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Mayoral Candidates Defend Atheistic NYC “Pay to Pray” Parking Rules

March 22, 2005 | 16 Comments

New York, New York, March 22, 2005
Special to The Raving Atheist

Mayoral hopeful Fernando Ferrer thought he’d score some easy political points by blasting the City’s enforcement of Sunday metered parking rules — but his gamble backfired after his rivals countered with vicious anti-religious arguments defending the policy.

Campaigning at a church earlier this month, Ferrer condemned the practice of ticketing worshippers while they attended church as a “pay to pray” tax. But Mayor Bloomberg quickly labeled the former Bronx Borough President a “pandering Godidiot” and declared that the government was not in the business of “subsidizing superstition.”

“If parking’s going to be free, why not give them free gas as well?” the Mayor asked rhetorically. “After all, they shouldn’t be forced to pay anything to worship the magical sky-daddy. And God doesn’t want them praying naked — let’s make the stores gives them clothes for nothing so they’re not


16 Responses to “Mayoral Candidates Defend Atheistic NYC “Pay to Pray” Parking Rules”

  1. Viole
    March 23rd, 2005 @ 12:19 am

    With the understanding that I’ve never had the misfortune of having to drive through NYC, I think Bloomberg has a point about keeping spaces open. I know what parking can be like in Minneapolis.

    While we’re at it, though, why don’t we declare churches to be taxable entities? They can take charity and donations as deductions, just like any business, and if they give as much as they claim, they might not even have taxable income. If as much money is going into the pockets of church officials as I think, then make ‘em pay.

  2. MattH
    March 23rd, 2005 @ 12:42 am

    I think the idea is “no taxation without representation” – church is supposed to stay apolitical, and for that, we don’t tax ‘em.

  3. goob
    March 23rd, 2005 @ 1:42 am

    Too bad the churches aren’t apolitical. True, I’m sure a few of them really do push for legislation that is in-line with their beliefs, but more often than not, its to pander to the idiots, whilst funding the idiots that lord it over the underidiots. Marx was right, it really is the opiate of the masses.

  4. DaveW
    March 23rd, 2005 @ 8:34 am

    MattH, I fail to see where you get that idea. Corporations are supposed to be apolitical, too (at least most of them will claim that), yet we tax them. And a corporation has just as much representation as a church – in the form of the people who work/pray there.

    The reason churches aren’t taxed is to avoid a situation where the government can favor one over the other in the form of tax breaks, etc.

  5. MBains
    March 23rd, 2005 @ 8:49 am

    “God is going to punish them for that.”

    Michelle Blair’s whiny remonstrance not-with-standing, (what a Loving God she must have!) I really did appreciate my old stompin’ grounds having Free Meter Sundays for strictly secular reasons. There are churches on the downtown strip in the burb to which I’m refer’n. There’re also many a coffee shop, record store, vintage clothier, etc, et al, which drew me in for day long dalliances that could a cost me considerably had the fees been in effect.

    In other words, whilst I’ve no problem with the muni takin’ its slice of the worshippers pie, neither do I begrudge the nutters the benefits which a bit o’ bureaucratic benevolence bestows upon me as well.

    I still think the Tax/Deduction idea is exquisitely constitutional though.

  6. euclids child
    March 23rd, 2005 @ 10:13 am

    RA- that was classic. In a perfect world that would be the norm. When I go to my happy place, all of the public officials are exactly the way you just posted, along with every one else. I long for the time when all god idiots are ridiculed for their delusions.

  7. AK
    March 23rd, 2005 @ 1:19 pm

    I think that every time a Christian whines about not getting special favors for their religion, some Satanist should take their side and demand the same favors for Satanism, standing right next to the Christian as they make their demands.

    This would do so many wonderful things. First, it would put the Christian in the uncomfortable situation of being on the same side of the fence as the Satanist. How can the Christian distance himself from the Satanist without hurting their own cause?

    Secondly, it would make the Christian seem all too silly to the outsider or the (relatively) neutral observer. The Christian would be veiwed from the third persons perspective to be just like the Satanist, as well as the Christian religion itself.

    Someone should really look into that! Seriously! We could use that to such effectiveness, I just know it!

  8. AK
    March 23rd, 2005 @ 1:25 pm

    In all seriousness, after reading those articles linked a thought came to me. Couldnt someone call up the 311 number and say that their religion has a worship policy that involves a two hour shopping session every Wednesday in front of popular department stores as “houses of shopping worship” and demand that the meters be altered to accomodate their religious Wednesday shopping-prayer-worship?

