Is Atheism a Religion? That Question’s at the Heart of a Lawsuit Over Housing Credits for ‘Ministers of the Gospel’

For a couple of years now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been in a legal battle to end the “parish exemption” that allows ministers to deduct the cost of their mortgage/utilities/parking/furnishings from their taxable income. FFRF argues that this shows preferential treatment for religious leaders.

In fact, FFRF’s own board has paid its co-presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor $15,000 each as part of their housing allowance, but because they don’t qualify as “ministers of the gospel,” they’re arguing that the law doesn’t apply to them and, therefore, it’s illegal. (For what it’s worth, they didn’t try to obtain the exemption and get rejected; they’re simply speaking on principle.)

I typed ‘atheist’ and ‘house’ into Google and this is what came up

In a recent twist to the case, the U.S. Department of Justice is arguing that atheism is a religion, so Barker and Gaylor should be able to qualify for the exemption:

Non-theistic beliefs, including atheism, may qualify as “religious” beliefs in various contexts because they pertain to religion and fulfill a similar role in a person’s life:

Because [FFRF] can show no facts to suggest that the IRS will apply terms like “minister” and “religious organization” as if they turn on adherence to some theistic belief or other content, this Court should not presume that the IRS would act inconsistently with the governing law regarding whether atheism a religion for purposes of an atheist’s claim…

So how is FFRF responding to that claim?

No thanks, says Gaylor.

“We are not ministers,” she said. “We are having to tell the government the obvious — we are not a church.”

Philosophically, she’s right. As the saying goes, if atheism is a religion, then bald is a hair color and “off” is a TV channel. Sociologist Phil Zuckerman offers another mark against that claim:

Atheist groups can be religion-like, [Zuckerman] said. They have regular meetings, shared ideology and even revered symbols — like the Darwin fish or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a symbol that satirizes intelligent design.

They also can be true believers about their cause, in the same way that soccer or music fans can seem to worship their idols.

But there’s no real belief in a supernatural power, he said. That’s where the comparison to religion breaks down.

“Soccer fans don’t really believe that David Beckham was born of a virgin,” he said. “They don’t really believe Jimi Hendrix is a god.”

Exactly. Atheism isn’t a religion, unless the definition of “religion” changes so much as to become almost meaningless. However, in the legal system, atheism has been — and should be — treated like a religion. It’s a little easier to understand if you say that all belief systems are equal under the law. The government can’t promote Christianity over Judaism or theism over atheism, and that’s why FFRF should be fighting this “parish exemption.”

There are two possible ways to resolve this problem.

The government is saying, “The law, as it stands, is illegal, so let’s include FFRF and other atheist groups in the housing exemption.”

FFRF is saying, “The law, as it stands, is illegal, so just strike it down altogether.”

I know I have a bias here, but FFRF’s argument just makes the most sense. It’s easy to see the slippery slope if the government’s argument wins out here. What happens when a Pastafarian group wants the housing credit? Can atheist non-profit groups stop being transparent with their finances? Can they advocate for political candidates like churches seem to be able to do without punishment?

It’d be better for everyone if we just stopped giving churches (and, if it were the case, atheist groups) special treatment. Forget the housing exemption. And forget the tax breaks, too. We could find a much better use for the $71,000,000,000 we’d get in return for taxing churches.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Brian Westley

    The government is saying, “The law, as it stands, is illegal, so let’s include FFRF and other atheist groups in the housing exemption.”

    If the lawsuit ends this way, it will just come up again with some other nonprofit organization that confers a housing allowance. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if the FFRF set up a new 501c3 — say, a film society — and pays the head of it a small housing allowance.

    • Brian Westley

      Replying to myself, it would be even better if Americans United attempted an identical lawsuit — not only is AU exclusively about separation between church & state (FFRF is that, plus about freethinking), but the head of AU, Barry Lynn, is a minister, but AU is not his church, that’s the UCC.

  • C Peterson

    Yes, it would be best to get rid of the exemption. But I don’t see that happening easily. Maybe the best way really is to take the ride down that slippery slope. Once tax revenue is materially affected, doing things the right way should be a lot simpler.

    • katiehippie

      The creation museum should have a carnival ride called “The Slippery Slope”. That phrase seems to be a staple of Christians these days.

      • allein

        They could rename the zip line…

        • Spazticus

          If they rename the zip line, it should be called “Greased Lightning”.

