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Faith Digest: Atheists lose court battle with IRS

Faith Digest: Atheists lose court battle with IRS

A federal court dismissed three atheist groups’ suit against the IRS, in which they accused the tax agency of discriminating against nonreligious nonprofits. American Atheists and its co-plaintiffs argued tax-filing requirements for nonprofit atheist groups are unfairly tougher than they are for religious nonprofits. reason rally250David Silverman, president of American Atheists, addresses the Reason Rally on March 24, 2012, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (RNS photo by Tyrone Turner)They contended churches and other religious organizations should have to meet the same standards other nonprofits meet in disclosing information on their donors, employee salaries and other details about the organization. The court found the atheists had no standing to bring the suit, in part because American Atheists could have applied to the Internal Revenue Service for designation as a religious organization but never had. It’s only speculation that the IRS would reject the application, the court wrote; in fact, the IRS has granted nontheistic groups status as religious nonprofits in the past. After the U.S. District Court in Kentucky handed down its decision, American Atheists President David Silverman pledged to “keep fighting.”

UN criticizes Vatican on sexual abuse. A United Nations panel blasted the Vatican for failing to respond adequately to the child sexual abuse scandals that have swept the Catholic Church but stopped short of saying the Holy See had violated U.N. treaty obligations on torture. The report by the U.N. Committee Against Torture released in Geneva expressed strong concerns about the failure of church officials to report abuse charges to police, to stop the transfer of clergy accused of abuse or to offer adequate compensation and rehabilitation to victims. Nevertheless, the panel’s criticism was far more muted than a scathing February report from the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child that asserted the Vatican had fostered “impunity” for abusers. The Vatican said the panel recognized it “made many serious and substantial reforms on its procedures” and the Holy See’s moves “to institute reforms to prevent sexual abuse, and to compensate and facilitate the care and healing of the victims of sexual abuse.” Even so, the U.N. panel stressed the need for the Vatican to do more—to take “effective measures” to monitor individuals under its control and “stop and sanction” anyone accused of abuse. It also said police must be notified of abuse cases, and the Holy See should ensure that victims receive the “fair, adequate and enforceable right to compensation.”

       
 
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