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Religions are not charities by definition

Posted by Secular on November 17, 2012

20 Dec 2011

Media Release

According to Australia’s antiquated legal definition of charity, anything and everything that religious organisations do is deemed charitable and therefore qualifies for tax concessions. This ranges from their commercial operations to their “prayerful intervention”. Yet there are other aspects to the current definition of charity, such as relieving poverty, that would be sufficient to encompass the genuinely charitable activities of religious bodies.

In a submission to the Treasury Department’s consultation into “A Definition of Charity”, the Secular Party has said that it is high time the “advancement of religion” is removed from the definition of charity in Australia. The current definition causes numerous anomalies, due to the fact that religions’ activities are not always a public benefit, are not always charitable, and should not be treated as such.

A further issue is that, in order for the current legal definition to operate, a legal definition of religion is also required. This produces additional curiosities, such as the High Court’s definition of religion as something that encompasses a belief in a “supernatural principle”. Such a definition involves “the intersection of the undetectable and the immeasurable”, the submission says, and should not be the basis of Australian law.

The quest for truth, as can best be determined on the basis of reason and evidence, should be the basis of law. The legal definition of charity should be based on justice, not on outdated tradition or superstition.

Read the submission.


© The Secular Party of Australia Inc., 2011. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and from the Secular Party of Australia is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and to this blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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2 Responses to “Religions are not charities by definition”

  1. jafranklin05 said

    True, In my opinion charity means to help needy people and for that you don’t have to give money only you can donate thing like handmade sweater’s and other woolen clothes, So that needy people get some relief at the time of winter.

    charities in Australia

  2. delightful said

    Quite agree but charities are really only interested in money. You only have to see people laying in the streets at Kings Cross with dirty old clothes and blankets full of holes yet why are not these people supplied with clean clothes and blankets. This annoys me as a very stuck up lady in the op shop said she has more than enough and this was a charity I had always regarded as kind but realise when a street person said they give you nothing I did not believe them I now do as yet people on concrete and no blankets or clean clothes. I now will give things direct to the people even at Christmas buy them some treats etc to eat as the charities are more interested in putting on functions for themselves.

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