William Flew on Religions and Tax Breaks
April 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
‘All religions are cults, — it is just that some are more obviously so’
Several readers commented on the cover story in Money last week on the £8 million Gift Aid reclaim paid to the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), an organisation that this paper exposed last year for exploiting vulnerable congregations.
William Flew wrote: “A horrifying story. I quite agree [with a comment piece by Andrew Ellson, Editor of Times Money] that the Charity Commission is likely to be running scared of any intervention for fear of being condemned as racist.”
David Finn wrote: “Why stop at the UCKG? Don’t all religious organisations rip off their ‘congregation’ to build up their asset base? Why don’t they start at the Vatican and work their way down.
“Religious organisations should be financially regulated, and treated as businesses for tax purposes.”
San Toi agreed wholeheartedly, writing: “All religions are cults — it is just that some are more obviously so than others, but there is absolutely no reason why they should be treated in terms of tax any differently to say a football club, with which they share many similarities.”
Paul Gardiner wrote: “How anyone can defend the notion of a religious charity and the tax breaks it confers is beyond me. Why the hell must I pay punitive taxes (business and personal) when a group of religious freaks can simply apply for charitable status and avoid taxes because they hear voices in their heads. Sod it — I’m going to set up the world’s first atheist church and apply for tax breaks by becoming a charity. When they ask what god I pray to I’ll tell them the god of reason — that should do the trick. Anyone care to join? I just need a small donation to get the yacht fixed.”
John Trew echoed this, writing: “In times of high unemployment some of us should think of setting up our own churches to take advantage of this massive loophole and ineptitude.The money is good, clearly. Maybe I will start one myself and call it the ‘Church of The Duped’ with our patron saint ‘St Thomas Aquirers’.”
And Karen Wood wrote : “Any registered charity should be able to show clearly that it is carrying out ‘charitable’ work. Should ‘charitable status’ be available to religious organisations at all? Are they really operating as charities and extending help to all regardless of religious affiliation, or are they merely private clubs using the money for projects which benefit only ‘the faithful’. Those questions now need to be asked of any and all religious organisations registered as charities.
“Support from those wishing to give is one thing but support from taxation is another. Every pound paid back out of tax is one lost to the wider community. It is probably time to review the charitable status of huge numbers of charities, including independent schools whose primary purpose is hardly that of a charity.”