Could we de-Christianize America?

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The title of this blog post pays homage to a Vital Remains album that I’m quite fond of, but it also begs an important question for those who dislike Christianity and other Right-Hand-Path religions. Is it actually possible? After all, a whopping 75 percent of Americans still cling to their perverse, genocidal religion. For me, personally, it was easy to forget how dominant Christianity still is, due to the fact that most people I come across here in Chicago are atheists (full disclosure: I myself am a religious Satanist with pagan leanings, not an atheist). However, when I returned in brief to my home state, New Jersey, I got an unpleasant reminder of just how many people in this country still believe that angels are real and that evolution . . . well, isn’t.

I work for a political news publication, and my colleagues believe that corporations are not people, and should pay their fair share of taxes. I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. However, I find it curious that no one in the realm of politics dares to say the same about churches. Corporate welfare is openly criticized – and rightly so! Now, what about ecclesiastical welfare? After all, places of worship are not people, either, and they damn well ought to pay their fair share. In case you don’t know, churches don’t pay property taxes on their land or buildings. They don’t pay sales taxes when they purchase things. Priests, ministers, rabbis, etc. receive “parsonage exemptions” that allow them to deduct mortgage payments, rent, and other living expenses when they do their income taxes. They also don’t have to pay into Social Security. How is that not being a freeloader? If that isn’t unethical enough for you, bear in mind that not taxing churches drains our economy by about $71 billion per year. These actions, which in my opinion are criminal, go unchallenged, unmentioned, and uncared about, and that’s an outrage. It’s also a flagrant violation of the Separation of Church and State.

It should come as no surprise that in this matter, America is as backward as you could imagine, and is once again outclassed by many European countries, which have at least a modicum of mandatory taxation on some of their churches. These nations include Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, and Sweden. The churches in America share a startling similarity with corporations in that they are powerful and influential, and operate at the expense of hard-working citizens.

“But, oh no!” cry the churchgoers. “The smaller churches would totally collapse! They wouldn’t be able to sustain themselves if they had to pay taxes!” Well, that’s just the way of things, isn’t it? Establishing a small, family-owned business is just as much of a gamble (though, conversely, it would be less so if corporations were reigned in and we had less Walmarts dominating the landscape). It’s very possible that if a mom-and-pop shop does not fill a popular niche, or sell products cheaply enough, or appeal in other ways to customers and to the community in general, the shop will be forced to close down. That’s how business works. A church is also a business, even if it would like to declare itself otherwise.

Hell, even most hospitals pay PILOTs (payments in lieu of tax) to their state and local governments, and they actually provide a tangible service to patients! Which brings me to the next thing that churchgoers will say, which is that churches provide a religious or spiritual service to their congregations, and therefore should be tax-exempt. A “spiritual service” is, unfortunately, not demonstrable to the federal government using the means of the scientific method, and can therefore not be established as factual. But fear not, dear churchgoers – if scientists discover the existence of the human soul, we’ll be sure to give you a call!

The third defense that churchgoers use is that churches provide an additional significant purpose by providing a sense of community to the – well, to the community! Well, the same could be said of the local pub! You might make the counter-argument that the YMCA is a community center, and is also tax-exempt, but guess what? The YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) is also a religious organization, and is a perfect example of the corruption of the church; essentially a glorified exercise club (yes, they do things for charity – well, so do Hollywood actors, and they still pay their taxes), it uses its “Christian principles” to gain tax-exempt status, and people have actually been fighting this for years. If only they would do the same where the churches themselves are concerned! Other “athletic clubs” and “community centers” have been trying to piggyback off the YMCA’s exploitation of this tax-exempt status, arguing that they’re no different than the Y. Surprise, surprise.

Apparently, God needs your dough in order to save your soul, guys. Let’s get real. This is not about someone’s religious beliefs or some all-powerful being who may or may not exist. Believe it or not, and as I’ve stated time and again, I actually respect people’s respective faiths. If you’re a Christian, I will fight for your right to continue to be so, and to practice your beliefs – so long as you do not try and shove them down my throat. An old saying comes to mind: “The freedom to swing your arms ends where my faces begins.” People of various faiths are perfectly entitled to express whatever tenets they will, but they cannot infringe upon the space of someone of another faith (or lack thereof, in the case of secularists).

So, arriving back at the point of this post’s title, on what basis do I have the right to de-Christianize America? Isn’t that directly contradictory to my previous statement, in which I promised to respect the belief systems of my fellow citizens? Actually, no. I’m not arguing for de-Christianization by means of restricting the freedom of Christians, nor am I arguing for any horrible acts of violence against Christians or their institutions. I’m arguing that we should work to abolish the influence of Christianity – in other words, cut the head off the snake, and the body will die. Look, Americans have been deeply influenced by 242 years of Christianity. It’s perfectly plausible that as Christianity loses its power, so too does it lose its influence, and as it does so, many Christians begin to look for alternatives, such as paganism, or even to question their faith completely. Of course, many true believers will remain Christians forever, and that leads me to arrive at an interesting conclusion.

De-Christianization of America is impossible. It will never happen. However, the waning of Christianity’s influence in this nation could be brought about someday. And that, in the end, is something I would gladly settle for. If we could make it illegal for people to proselytize in public, that’s a start. If we could ban Bibles from hotel rooms (after all, it’s incredibly presumptuous, isn’t it? A hotel guest could easily be anything from an atheist to a Muslim to a Hindu), that’s a start. If we could ban the Ten Commandments from the courthouses, that’s a start. And, damn it, if we could force churches to pay their share of taxes and contribute to our economy, that is a huge, huge start. Do churches really follow in the footsteps of their pallid, ineffectual Christ? Are they really altruists? Then prove it. Put your money where your mouth is and take care of the national community – contribute to building new infrastructure in this country, fighting climate change and fossil fuels, and lifting people above the poverty line. After all, wasn’t it “Jesus” who fed the poor?

Finally, I will add that I have no intention of discriminating. I also think that Mormon churches, Jewish synagogues, Muslim mosques, Buddhist temples, and yes, even pagan temples and Satanic churches also should pay taxes. And, by the way, many Satanic religious organizations themselves (albeit “pseudo-Satanic,” but I digress), also advocate for ending this sort of tax-exemption. So I’m no hypocrite. Unfortunately, Christianity remains in power. Don’t forget that it very nearly de-paganized Scandinavia – although the pagans will never fully be defeated, as mass Nordic, Slavic, and Egyptian revivals of old-world religions prove. While it’s sad to admit that America will never have Christianity purged from its lands, there’s nothing stopping us from using legal means to demand their accountability. And, for my fellow Satanists and pagans, if there is any way to strike a blow at the Catholic Church, that’s how you do it.

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