Mon, 26 May 2008
Religion and money go hand in hand. Far from "spartan" conditions, or "vows of poverty" being implemented, we see palatial splendor. Firesnake looks at just why Australia seems to have an out of control monster, promising falsehoods and threatening eternal torment, funded by unwilling Australians. Indeed, we need only touch on a few - so called - "Christian" cons which are the tip of the iceberg.
In God's Business - BRW June 29-July 5, 2006 - Adele Ferguson spells out the extent of religious tax exemptions. In doing so, she also exposes how opaque this self-righteous business really is. The pointy bit is this. Religious groups receive exemptions on income tax, GST, FBT, payroll tax [non-commercial], stamp duty [all property transfers], rates and land tax. Nor do religious groups pay capital gains tax from asset sales, tax on commercial businesses or observe any Banking Act rules where they would apply. As Ferguson puts it, "better still" once exemptions are granted specific to financial services. "There is no sunset clause or review by APRA of it's operations".
Excluding donations, congregation and collection income, credit card machines or income from over 200 charities and additional business, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, Uniting, Salvation Army, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist and the Pentecostal churches produced a miraculous revenue of $23.3 billion in 2005. The Catholic Church reaped a whopping 40.3%. Pentecostalism is growing faster than any religion in Australia, generating $263 million in 2004.
Pentecostalism claims around faith healing and supernaturalism are of significant concern. It represents the pinnacle of con artistry, non critical thought and unguarded conformity. It's cost to the community is beyond significant. Hillsong are the largest earner in this fastest growing religion. Hillsong Emerge is the benevolent "arm" of Hillsong Church, once illegally using funds intended for Indigenous communities, for it's own benefit.
Remember the disturbing link between Hillsong, Mercy Ministries, Gloria Jeans coffee shops, and medieval superstition? Sheer theft of money from vulnerable and disturbed Aussie girls who were then subject to exorcisms, bible classes and glossolalian ranting to cast out the demons that made them "evil" initially. The Age reported on this appalling abuse at the time.
However, we don't need to be demon exorcising, bible quoting devotees to coerce ill people for no reason other than vague superstition. As Ferguson noted, "Hospitals run by the Catholic Church, for example, will not conduct vasectomies, tubal ligation or abortions, although they are routine in other public hospitals". Max Wallace from ANU says: “People in many parts of Australia are discriminated against by not having an alternative hospital provider.” [Page. 44] Sisters of Charity simply refuse to reveal revenue. And on the pattern goes.
Of interest is that an April 23rd shin dig put on as a "gee thanks" by Cardinal Pell for former PM John Howard, included CEO of World Youth Day, Roy Wakelin-King on the 'confidential' guest list. Held at Pell's Pad - Cathedral House - in St Mary's Cathedral precinct in College Street, it was rumoured Kevin Rudd would drop in "for a chat". Pell who lunges forward with "Be Not Afraid" as his motto is the man who smoothed things over for a resolution to this silly business of the Roman Catholic Church paying for self indulgence.
To satisfy the Jockeys Club for any manner of potential deficits from Pious partying at Randwick, Pell scooped $42 million from Howard. For the gig itself our Chief Magician appointee from Castle Vaticanus scored another $35 million. Remember this is his buddy who handed him $4 million for a Sydney campus at Notre Dame Uni. On the eve of the 2004 election. Leaked to Sunday papers, read just before the pews fill.
The really strange thing is even when we know the ultimate terminus of where this train takes us, we fail to do the responsible thing. Category 12 funding is available via the Education Department Funding Scheme for "the poorest schools in the lowest-income communities in the country", according to one of the scheme's architect's Jim McMorrow. "They were meant to be very, very poor, with very, very low income, and largish average class sizes," he said, according to Fairfax papers.
Despite the sect itself boasting of being "in the upper levels of the socio-economic group", The Exclusive Brethren's already notably wealthy schools continue to receive the "special" funding. A Brethren spokeswoman claims the payments were initiated under the Keating government.
Of significant concern is the decision by the Rudd government to hand over $50 million in coming years. This is despite the schools failing to meet criteria noted above. Below are schools funded via Category 12 Special needs over 2001 - 04.
The Age continued;
Education Department documents also reveal that the Exclusive Brethren regarded former prime minister John Howard as their most influential supporter and ally of last resort. In 2000, the sect's elders asked Mr Howard for special assistance on school funding because of his "sympathetic support in the past and the contact with you over the years".
Federal school funding documents show that the Brethren's multi-campus NSW school, Meadowbank, and the South Australian school, Melrose Park, were funded at the same rate as "special schools", giving them the same per-student funding as Nyangatjatjara College, in the Northern Territory, the Giant Steps school for autistic students and schools for the hearing-impaired.
The Brethren's MET school in Meadowbank does not meet the criteria for category 12 funding: it is in suburban Sydney, has small class sizes, and is financially supported by a community that boasts it has no poverty. The sect's Victorian school, Glenvale, which has campuses at Glenroy, Lilydale and Melton, receives a lower rate of funding. [Source]
Other more benign disparities include the YMCA securing Recreation Centre contracts, not due to service quality, but due to tax breaks. With the above financial favour, the YMCA simply undercut non religious commercial entities, involved in the bidding for tendered contracts.
In true religio-centric character the YMCA is one of a very few organisations to ignore qualifications and experience staff bring to public health and recreation needs. Pay, for example, is in the lowest income bracket for staff who have a fitness hobby certificate and those with science degrees and years of clinical experience.
When we pay for "extra" services it's a mere marketing strategy we respond to. Ditto referrals from physiotherapists to community recreation centres. We have no idea if the individual provider at the YMCA is a professionally trained therapist or someone earning a few part time dollars. An identical national uniform serves to depersonalise the individual and add weight to the "team loyalty" con.
Occasionally, this blinds the staff themselves. Many become convinced such poor income is "a necessary part of the job", focusing on free use of facilities and "community contribution" as their noble career path. Coerced philanthropy, perhaps?
Join and we must pay by monthly or fortnightly direct debit. Stop attending and we alone must stop the debiting. In most cases it's the attrition of members that finances the centres. Fee paying members who don't attend always outnumber those who do. But that's fine as it is the accepted model in the health and fitness industry. Guilt and well meaning plans to "get fit" will ensure we do not cancel paying until long after we've stopped attending. And there's always the disincentive to stop paying in the huge joining fee we're continually reminded about.
In fact, the YMCA go after profit like a struggling business. In an age of diseases related to lack of exercise, one may wonder why this Christian group is not feeling too charitable - despite massive financial help.
A global organisation, the YMCA to probably afford to run our centres at no loss, as a favour to a sports keen nation. But such financial realities apply to all religious affiliates - great and small. It's always been about the money. Nothing but the money. Staff, clients and the Great Aussie Fair Go are used or abused to advantage in keeping ahead, as it were.
For a mere fraction of the above, religions in Australia, Pell, Baptists, Brethren Elders, Cults, Catholics, business savvy Seventh Day Adventists, "Drug Free" Scientologists/Evangelists, Harley riding con artists, Christian City, Teen Challenge, greed focused magic working Pentecostals - and more - have much to smile about. This of course, is only topped by the rise of fundamentalism in all it's lethal malignant glory.
And still, we keep on paying...
All articles touched on and other posts are here.