Writing for the Christian Post, Joseph Perkins just put out an alarmist “Fear the atheists!” piece of tripe featuring the headline, “Ohio Church Under Attack by Atheist Group“.
Right off the bat, the poor, helpless Christ Cathedral Church is the innocent little victim “under attack” by the mean, bullying Freedom From Religion Foundation bad guys.
The most important thing to keep in mind through this story (and Perkins’ take on it) is that the opening “blow” in this “attack” was a simple exercise of freedom of speech by the FFRF, which was not specifically directed as a criticism of any particular church or religion at all.
It was, instead, a billboard with a very inocuous, positive atheist message reading:
“I can be good without God.” -Dylan Galos, Columbus student … atheist
If Perkins considers this to be an “attack”, he may be in need of a better dictionary.
Moving on, he begins his lament:
When Christ Cathedral Church in Columbus, Ohio had an atheist billboard removed from its property back in June, it thought it had heard the last from the billboard’s sponsor, the so-called Freedom From Religion Foundation.
By at once acknowledging that Christ Cathedral engaged in trying to censor (which is to say, restrict the freedom of speech of) the FFRF, while also using the negative “so-called” epithet to imply that working to attain freedom from religion is unnecessary and/or not the true function of the FFRF, Perkins completely fails to grasp the irony of his own contradiction. Censorship by a religious institution is religion curtailing freedom, so the FFRF is doing the necessary, and living up to their name.
He proceeds to his second paragraph:
But the [FFRF] found another way to attack the church. It sicked the Franklin County, Ohio Auditor’s Office on Christ Cathedral, claiming that the church was required to pay property taxes on the land on which the billboard stood, because it was used for commercial purposes.
“Claiming”? Sorry, but it’s the law. Chapter 5709.07 of the Ohio State tax code, titled “Exemption of schools, churches, and colleges”, states it quite clearly:
(A) The following property shall be exempt from taxation:
(2) Houses used exclusively for public worship, the books and furniture in them, and the ground attached to them that is not leased or otherwise used with a view to profit and that is necessary for their proper occupancy, use, and enjoyment [my emphasis]
So, in just one headline and two short paragraphs, Perkins has already shown indifference to freedom of speech, brushed off the notion that freedom from religion is a valid pursuit (even while providing an example of religion attempting to restrict freedom), and displayed disdain for the law requiring religious institutions to pay taxes on profitable property.
I’d continue deconstructing Perkins’ petulant complaints line by line, but it would be much too tedious. However, I can’t overlook one more assertion he makes further down:
The billboard featured the smiling image of a local college student proclaiming the atheist message: “I can be good without God.” It seemed more than coincidental to some that the pictured atheist student was black, just like Christ Cathedral’s pastor.
Even after overplaying the hurt feelings card so heavily thus far, he just can’t help jumping the shark and leveling a false insinuation of racism.
I would say that Joseph Perkins should be ashamed of himself, but he obviously has no shame to begin with.
You can read the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s news release and see a picture of the billboard at their website here.
Tax the churches.