Monday, November 09, 2009

Labour’s Equality Bill will give tax breaks to Scientologists

In this era of equality, in which all beliefs are philosophies and all philosophies are religions and all religions are equal, the consequences in law are beginning to be seen.

The Conservative Party has spotted that the equality laws being championed by Harriet Harman will force councils to exempt the Church of Scientology from council tax and business rates. A detailed investigation into the small print of Ms Harman’s new Equality Bill establishes that the Church of Scientology will receive the same tax breaks that the Church of England and other organised religions currently receive.

And Cranmer saw this coming two years ago.

Places of worship are eligible for a complete exemption from business rates and Ministers of Religion are entitled to a series of significant discounts or exemptions from council tax. Following a Court of Appeal test case in 1970 after a legal challenge by the Church of Scientology of California , premises of Scientologists are refused from being considered as a place of worship. This is since their views are deemed to be a ‘philosophical belief’ rather than a worship of a deity.

However, the Equality Bill defines as a ‘protected’ characteristic “any religious or philosophical belief”. The Bill adds to 2003 equality regulations that have already resulted in an employment tribunal ruling that a worker’s views on climate change were a ‘protected philosophical belief’ – a ruling upheld by the courts last week. The Bill imposes a duty that will require all public authorities not to discriminate on these grounds of religion/belief, with the Bill noting that this extends to “revenue raising and collection”. A further new ‘public sector equality duty’ will require all public authorities actively to ‘eliminate conduct’ which may involve discrimination against any philosophical belief and to ‘advance equality’ of those who have philosophical beliefs.

In practice, the combination of these definitions and duties will shoot down the 1970 Court of Appeal ruling. Public authorities will have to treat the likes of Church of Scientology on a par with the Church of England. The Church of Scientology will qualify for 100 per cent exemption from business rates on its premises which are accessible to the public (parts of premises only used for private ‘auditing’ would not be exempt). Residential housing used by Scientologist ‘chaplains’ would be exempt from council tax (or just pay one small bill for a whole complex, saving significant sums). Scientology HQ in Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead , alone pays £100,000 a year in business rates.

The Church of Scientology has been described in Parliament by Conservatives as “an evil cult founded by an individual purely in the interests of enriching himself and sustained by those who are either wicked or wayward” (Hansard, 31 January 2006, col. 231).

Bob Neill, Shadow Minister for Local Government, said: “The public will be alarmed that Harriet Harman is planning to give local tax breaks to Scientologists. Struggling families and local firms will object to Scientology being able to avoid council tax and business rates, whilst their bills have gone through the roof.

“Tolerance and freedom of expression are important British values, but this does not mean that the likes of Scientology deserve special tax treatment. Like Labour’s so-called Human Rights Act, Harman’s new law threatens to have a series of unintended and unpalatable consequences.”

The current situation on tax breaks for religion include:

Business rates -

Churches and places of worship are 100% exempt from business rates (this is not linked to being a charity, which only gives a partial business rates reduction).

In addition, religious properties receive some council tax exemptions:

Council tax Class H exemption: Unoccupied dwellings, awaiting occupation by a minister of religion.

100% Council tax exemption -

Council tax Class B exemption: Religious communities

A so-called ‘Discount disregard’ – the residents are not counted for the purposes of council tax (e.g. like students), but the owner may be liable for one single council tax bill. Yet this will be significantly less than paying lots of multiple council tax bills, and represents a significant tax break.

Council tax Class E exemption: Occupied by minister of religion.

The owner is liable, not the resident:

“A dwelling inhabited by a minister of any religious denomination, is expressed as a class of property in respect of which liability falls upon the owner, so long as the dwelling is used as a minister’s residence and as a place from which the minister performs the duties of his office”.

Scientologists are not currently eligible for local tax breaks

At present, a premises only qualifies as a ‘place of religious worship’ business rates exemption if it meets certain criteria on worshipping God or a deity. Those which only practice a ‘philosophy’ do not meet these criteria.

“Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 3 June 2009, Official Report, column 591W, on non-domestic rates: religious buildings, for which faith communities and religions the Valuation Office Agency has determined that their premises, where used for public religious worship, may be eligible for exemption from non-domestic rating.

Barbara Follett: Places of Public Religious Worship which belong to the Church of England and Church in Wales and all other religions certified under the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 where there is an open invitation to the public to attend services are exempt from NNDR under the Local Government Finance Act 1988. The exemption does not extend to organisations which practice a philosophy or where the invitation and access is restricted to certain members of the congregation” (Hansard, 28 October 2009, col. 473W).

“Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst of 3 June 2009, Official Report, column 591W, on non-domestic rates: religious buildings, what criteria the Registrar General uses when determining whether to certify the premises of a faith community or religion as a place of religious worship.

Meg Hillier: I have been asked to reply. The Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 provides for places of meeting for religious worship to be certified to the Registrar General but does not apply to the established Church. When considering the registration of a building which has been certified as a place of religious worship, the Registrar General applies the judgment by the Court of Appeal in the Segerdal case. The main finding in the judgment is that the words ‘place of meeting for religious worship’ in the Act connote a place of which the principal use is for people to come together as a congregation to worship God or do reverence to a deity. Apart from the Church of England and the Church in Wales , any faith or denomination which meets these criteria would be capable of recognition under the 1855 Act” (Hansard, 26 October 2009, col. 147W).