          • allein

            Lol, you win comment of the day.

  • Bitter Lizard

    I think not believing in werewolves is a religion. Those awerewolfist fundamentalists are just as bad as the Westboro Baptist Church.

    On second thought, I’m going to assign myself as a religious leader for all of the things I don’t believe in now, and have the government treat me all special for every one of them. And I’m going to endorse Ron Paul for president as a representative for people who don’t believe in Mr. Roper from Three’s Company.

    • sam

      How _dare_ you deny the existence of Mr. Roper, you filthy nonbeliever. Tell me, if Mr. Roper didn’t exist, then why did Jack Tripper have to make so much effort to convince everyone he was gay in order to stay in his apartment with the two girls? Huh, Mr. Smarty Pants? And what about the empty tomb?? ….oh, wait…

      • Bitter Lizard

        Don’t worry, I’m not one of those militant nonbelievers who says nasty things like “you’re wrong”. I fully submit to the authority of the roperists, especially since all the worst crimes in history were committed by aroperists.

        • baal

          I’m pretty sure Pol Pot would have said he had no idea who Mr. Roper is or why he should care. Clearly the aroperiests are responsible for some of the most brutal and cruel killings known to us.

          • Bitter Lizard

            Hitler. Just thought I’d throw that one out there. Clearly, no matter how many crimes against humanity are committed in Mr. Roper’s name, belief in Him is necessary for morality.

    • DougI

      Mr. Roper is real because Mr. Roper has a tool belt, just like Batman and they’re still making documentaries about Batman. Therefore Mr. Roper is Batman (couldn’t tell because he wears a mask, but now you know) so Mr. Roper is real.

      • Rich Wilson

        tool belt? Are you sure you’re not confusing Mr. Roper with
        Dwayne F. Schneider ?

  • Gus

    The arguments in favor of the FFRF certainly make the most sense to me. When I read the headline I was afraid I was going to find the FFRF arguing that we, or they, are a religion and that would have seriously troubled me.

    It makes perfect sense to me that atheism must be treated as a class of religious belief system for purposes of equal treatment and freedom of religion, but it is not a church and does not have minister and should not receive a tax exemption meant for ministers or churches. This is fundamentally unfair, of course, which makes the obvious solution the elimination of that tax exemption.

    I also really like the soccer analogy. In any of the ways that people choose to claim atheism is like religion, it is still less like a religion than sports fandom so unless one is willing to grant Manchester United, or the New England Patriots all the same treatment as churches, neither should the FFRF be treated that way.

  • Kat

    In Spiritus Hitchens-us, Ramen.

    • Spuddie


      Its Dominus Dawkins, Macaroni.

      • allein

        A pasta schism! Now I don’t know whether to have angel hair or penne for dinner…

        • Mark W.

          Penne, or you’re one of those dirty Evangelical Pastafarians and pretty soon you’ll be dancing around with fistfuls of Spaghetti, muttering gibberish to yourself and drinking discount beer.

          • Spuddie

            You are making that sound like a bad thing!

        • Monika Jankun-Kelly

          Angel hair! Is our Great Noodly One depicted as a bunch of penne? No! The FSM is a tangle of angel hair, or at most, spaghetti. A bunch of penne sticking together and flying would just be absurd! Down with the penne heresy!

          • allein

            I should have listened to you. I had bowties and I was very disappointed with my meal.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          The penne goes with the anise.

  • Dave G.

    It’s a belief about religion. Of course. But I think I’m out of here. After watching a thread unfold yesterday, I’ve come to realize this is just one more typical atheist blog. I mean, people were denying that atheists ever attack religious people as part of the attack on religion. Are you kidding? That’s like saying Limbaugh doesn’t criticize Democrats. Some of the ones saying so were doing just that! And yet, once more, I see atheists displaying a stunning lack of reality in what they say. Which is why this question could be asked on this blog, and the responses so predictable. As I search for atheist blogs, I notice that trend more and more. All arguments are based on a series of beliefs and notions that atheists hold that the atheists themselves contradict! Perhaps dealing with reality and being an atheist are mutually exclusive. I don’t know. But so far, I’ve seen little on the Internet (or in most modern atheist discourse) to suggest otherwise. I came by before and stopped visiting because of the childish responses and the lack of self awareness of so many comments. I move on, hoping to find I’m wrong, but every day coming closer to concluding I’m right. Sayonara.

