Give me freedom from religion; A criticism of the tax laws exempting religion.

Give me freedom from religion; A criticism of the tax laws exempting religion.

By Stephen Mooney

Section 116 of the Constitution of Australia states that “The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.”

The High Court has never ruled any law to be in contravention of Section 116. This section does not apply to individual states. In 1944 and 1988 the Federal Government held a referendum to amend the constitution so that section 116 would apply to the laws made by the individual states. The referendum failed on both occasions.

As an individual who embraces science and rationality, I consider religion to be an insult to my intelligence and an unacceptable financial burden due to religions not being required to pay local council rates, State or Federal Government tax. Atheists are subsidising those who believe in the fantasy that a super-being they call god will give them a perfect eternal existence after death.

The onus is on those who believe in the existence of god to prove that god exists.

The argument from design claims that it’s no accident that the Universe is fit for human habitation. It could have been unfit for human habitation with different laws of physics.

This begs for an explanation of the nature of these alternative laws in this alternative Universe in which humans can’t exist and so can’t raise the spurious argument from design for the existence of god.

The Universe is how it is because, as far as we can know, it couldn’t be any other way.

Religions are not the only organisations that don’t pay rates and tax. The self-appointed Australian Tax Payers’ Alliance points out that “. . . if you want to promote fishing, agriculture, tourism, or viticulture [sic], or even if you want to promote animal racing or sports . . . you are exempt from tax”. They also claim that: “There is nothing — nothing — special about promoting religion.” And finally they claim that those demanding that religions pay tax are “. . . anti-liberty, anti-choice and are, effectively, using big government to single out and harass religious organisations in Australia.”

Fishing, agriculture, tourism, viticulture, animal racing and sport do not require the belief in an all-powerful non-existent being. I’m not an anti-sportist, an anti-recreationalist, or an anti-agriculturalist. I’m an atheist and a semi-anti-theist: I don’t believe in the existence of god and I only want religion to pay council rates and government tax.

Religion is based on faith, acceptance without question, the antithesis of science and rationality, and this is what makes it special.

Don’t just take my word for it. Ask Christians and Jews and Muslims and all the others who believe in the existence of god if they see their religion as equivalent to all other organisations that are exempt from paying rates and tax.

All the religions are complicit in the unfair treatment of atheists. If they are truly fair minded, if they truly believe in my right not to subsidise their fantasy, then they will join me in demanding that all religions pay council rates and government tax.

I herewith give all religious organisations the opportunity to join me in demanding that both our State and Federal Governments immediately ensure that their constitutions uphold my right not to have to carry the financial burden of subsidising religion in any of its forms.

A recommendation for a financial settlement in favour of all atheists is bound to be the result. If you’ve evolved to the point of realising that there is no god, then you should establish that you’re a bona fide atheist by registering with the Australian Human Rights Commission. In the body of a message place the words “I’m an atheist and I want compensation” It is clearly a case of large-scale and long-running financial discrimination.

A rich man may not get into heaven, but a rich atheist can have one hell of a good time here on Earth.

It’s demeaning to see some of my fellow humans embracing ideas such as original sin. A non-existent couple in a non-existent garden take a non-existent apple from a non-existent tree against a directive from a non-existent being not to do so. I understand that a non-existent snake is also involved in this non-existent event.

Another religion demeans my fellow humans by requiring that they submit and pray to the non-existent god with their heads on the ground and their bums in the air.

The charitable works of religions does not justify them not paying council rates and government tax. These works are a choice made by the religions and the specific nature of those works is determined by the religions.

Just giving things to people is not always the best assistance that you can offer. Do-gooders can do more harm than good.

To compound the financial injury to atheists, those who give money to religious charities receive a reduction in the tax they have to pay.

To compound the financial injury to atheists, those who give money to religious charities receive a reduction in the tax they have to pay.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that the number of people in Australia reporting no religious belief has risen from 0.4 per cent in 1911 to 22 per cent in 2011. With those claiming to be Catholic at 25 per cent and Anglican at 17 per cent, atheism is in a respectable second place.

With the all blacks, caps, and sticks across the ditch the category of No Religion has increased to 35 per cent. Although New Zealand leads the way, England and Wales have seen an increase to 25 per cent, Canada to 24 per cent, with the United States lagging behind with an increase to 20 per cent. Atheism is on the rise around the world.

In the name of all that’s holy — as in holy shit — why the hell should atheists have to subsidise the fantasies of those who “can’t handle the truth” that human existence is a consequence of the process of the Universe that incorporates biological evolution and the intellectual development that sees the purpose of life as the realisation of the inherent constructive abilities of both individuals and collective humanity. It does not require the involvement of a super-being of any description.

Give me freedom from religion, with a cheque in the mail.

Stephen Mooney is an independent researcher and writer. He is author of Debunking Physics and Discovering the Logic of the Universe.

the Australian Rationalist (Melbourne), v. 102, Spring [October] 2016.
Journal of the Rationalist Society of Australia, www.rationalist.com.au