Asked in Religion & SpiritualityPolitics and Government
How can one create a government recognized religion?
August 17, 2012 1:31AM
That depends on the country you live in, how powerful you are and how much money you have.
The US government doesn't "recognize" religions in any official manner other than, perhaps -- and I stress "perhaps" -- by the IRS granting religious groups and their legal entities tax-exempt status, pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Granting tax-exempt status, though, does not amount to official government recognition, as that phrase is most commonly understood; and, in fact, the US government officially "recognizing" any religion would, itself, be a violation of the First Amedment to the US Constitution's "separations" (of church and state) clause.
One cannot, then, create a "government recognized religion"... at least not in the United States.
There is a form a "government recognition" of religions in the military... when it comes to a person becoming a military chaplain. The US military has official lists of recognized religions and denominations. No person may become a military chaplain unless s/he has the approval of his/her denomination; and said denomination is on the military's list of recognized religions and denominations. And any national church's or denomination's getting on that list is a big deal... takes some serious work on the part of the denomination. So I suppose that that amounts to the government "recognizing" religions, but I've always felt that if someone with enough time, energy and money challenged it in Court as a First Amendment violation, and was willing to take it all the way to the US Supreme Court, then said someone might actually win. The secular humanists (atheists) are (or at least were) in just such a battle with the military. They want to be recognized on that list so that there can be secular humanist chaplains... which, to me, seems an oxymoron, but, hey... that's just me.