Do Churches in New Zealand Really Deserve Tax Breaks? A Filmmaker Would Like to Tackle That Question

New Zealander Toby Ricketts wants to know why churches in his country get a major tax break — when they don’t necessarily deserve it — and he’s trying to fund a film that will answer that question and more. It’s called Pennies From Heaven:



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This Week, a Catholic School Will Host a Conversation About the Harm Religion Can Inflict Upon Children

On Tuesday night, a Catholic university in Texas is hosting a potentially controversial and tremendously important event: a symposium about the physical and mental harm religion can inflict upon children.



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After Pushback, Science Museum Removes ‘Evolution’ Disclaimer from Posters

There’s a great science museum in San Mateo, California called CuriOdyssey (get it?) that also puts on programs for local students on field trips. Very cool place.

But one of their programs featuring live animals made the rounds online because of a disclaimer that appeared on a promotional poster:

This program may discuss the topic of evolution.

What the hell…?!

It’s like a warning sign… But for whom? Did someone attend the program, hear the “E” word come up, and go, “Oh shit! I didn’t know this was that kind of museum!”?

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Christian Couple in Pakistan is Sentenced to Death For Blasphemy Against Islam

A Christian couple, Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar, have been ordered to pay with their lives after they allegedly sent the imam of a local mosque a text message that a court deemed an insult to the Prophet Muhammad.

The exact content of the message is unclear. Pakistani media are mum about it, as quoting the offending text would be blasphemous all over again — an inevitable Kafkaesque twist in cases like these, which means that no one but the Islamic judges can gauge how serious the so-called offense was. Whatever the words used, Kausar and Emmanuel say they are are innocent, claiming that the text was sent from a cellphone that the couple had lost some weeks earlier.



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NPR: The IRS Lets Churches and Religi-Businesses Get Away With Stunning Bookkeeping Shenanigans

What’s the difference between running a church and running a religious business? The Internal Revenue Service is happy to pretend that there isn’t one, NPR’s John Burnett found in a two-part investigation:

Televangelists have a choice when they deal with the IRS. Some, like Pat Robertson and Billy Graham, register as religious organizations. They’re exempt from most taxes but still must file disclosure reports showing how they make and spend their money.

Daystar [one the largest religious TV networks in America] and dozens of others call themselves churches, which enjoy the greatest protection and privacy of all nonprofit organizations in America.

Churches avoid not only taxes, but any requirement to disclose their finances. And, as NPR has learned, for the past five years churches have avoided virtually any scrutiny whatsoever from the federal government’s tax authority.



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