Meet the Challenge: Government Funds for Humanism
Ray Bradley, a Major in the Army Reserves at Ft Bragg, NC, is a strong supporter of atheists and humanists in the military. He has found an innovative (but still legal) way to transfer his government benefits to MAAF [Donate Here]. Every time you feel government officials are promoting religious activities, consider what Ray has done to turn his patriotic fervor into real change:
In 2010, Americans gave over $100 billion in charitable donations to religious activities which amounts to more than 35% of all giving for the year. (Education came in a distant second with $41 billion or 14% of all donations.) [Source: Giving USA 2010] As you know, the IRS allows a tax deduction for every dollar of these contributions which, in effect, subsidizes the donors’ tithes to the church.
Don’t get me wrong. Charitable giving should be encouraged. But isn’t it a shame that religious organizations are flush with cash while most secular groups flounder on a shoe-string budget? Well, I have developed a way to help remedy this imbalance and it doesn’t cost me a dime. In fact, with my solution, our wonderful government gives me tax-free dollars to donate and then, at the end of the year, gives me a tax deduction for the very amount I donated.
Here’s how it works. When traveling on government orders, I receive non-taxable per diem for meals and lodging. I rarely spend even half my daily allowance. When my travel voucher settles, I donate the excess per diem to various charities. Simple as that! In the last twelve months alone, my excess per diem supported the Rapture After Party held by the Central NC Atheists and Freethinkers, paid my membership dues to many secular organizations, and left enough for one-time donations to several national organizations and events.
The best part is that at the end of the year, the IRS lets me deduct all these contributions made with the tax-free money that the government gave me in the first place. You can imagine the gratification I get with this simple plan when I think of all the tax breaks our government gives to religious groups.
Jason Torpy, President of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF) recently announced a drive to raise $100,000 for MAAF in 2012. MAAF is the unsung hero for secular members of the military. There’s a lot more work to be done and we need to keep MAAF strong in order to do it. So, this year, I pledge all my excess per diem to MAAF! Let’s give MAAF the financial standing needed to continue working for us by answering Jason’s call for support! Please join me in this campaign to help Jason raise $100,000 to keep the MAAF working for us.
Major, US Army Reserve
* This does not imply endorsement by the US government
The Stiefel Freethought Foundation made this goal even easier to reach by pledging to match every contribution made by current and prior military, dollar for dollar, up to $50,000. Show you support MAAF by pledging your excess per diem [Give Here], or come up with your own plan to help out. Then pass the challenge to all your friends.
MAAF is working behind the scenes to effect change in the military on many fronts to include pursuing chaplain recognition and support of Humanists, sending care packages atheists in foxholes overseas, and advocating for personnel under overt religious pressure such as mandatory prayer and command promotion of religion.
MAAF is one of the few secular voices heard within each branch of service advocating for everything from the reform of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program to protecting newly “out” gay Service Members. MAAF peaks for personnel who fear discrimination, amplifies the voice of those who stand out, and advocates for all personnel.
MAJ Bradley is leading the way with his giving plan, and I hope others will post their commitment to MAAF and their giving plans here. As President of MAAF, I would like to extend a personal thanks for MAJ Bradley’s support and the support of all MAAF donors.