    • Bitter Lizard

      Goodbye. We’ll miss all of the things you obviously contribute to anything.

      • YankeeCynic

        I know, right? He’s the equivalent of a Dunning-Kruger livefire exercise.

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor


      • Bitter Lizard

        Upvoted for capitalization of the word “Fucking”. Seemed appropriate, somehow.

        • Spazticus

          Better than the “Celibate stairs.” I’ve heard those are no fun at all.

      • Tainda

        Click saved

    • 3lemenope

      I mean, people were denying that atheists ever attack religious people as part of the attack on religion.

      Where did that happen? Methinks you misread.

    • DavidMHart

      You might be noticing a phenomenon whereby because atheism is not a structured philosophy in itself, merely the rejection of a particular subset of structured philosophies, the other stuff that atheists believe that do not touch on the existence or non-existence of gods is extremely diverse, and some of us get a little sloppy in our language, saying things like ‘atheists believe X’, when what they ought to be saying is ‘statistically, atheists are more likely to believe X than religious people are’, or even just ‘I (who am an atheist) believe X’.

      Once you get used to mentally filtering out those sorts of blanket statements and translating them into ones that are only on an ‘on average’ basis, you’ll find life on these threads a lot less annoying, I promise :-)

    • Mario Strada

      See you later.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Don’t forget to stick the flounce, liar and whiner.

    • YankeeCynic
  • Metheory

    I think athiest should really get together and fight for their rights in this land. Start taking them to court more than usual and government elect pushing their beliefs to the public there should be no god bless america in any government officials speach. Once you remove god, it makes everyone equal, cause as we know god hate this god hates that, as they always say.

  • Lance Gritton

    not so fast! I plan on getting my Pastafarian Minister licence and getting all my Pirate gear including sword, dirk and black powder pistol tax free! (could I buy a boat and write it off as a place of worship?…)

    • Agrajag

      Sometimes the best way to fight ridicolous laws is to employ reductio ad absurdum on them. Pastafarians are an excellent example of that !

  • Rich Wilson

    I think it’s worth highlighting how the parsonage exemption came about in the first place:

    Certainly, in these times when we are being threatened by a godless and antireligious world movement we should correct this discrimination against certain ministers of the gospel who are carrying on such a courageous fight against this foe. Certainly this is not too much to do for these people who are caring for our spiritual welfare.

    You know, put in that light, maybe Dan and Annie (and David and Edwina and Herb and Barry should get a subsidy for their courageous fight against this foe.


  • Ryan King

    So i’m not sure if it’ll come into play but I think there is a good test out there to determine whether or not FFRF is a religion. In determining whether or not the Ethical Culture movement was a religion for tax purposes the courts had to create a test broader than that of “Belief in a Supreme Being.” The Malnak considers an organization to be a religion when its beliefs 1. ponder such issues as the meaning of life, the afterlife, or man’s place in the universe; 2) are extensive in scope and far-reaching in nature; and 3) are accompanied by the existence of certain formal and outside signs.

    From my layman’s perspective I think the FFRF would fail part one of the test. With that in mind they fail both the conservative Supreme Being test and the more liberal test to determine whether something is a religion, so I would be very surprised if it was ruled to be otherwise.

    Link for source on describing the case of Strayhorn v. Ethical Society of Austin

    Sorry if it isn’t relevant to the case.

  • ShoeUnited

    May The Force be with you…

  • DougI

    If FFRF were a religion they would have jumped at the chance for a bunch of free money, because that’s what religions is all about (okay, it’s about power too, but they love money so much they stamped all US currency with an identification that money is their god).

  • Marisa Totten

    Umm . . . it’s not legal so let’s let everyone break what should be law? Talk about a head scratcher.

  • the moother

    It’s about time that Atheism got declared a religion. Because then religious people everywhere will say, “HELL NO!!! Atheism ain’t no religion… and then they’ll hopefully realise that religion is not even religion. It’s just a set of rules applied to ones life through fairy-tales. And then they might realise that Atheism is a better option than fairy-tales…

  • Albert

    Just wondering, doesn’t this put the atheistic view into the same basket as other religions in the whole separation of church and state argument then?

    Atheists could no longer say that what they believe should be done for the country is now allowable. All this time they have been telling religious people that they could not force their belief’s onto other people because it was a religion. No the same thing could be said in regards to atheists, right?

