The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

19 May 2004

I don't believe this

"Darn those Unitarians!" says the old joke. "They burned a question mark on my lawn!"

Suddenly it's not quite so funny. A Unitarian Universalist church in Denison, Texas has lost its tax-exempt status because, says Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, it does not have one system of belief.

Jesse Ancira, counsel for the Comptroller's office, says that the criterion for the tax exemption is simple: the group must have "a belief in God, or gods, or a higher power." Most of the groups turned down are distinctly outside the mainstream, but the Unitarians (who merged with the Univeralists in 1961) boast two US Presidents: John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams. Not that they'd ever boast, of course.

Notes Patrick Nielsen Hayden:

This kind of story always provokes the suggestion that maybe nobody should get a tax break for calling themselves a church, which would have the salutary effect of getting the government out of the business of ruling on what is and isn't religion. In the real world, however, that isn't going to happen. Meanwhile, to the State of Texas in 2004, a money-making racket founded by a third-rate science fiction writer qualifies as a "religion" and the faith of Ethan Allen and Daniel Webster doesn't. This is what barbarism looks like.

Name of said racket withheld for obvious reasons.

Posted at 6:29 AM to Immaterial Witness

Calling he-who-shan't-be-named a third-rate science fiction writer is an insult to third-rate science fiction writers, but, you've got to admit, he sure knew how to part suckers from their green.


Posted by: Myria at 1:28 PM on 19 May 2004

As a third-rate science fiction writer, I take exception to being compared to Terl's father.

Do you know the UU theme hymn?
I believe, for every drop of rain that falls,
something gets wet..

I believe that somewhere in the darkest night,
it's really dark..

I believe for everyone who goes astray,
They'll probably fall in a hole..

I believe, above the storm the smallest prayer,
Is a self-delusion..


Posted by: Dan at 2:25 PM on 19 May 2004

Well, we third-rate fantasy writers don't have to put up with HIS kind!

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 6:53 PM on 19 May 2004

"This is what barbarism looks like."

Er -- no. This is what over-punctilious, persnicketty, epicene -- even over-civilized, if you will -- anal-retentive bureaucracy looks like. Barbarians* would have simply killed all the Unitarians and taken their money.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 7:33 PM on 19 May 2004

Oops. The "*" was meant to lead to something I dropped because it made the comment too long.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 7:34 PM on 19 May 2004

Ah, barbarism.

Someone remind me why it fell out of favor...

Posted by: McGehee at 8:10 PM on 19 May 2004

The coming of the Compassionate Conqueror, the kindler, gentler Visigoth.

Or something like that.

Posted by: CGHill at 10:12 PM on 19 May 2004