A Win for the Freedom From Religion Foundation

This is a guest post by Stef McGraw. Stef is a Junior at the University of Northern Iowa, and is a member of the UNI Freethinkers and Inquirers (UNIFI) .

For those of you who haven’t been following the story of the billboard on a Columbus church’s property, here’s some background: The Freedom From Religion Foundation placed an ad in Columbus, Ohio that simply depicted someone’s smiling face with the phrase, “I can be good without God.” It happened to be placed on property that was owned by a church, which the pastor did not like and subsequently demanded that the billboard be removed. It was, but not without the FFRF fighting for the church to have to pay taxes on land off of which it is profiting.

Here’s the update: the county sided with the FFRF and is now requiring that the church pay taxes on its land which houses a billboard.

Bravo to the FFRF for enforcing the fact that even though a church in itself is tax-exempt, that doesn’t mean it can do whatever it wants and still maintain that status.

 

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Matte the Hun

    I hadn’t realized that aspect.

    And all I can say is

    Fuck

    YEAH!

  • Sinfanti

    I love this turn of events.  Getting a church to pay taxes almost seems to make the whole thing worth the trouble.  Well done FFRF!

  • Alantas

    A little grease to start off the slippery slope that’ll bring them back down to Earth.

  • Alantas

    A little grease to start off the slippery slope that’ll bring them back down to Earth.

  • Luce

    FFRF: bringing the religious back down to earth from their imaginary pedestal since 1976. Thank (non-existent) god! :)

  • TJ

    Wooohoooo!

  • Debbie

    I hope this catches on!  Enough with the free ride…especially when you are peddling lies and superstition!

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    And I’m them one that asked them if they where responsible for the removal of the billboard.

    So I feel pretty damn good right now.

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      Here is the facebook thread.

      • Annie

        They’ve already deleted this thread… but this is what they had up from 20 hours ago:
        “We
        are being attacked from every angle especially since we said the
        atheist could not erect a sign on God’s property. Help us fight the
        ememy… PRAY for us.”

        What’s an “ememy”?

        • Reginald Selkirk

          That reminds me of a famous quote from the days of the Dover trial in 2005:
          “We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture” – Creationist pastor Ray Mummert

          • Kenneth Dunlap

            That is an awesome quote!

          • cipher

            Priceless. Honestly, much of the time they just write the material for you – and they’re too goddamn stupid to realize it. Point it out to them, and they stare at you like the clichéd dear in the headlights.

            This is one of the reasons I insist that any attempt at dialogue with the fundy/creationist element is pointless. It isn’t a result of poor education; most of them are simply morons.

  • Anonymous
    • Adviser Moppet

      Exactly what I was thinking.

    • Adviser Moppet

      Exactly what I was thinking.

  • http://twitter.com/bbridson Brian Bridson

    Thanks for the post. It is great to see these free loaders getting skewered.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I just love it when justice is poetic. 

  • http://aboutkitty.blogspot.com/ Cat’s Staff

    I know a lot of churches that rent space on their property out to things like billboards, cell towers, bus stops, park and rides, charter schools, etc.  This is a good precedent.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SU3L6O6MNAPXLBIGJGEX5NW5UQ jqb

    Just one short article by Stef McGraw is more relevant to atheism and skepticism than 1000 Rebecca Watson videos. As more women become part of our movement, I hope they are like Stef.

    • Anonymous

      Nice way to ruin the moment.

    • Drew M.

      I think you’re in the wrong thread.

    • Kenneth Dunlap

      Just one short quip by you is worth less than a dog’s fart in the wind. As more people become part of the movement I hope they are less like you. 

  • http://eviltwit.wordpress.com/ eviltwit

    *applause*

  • http://twitter.com/gordongoblin Gordon

    Churches should have to pay taxes anyway!

    • Josh

      Yeah and if they are really doing a lot of charity work, they can write it off like any other corporation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Tiffany/100001926356049 David Tiffany

    It’s good that the FFRF understands the principle of accountability.  God says if we owe taxes, pay taxes.  He also says everyone will give an account of himself or herself to God.  http://atheistlegitimacy.blogspot.com/

    • ACN

      Yay, blogwhoring continues!

      • Drew M.

        At least this one was entertaining. In a “laugh at” sort of way.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    A little good news to start the morning!