    • Spazticus

      It stands to reason that’s one of the motivations behind FFRF fighting being qualified as a religion (aside from atheism being about as close to a religion as “not playing any sports” qualifies as a sport.) It’s not just that it’s an inaccurate label, it actively hurts the cause.

    • TychaBrahe

      The thing is, though, that not having religious symbols is not an endorsement of atheism.

      If I’m in a public school and put a crucifix on the wall, it sort of does suggest, “Believe in Jesus and Christianity.” But if the wall is blank, it doesn’t say, “Christianity is a crock. You should be an atheist.”

  • Monika Jankun-Kelly

    Why can’t government leaders understand the difference between philosophy and religion? Hint: they may serve similar purposes, but one has supernatural elements and is much more dogmatic. We want humanist counselors in the armed forces because, like clergy, they fill a counseling need. We don’t claim they’re clergy. When we demand secular conscientious objectors be treated no differently than religious ones, we’re saying our reasons are (at least) as valid, not that our reasons are religious. When we demand the same rights as the religious, it’s for such secular reasons, not because we’re claiming to have a religion. We don’t want to be treated as if we’re religious, we want the religious to stop getting preferential treatment.

  • Mick

    As if an American Government would have the courage to remove the parish exemption!

    Torture the occasional Arab for ten or twelve years, no worries. But take money out of a preacher’s pocket? That just wouldn’t be right.

  • Kimpatsu

    “But there’s no real belief in a supernatural power”
    If that’s the case, all Northern Zen Buddhist organizations such as Kongo Zen no longer qualify for the housing allowance, and yet the Japanese authorities have made it clear repeatedly that Kongo Zen is a religion.

    “What happens when a Pastafarian group wants the housing credit?”

    So are Buddhists to be denied the credit, but the Xian churches continue? That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  • GabyYYZ

    Let’s all calm down here and not stir up anything with such reckless statements like “They don’t really believe Jimi Hendrix is a god”. For some of us, that’s all we have.

    • ahermit

      Heretic. Robert Fripp is God…

  • CanAmChris

    Hemant I am glad we are on the same page. I posted kind of the same thing here as CanAmChris:

  • WolfgangDS

    The FFRF should define atheism for the court. It is, after all, simply a lack of belief in anything.

    And then after that, make it really clear to them by saying atheism is a religion just as much as bald is a hair color.

  • Dangerous Talk

    I think the law is right here. Atheism is not a religion, just light silence is not speech. However, just as silent protests are protected under free speech, atheism is protected under religion. Michael Newdow made that argument when he spoke to the Freethought Society awhile back and I think he was right. This is simply the application of that point. As long as the IRS is willing to grant atheists the same rights as religious groups, FFRF has no case. Sorry.

  • Brian

    lol, so a satirical symbol used to poke fun at organized religion is now also a “revered symbol?” how does that work exactly?

  • Dave

    Please pay tax. It is your moral duty as a citizen.

  • Milton Platt

    Doesn’t the governments position open the door for any and all groups to be able to use the exemption? If belief in the supernatural is not necessary to be considered a religion, then all groups should be able to use the exemption, no matter what the group is about. So sports teams, bridge clubs, book clubs,………..the list would be endless. I think I’ll start my group right now.

  • LoudGuitr

    This is a 101 argument that only a simple mind could entertain. Calling a refusal to believe unsupportable nonsense a religion is like calling abstinence a sex position.

  • Tom F.

    If the government is giving atheist groups a chance to get at the credit, and atheist groups turn that down so that they can make religious believers *lose* the credit, than it seems less like atheists are concerned about the government promoting a religion and more like they want to use law to attack religions.

    I think this will appear to many people to be a “I’ll shoot myself in the foot so I can hurt you.”

    Okay, so there might need to be some guidelines on the tax break. Why not work together with believers to make sure that all groups that get the credit deserve it. If we can come up with guidelines for non-profits that are fair, than why not on the housing credit?

  • DennisCLatham

    I don’t see it as a religion – but a lifestyle and way of life. A lifestyle of not believing or refusing to submit to THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. I have lots of Atheist friends – and most of them are that way – because of the way so called christians act.

    • brian whittle

      The obvious fact that 99% of the bible is just stories some dudes made up is why I am an atheist, its nothing to do with the way others act.

      Gods and the like don’t fit into the reality of our world, believing in them is just wishful thinking.

