American Atheist Online Services
1 June 1994
Dial-THE-Atheist is a telephone message service sponsored by
American Atheists, Inc. You can listen to it at (512) 458-5731.
Thank you for calling Dial-THE-Atheist. This is Madalyn
In opening the mail today, I came across one envelope which
contained a newspaper clipping. That's not unusual since we ask
all our members to monitor the newspapers and magazines in their
area and to clip and send any item having to do with an egregious
state/church separation violation, or anything having to do with
Atheism. If you want to do the same, make certain that the source
and the date is on the clipping and then, send it in.
However, when I opened up this large clipping, I fell off my
chair. I simply could not accept it as a fact. This came from the
_Ottawa Citizen_ newspaper and was dated April 24. That is, from
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The heading is "Churches gear up to head
off tax bite."
My first reaction, before I even read it was, "It could
never happen in the United States," and then, I read it. It seems
that the Fair Tax Commission in that city in December 1993
suggested that the churches pay their "fair share" of municipal
property taxes. Now, that's a phrase that American Atheists has
been using for at least four decades.
The immediate reaction from the provincial treasurer was
that the government would not implement the new recommendation
and that none of the proposed property tax changes will be
enacted before the next elections. Does that sound like "business
as usual" to you?
The Anglican, United, and evangelical churches are beginning
to investigate the effects of the recommendation. The newspaper
article had pictures of six enormous cathedrals. Under each was a
proposed amount of taxation, at current property tax rates. The
Roman Catholic Notre Dame Basilica's estimated tax would be
$30,000 a year. The Christ Church Cathedral's tax would be
$13,000. One United church would face $15,000 a year property
tax; a Presbyterian church $10,000; a Synagogue $15,000 and a
Would you think that the churches would have gall enough to
play "poor mouth" on the issue? The poor dear churches feel
harassed. In the middle of the report was this sentence - in
parenthesis: "Three out of four Canadians do not attend regular
worship services." The Commission looked at the statistics simply
by saying "Times have changed":
In the 19th century, delivering an implicit subsidy to
religious organizations would not have been particularly
controversial . . . Today, implicit subsidies for religious
organizations are being funded in part by individuals who
do not adhere to any of the organizations.
And, that is the rub. Implicit subsidies for religious
organizations, such as their exemption from any kind of tax, real
estate tax, income tax, sales tax, and so on, means that all
those taxes are higher for persons who do not adhere to any of
the religions being support, do not attend the churches, and
often are in conflict with the teachings of particular religions.
But, weeping and moaning, the Christ Church Cathedral said
that the cathedral would have to cut services worth far more than
its possible tax bill of $13,000. Those services are so called
social services, such as women's shelters, social housing and
food banks. The only difficulty with such a statement is that it
is a gawd-damn lie. All over the world the churches seek tax
money to provide these services because people in crisis are the
best candidates for church membership. Governments fund such
services and the churches administer them - a marriage of state
and church functions. The churches usually get all the credit and
no one knows that the tax payers foot the bill.
Well, the point of this story is that the Fair Tax
Commission members had balls enough to make the suggestion that
the churches should pay municipal property taxes. That's more
than any of you are going to hear from any tax commission in the
United States for many, many years to come.
Of course, American Atheists keeps plugging away with the
idea. If you want to help, join us. The address is American
Atheists, P O Box 2117, Austin, TX. That zip is 78768. And, if
you want to get to us quicker, there is always the American
Atheist Bulletin Board Service. That number is (area code 512).
Telephone number 302-0223.
Meanwhile, you can dial this Atheist any time.
Provided by: AMERICAN ATHEIST ONLINE SERVICES, P O Box 140195,
Austin, TX 78714-0195. Voice: (512) 458-1244. FAX: (512)
467-9525. BBS: (512) 302-0223.
Text reprinted courtesy of the American Atheists, Inc.
Copyright 1994. All rights reserved. This may not be reproduced
without the prior written permission of American Atheists, Inc.