    Wouldnt it be just as legitimate a request as the Sunday Chruchgoers? (read: wouldnt it illustrate to the whole city how retarded this whole fucking prayer-exemption thing is?)

  9. simbol
    March 23rd, 2005 @ 3:19 pm

    in most countries, churches don’t pay taxes because they are non-profit institutions. But here, in the states, some churches look like very profitable enterprises.

  10. Xpatriated Texan
    March 23rd, 2005 @ 3:48 pm

    I’m just wondering about the comments you attribute to the politicians. As I can’t find any record of them, I have to think that you are either referring to an off the record discussion or just coalescing their comments into a more eye-catching form. Either way, they were funny as hell. It’s just that, as a fairly political person, I can’t imagine many politicians inviting a voter to shove their vote up their ass. Although it would be nice if they did.

    I think the idea of taxing a church based on profits is perfectly fine. Churches are built to be hospitals to sinners, not museums for saints. Let’s turn them into places people can actually go to when they need help. Tax laws are used for every other purpose, forcing churches to adhere to the reason for their creation seems like a reasonable one.

    As a Christian myself, I hate it when retards stand up and demand special dispensations then cry about being treated unfairly when they are sent packing. If this idiot spent as much time trying to do what the Bible teaches his car wouldn’t be there long enough to get a ticket anyway.


  11. Viole
    March 23rd, 2005 @ 6:40 pm

    The trouble with these fantasy worlds, in which christians are actually persecuted, is how the christians would behave. Look at them now, when all they’ve got is a persecution complex!

    I can just hear them, like the two mud-gathering peasants in Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail; Help! Help! We’re being oppressed! Come see the violence inherent in the system! Or is that what they sound like today?

  12. Spurius Furius
    March 23rd, 2005 @ 8:41 pm

    In my travels around town today I saw two already large churches with construction signs out front and lattice work going up. One of these places is already so big that you can probably see it from space, and probably “heaven”. Maybe god’s eyesight is getting bad after eons of dictatorship and you need a really big church so that he can see you! Couldn’t this money be better spent on the poor? Of course then there is the Vatican…(nuff said)

  13. SteveR
    March 24th, 2005 @ 9:46 am

    Spurius Furius:” ..One of these places is already so big….”

    Good point! And let’s not forget the megamillionaires like Benny Hinn, Jerry Falwell, etc. who are building mega-million dollar religious retreats complete with indoor pools, basketball courts, etc., all in the name of the Lord, all totally tax free. “Build it, and they will come (the sheep)….”

  14. Erik
    March 24th, 2005 @ 10:37 am

    X-Pat Texan,

    While taxing church property would be fine with me, I am a little concerned about two issues that would immediately come up.

    First, I believe the real trade-off at the inception of the US in the First Amendment was that government agreed to keep its fingers out of the churches if the churches kept out of politics. So a tax on church property would reasonably open the door for churches to actively engage in political campaigns. Some people say this already happens, but anyway…

    Second, a tax would give rise to the other major concern about religion and politics, that being the government’s favoring one form of religion over another. This would likely not be overt, but one could easily envision, for example, mosques being disproportionately audited or assessed.

  15. Xpatriated Texan
    March 28th, 2005 @ 6:10 am


    I think that the fact churches are tax-exempt actually shows that they are invested in politics. If Congress is not to support the creation of religion, then it cannot be legitimately construed to mean that churches are beyond its ability to tax. By not taxing a church, Congress already makes it more likely that a church will exist.

    A church should be no more involved in politics than a business – which is to say that they are in it up to their necks and should not be at all. There is no excuse for allowing either to formally enter politics. If you cannot possibly cast a vote, then you shouldn’t be able to sling money around to pay for others to vote. Everyone in the organization already has the ability to spend or vote as they will.

    The power to tax is the power to destroy. However, simply using it equally across all religious organizations – which now apply and receive non-taxable status – will ensure that it is not used to attack one religion over the other.


  16. Erik
    March 28th, 2005 @ 8:56 am

    X-Pat Texan,

    I generally agree, although I wouldn’t be all that concerned that the tax laws themselves would favor one religion over another. I would be concerned that there are harder targets and easier targets for IRS review, such that the enforcement of those laws would be disproportionate along religious divisions.

    The other problem is that I think faith-based initiatives are unconstitutional and I hold out hope that a court will one day say so and dispatch this bad idea. If, however, churches were actively taxed, they would have a much better argument that they should therefore be entitled to at least a consideration of the distribution of federal development dollars. And it is in this area, where lobbying and influence are so important, that I think you could end up with real disproportionate treatment.

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