The Church of Scientology is not currently eligible for tax breaks.

“Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. Jackson) of 7 May 2009, Official Report, column 382W, on the Church of Scientology, what (a) criteria and (b) methodology the Valuation Office Agency uses to determine whether a faith community is deemed to be eligible for a place of worship business rate exemption.

John Healey: Schedule 5 para. 11(1) to the Local Government Act 1988 provides the criteria for exemption from non-domestic rating for places of public religious worship. Premises occupied by a faith community will be exempt providing:

- It is a place of religious worship
- The worship is public
- The premises are certified as a place of religious worship by the Registrar General or belong to the Church of England or the Church in Wales .

Valuation officers’ methodology is to follow the above criteria” (Hansard, 1 June 2009, col. 49W).

“Robert Neill: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Jackson) of 7 May 2009, Official Report, column 382W, on the Church of Scientology , whether the Valuation Office Agency recognises venues of the Church of Scientology as places of public worship eligible for an exemption from non-domestic rates.

Mr. Timms: It is for the Valuation Officers of the Valuation Office Agency to decide whether any hereditament is a place of public religious worship which is exempt from non-domestic rates in accordance with Paragraph 11 of Schedule 5 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988. In general, following an Appeal Court decision in 1970, Valuation Officers do not regard premises occupied by the Church of Scientology as being so exempt” (Hansard, 1 June 2009, col. 49W).

The tax inspectors’ manual explains:

“2.1 Paragraph 11(1)(a) sets out a series of requirements which need to be satisfied for exemption to apply.

2.2 ‘ A Place of Religious Worship’ - (Test 2)

The words ‘a place of religious worship’ are to be taken as meaning places to which people come to do reverence to or for the veneration of God (not only a Christian God):-

‘worship …which must have some at least of the following characteristics: submission to the object worshipped, veneration of the object, praise, thanksgiving, prayer and intercession’ See R -v- Register General ex parte Segerdal and Church of Scientology of California 1970/RA/439.

A belief in the spirit of man or simply, a ceremony of instruction or discussion of a philosophy is not religious worship.”

Valuation Office Agency, Rating Manual - Volume 4 - Section 8 - Part B, Churches, Church and Chapel Halls and Similar Buildings.

The 1970 Court of Appeal ruling noted:

697 Regina v Registrar General, Ex parte Segerdal and Another Court of Appeal, 7 July 1970

“The acting chaplain of a building in Sussex known as a chapel of the Church of Scientology applied to the Registrar General for registration of the building certified by him as a place of meeting for religious worship under the Places of Worship Registration Act, 1855. The Registrar General made inquiries into the nature of the services, ceremonies and other proceedings for which the building was used and in the course of a long exchange of correspondence was supplied with two booklets, one of which set out, inter alia, the form of ceremony for the naming of children, marriages and funerals, and the creed, and stated that in a Scientology church service ‘we do not use prayers, attitudes of piety, or threats of damnation’ but the facts and truths ‘as discovered in the science of Scientology.’ The creed made reference to ‘God’ but stress was laid on the perfectibility of man as a spiritual and immortal being by application of the tenets of Scientology. The Registrar General refused to register the building under the Act. The chaplain and the Church of Scientology of California applied to the High Court for an order of mandamus directed to the Registrar General to register the building certified to him under the Act of 1855; and an affidavit sworn by the chaplain set out the facts as to the form of regular Sunday service, referred to the creeds as prayers, stated the nature of the sermons delivered, and deposed that the purpose of the services and ceremonies and the existence of the chapel was to the best of his understanding and belief religious worship in every sense of the word. The court refused the order of mandamus.

On appeal by the applicants:-

Held, dismissing the appeal,

(1) that unless a place certified to the Registrar General under the Act of 1855 was in truth a place of meeting for religious worship he had no jurisdiction to register it and accordingly was entitled to make such inquiries as he thought fit to satisfy himself that it was at the relevant time such a place; a fortiori where his refusal to register a particular place could be challenged in the High Court on an application for an order of mandamus and the court could itself decide on the evidence whether or not the place was one for meeting for religious worship.

(2) That a place of meeting for religious worship connoted a place where people came together to do reverence with prayer, humility and thanksgiving to a Supreme Being; and as on the evidence the services and ceremonies carried on in the building contained none of those elements but consisted in instruction in the tenets of a philosophy concerned with man and not with worship of a deity the building did not qualify for registration under the Act of 1855.”

Rulings on council tax exemptions would be a matter for local authorities rather than the Valuation Office Agency; yet they too would be influenced by the Court of Appeal ruling precedent.

“Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) of 31 March 2009, Official Report, column 1047W, on the Church of Scientology, whether the Church of Scientology is recognised as a religion for the purposes of (a) council tax exemption Class H and (b) business rate exemptions.

