Dissecting the GOP Platform with a Secular Scalpel

Dissecting the GOP Platform with a Secular Scalpel August 11, 2016


Section 1: “Restoring the American Dream”

In the second paragraph of the first section, it says, “Prosperity provides the means by which citizens and their families can maintain their independence from government, raise their children by their own values, practice their faith, and build communities of cooperation and mutual respect.”

If I wanted to nitpick, I could take issue with the lack of attention given to people who don’t practice any faith. I do think there is religious snobbishness here, an implication that having faith is inherently better than not having any. I’m trying to make this review comprehensive about all the mentions of God, faith or religion, so I didn’t want to pass over it completely, but I don’t think that a simple mention of people having the freedom to practice their faith is all that problematic from an atheist perspective.

Since the first section seems to be mostly focused on taxes and economics, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there aren’t many mentions of God or policies that are influenced by religion. But there is a pretty big one on page 2:

Because of the vital role of religious organizations, charities, and fraternal benevolent societies in fostering generosity and patriotism, they should not be subject to taxation and donations to them should remain deductible.

If you’re an atheist, you probably don’t have quite the same appreciation for religious organizations that Republicans do. Personally, I don’t have anything against most churches. I think they can be an innocuous part of the social fabric of communities, but I don’t believe for a moment that they play a vital role in “fostering generosity and patriotism.” Some churches are generous, others aren’t. If a church doesn’t want their charitable donations to be taxed, why not just set up a separate organization that is actually a charity? It can still be connected to the church, just keep the money pools separate.

That way, charities can remain untaxed, but a church will still have to pay the same taxes as everyone else when they collect a bunch of donations to build a new Fellowship Hall for potluck dinners. Unless the Republicans are arguing that potluck dinners are vital for fostering generosity and patriotism, then I don’t see why that kind of thing shouldn’t be taxed.

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