  • Randall Morrison90

    ‘The power to tax is the power to destroy.”

  • Doug Shaw

    This is a big deal.  I hope it does not get appealed.

  • Heisenberg

    Excellent. I know there are some readers from Columbus on this blog (myself included) so I’m surprised I’m the first one to bring this up…
    The billboard is now on the corner of 4th and Goodale streets. It’s a busy intersection to say the least and I go through there a few times a week. Well the billboard is right next to a building and just recently I’ve noticed a banner hanging from the building saying “Without Faith there is no Hope.” I’ll try and snap a pic of it later today if I’m over there.

    It’s a silly sentiment to believe in. Because the way I see it, without faith there is actually MORE hope. We don’t blindly hope for things that have such infinitesimally small chances of happening. We hope for things based on logic and reason, things that are much more likely to come full circle.

    Anyone else notice how religion, Christianity in particular, has become a twitter religion these days? They’re not worried about the teachings of Jesus or any legitimate morality as much as they are about filling the seats with catchy one liners that hold no water after little inspection. 

  • Anonymous

    This is definitely good news. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/linda.gulley Linda Stout Gulley

    Woohoo!  As a Columbus Atheist, I am so happy to hear this!

  • Thespot273

    AWESOME!
    Now, if we could go after churches that participate in the Sunday Stump (I think thats what they call it), when they get up and promote a particular politician.

  • Fredericka

    ““I can be good without God.”

    Can you really? Would that mean, for example, telling the truth even at financial cost? For Christians that’s an easy call; God hears everything you say and God hates lies: “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood…” (Proverbs 6:16-17). But for atheists, what is the motivation to tell the truth if it costs you money? I can’t think of any, and neither can any of the atheists on this board; they brazenly and causally counsel lying in that situation. So why put up a billboard with such blatantly false advertising on it as, “I can be good without God”?

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      [CITATION NEEDED]

      After all, our prison system is FULL of Christians who have murdered, raped, stolen….

      • Fredericka

        So now we learn that you can’t be good with God either? What is it you are trying to say? If something can happen, it will happen. If you truly believe that ‘You can be good without God,’ then why doesn’t that actually happen? Why is Justin more the typical atheist?

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

          I’m good. No god here. I don’t lie (beyond little white lies), I don’t steal, I have never committed murder or fraud, I’m not an abuser, I absolutely WILL NOT harm a child, and …. somehow you think I’m “evil”?

          Pthbbbt. Jog on.

          • Fredericka

            If we define defaming and maligning millions as ‘good’, you’re just wonderful. Like I said, you have to lower the standards just a bit…

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

              Funny, that. I have higher standards than your so-called “God” — I’ve never ordered or committed genocide.

              • Fredericka

                God is the judge of the whole world. When he weighs nations in the balance and they fall short, as did the inhabitants of Canaan, He does nothing wrong in ordaining their destruction. Certainly any human being who presumed on his own authority to obliterate a nation is guilty of a crime, but God commits no crime in ending any or all human life. Did He commit a crime in giving us life in the first place?

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                  You haven’t actually read the Bible, have you?

                • Fredericka

                  Yes I have, have you? The Canaanites used to burn their children alive as a gift to their idol. In some jurisdictions in the U.S., parents who murdered a child in this way would be eligible for the death penalty, owing to the cruelty and depravity of the act. Are you saying it’s OK for human beings to do away with people who burn their children alive, but God is a monster if He does the same thing?

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                  Your god is a monster, yes. Because the acts of one or a few people does not justify wiping out a whole fucking TRIBE.

                  (Plus, your god did, in fact, demand child sacrifice. Twice. Once with Abraham, when he went “Naw, just kidding”, and once with the guy who promised to sacrifice the first thing that came out to greet him [which turned out to be his  beloved daughter].)

                • Fredericka

                  These aren’t the acts of “one or two people,” it’s the center-piece of the entire culture. Diodorus Siculus and Plutarch report the same thing about Carthage, a Phoenician colony: “There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus, extending its hands, palms up
                  and sloping toward the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon
                  rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire.” (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History, Book 20,
                  Chapter 14).
                   This was a culture only an atheist could love.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                  I’m done. You’re clearly a troll. Please sod off.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

                  Your god is a monster, yes. Because the acts of one or a few people does not justify wiping out a whole fucking TRIBE.

