The Creed of Science

Superstition is not religion. Belief without evidence is not religion. Faith without facts is not religion. What is religion? To love justice, to long for the right, to love mercy, to pity the suffering, to assist the weak, to forget wrongs and remember benefits – to love the truth, to be sincere, to utter honest words, to love liberty, to wage relentless war against slavery in all its forms, to love wife and child and friend, to make a happy home, to love the beautiful; in art, in nature, to cultivate the mind, to be familiar with the mighty thoughts that genius has expressed, the noble deeds of all the world, to cultivate courage and cheerfulness, to make others happy, to fill life with the splendor of generous acts, the warmth of loving words, to discard error, to destroy prejudice, to receive new truths with gladness, to cultivate hope, to see the calm beyond the storm, the dawn beyond the night, to do the best that can be done and then to be resigned – this is the religion of reason, the creed of science. This satisfies the brain and heart.

R.G. Ingersoll

Tell Congress: No Partisan Political Activity With Tax Exemptions

Tell Congress: No Partisan Political Activity With Tax Exemptions

Each October, under the guise of “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” religious leaders across the United States purposefully break federal law by endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.

This year, they’ve got formal backing in Congress. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) have just introduced H.R. 6195, which they are calling the “Free Speech Fairness Act.”

Unfortunately, this bill is anything but fair.

Current federal law, known as the Johnson Amendment, bars tax-exempt, non-profit organizations — including houses of worship and educational and advocacy groups such as the Center for Inquiry (CFI) — from supporting or opposing political candidates. The logic: organizations exempt from certain tax requirements for religious or moral purposes should not, under this benefit, unfairly influence election outcomes.

Advocates of H.R. 6195 claim that current law bans all political activity by churches and faith leaders. As we have explained, this is far from true.Both houses of worship and faith leaders are legally protected in speaking out and taking positions on all political, economic, and social issues — including war, poverty, human rights, abortion, contraception, and more. Religious leaders preach openly about all of these issues, and religious organizations spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year lobbying to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill and in statehouses across the U.S. And, in their private capacities, faith leaders can engage in partisan political activities.

The Johnson Amendment simply requires that tax-exempt non-profits, religious or secular, not directly campaign for or against a particular candidate or party. This is a sound idea applied fairly and equally to religious and moral groups granted special tax status. And it is especially important for houses of worship: since they are not required to file tax information with the IRS, H.R. 6195 would effectively allow them to engage in immeasurable campaigning for political parties and candidates.

The real problem with the Amendment is that the IRS has not strongly enforced it. CFI has urged the IRS to act, but few serious investigations have been done. Religious leaders, both on “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” and throughout the year, have willfully disregarded the law, and faced no consequences. Now is not the time to open the floodgates.

Message your U.S. representative today and tell them reject H.R. 6195 and urge the IRS to more strongly enforce the existing law against partisan political activity by tax-exempt, non-profit organizations.

Waddell: Don’t let churches turn into political organizations

Donald Trump supports changes to the tax code that would allow religious institutions to act like PACs.

Not long ago, I heard Donald Trump claim that the government had taken away the clergy’s right of free speech and that, if elected, he would “restore” that right.

That caught my ear, because I knew right away he was referring to the so-called “Johnson Amendment.” That amendment, really part of the IRS tax code for 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporations, allows tax-exempt corporations to support political candidates in exchange for giving up their tax-free status.

There is nothing in the law that prohibits these corporations from supporting a candidate — there are no fines and no other repercussions. However, the law was written so that corporations that do not pay taxes could not use that annual tax saving to support political candidates. They can support causes and retain their tax-free status, but they cannot support candidates and retain their tax-free status. It is simply a matter of free choice, pick supporting political candidates or retaining a tax-free status, but not both, and there is the rub.

The conservative religious groups that Trump is appealing to want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to be able to campaign for the candidate of their choice and keep their tax-free status. If allowed, this would require you, the taxpayer, to support their political candidate indirectly by having you pay higher taxes to compensate for their tax exemption, while allowing them to divert their tax savings to the political candidate of their choice.

Trump, the Republican Party and the religious groups they are pandering to — fundamentalist evangelical Christians — think religious groups should be able to support the candidate of their choice on the taxpayer’s dime.

The IRS seldom prosecutes violations of this tax law, even when clergy advertise they are going to violate those laws. Every year since 2008, on the last Sunday in September, thousands of clergy across the country have engaged in what they call Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a Christian Right political move to encourage clergy to openly and publically endorse political candidates from the pulpit in direct violation of the very law that allows them a tax free status.

As Time Magazine reported in June: “‘Repealing the (Johnson) amendment was a priority of the Trump campaign in the GOP platform. They understand the importance of religious organizations and nonprofits, but religious organizations in particular, which is what the Johnson Amendment affects, to have the ability to speak freely, and that they should not live in fear of the IRS,’ said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, who is on the Republican platform committee. ‘That is a priority in the platform, and from the Trump folks, it is a priority of the campaign, and will be a priority of the administration.’”

Adam Chodorow, professor of law at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, reports: “Few would suggest that religious views have no place in the public square or that religious views should not inform one’s political decisions. Indeed, the problem isn’t that churches want to become politically involved. To a large extent, they already are. It’s that they want to make use of government subsidies to do so.”

That brings me to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that allows anyone — providing they have enough money — to buy and sell politicians and elections at will. Every individual and corporation, without any restrictions, is allowed to contribute anonymously as much as they want, including foreign-owned corporations.

