October 7 is Pulpit Freedom Sunday, which for four years now has meant pastors all over the U.S. will be giving sermons in which they endorse a political candidate—Mitt Romney, I imagine—in direct violation of IRS rules for a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Last year, 539 pastors participated and organizers expect even more in 2012. Some of the pastors have even mailed DVDs of their sermons to the IRS, yet so far there has been no action taken. The idea behind all of this is to force the matter to court as a freedom of speech and religion issue.
Well … shit. I guess it’s no longer good enough to be able to dodge taxes and still take a stand on policy issues—now the religious nuts in this country want to have their cake and eat it too. Isn’t it enough that they take in millions of dollars, pay nothing in taxes, and do it all by brainwashing countless Americans with their mind-numbing cage of a religion?
According to MSNBC: The money involved is enormous. Combined, federal tax breaks on donations to churches and exemptions from state and local property taxes likely add up to something on the order of $25 billion in lost revenue each year. Last year churches received $96 billion in tax-free contributions, according to estimates compiled by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Unlike other types of charities, churches do not have to file financial statements with the government. There are only rough estimates of church endowment or investment income, which is also tax-free and believed to be larger than annual contributions.
All of this adds up to billions of dollars and ultimately has led to municipal staff cuts and increased sales/property taxes. We’re all paying for this nonsense—even those of us who don’t believe in God any more than we do in Santa Claus—and for the faithful, they’re getting taken twice every time they put money in the collection basket.
Religion is a racket. If you read the Bible, you’ll see that Jesus says over and over again to sell all of your possessions and give to the poor; yet if you look at your local church and the folks who sit in it every Sunday, you’ll see that they’re all enjoying rather comfortable lives while people all over the world die every day from starvation and preventable disease. If you want to really get sick to your stomach, turn your attention to Rome and the Vatican, where a bunch of pious old men have hoarded so much gold that they don’t even know what to do with it.
Homosexuality. Contraception. Abortion. All evil in the eyes of the faithful, yet they have nothing to say about the numerous instances in which the Bible glorifies slavery, rape, torture, mass murder, infanticide, and so many other heinous atrocities that you could … well … fill a book. God takes exception to condoms, yet he sees nothing wrong with raping your slaves and beating them to death.
Yes, condoms are certainly to blame for the flood in Duluth, Minnesota, which resulted in the deaths of several animals at the Lake Superior Zoo. Also, religious officials have pointed out that Pride Week is the culprit when it comes to the triple-digit heat and torrential rains that this nation has been suffering. It isn’t clear at this point what the people in Florida did to have their home swallowed up by a giant sinkhole, but a local priest has speculated that whatever it is, it must be a “doozy.” I’m betting that they voted for Obama in 2008.
I’ve read the Bible and I find no wisdom or comfort in any of it; rather, I think that it is a ridiculous and disgusting fairytale recorded by very primitive men—and it has no place in modern society except perhaps on a dusty library shelf with all of the other ancient myths and legends. I find it remarkable that in the year 2012, an astonishing number of people believe in spirits and ghosts and magic and spells. How about leprechauns and unicorns? Look hard enough, and you’ll find dullards who believe in those too.
The Bible is good for one thing—some of its passages make excellent epigraphs for books. While its overall message might be stunningly obtuse, the language itself hits some very high notes, especially when related to literature.
In related news, the City Pages ran a story this week, “Tilting at Rainbows,” which points out that Archbishop John Nienstedt’s rabid opposition to gay marriage doesn’t necessarily jibe with the viewpoints of priests and followers. There is a growing divide in the Catholic Church.
Aww, what’s the use? Rather than ramble on in this vein, I’ll just direct your attention to a very good website on the subject: http://godisimaginary.com/. I also recommend The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.
In financial news, the stock market plummeted again today when Moody’s Investors Service lowered the credit ratings of 15 of the world’s largest banks, including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase. For months now, lenders and entire nations (including this one) have been being downgraded. This is because the world economy is collapsing, slowly but surely, but most people just don’t want to talk about it. Instead, let’s argue about whether we should raise taxes or cut spending, which is like taking someone’s arm off with a chainsaw and then offering them a Band-Aid.
And did you hear about this one? A 68-year-old school bus monitor named Karen Klein was ridiculed mercilessly in a ten-minute video that was posted to YouTube and has since gone viral.
According to MSNBC: Nearly 10,000 online sympathizers had donated that much money ($335,000) by Thursday evening on the fund-raising site Indiegogo.com in a campaign called “Lets Give Karen – The bus monitor – H Klein A Vacation.” The fund-raising was set up through a reddit.com member,identified as Max Sidorov of Toronto, Canada, after he saw the video called “Making the Bus Monitor Cry” posted to YouTube on Monday.
Apparently, the nasty little bastards responsible for this cruelty will be “punished”—not severely enough, I’m sure—but the real justice here is that by posting the video, they not only sealed their own fates, but have given Ms. Klein $335,000. The campaign won’t be over until July 20, so I’m guessing that number will rise. Will she make it to a million? I hope so. Watch:
Meanwhile, the July 1 deadline for extending lowered student-loan interest rates is fast approaching. If Congress doesn’t stop “playing chicken,” as President Obama has described it, those rates will double. Most students already can’t afford their loans—and there sure as hell aren’t any jobs for them—but if something isn’t done, I think that we’ll see the number of people enrolling in college drop drastically, not to mention what will happen to the poor bastards who already owe money. Democrats want to cut subsidies for oil-and-gas companies. Cut them? How about we eliminate them? As the most profitable businesses in the world, they hardly need any help. This story will bear watching.
Finally, Mitt Romney is all fired up about immigration. Speaking in Florida, the candidate said, “For two years, this president had huge majorities in the House and Senate—he was free to pursue any policy he pleased. But he did nothing to advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system. Instead, he failed to act until facing a tough re-election and trying to secure your vote.”
According to MSNBC: What Romney didn’t say is that a Republican filibuster, in late 2010, stopped Democratic efforts to pass a DREAM Act—previously supported by some GOP senators—granting a path to citizenship to young illegal immigrants pursuing a college degree or serving in the U.S. military. The measure received 55 Senate votes, short of the 60 needed to clear the filibuster. Also left unsaid is that, due to congressional opposition, both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have been unable to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.
You know, I recently watched a movie—Predator X—and it gave me an idea. I’m going to genetically engineer a plesiosaur and then feed my ex-wife to it. Tonight’s first video is for her.
Welcome to the weekend.
Here’s your wisdom:
John T. Schmitz is the editor & publisher of Secret Laboratory; he is the founder of Maple Hills Press and has also freelanced as a writer and photographer, contributing to various local and international publications. Mr. Schmitz lives in Minnesota with his wife, Megan, and their two children; he is the author of five books.
Email Mr. Schmitz at email@example.com.