      • DennisCLatham

        You have no proof to say “”99% of the bible is just stories some dudes made up “” – but if that’s what you choose to believe – saying none of it ever happened or is true is your delusion.

        Specially when many of the Kings and others have been PROVEN to have existed – and there are many accounts that prove more than your 1% is not just made up and is TRUE.

        Now – if you want to remain in your current state because of what you don’t understand – that’s you. I don’t and won’t hold it against you nor will it bother me any.

        • brian whittle

          Have you actually read the bible, if it was “the word of god” do you not think he would have created an editor to make in not contradict itself, even the gospel can’t make their mind up.

          Based on a real person does not make something factual.

          • DennisCLatham

            THE HOLY BIBLE is not all THE WORD OF GOD – but INSPIRED by GOD – there are quotes from GOD HIMSELF, just like there are quotes from JESUS HIS SON.

            THE HOLY BIBLE is a long history book – now if you want to discuss these so called contradictions – that’s fine – but I AM so used to people automatically falsely accusing – but never bringing proof with them – only spreading lies.

            Maybe if you can show some proof of the gospel not being able to make it’s mind up – we might have a foundation to start from.

            and 1,000 years from now – who will know you were ever here ? or had this conversation ? or even know you were born ??? By your logic ? You don’t exist.

            • Rich Wilson

              You’re right. The Holly Qu’ran is THE WORD OF GOD.

              • DennisCLatham

                every word in the Qu’ran is not THE WORD OF GOD. Same as every word in THE HOLY BIBLE is not THE WORD OF GOD.

                • Rich Wilson

                  Nope. Sorry. Unlike the bible which was inspired by God, the Holly Qu’ran was dictated, word for word, to The Holly Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

                  Hey, I’m just stating the facts. If you don’t like it, take it up with a Muslim.

                • DennisCLatham

                  dictated ??? each and every word ? BWHAHHAHHAHHHAHHAAAH !!!! ok – if that’s what you believe ? You can say the same thing about THE HOLY BIBLE … anyway …. I can show you passages that were not dictated – specially the pasts about Moses and the things he did …… I am sure that was not dictated – but recorded and remembered – sorry – you’re wrong.

                • Rich Wilson

                  Or maybe neither one has anything to do with any super natural beings, but is instead the pure imaginings of normal humans. Take your pick. But you have no more evidence for your level of God involvement in the Bible than Muslims have for the same in the Qu’Ran.

                  I just find it funny when you assert one, but dismiss the other.

        • brian whittle

          The reason I said 99% is there is a grain of historical fact in there, some of the big movers and shakers in the stories actually existed,

          • DennisCLatham

            then you lied … you over exaggerated about something you dislike and probably hate – to get others to join you and spread the same lie and over exaggeration.

            There is way more than a grain – even the chariots of the dividing of the sea have been found – in the exact location that THE HOLY BIBLE says … and many other things have been proven.

            Anyway …..I don’t spread lies about atheism or over exaggerations – but why you feel the need or want to make up things about THE HOLY BIBLE that you treat as something that was made up is beneath me. I can’t, don’t and won’t stoop to that level to slander what I don’t know.

            • brian whittle

              I don’t lie, I leave that to the religious.

  • ibnt

    Tricky one, isn’t it? Atheism is definitely a belief system — I think some forms of it would qualify as a religion. The fact we now have a vibrant atheist church in London, for instance. For a take on this from the other side, as it were, see ‘The Scandinavian Skeptic (or Why Atheist is a Belief)’ —

    • Robertt1

      Excellent essay on the topic in the link you provided. A must read. Thanks.

  • fish

    Any thing you believe is religion. how you handle is your decision.

    so just do what is right . there is no person called government. those who do work in the government are collection of people if you have more of the same background then they will interpret or create a law. the minority have to be careful in pushing their agenda.