If tax-free religious organizations can support candidates by giving them as much money as they want, it is much more likely people who want to support the same candidate will give their money to a tax-free religious organizations where the donor knows 100 percent of their contribution, at least in theory, will go to the candidate, instead of giving it to organizations that solicit campaign contributions from which they have to pay expenses.

In effect, religious organizations will become political action committees, not houses of worship, and will experience the very division and lack of trust within the congregation that we already see in the current divisive and volatile election campaign.

Whether churches become money-laundering establishments for politicians is up to you. Your vote for candidates who support problematic changes to tax-exemption laws can determine the future of your community, your place of worship and your country. Vote wisely.

Tom Waddell is the president of the Maine chapter of the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

FFRF Maine at the Common Ground Fair

FFRF Maine had a booth at the Common Ground Fair over the weekend. We had a ton of people stop and, thanks to those who helped out, it was a great success. We had 13 people sign up for email notices and talked to several FFRF members who didn’t know there was an FFRF chapter in Maine and will become FFRF Maine members. We sold several books, buttons and pins and a couple of people made donations to help us with the work we do. We gave away well over 200 Freethought Today newspapers, almost all our stickers, passed out a lot of membership applications and a trifold about the talk on the Good News Club that FFRF Maine gave in Skowhegan in May. There was a lot of interest in and support for what we do and only 2 people who though the country was a “Christian Nation”.

Thanks to Gigi, Tim, Anna, Nate and Doug for helping out. Your input was most appreciated. It was refreshing and really interesting to hear all of you engage people in conversation supporting the separation of religion and government from your own perspective.  Everyone tells me they had a great time and had lots of productive and interesting conversations. Most people said they would help out again.

On that note, FFRF Maine will be going to more fairs next year. Someone who stopped at our booth goes to most of the fairs in Maine and said she sees 3 or 4 booths at each fair supporting the integration of one particular religion into our secular government. She encouraged us to provide a “fair and balanced” perspective at these fairs. To that end, maybe some members of the other non-believer groups in Maine could join us under a collective banner to support the separation of religion and government.

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9-10-16 Minutes

This is a summary of the FFRF Maine meeting at the Curtis Library, Brunswick on September 10, 2016.

Attendees:  Tom W.; Tim B.; Nathan G.; Ron L.; Bob S.

FFRF Column

Tom reported that Ben Bragdon, Editorial Page editor of the KJ, would not commit to Tom about Tom’s writing a monthly Central Maine web page column on Church-State Separation because he felt the focus was too narrow, especially during an election season.  Tom will try to convince him that this FFRF subject matter covers many areas such as abortion rights, LGBT issues, Hobby Lobby, Planned Parenthood cuts, and the “Prayer Caucus”.  Tom also contacted Bangor Daily News, which seems to prefer blogs and said that the FFRF blog would not be Maine oriented enough.  Tom has a call out to the BDN editor to try to set something up.

Tom and Tim agreed that Tom would attribute his own writing but could mention Tim as an “editor”.

Comments on FFRF Writings

Tom wants to encourage members to comment in support on FFRF columns etc. that appear on the Central Maine website.  You can do that by getting a DIQUS account with Central Maine that allows anonymity as to your identity.  You can use a code name and you e-mail address is kept confidential.  Tom feels such comments would make others take more notice of the group and indicate its popularity.  For support comments, Ben Bragdon’s e-mail address is

Comments for the two columns written thus far can be obtained by searching in the website such terms as “Wadell-Skowhegan”, “FFRF Maine” or “In Reason We Trust”.

Satanic Temple Fund Raising

Tom and Nathan G. spoke about a Cambridge, MA group called the Satanic Temple.  They were founded in Cambridge, MA three years ago, around the same time as FFRF Maine.  Despite its name, it is not a Satanist religious group as such, but is an advocacy group of secularists that seeks to “facilitate the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty” (according to its website mission statement). They have set up a number of after school programs and chapters around the country, and have had some success with “crowd funding” where they raised $20,000.  Tom thinks we should look into this and other fundraising methods and have an on-line dialog about fundraising.

Need For More Member Participation in Chapter

Bob S. noted that a core group often does most of the work of many groups.  Tom noted that an FFRF Maine chapter cannot be run just by the efforts of a couple of people or in a monthly two hour meeting.  We need to make the Chapter known.  We can’t lobby as part of FFRF, but can get involved in local talks and events, coordinate with other groups such as Maine Atheists & Humanists for speakers, etc. for mutual benefit.  Nathan G. agreed to help with more outreach to members.  Tom noted that competition with other groups like MAH was never the intent.  Other groups are social in nature.  Maine FFRF is the only activist group with national support.

Tom noted that a full board is needed.  Right now we have just a President and Secretary.  Ron L. expressed interest in the Vice President or Treasurer roll.  Tom is presently managing our new website but that could be open to participation from others as long as Tom has input.

Actions – Members need to give more input, support articles with comments, and have a dialog on fundraising options and strategies.

The next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, October 22nd in the Brunswick Library at 10 AM.

Meeting Schedule

This is the meeting schedule for the next 4 months; September 10, October 22, November 12 and December 10. All meeting are at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick on the 2nd Sat from 10 AM to noon. We meet in the Seminar Room on the second floor and several members go out for lunch at the 99 Restaurant in Topsham after the meeting. The October meeting was rescheduled to the 22nd because I will be at the FFRF convention in Pittsburgh, Pa. Hope to see you at the next meeting. Tom


Maine, Atheist, Agnostic, Humanist, Religion, LGBT, Government, Children, Good News Club, Non-Theism, Civil Rights, Parents,

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