Seldom does the boomerang of fate connect with such a resounding clang as it has with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which is being told by federal government lawyers that not only is atheism a religion, but the FFRF's leaders are probably eligible for the "parsonage exclusion" break on their taxes.
Now atheist leaders are caught like deer in the headlights of an approaching truck, temporarily stunned while they think of a way out of this trap, which they themselves set.
But let's start at the beginning.
Churches, synagogues, temples and other places of worship often give their ministers, priests, etc. housing allowances, and the IRS allows the recipients to deduct those allowances from their income because living near the church is usually required by the job of minister.
The FFRF, one of the nation's premier extremist hate groups, was up to its usual tricks of trying to punish Christians, Jews and everyone who doesn't hold the atheistic view by suing to get rid of the housing exemption on the grounds that it is taxpayer support for religion.
But the FFRF, which has positioned itself over the years as a "nonreligion" specifically so it can screw over other religions without being held to the same level of accountability, had no legal standing to file a lawsuit because the exemption didn't actually harm atheists. Its "nonreligion" stance for once came back to bite FFRF on its rear end.
So the diabolical little geniuses at FFRF thought they came up with a clever way around the problem by having the board vote to give housing allowances to two of its officers and then claiming that the atheists were being discriminated against because, as a "nonreligion," the officers were ineligible for the parsonage break.
The government lawyers defending the case argued in a summary motion for dismissal that the atheists again did not have standing because they had not applied for the tax break. The court stupidly sided with the atheists and ruled that of course they wouldn't apply because they aren't ministers -- essentially agreeing with the atheists' primary contention before there was even a trial.
Now the federal lawyers have come back with another summary motion that at last makes the sensible argument, that atheism is a religion, and the atheist officers are ministers who are eligible for the tax break.
The judge hasn't ruled on the motion yet, but the lawyers for the government are finally arguing the truth about atheism -- the last thing the FFRF wants to come out -- is that atheism is just another religion subject to the same rules as every other one.
The judge should rule in favor of the government motion.
The parsonage rule grew out of the general exemption for housing provided to an employee for the convenience of the employer, so it is not truly a religious tax break in the first place.
But the more important point is that atheist groups like the FFRF have used the non sequitur of being a "nonreligion" as a legal wedge with which to punish their competition. It's only since about the 1980s that atheists largely stopped referring to their beliefs as a religion, and that development was in response to the rise of the Moral Majority in political circles.
There is no reasonable standard by which atheism is not a religion.
Belief in no God? The same can be said of sects of Buddhism, Taoism and other beliefs wherein nobody disputes that they are a religion, so that alone doesn't disqualify atheism. Looking around the world, to define religion as belief in God, you can only legitimately say that religions generally express a belief about the number of gods that exist or that are relevant -- atheism and other religions just happen to belief that number is zero.
No faith? Au contraire, atheists exhibit an abundance of faith. Faith is the act of believing in something that cannot necessarily be proven. The mere act of believing there is no God is an act of faith because one of the fundamental rules of logic is that you can't prove a negative. Can't prove it, believe it anyway -- that's faith.
Further, fervent beliefs in the big bang, evolution and the materialistic view of the universe all require faith because all of them have some evidentiary support, but not conclusive support. In the same way that there is plenty of historical archaeological and historical evidence to support many of the accounts in the Bible but the decision to believe is an act of faith, so too faith is required to believe atheists' materialist doctrine.
No dogma? Refer back to the above-mentioned doctrine. How many times have you seen atheists argue till they are blue in the face that THEIR view is the correct one? That's atheists taking their dogma for a walk. Atheists often seem to have a compulsion to evangelize that is greater than many Christians'.
No church? No clergy? Just Google. In addition to the First Church of Atheism, there are numerous groups in cities and colleges across the country where atheists can get together with like-minded individuals and preach to each other. You can even get legally ordained. 'Nuff said.
Atheists have bullied churches and other Bible-believing groups for many years by skillfully using their "nonreligion" dodge, positioning themselves as the default state religion.
It's high time the government calls them on it.