  • Water Bearer

    GOD is real , As someone who was an atheist until a visit from one of satan’s demons (quite friendly actually) I was in denial like most people who visit this site who ” refuse to believe silly stories designed by ancestors in positions of power or just don’t feel spiritual at all and think ” life is life, we are here, we die, we decompose.” I am not a lunatic, a psycho , nor a weird emo teenager. I am actually quite intelligent and logical and rational.I was selected by satan to serve a greater purpose on this planet. I do not say this to gain attention nor scare people into running to the nearest bible. Samhain (google is conveniently able to tell you more) is soon approaching and this is my offering. I am not into baby killing nor am I a cat snatcher but during this time satanists do things out of appreciation and devotion. satan has given me an amazing life and is not red, ugly, and frightening like most are tricked to believe. its hard not to be blinded spiritually in this world and i’m sure most people are meant to be blind. Anyhow, I suggest whoever reads this far , go set yourself free. visit ,it wont hurt a bit. (judge my spelling and you will die mysteriously)

  • JoeBarnathan

    Atheism is 100% a religion it has the same goals as all other religions. They want you to convert to their belief that there is no god. They even put up bilboards to try and persuade you to convert. The only non-religion is judaism. As a jewish man I consider myself as part of a nation. I dont consider myself as part of a religion. Once a person considers himself part of a religion that leaves a door open to search for another religions. Jews dont encourage conversion and they have no agenda. They only want to thank the creator of the heavens and the earth.

  • Goldenafro

    My brain hurts trying to understand this dumb argument.

    So basically as I understood it the justice department decided to argue whether atheism is a religion or not, because of tax exemption status, and because atheist don’t wanna be called a religion they think its not fair and illegal that churches are tax exempt and they aren’t, therefore churches shouldn’t be tax exempt because atheist aren’t tax exempt. That’s stupid, if that’s the case I say guns should be illegal because I don’t want 1 even though technically I could get 1 if I wanted it, but since I don’t want it nobody should have 1.

    If atheists want to build a church by all means do it and apply for the exemption, just because some are too proud to call it a religion and some just wanna say its a religion to get the exemption shouldn’t affect any other churches that legally get the exemption. The fact they’re trying to take away churches tax exemption status makes it into an attack on churches (even if it isn’t intended). There’s lots of things I don’t qualify for that should still be legal, the fact I don’t qualify doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t and it doesn’t make whatever I don’t qualify for illegal either.

    Furthermore, if this truly isn’t an attack on churches why is it so important? Why should atheist care? If atheist aren’t a church why would it matter if a few atheist wanna call themselves a religion and others don’t? If its not a religion then their theology shouldn’t matter to 1 or another. Maybe its important because their holy doctrine that says there is no God is really important to their belief system, in which case congratulations you just qualified for the tax exemption status!

    • Feminerd

      The only difference between atheist and secular groups and churches is religion.

      Atheists are not religious. By definition.

      Religions get all sorts of special privileges in our society that they don’t deserve. One of those is automatic tax breaks. These atheists want every organization, regardless of whether it is a religion or not, to have to apply for and meet the 501(c)3 status requirements, which includes transparent accounting and lack of political activity. They don’t want to get unfair advantages, they want to remove unfair advantages from religions so everyone is equal. In the same way that trying to remove privilege from Caucasians, from men, from heterosexuals, etc is not attacking any of those groups, so too is removing privilege from religion not attacking religion. It’s merely taking away unearned benefits that they never should have had in the first place.

      • Goldenafro

        I already said what I think and apparently the supreme court agrees with me since they ruled it is a religion. If that makes atheist upset tough, I personally think its hilarious that as much as atheist try to distance themselves from religion they’ve become one themselves.

        • Feminerd

          Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby or bald is a hair color.

          The Supreme Court didn’t actually say atheism was a religion, either. It said that for legal purposes, it had to be treated like one. That is a significant difference. If I said that legally, men must be treated the same as women, would you think I was saying they were the exact same thing?

          • Goldenafro

            Arguing with me doesn’t change the ruling, the attempt to take away churches tax exempt status failed period. Also, those cute little analogies might have an impact on the simple minded but in terms of the law they don’t mean jack and btw bald is technically a hairstyle. Have a nice tax exempt day, and God bless. : )

            • Feminerd

              Ah, no. You merely misunderstand the ruling.

              You are right, tax exempt status was not removed from churches. It’s a shame. However, that’s not the point of contention. You said that the Supreme Court ruled that atheism is a religion, when in fact SCOTUS did no such thing.

              My analogies are also to the point. Do you consider not collecting stamps a hobby? Of course not. Hobbies, like religions, are things people actively do/believe in. Not doing/believing is absolutely not the same thing as doing/believing. If you do think that non-philately is a hobby, then I suppose you may also consider atheism a religion, but you’re operating off very non-standard definitions of both hobby and religion.