Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hey, guys, do some research....

The "we should tax religion" meme is back, and in Free Inquiry, of all places.  Specifically, they think (or, at least, broadly suggest) that "religions" should be treated as "for-profit corporations providing entertainment."  They base this conclusion on the fact that "religions," on average, don't function as charities and therefore shouldn't enjoy nonprofit status and the tax breaks that go with it.

So, of course, it's a fact that nonprofit status depends on whether or not an organization functions primarily as a charity.  Well, isn't it?  I mean, the authors did take a few minutes to research this important question, right?  They wouldn't falsely assert that nonprofits=charities if that were, in fact, not the case?

Well, let's see what Wikipedia has to say about nonprofit organizations:

"A nonprofit organization (NPO) is an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends."  Logical enough.

So, um, it seems that operating as a charity is not necessary for nonprofit status--which would explain the large number of nonprofits that aren't charities, would it not?  We have to ask ourselves, are the Free Inquiry authors aware that they're presenting a false either/or by pretending that nonprofit status is an issue of charity vs. non-charity?  Some aspects of the piece suggest as much.  For instance, the term "for-profit" appears seven times, while neither "nonprofit" nor "non-profit" appear even once.  It can't be, surely, that this is purely intentional, that they don't want anyone to stop and ask, "Hm, what are the rules for nonprofits"?  That would  be less than strictly honest, wouldn't it?

Boldly asserting something without directly doing so--that's sort of like propaganda, isn't it?

Or maybe it's just fantastically terrible writing.  Your call.