I would like to apologize to the world for how terrible my previous post was (insert your own quip about all my posts being terrible here). It never should have seen the light of day, but that's just an inevitable cost of my commitment to publish something every week whether I feel like it or not. When I do feel like it, and put more time into it, I'm able to flesh out and expand on half-formed ideas, revise the wording a few times, and just generally make the posts less terrible. This time around none of that happened because I didn't have much to say and put it off until Saturday night when I forced myself to say it anyway. I am a bit more enthusiastic about what I have to say this time around, though some people probably won't be.
I've gotten quite tired of the widespread and inexcusable ignorance surrounding American tax law as it relates to religions. Usually I just roll my eyes to the back of my head and scroll past it, but this meme, which has been liked and shared by thousands of people, was the last straw.
My first thought is hey, that building looks familiar. My second thought, glossing over the minor detail that this meme doesn't cite any actual math or give me any reason to believe that its creator didn't pull this percentage out of his butt, is that if we want 3% taxes a better solution might be to actually lower taxes by getting rid of a bunch of the useless crap our government spends them on. Granted, if it somehow cut its expenses to zero it would still have the small matter of a ~$20,000,000,000,000 debt to contend with, but I'm pretty sure we've all just agreed to act like that's not a thing, right? Anyway, more to the point, I decided to play their own game and make a meme of my own, which won't reach nearly as wide of an audience because a. I'm invisible and b. people hate the truth, but it stands a better chance than just plain words.
Though flattered by the depiction of an LDS temple, I opted for a more generic Christian church so as not to imply any ecclesiastical endorsement of my internet activities. (Notice that these people invariably say "churches", not "religions". Somehow I almost get the ridiculous idea that they're only interested in taxing Christianity.) I really, really, really wanted to preface it with "Dear morons:", but I restrained myself because that's not what Jesus would say. I considered instead something like "Public service announcement for the woefully ignorant:", but this meme's length already exceeds the average millennial's attention span by a solid two seconds as it is. I named a specific politically involved nonprofit (albeit one that makes curiously high profits) because just saying "but not any other nonprofits" or "but not secular nonprofits" wouldn't have had nearly the same hypocrisy-skewering impact. I could just as easily have named the NRA, but let's be honest, we all know that the kind of people who support the NRA aren't the kind of people who want to tax churches. Then I wrapped it up by copying society's own bigot-shaming game. I learned from the worst.
While I'm on the subject I'd like to keep going. The phrase "separation of church and state", which appears nowhere in the US Constitution, is paraphrased from a letter from Thomas Jefferson assuring a committee of Baptists that the government had no right to infringe on their beliefs or practices. It is now usually used to mean that churches should be subjected to a double standard compared to all other organizations and that religious (or at least Christian) leaders shouldn't be allowed to express political opinions or do anything outside of a church setting ever. For example, we saw this kind of stupidity a few months ago when President Henry B. Eyring was announced as the commencement speaker for Utah Valley University, and several people griped about this imaginary violation of the nonexistent constitutional principle of "separation of church and state". Because never mind his secular credentials and qualifications; all that matters is he's a high-ranking LDS leader so he shouldn't be allowed to speak at a secular university because reasons. Yet somehow the university survived his terrible speech about "helping and lifting others".
Churches do more to help and lift people than their detractors could ever dream of even if they were into that sort of thing. The Catholic Church is sometimes known as "the largest charitable organization in the world" because it's the largest charitable organization in the world. The LDS Church, which this meme has singled out for criticism, is a small fraction of the Catholic Church's size and thus far more modest in scope, but still provides a lot of humanitarian aid immediately after every major disaster and also on a regular basis throughout the world, including countries where it has no or little presence. Its welfare system is unlike any other. Of course, under the law, none of this is actually necessary to qualify as a non-profit organization, but it is nice. Churches do tend to prioritize spiritual matters over temporal ones (e.g. the expensive temple in the picture) since that's kind of the reason they exist, but that's their business. Each has the basic human right to teach and practice its doctrine regardless of whether you agree with it or not. If it's true then it's pretty dang important and if it's not then we'll all be dead someday regardless, so get over it.
Perhaps I should mention that the LDS Church, which this meme has singled out for criticism, is involved in some for-profit ventures which for legal purposes are handled by a separate entity that... wait for it... pays taxes. These also play an important role in the economy and provide jobs. Maybe someday they'll expand to the point where the Church pays enough in taxes for you to only pay 3%. If that happened, would you appreciate it or would you whine about how churches shouldn't be involved in for-profit ventures? There's no pleasing you, is there? Now, obviously some so-called preachers are all about profit and have abused the law to secure unmerited tax-exempt status, and that's wrong and it should be stopped. John Oliver did a great segment about them. But they're the exception, not the rule, and some secular organizations do the same thing, albeit with far less charisma. Some of them, as crazy as it sounds, actually receive money from actual taxpayers. Imagine the outrage if churches did that. (They do in several European countries, but mostly just from their own members. Mostly.)
In conclusion, I'm not attacking all secularists or all liberals, but the contention espoused in this meme is ignorant and asinine. No wonder it's so popular.
halc & Tuberz McGee - Squidzilla
I can't quite tell if this song is in reference to some Japanese monster movie or something and that would explain some of the oddities in the lyrics, but I think it's beautiful regardless. And it speaks to me.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.