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Religion and its Charitable Status

Not all agree that religion is a natural instinct.  If it is not or if it is an insignificant one generally speaking then the question is, should it be treated as a charity or as a charity with distinct and special privileges?

 

Some experts hold that we must get rid of "the very common idea of writers on religion that there is a special urge or instinct or sense in the human breast which compels men and women to be religious. So frivolous are some of these serious and profound writers on religion that they only invented or discovered this religious instinct at a time when the general experience of the world entirely refuted it. No one heard of the religious instinct in the days when everybody was religious. It was invented when tens of millions of people in every advanced civilization abandoned all religion."  See The Psychology of Religion by Joseph McCabe. 

 

Definitions first! 

 

A charity is for giving assistance and money to people who need help without strings. Charitable status is a different matter. An organisation only needs to show that it somehow intends to benefit society and then it may be eligible for charitable status. All charities have charitable status but you don't need to be a charity to have charitable status. When an entity gains charitable status it obtains exemptions from paying tax. Also if benefactors fill out a form and donate a certain amount of money, the taxation system may calculate a percentage based on it and pay that out of taxpayers money. You can donate 100 and fill the form and Revenue may pay 25 out of the taxpayers money to the entity designated in law has being a charity or as having charitable status.

 

Fr Ronald Knox, "I do think it is true, on the whole, that the agitations which have benefited mankind have largely been the work of non-Catholics, and indeed non-Christians" Difficulties, page 27.

 

The Charity Commission in the UK as of 2013 demonstrates that out of 162,000 registered charities only 24000 were religious! Remember too that many of the 24000 are such "charities" as religious magazine publication or churches that do nothing much for anybody.

 

What is a charity?

 

#An organisation dedicated to the public benefit

 

#An organisation that is non-profit

 

#An organisation that does not have political goals in the mercenary sense for example that it will not tell you who to vote for or be acting like a political party. It may however lobby against nuclear weapons and the death penalty etc.

 

Many religions have political activities and political intent. Some religionists and some religious leaders do have political ambitions. Or they have their political puppets. Religion likes to legally enshrine its own opposition to abortion, gay marriage, divorce, extra-marital sex etc. When a religion seeks to impose this morality on members of other faiths, or no faith at all, it’s indistinguishable from politics.

 

If a religion is seen as a mere front for a group or for a money making venture, it will not be granted charitable status.

 

No religion should get charitable status for it encourages even the poor to give it money. As Robert Ingersoll stated, "Religion supports nobody. It has to be supported. It is a perpetual mendicant. It lives off the labours of others and then has the arrogance to pretend that it supports the giver."

 

Christianity considers spreading its influence and power and faith to be charity. Pope Benedict said that people need God more than food. So any charity work done by the Church is really about getting power and taking advantage of Machiavelli's advice, "You need not necessarily have ... good qualities ... but you should certainly appear to have them". If there is a choice between telling somebody about God or feeding them then Catholicism is clear on what choice should be made.

If a religion is seen as working for public benefit it will be granted charitable status.

 

A religion should be allowed to set up charitable organisations but the religion itself should not be seen as a charity.

 

Religion in fact should be taxed. Many ministers make a comfortable living out of pretending they have the power to channel God's power to you to benefit the community. It is bad enough that religion is tax-exempt but the fact that religion can get tax-payers money donated to it by the state under gift aid is an outrage.

 

God based religion does not do charity work for the sake of the people but for the sake of God. The good it does is about showing the alleged goodness of God so that people will be attracted to the faith. This is disgusting and manipulative and hypocritical.

 

There are those who say, "religion is good." In other words, those in religion who behave badly are not acting as part of the religion. That accuses those who say there is such a thing as bad religion of being bigots. And those who are not religious are accused of being potentially dangerous if not actually bad. And they do not want to admit there is a problem with bad religion and thus they participate in the problems it creates.

 

Public Benefit means:

 

1. the relief of poverty

 

2. the advancement of education

 

3. the advancement of religion

 

4. other purposes considered beneficial to the community

 

Public benefit is essential if an organisation is to obtain charitable status. All of these must be given without any unfair discrimination. A charity for relieving poverty has no right to refuse help to say people who are Muslims.

 

Principle 3 is against the public benefit for it is not true that you need to be in a religion to benefit society. Thus advancing religion is not necessarily or always in the public benefit. Also, the religions do not believe in religious equality - they will not teach that what religion you convert to is a matter of indifference.

 

Religion violates principle 4 because it causes separation in a community and even segregates them at school.

 

In the United Kingdom, Christian Voice whose head is Stephen Green is registered in the Charities Commission under as the National Council for Christian Standards in Society.


See http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/ShowCharity/RegisterOfCharities/CharityWithoutPartB.aspx?RegisteredCharityNumber=294803&SubsidiaryNumber=0 

 

And this in spite of its efforts to stop tolerance of homosexuality being promoted among children, its effort to stop safe sex education, the HPV Vaccine and wants the death penalty brought back. It seeks to have people educated among Bible lines and opposes the truths of evolution. It argues that a man should be allowed by law to rape his wife.

 

I would agree that Christian Voice would stretch any definition of “charity”. I wonder if anyone has ever mounted a legal challenge to their status as a charity, or would that run the risk of seeming vindictive

 

Thus, religious people tended to think they were better than others, unless they were rating other members of their religious group. In this case, they rated others as better than them. 
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-big-questions/201412/supernaturally-better-you-0

 
Finally fair play to the UK Charities Act amendment of 2006 which said that it should not be taken for granted that a religion, even the Church of England, is for the public benefit. It wants this alleged public benefit to be validated.

 

Religious organisations may get involved in public service work. They must do this without discriminating against employees in that line of work. They must not be allowed to refuse services to people whose faith or sexuality or race they do not approve of. As the delivery of public services is ultimately a government service, it would be inappropriate to let religion use its involvement to evangelise.

Legal proceedings need to be taken against the religious person who performs exorcism. Exorcism inflicts pain on the allegedly possessed person. The person is diagnosed with a supernatural disorder by the priests. This violates the principle that religion should not hurt people over supernatural suppositions. For example, if somebody had some mental illness that resisted diagnosis, that is not evidence that a demon is involved. Lack of evidence is not evidence. It is abusive to tell the person they have a demon and to treat them as if they do. A religion that protects exorcists or commands them to exorcise or permits them must not be given charitable status.
 
Religious bodies must be treated as human organisations

Religious bodies, that are publically funded, should be treated the same as other organisations under equality and employment legislation.
 
Religious discrimination must end. It is discrimination when unbelievers are barred from being religion teachers. Believing or not believing is irrelevant to being a good teacher.
 
Unbelievers must be admitted to committees that advise the state with regard to religion and religious rights. It is only fair that the devil's advocates be involved!
 
Religions are really labels. Even within a single religion, no two people believe exactly the same things or for the same reasons. Everyone is really his or her own religion.
 
Religion likes to create problems for people and be the solution or an attempted and perceived solution. This is pure manipulation. For example, if a person suffers from guilt over having done something wrong that is understandable. What is not understandable is a person who suffers guilt and unhappiness caused by a religious doctrine such as Hell and who needs to go to the Church to help deal with it.
 
Religious organisations that publish material condemning homosexuality or promote division and sectarianism should not be granted charitable status.
 
Religion should not have charitable status.