Island Life by David Slack

Read Post

Island Life: The World Is Full of Cu*ts

157 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Newer→ Last

  • jb,

    Get hold of Bill Maher's "Religulous"
    Same old greasy number, as Ry Cooder so succinctly puts it..

    a.small.town.in.germany • Since Jan 2007 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    I guess I'm just a little confused as to how removing the advancement of religion as a charitable purpose fudges the division between church and state. You could argue that having it there, and thereby requiring the state to decide what is and is not the advancement of religion, fudges the lines considerably more. Treating religious bodies as the same as any other group which wishes to engage in charitable work seems less fudg-y to me.

    Again, agreed. Giovanni's solution seems fine to me. Mike Homer's suggestion that churches be required to create separate entities to carry out their charitable works seems to have the potential to create the very state regulation that you seem concerned about. Provided the churches qualify as bona fide charitable organisations they should be free to direct their activities where they choose, without government direction or subsidy.

    There are areas such as church-run schools where religious activities have become rather too co-dependent with the state for my liking. Years after the event it still rankles with me that, in discussing the case of a special needs child with an Education Department councillor, I was asked if I'd considered the Catholic system. Apart from being totally inappropriate for that particular person, I still have an unpleasant sense that the councillor might have been advancing their own religious agenda courtesy of the taxpayer.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3291 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Is the thrust here, Brian shud pay tax on his gifts, which due to there size amount to income?

    So SteelBalls and all gambling should be counted by the tax man & Lotto & little timmies $50 at Xmas from Nanna?

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Joe, your arguement to exclude Catholic Schools from funding through the integration programme could easily include Kura and anyone else outside of your mold.

    Why not celebrate diversity?

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Is the thrust here, Brian shud pay tax on his gifts, which due to there size amount to income?
    So SteelBalls and all gambling should be counted by the tax man & Lotto & little timmies $50 at Xmas from Nanna?

    How about, outside of a domestic relationship, putting the hard word on others for prezzies should be a tarring & feathering offence once one attains adulthood.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3291 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    lol

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Sam M,

    How much tax revenue do we all think the Crown is actually missing out on from mainstream religions due to their charitable status?

    They take in donations (lost GST maybe?) and use it to pay staff, keep buildings and do other stuff?? The staff pay income tax and presumably the organisation pays GST on any goods or services it buys.

    The only other tax that springs to mind is tax made on profits. I don't think many religions in NZ are exactly minting it in this regard.

    My experience of religion is of a very valuable community service to those who desire it (often elderly and/or infirm) performed by selfless individuals who ask for nothing in return (oh, and very old fashioned and hard to sing hymns). Granted, I accept there are those who use religion for their own purposes, but I do not see those as being truly godly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 40 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Joe, your arguement to exclude Catholic Schools from funding through the integration programme could easily include Kura and anyone else outside of your mold.
    Why not celebrate diversity?

    With respect, that's not my argument.

    Please consider, being involved in the raising of a special needs kid kind of places you in the position where diversity is more a way of life than an option. Being educated in a Catholic primary school back in the day left me with the impression that diversity is the last thing on the One True Church's agenda. While things are no doubt rather more enlightened these days, I can assure you that I'm possessed of far too expansive a disposition to go along with the idea of prescribing purgatory - or worse - for those who don't toe the line.

    Let the churches run their own schools.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3291 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    How much tax revenue do we all think the Crown is actually missing out on from mainstream religions due to their charitable status?

    They take in donations (lost GST maybe?) and use it to pay staff, keep buildings and do other stuff??

    I think you'd be suprised. They use it to buy buildings. Some churches have, as I understand it, property portfolios worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Auckland alone.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    I've been struck by the community and healthy environment I see in the couple of schools I've had contact with, quite different from my memory too.

    But the key is to find a place that best fits for your kid.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Some churches have, as I understand it, property portfolios worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Auckland alone.

    I believe the missionaries were quite fond of land. What with all those delicious untaxed capital gains year on year, I imagine the leveraged income and the rents would be quite sustaining. Not to say they don't put it to good use.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15707 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    I've been struck by the community and healthy environment I see in the couple of schools I've had contact with, quite different from my memory too.

    Yeah, I must admit it didn't turn out to be all that bad. I mean, I was staggered when my brother drank holy water and his insides didn't turn to glass, as I'd been assured they would. Years later he's still in pretty good nick, despite being in a state of multiple mortal sin from missing mass on Sunday.

    Who knows, if they ever get around to canonizing my favourite Catholic I might just rejoin the fold.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3291 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Not to say they don't put it to good use.

    And not to say that anyone else doesn't also put their income to good use. Face it; in this day and age it's institutionalised robbery.

    If night-shift supermarket workers on $12 an hour can pay income tax then so can Sanitarium (annual revenue: A$300 million) as far as I'm concerned.

    ... unless someone wants to enlighten me as to exactly why Skippy cornflakes are more religious than Kellog's cornflakes, and thus exempt from income tax (which they are.)

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver,

    Sanitarium is a religion???

    I did not know that.

    Now I do.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 329 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I agree, 3410. I sure wasn't thinking of subsidised cornflakes when I said "good use".

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15707 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Another question for those who would see furthering religion removed as a charitable purpose: Is your desire driven by your attitude toward organised religion? Or because you think it would impact on the likes of Destiny Church?

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3731 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I'm persuaded by the broader approach to spiritual wellbeing mentioned by Giovanni - that poets and suchlike also ought to be exempt now that the churches no longer have a monopoly. Or we cut that ground for exemption completely, which seems simpler.

