IRS definition of religion (Was: Back off! I'm Navajo!)

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Fri Oct 13 2000 - 09:00:02 MDT

Emlyn wrote:
> What are the actual rules for setting up a religion? How hard is it to have
> your brand new, out of the box, ancient religion gain the respect of the
> legal system?

IRS form 1023, Schedule A, shows some of the criteria the IRS uses for
deciding whether an organization qualifies as a tax-exempt "church".


1 Provide a brief history of the development of the organization, including
the reasons for its formation.

2 Does the organization have a written creed or statement of faith? Yes No
If “Yes,” attach a copy.

3 Does the organization require prospective members to renounce other
religious beliefs or their membership in other churches or religious orders
to become members? No Yes

4 Does the organization have a formal code of doctrine and discipline for
its members? Yes No
If “Yes,” describe.

5 Describe the form of worship and attach a schedule of worship services.

6 Are the services open to the public? No Yes
If “Yes,” describe how the organization publicizes its services and
explain the criteria for admittance.

7 Explain how the organization attracts new members.

8 (a) How many active members are currently enrolled in the church?
(b) What is the average attendance at the worship services?

9 In addition to worship services, what other religious services
(such as baptisms, weddings, funerals, etc.) does the organization conduct?

10 Does the organization have a school for the religious instruction of the
young? Yes No

11 Were the current deacons, minister, and/or pastor formally ordained after
a prescribed course of study? No Yes

12 Describe the organization’s religious hierarchy or ecclesiastical

13 Does the organization have an established place of worship? Yes No
If “Yes,” provide the name and address of the owner or lessor of the
property and the address and a description of the facility.
If the organization has no regular place of worship, state where the
services are held and how the site is selected.

14 Does (or will) the organization license or otherwise ordain ministers
(or their equivalent) or issue church charters? No Yes
If “Yes,” describe in detail the requirements and qualifications needed to
be so licensed, ordained, or chartered.

15 Did the organization pay a fee for a church charter? Yes No
If “Yes,” state the name and address of the organization to which the fee
was paid, attach a copy of the charter, and describe the circumstances
surrounding the chartering.

16 Show how many hours a week the minister/pastor and officers each devote
to church work and the amount of compensation paid to each of them. If
the minister or pastor is otherwise employed, indicate by whom employed,
the nature of the employment, and the hours devoted to that employment.


-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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