I think our laws granting tax exempt status to religious organisations conflict with our human rights legislation – or at least the principles underlying that legislation. This tax exemption is based on the granting of “charitable” status to religions purely because of their advocacy of supernatural teachings. Consequently, humanist and other non-religious organisations cannot get similar tax exemptions (although they may qualify on other genuine charitable grounds) (see Taxation offense and, How to lower taxes).
So, it is a slap in the face to the non-religious to be forced to subsidise religious activity via tax exemptions. It’s even worse when organisations with tax exempt status engage in commercial activities for profit. Worse still when the religious tax exempt status supports commercial activity aimed at promoting attacks on science.
Creation Ministries International
This is the situation with Creation Ministries International, “a charitable trust that promotes creationism to churches” according to the NZ Herald article Creative differences. This describes activity taking advantage of the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of publication of The Origin of Species to attack evolutionary science.
The Creations Science Foundation (NZ) Trust (website http://creationontheweb.org) is registered with the Charities Commission. Its activities are described in the Charity Rules provided to the commission and include the aims:
“To provide by way of a wholesale and/or retail agency or shop for the importation, supply, sale and provision of all materials relating to the biblical teaching of Creation”
“To co-operate with and if deemed expedient to join with any other Christian organisation or bookshop in New Zealand . . . . in the provision of materials relating to the biblical teaching of Creation”.
” To import, supply and sell in New Zealand any other resources articles or materials which may seem advantageous to the Trust in furtherence of its objectives to the intent that the net income and profits thereof are devoted wholly to the furtherence of all or any of the objects of the Trust.”
“To give particular service by mail order or other means to Churches and individuals in or about the Dominion of New Zealand.”
“To conduct meetings and to operate functions for the display of printed or visual materials relating to the study of the biblical teaching of Creation…”
It looks like creationism is a lucrative business. There’s money to be made and consequently money to fight over. Creation Ministries International is in dispute with Answers in Genesis over use of subscription lists, ownership of affiliate groups, web site domain names, copyrights and intellectual property (see Creationists should settle outside court).
Creationism targets Christians
Creation Ministries International seems so flush with donations and income from their sales that when they appeal for help money is not at the top of the list (unusual for a charity). Their recent appeal said:
“We need to find and equip pastors and churches– so please send us the name of your pastor and appropriate contact information and we can schedule a meeting at your church with no cost utilizing the best creation speakers in the world!”
This, and the aims from their rules, shows this organisation aims all its activities at Christians. The NZ events section of their website shows that all their meetings take place within Churches. This clearly shows they appreciate that the so-called “evolution-creation controversy” is not a scientific one, but a religious one. They see that the churches provide a fertile ground for their propaganda.
Wouldn’t it be nice if some pro-science religious people would form an “Evolution Ministry,” get tax exempt status, and promote meetings and publications supporting science to fellow Christians.