Taxpayer-Funded Madness

4 October 2010

The Charity Commission in the UK has decided, after 5 years’ consideration apparently,  that Druidry be recognised as a religion.  This entitles them to tax concessions, though they claim (quite feasibly I would think) that they don’t earn enough to benefit from this largesse. 

Scientologists in the UK must be spitting.  Their application for charitable status in Britain was refused in 1999 and they DO earn enough for this recognition to be very favourable for them.  The courts decided that they are NOT a religion.

In Australia however the courts decided otherwise.  So here they get all the benefits that the ‘mainstream’ religions receive – tax concessions and Government funding for their own schools.

Isn’t it time that we got rid of this ridiculous system, both here, in the UK and anywhere else in the world where it’s practised?  I think it was agreed that religions shouldn’t pay tax on their income because of their charitable work (and Judith will correct me if I’m wrong). Does the Cult of Scientology spend any time or money on charitable work?  (Please don’t tell me they do – I think I find the thought that they’re getting their hands on the poor and vulnerable too frightening for words). 

So why do religions get tax relief on ALL their income?  Money collected and used for charitable works should be free of tax – money collected and used for promoting their religion, renovating the crypt and printing prayer books should be subject to the same tax as any business.   In most civilised societies, the right to practise the religion of your choice is enshrined in the Constitution, or other legal document or precedent.  I don’t believe this right extends to having your choice funded by the rest of the community.

I have no children but of course have absolutely no objection to paying taxes for education.  I have great objection to my money being used to fund the indoctrination of children in religious schools, be they Catholic, Exclusive Brethren or Scientology, all of which receive public funding in Australia. 

Richard Dawkins objects to children being classed by their religion – there are no Muslim children, or Christian children; they are the children of Muslims or Christians.  They are not yet of an age to choose their own religion.  He points out that we don’t call children Socialist children or Marxist children – their political views aren’t yet formed and we can’t presume that they will embrace those of their parents.  

A Scientology school in Melbourne, which has about 20 pupils, received $300,000 Federal Government money last year as part of the stimulus package.

As I said – Taxpayer-funded madness.




  1. I could not agree more. I believe it’s time to end all tax subsidies for religious organizations and that in addition they should be taxed like any for- profit company. This will promptly separate the devout from the charlatans. I say, let all churches put their money where their mouth is. They can receive tax benefits based solely on the amount they contribute to the public benefit (if at all) and should be forced to justify any application for tax abatement.

  2. I agree overall, though I think there may be arguments re buildings – in the UK anyway, there are many v lovely church buildings, visited by tourists etc etc and making up a part of the landscape etc etc; there might be an argument for some assistance there in terms of taxes – as for other buildings of similar calibre. There are quite a few that are listed etc and that means you can’t choose how to deal with problems, have to do it how the planners require and this can be v expensive.

    Other than that – right there with you, Sal!

  3. It’s a bit more complicated than this, unfortunately!

    I heard a druid representative on the radio last week. She explained that druids wanted to register as a charity as they feel that they do “good works” of public benefit, which is the criterion they have to meet to register. She said that druids help to look after the natural environment.

    BUT the Charity Commission in the UK only recognises three types of charitable activity – education, the relief of poverty and religion. When I started the first charity for family carers (caregivers) in the UK back in 1981, it took 3 years for the Commission to acknowledge that carers could be a charitable class and allowed us in under the relief of poverty heading, as most carers are impoverished by their caring duties – giving up work, etc.

    So the druids had to go under religion, as they aren’t working for the poor or primarily involved in education.

    The tax relief isn’t considerable – mostly related to tax exemption on investments. However, this is offset by the fact that they now cannot recover VAT (sales tax) on any purchases. This means that they will, generally, be paying an irrecoverable 17.5% and from 1 January 20%. Charities in the UK contribute over £3 billion a year to the exchequer because of this rule.

    So it’s swings and roundabouts, really… May the spirits of dale and glade go with you.

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