Taxing Religion - Is Now An Opportune Time To Try?

#31  Postby tuco » Jul 30, 2022 2:28 am

I visited this thread several times and was always puzzled by the meaning of "taxing religion". I finally invested some time and found this:

In Canada, churches and religious groups enjoy similar tax exemptions to charities for providing a public good. But as Alberta Views Magazine reported, churches don’t need to hit the same standards the many charities and nonprofits do—churches, by nature, can discriminate based on religion.


https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7ep4x/ ... lic-church

is this the problem in question?

I assumed it was and researched a bit more about the situation of religious organizations with regards to taxing in the Czech Republic where I live simply because I studied local tax law for some time and can understand the issues in question better with regard to the local situation.

I found this, dissertation, and let me quote the whole abstract:

Abstract: The goal of this thesis is to unify and present information about the legal status
of churches and religious organizations in the law of the Czech Republic, especially its
specific aspects with regard to tax regulations of financial law. It focuses economic operations
of churches, with special emphasis on the taxation of their income, and compares them
to other tax subjects. It approaches the topic with regard to the specific status of churches and
religious organizations and reflects recent changes in their financing following the restitution
of their property. Another area of focus is the relations between churches and state in general
with the addition of historical context and recent development in the 20th century. Its goals were
met primarily through the analysis of tax laws, available information about specific churches, and by comparing the current legislation with selected European countries. In its conclusion,
it proposes alternative models of regulation.


https://is.muni.cz/th/ipxd1/Diplomova_p ... cnosti.pdf

and it seems to me you have a good point.

However, and as it was noted by someone before in this thread, you need an expert on tax law to propose a sensible solution. The author of the thesis makes some propositions (pages 51-52), though less radical than what you seem to ask for, but they are general and not specific, while the devil here is hidden in the details of the laws governing the taxing of non-profit organizations/organizations providing a public good.
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Re: Taxing Religion - Is Now An Opportune Time To Try?

#32  Postby BrettA » Jul 30, 2022 9:34 pm

Well, thank you tuco, for a very interesting post!!! I hadn't been aware of much of that information and I'm grateful to hear it. It may be that my "atheist-led" attempt is no longer applicable because of all the work indicated by your post, but it's perhaps true that we can be a contributor to the effort, anyway. Can you get a English translation of the document in your 2nd link, tuco? Or does Google Translate do an adequate job (is the language, Czech?)

It also makes me think that a World-wide effort from us is worth attempting, dropping countries like Thailand and others that for one reason or other don't seem to apply. And another note on "Vatican loot" that I received this morning adds a bit to what tuco's post pointed out:

"This is one source, Time magazine, on all the hidden money. Maybe it Includes the property and art.

Bankers' best guesses about the Vatican's wealth put it at $10 billion to $15 billion. Of this wealth, Italian stockholdings alone run to $1.6 billion, 15% of the value of listed shares on the Italian market. The Vatican has big investments in banking, insurance, chemicals, steel, construction, real estate. Dividends help pay for Vatican expenses and charities such as assisting 1,500,000 children and providing some measure of food and clothing to 7,000,000 needy Italians. Unlike ordinary stockholders, the Vatican pays no taxes on this income, which led the leftist Rome weekly L'Espresso last week to call it "the biggest tax evader in Italy."


Based on these other estimates of Vatican wealth and the opinions noted in tuco's links, I think that we'd be fools not to try. It would at least wake up non-atheist people to the fact - if I can put it this way - that atheists are willing to make an effort to improve social inequities in the countries that we end up targeting. Does this new info get anyone a little pumped?
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