Atheist is among those who seek to have ‘Tax Exempt’ status removed

With more than 200 Christian denominations all having sway over public policy, atheist/activist Darwin Bedford sees that it is time to stop the 'tax exempt' status of religion in the United States and elsewhere. Photo courtesy of Darwin Bedford.

With more than 200 distinct Christian denominations or groups in the United States, some research suggests that fundamentalists since the 1970s, have been an influence over American politics. Skeptics and Atheists like Darwin Bedford are working to ‘break the spell’ of the hold religion has on society and upon policy-making.

“I have been an atheist since the age of 11 and I’d like to see an end to what I call ‘an indoctrination nation.’ I am not against freedom of expression including a religious one, said Bedford. But supporting religious indoctrination by allowing religious groups to be tax free is giving support to something that is holding us back,” he added.

“Religion feeds racism, Bedford added. And one day all religious indoctrination will be discouraged by the state” he said. Bedford believes that by ‘pulling the plug’ – as it were on the tax exemption status of churches and religious groups would be a “turning point” as he called it.

Bedford explained further. “Any organization that is involved in the ‘advancement of religion’ has special tax exemptions within the law. This may have been appropriate at one time, he said.  But now with all the scientific advancements over the many years, it certainly is not.”

Bedford also noted the tremendous amount of knowledge and skills religious groups, especially at the fundamentalist level simply don’t possess.

“Christianity of America is unique,” he said. Bedford surmised that because it became the dominant and prominent form of religion in the United States, Christianity morphed into it’s own American brand. It reflects the character and temperament of the westward expansion of the 19th to 20th Century forming what would later be known as “The American Way” of life.

“Most Christian groups are woefully uneducated in a lot of things even in the history of Christianity itself. They really don’t have even a clue,” said Bedford.  As reported in the New York Times in 2019, of the 267 million Christians in the U.S. only 36 percent (according to statistics released by the Pew Research Center) had a postsecondary education.

Bedford has been an atheist since age 11. While he opposes religious indoctrination in any form regardless of the denomination, he does advocate a ‘spiritual realism’ and respects freedom of expression. Photo courtesy of Darwin Bedford.

Bedford is not surprised by this recent statistic. “It’s an uphill battle, he exclaimed. Facts and information they should know is being omitted. Many Christians are being shielded by their church leaders and dissuaded to think freely for themselves.”

Old concepts like ‘sin’ and punishment in hell are still preached by various Christian groups and this has to be confronted. “I travel throughout the United States and Canada talking to people in various cities, said Bedford. The severity of indoctrination is still in existence.”

The statistics and mood seem to suggest that America is still in a 19th Century mindset. With the advent of archaeology, anthropology and forensic science, the ability to view religion in a more critical way is helping people to become more-fact based in their ways of thinking.

Even as Bedford describes his efforts as an uphill battle, this type of mindset filled with indoctrination “is declining,” he said. Bedford credits this to the invention and growth of the Internet.

“When the Internet first began back in the 1990s that is when my efforts in promoting a freedom from religious indoctrination grew,” Bedford said. The Internet and the World Wide Web – information highway has been a tremendous platform and venue for information and ideas.

Bedford is not alone in his perspective. Scholars like Dr. Richard Carrier (among others) and groups like SkeptiCon are challenging the assumed religious views.

Interestingly, while Bedford is opposed to religious indoctrination and the tax exemption status of churches, “attacking it holistically,” he said, Bedford is open to what he calls “spiritual realism” as an alternative to a religious-doctrinal perspective.

photo/logo courtesy of Darwin Bedford

People need to realize that religious indoctrination in any form is harmful. “If we stop promoting and enabling religions to indoctrinate people and interfere with public policy the world will be able to become more prosperous, naturally,” said Bedford.

To learn more about the effort to end religious indoctrination, visit Darwin Bedford’s objectives at web site.