If you’ve taken a nosy around the BBC Website recently you’ll have noticed a video on the imposition of VAT on constructions and repairs for religious institutions and buildings.
Now for those of you who know me personally as an ‘angry atheist’ may start worrying “Oh no, what’s he going to come out with now, destruction of all religious buildings?”. Fear not, while many of you do see that side of me I’m also an ardent secularists. I recognise the right of religious organisations to play a legitimate part in society but I also am opposed to having the state play any part in religious affairs. So this is why we need to tax religious organisations like any other organisation that has an income.
Some of you may have reeled back from such a suggestion, but hear/read me out. To become a legally recognised religion with a tax-exempt status an organisation has jump through a large variety of hoops set by the state. That’s right, the state sets the criteria and by extension determines which organisations are worthy of having tax-exempt statuses. I’m not proposing we take religious rights away from organisations and individuals, rather to take away the privileges granted by the state a select group of institutions based on no sound secular reason.
If you want to ensure true neutrality from the state in regards to religion (aside from a much needed separation of church and state, but that’s a whole other post) no tax-exempt status should be granted to any religious institution and yes even atheist/humanist/secularist groups that may have won a tax-exempt status. Churches are free to continue with any charity work they so wish and I think we can all agree that area will remain tax-exempt but separate from the organisation.
On a more personal note, with the billions upon billions of pounds that go into religious organisations world-wide only to spent on other churches, missionaries and aid to foreign countries which is too often conditioned upon meeting certain religious criteria. This money could be far better spent on real secular matters like schools, hospitals and roads.