                  (Plus, your god did, in fact, demand child sacrifice. Twice. Once with Abraham, when he went “Naw, just kidding”, and once with the guy who promised to sacrifice the first thing that came out to greet him [which turned out to be his  beloved daughter].)

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      [CITATION NEEDED]

      After all, our prison system is FULL of Christians who have murdered, raped, stolen….

    • Justin

      I agree with wmdkitty.  You’re full of shit.

      • Fredericka

        What’s that noisome stench? Has a sewer pipe burst in the vicinity? No, it’s just the mellifluous sound of atheists talking.

        When atheists advance the slogan, ‘You can be good without God,’ they are equivocating on the word ‘good.’ Asked to list ‘good’ things, Christians fill a large sheet of paper with many entries, including addressing others in a pleasing and comely way. The slogan needs to be corrected to, ‘You can be amoral without God, but don’t worry, you won’t feel bad about it.’ The atheists aren’t going to put a diaper on Justin, who has not been potty trained; they don’t see the problem. At a bare minimum,  to avoid false advertising, the slogan needs to be corrected to, ‘You can be good without God, though of course, you will need to abandon your current definition of ‘good’ and replace it with a radically minimalist one.’

        • Rebecca “Zeek” Essenpreis

          Fredericka, you may not realize this, but you have seriously abandoned the Christian definition of good yourself.  Unless of course you follow biblical teachings correctly and think of shellfish as an abomination and participate in the stoning to death of those who go against the teachings of Leviticus.

          • Fredericka

            Hi Rebecca. Surprisingly enough, this matter is addressed in the Bible. The reason Christians do not keep kosher is because of Acts 10: “And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:  Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.  And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.  But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.  And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.  This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. 
            ” (Acts 10:11-16). Are you suggesting that Christians should violate the Bible teaching which tells them, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common”?

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

          Troll in the dungeon…

    • Rebecca “Zeek” Essenpreis

      Fredericka, I am good without a god and that includes not lying, even where finances are concerned.  If a cashier accidentally gives me the wrong change in my favor, I always correct the mistake.  I don’t do this because of the promise of an eternal reward, or even a reward in this life similar to the concept of karma.  I do good because I am human and care about other humans. I live in a  society, a group of humans who need to work together to survive.  I am good and tell the truth because I want others around me to do the same.

      • Fredericka

        “I am good without a god”

        Hi Rebecca, I am glad to hear you’re an exception to the general rule around here. I would not venture to join you in saying ‘I am good’ because Jesus said, “..there is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark 10:18). So you will have to remain all alone in the local ‘good’ club!

    • Rebecca “Zeek” Essenpreis

      Fredericka, I am good without a god and that includes not lying, even where finances are concerned.  If a cashier accidentally gives me the wrong change in my favor, I always correct the mistake.  I don’t do this because of the promise of an eternal reward, or even a reward in this life similar to the concept of karma.  I do good because I am human and care about other humans. I live in a  society, a group of humans who need to work together to survive.  I am good and tell the truth because I want others around me to do the same.

  • PhillipsHoward

    Atheists have proven they can be good without God.

    Look what they do in the countried they have actually obtained political control in!

    They killed MILLIONS of believers and tried to eliminate religion.

    And, since RELIGION POISONS EVERYTHING and is THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL, isn’t that a good thing?

    Yep.  You can be GOOD without God.

    • Justin

      Your retort is disingenuous, and I have to assume that you’re a troll, a poe, or an asshole.

      Most atheists can admit that regimes built on faith and regimes built on a rejection of faith have resulted in atrocity and horror.  The takeaway, then, should be that only a government completely neutral to faith has the capacity to be acceptable.

    • cipher

      Tell that to secular Western Europe, which has far fewer domestic problems than we have.

      Meanwhile, you conservative Christians have spent the past thirty years voting into office the criminals and lunatics who are chiefly responsible for the socioeconomic mess in which we now find ourselves, and which threatens to topple our global civilization.

      Way to go!

  • Newavocation

    Now on to all the tax money given to faith based organizations!

  • http://twitter.com/garyd Gary Arthur Douglas

    Excellent!  Tax the churches!


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