    So, social services run by churches, sure. Preaching, not so much.
    However, Density is an exception and as others have said where's the problem crying out for a fix.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15707 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    Is your desire driven by your attitude toward organised religion? Or because you think it would impact on the likes of Destiny Church?

    It's because a) I think it would go a long way towards removing the potential for abuse in the system - c.f. the cornflakes. Of course, the potential for exploitation and abuse is most obvious in places like the Destiny Church where they're all Prosperity Gospel and motorbikes for the guy in charge. So that's what makes us talk about it, and I would certainly hope that changes would impact them and other equally exploitative groups.

    Secondly, because I genuinely think that promoting your point of view about the world is not in and of itself a charitable exercise deserving of implicit government support just because this view takes the form of belief in a higher being/power/spirituality/what-have-you.

    Religious groups are the only ones that get tax-exemption for their recruitment efforts. Why? I ask this genuinely - what about religion, and I don't mean anyone's specific religion, what about religion *as a concept* makes it of straightforward benefit to society?

    As I said, I don't deny that it can inspire people to do great good, make people happy, whatever. But it can also do the exact opposite. Treating its spread as a charitable act is making a judgement that its mere existence is of benefit which I don't think is borne up by the evidence.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Secondly, because I genuinely think that promoting your point of view about the world is not in and of itself a charitable exercise deserving of implicit government support just because this view takes the form of belief in a higher being/power/spirituality/what-have-you.

    Which is, oddly enough, in the same ballpark as why I oppose state-funding of political parties. I'm a Catholic and a member of the National Party and think they're both worthwhile organizations. (I know plenty of PAS readers will disagree, but we'll just take that as read.) But there's also part of me that says if they can't stand on their own feet, then perhaps they should be allowed to curl up and drop dead while the government sticks to its knitting.

    Anyway, whatever happened to Matthew 22:21 - "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”? One might think that Christian churches would be paying close attention to what the Big JC had to say on the subject of taxes. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    So, social services run by churches, sure. Preaching, not so much.

    I agree.

    I sure wasn't thinking of subsidised cornflakes when I said "good use".

    Mmmm, subsidised cornflakes. (But, yeah, of course you weren't. I should perhaps stop quoting as a jumping-off point and only do so to reply directly; it creates confusion.)

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    the same ballpark as why I oppose state-funding of political parties.

    Good point. I'd forgotten the church role as aggregator of individual goodwill in the same way as political parties aggregate political intent.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15707 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Just like to point out that Australian tax law != NZ tax law. In NZ it doesn't matter who owns a company, that company must still pay all taxes that any other company would have to pay. And, in actuality, companies are a poor deal for charities in NZ because the charities, as tax-exempt and thus unable to defer tax, lose the benefit of imputation credits.

    So even if Sanitarium Australia doesn't have to pay federal income or profit taxes as a wholly-owned religious company, that does not apply to NZ.

    Of course it's possible that the SDAs here have found some way of running a multi-million-dollar profit-making organisation other than as a corporate structure, but I really, seriously doubt it.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3731 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I think it would go a long way towards removing the potential for abuse in the system - c.f. the cornflakes.

    Except that, as I just explained, the cornflakes thing doesn't work here unless Sanitarium NZ is operating it business as something other than a company - which, given the complexities of trying to be a trading trust or a partnership at such a scale, I don't consider to be terribly likely.

    Is there abuse? Yes, absolutely. Would things change were your utopian vision to emerge? No, not really. Why not? Gifts are tax-free to the receiver. A family of four can give $108,000 ($27,000*4) a year before they have to pay gift duties, and it doesn't matter if that money is given to 108,000 people or one person, not a single recipient is required to pay tax on the gift (I'll ignore G for the moment).
    All that your desires would achieve is that churches would reorganise their structures, put any income-generating assets into the charitable holding trusts, and continue as normal.
    Is society now sufficiently secular as to satisfy all the hordes who wish to see religion disappear? Surely is. Are the charitable activities (other than promoting religion) that the churches carry out negatively impacted? Almost certainly. In fact, I would put money on there being a significant decrease in the charitable activities of religiously-affiliated organisations due to the resultant impact on donations.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3731 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Matthew wrote:

    Is society now sufficiently secular as to satisfy all the hordes who wish to see religion disappear?

    Um... we live in a country that doesn't have a state religion, and while I know you're not going there, I don't think its somehow anti-religious to say that a separation of Church (and Mosque and Synagogue and Temple) and State is a good thing. I'd actually go further and assert that no matter what American-style theo-cons would have us believe, that this separation most strongly benefits people of faith.

    One of the most bitter ironies of American religious history is that those churches who curse "Godless Government" the loudest were founded by refugees from political persecution in England and Europe because of their non-conformity to state-ordained orthodoxy. In a perverse way, they want to re-create what they ancestors fled from -- as long as they're the ones who have control of the hellfire and brimstone.

    It seems to me that religious organizations can't have it both ways -- and not only on taxation, but matters like (as I pointed out up thread) claiming the right to ignore employment non-discrimination law in Victoria, or asserting that religious values should somehow be privileged in censorship legislation. If they want to agitate for a de facto theocracy or special rights under the law, they're welcome. Otherwise, they've got to come to grips with the idea of being one voice in a pluralistic democracy rather then dominating the conversation.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11614 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    The Listener (Feb 2008): The God dividend

    What bothers him is that – despite undiminishing poverty and growing secularisation – many churches and religious groups sit on a largely undisclosed stash of property holdings, investment funds and trading revenues as part of a valuable portfolio made all the more valuable by their tax-exempt status as charitable organisations.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.