May 15 2012


Here’s a depressing comparison for you:

2012 US Science Budget*: $85.2 billion

Yearly losses due to religious tax exemptions: Over $71 billion

We could basically double the US Science Budget, but instead we continue to bow to religious privilege. Priorities, indeed.

*Funding the National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, NASA, Department of Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Defense Department, US Department of Agriculture, US Geological Survey, Environmental Protection Agency, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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  1. 1

    in reality, if we got those $71 billion, they’d just be used to give tax-breaks to the rich or to buy more deadly toys for the military [/cynicism]

  2. 2

    *insert long string of curse words here*

  3. 3

    Ugh. Thanks for ruining my night. :P (I mean the numbers are depressing, not that your post is bad)

  4. 4

    The Department of Energy spends waaaaaaay more on maintaining the US nuclear arsenal, subsidizing oil companies, and subsidizing the worthless pretend-alternative fuel corn ethanol as a pork barrel bow to midwestern states, than it spends on science.


  5. 5

    I’d be curious to see what the percentage of what each of those organizations gets of the 85 billion. I get the feeling that the department of defence gets the lion’s share of that money.

  6. 6
    James Manning

    Time to create a new religion called ‘science’ and all its clergy (know as ‘scientists’) will receive these awesome tax breaks!

  7. 7

    I used to be a big fan of the whole “Tax the churches!” idea. But if we do, that gives them the right to take a far bigger and more sanctioned role in the governing of the country. “No taxation without representation”, remember? Do we really want half of the House of Representatives made up of the Catholic Party? The Baptist Party?
    Dog knows, the churches have far too much influence in this country as it is. But “influence” and “power” are not the same thing. Taxing religion will cost it money, but will increase it’s power. I don’t think that’s a trade we really want to make.

  8. 8
    Andy Groves

    @5: If you click on the link, it will tell you. Actually, NIH, NASA and CDC account for the lion’s share of that number. Most of the DOD’s research budget is not counted as science funding and so isn’t included – the figure Jen cites is mostly DARPA and some other research programs like the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. But you are correct that the DOD’s total research budget is huge…….

  9. 9

    The article explains how religion is a very imperfect way to obtain “charity” but even in then, it still provides something in return. And, not taxing a non-profit, secular or not, is what basically is at stake here. Just singling out religion here and not trying to (I really don’t know how to do this except in a very rough way) factor out actual benefits (e.g., some Unitarian effort against SB 1070 or in support of gay rights) is pretty misleading.

  10. 10
    Bret Ferrier

    I think Science is an awesome thing and I love to see the advances that it makes and as an Engineer I love to see the application of that science in improving our life. But I would like to point out that in the last two towns I have lived in the only Soup Kitchens and boarding houses available to the homeless in the community have been manned, funded and supported by the local churches.

  11. 11

    You do understand that without nuclear weapons we would not exist as a free country right now don’t you?

  12. 12

    Canada, Australia, Sweden and Norway (among others) seem to be holding onto their freedom without a nuclear arsenal.

  13. 13

    That’s a beautifully made point. The amount of “influence” that they already have is ridiculous, and I’d hate to see them have the “power” to actually legislate!

  14. 14

    Hijacking charities and other social functions in society has long been a tactic of religions. Maybe there would be fewer needy folks in the first if there were more research and more application of real knowledge.

  15. 15

    Companies pay taxes, yet we don’t see half the House of Representatives made up by the GE or Microsoft Party

  16. 16

    The latest cost of the American nuclear arsenal will be $600-800 billion. Each of the 20,000 aged weapons must be dismantled and fresh plutonium and uranium inserted.

    How much is $700 billion? The USA could build a new fleet of space shuttles, fly and service them every 17 years for the next 50 years.

  17. 17

    It’s not a loss when you don’t take someone’s money. It’s just less theft.

  18. 18
    Reginald Selkirk

    But if we do, that gives them the right to take a far bigger and more sanctioned role in the governing of the country. “No taxation without representation”, remember?

    That applies to people. Unlike certain members of the Supreme Court, I do not believe that corporations (i.e. fictional persons) should get all of the rights of ‘natural’ persons.

  19. 19

    I read somewhere that if churches took over all the “charity” the gov’t provides, every church in the country would need to pony up $50,000 a year. Most couldn’t.

    Maybe to get nonprofit tax breaks, any org. should have to put at least 50% of their budget to actual charity.

  20. 20

    That’s pretty naive of you.

  21. 21
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Does the phrase “North Atlantic Treaty” mean anything to you?

  22. 22
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    What are you, five?

  23. 23
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    And you’re not even slightly curious about the social dynamics and history that might have produced that?

    You wouldn’t happen to have majored in civil engineering specifically, would you?

  24. 24

    *Someone* is the ultimate guarantor of their freedom.

  25. 25
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I suppose next you’re going to explain that “this is not a democracy, it’s a republic?”

  26. 26

    Assuming this is true, then why not eliminate about half of them? Surely a nuclear supply -merely- sufficient to annihilate the world ten times over would be just as effective as one that does the same thing twenty times over, and at half the cost.

  27. 27

    Actually, we kinda do. >_>

    They’re usually called the “Republican Party”, and also sometimes the “Democratic Party”.

  28. 28

    Tax exemptions because it’s a religion seem blatantly unconstitutional to me. They require that the government determine what is and is not a real religion.

    If they want to apply for and receive tax exemptions under the same standards as secular organizations, ok, fine, but their religious status shouldn’t ever be a part of the decision to grant or deny the exemption. They have to find some other reason to qualify.

  29. 29

    Yes, religious groups should not get special treatment.

  30. 30

    What, because I believe that stealing is wrong?

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