This Friday on FreeThought Friday!
Is atheism a religion?
Joe ZameckiSpeaking of those shucking the illusions, the latest is that "atheism is a religion."
At least that's what the Department of Justice is arguing with respect to the tax exempt status of housing allowances given to members of the clergy under Section 107 of the tax code.
Only religious personnel claim this exemption, which is sometimes abused.
Other charities, which are required to file more onerous tax paperwork than churches, do not claim the tax-free housing allowance.
In a case brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which requested a parsonage exemption in an effort to bring about a formal challenge to the fairness of the law, the Department of Justice argued in a brief requesting a motion to dismiss the FFRF suit that atheist leaders are in fact not currently excluded from the parsonage exemption.
At odds with the tax argument, the House of Representatives recently approved an amendment to the defense authorization bill that was designed to keep the Pentagon from accepting atheist chaplains.
- "The notion of an atheist
- chaplain is nonsensical;
- it's an oxymoron,"
said Rep. John Fleming, R-La., sponsor of the amendment.
- "It is absurd to argue
- that someone with no
- spiritual inclination
- should fill that role,
- especially when it could
- well mean that such an
- individual would take the
- place of a true chaplain
- who has been endorsed by
- a religious organization."
What do the atheists say?
Is atheism a religion or a religious movement?
One of the respected voices in atheism is Joe Zamecki, a friendly activist who has been at the front lines of atheism causes for years.
Joe was the original co-host of the popular show, The Atheist Experience, back in 1997. He worked for American Atheists in New Jersey, and then returned to Austin where he served as the Texas State Director of American Atheists. In September 2009, Joe and two of his colleagues started a giveaway program for the homeless in Austin, Texas. Atheists Helping the Homeless has now grown to include regular giveaways throughout Texas.
Joe will share his thoughts and wit about whether atheism is "a religion." We'd love to hear your thoughts, too.