John Healey: It is for individual local authorities to decide whether Class H exemption from council tax applies in any case. The Department does not have information about those decisions as they relate to the Church of Scientology . It is for the valuation officers of the Valuation Office Agency to decide whether any hereditament is a place of public religious worship which is exempt from non-domestic rates in accordance with Paragraph 11 of Schedule 5 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988” (Hansard, 7 May 2009, col. 382W).

A list of Scientology’s “churches” may be found here.

Based on the Rateable Values on the Valuation Office Agency’s at www.voa.gov.uk, their HQ at Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead pays £98,213 in business rates in 2009-10.

The effect of Harman’s Equality Law:

Harriet Harman’s new law will blow this precedent out of the water. The Equality Bill defines “religion” and belief as any “philosophical belief”. This is in stark contrast to the tests of believing in a God or deity in the 1970 Court of Appeal ruling.

“10 Religion or belief

(1) Religion means any religion and a reference to religion includes a reference to a lack of religion.
(2) Belief means any religious or philosophical belief and a reference to belief includes a reference to a lack of belief.
(3) In relation to the protected characteristic of religion or belief—
(a) a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a person of a particular religion or belief;
(b) a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference to persons who are of the same religion or belief” (Equality Bill, Part 2: Protected Characteristics).

The Equality Bill builds on the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003. Under those rules, there has already been a test case (Nicholson v Grainger Plc) where an employment tribunal ruled that an individual's views on climate change were a “protected philosophical belief”. Legal experts have noted: “This test means that this area of the law may create an abundance of litigation in the future as the tribunals will have to weigh an individual’s beliefs against the yardstick of current popular thinking. This will make this area of law a potential minefield for employers” (New Law Journal, 29 July 2009).

This ruling has recently being upheld by an Employment Appeal Tribunal (BBC News Online, 3 November 2009).

The Equality Bill goes on to impose duties on public authorities not to discriminate on grounds of religion. The Bill’s Explanatory Notes explicitly state that this includes revenue raising functions.

“110.It also makes it unlawful to discriminate against, harass or victimise a person when exercising a public function which does not involve the provision of a service. Examples of such public functions include law enforcement and revenue raising and collection” (Explanatory notes to Clause 27 of the Equality Bill).

There is also a brand new ‘public sector equality duty’ that explicitly requires public bodies to take steps to ‘advance equality’ and ‘eliminate conduct’ which may compromise the protected characteristic of religion. This is a new duty that does not currently exist.

“466. This clause imposes a duty, known as the public sector equality duty, on the public authorities listed in Schedule 19 to have due regard to three specified matters when exercising their functions. The three matters are: (a) eliminating conduct that is prohibited by the Bill… (b) advancing equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it…

“472. There are no equivalent public sector equality duties for age, religion or belief or sexual orientation in current legislation. The clause extends the new public sector equality duty to cover gender reassignment in full, age, religion or belief and sexual orientation” (Explanatory notes to Clause 143 of the Equality Bill).

These cumulative effect of these new laws will be to annul the 1970 Court of Appeal ruling, and impose active duties on local councils and the Valuation Office Agency not to discriminate against the Church of Scientology and to ensure they receive the same treatment as other religions, faiths and beliefs. The Church of Scientology will be put a part with the Church of England and other organised religions. Councils and the tax inspectors will have a legal duty to ensure that they receive the same tax breaks as any other place of religious worship which is open to the public.

On the Church of Scientology:

Conservative MP, Michael Gove, has told Parliament: “I regard Scientology as an evil cult founded by an individual purely in the interests of enriching himself and sustained by those who are either wicked or wayward” (Hansard, 31 January 2006, col. 231).

Charitable status

The Charity Commission ruled in 1999 that the Church of Scientology was not eligible for charitable status since it did not have a public benefit. They argued:

“The Commissioners also noted CoS’s submission that the activities of auditing and training constitute its worship, this argument being supported by the expert opinion submitted by CoS. However, the Commissioners were unable to accept that the practices of auditing and training were akin to or comparable with the acts of worship indicated by the English cases – praise, veneration, prayer, thanksgiving, intercession, submission to the object worshipped” (Decision of the Charity Commissioners, Application for Registration as a Charity by the Church of Scientology, 17 November 1999).

Such a ruling could also be overturned by the Equality Bill, given the new public sector equality duty and placing any belief on a par with religion.

In 2006, despite the ruling of the Charity Commission, the Corporation of London unilaterally made a bizarre ruling that the Church could be considered as having charitable status for the purpose of its business rates bill in that part of London. Yet this only provided an 80% reduction, not the 100% that it would receive a place of religious worship. Such a ruling has not been copied by other councils (Daily Telegraph, 10 December 2006).

VAT status

In 2000, the Inland Revenue ruled the Church of Scientology was a not-for-profit body and therefore exempt from VAT. However, this has no bearing on its eligibility for business and council tax exemptions (Daily Telegraph, 11 August 2006).

Cranmer awaits with interest to see if the same tax breaks being granted to the Church of the Jedi.

62 Comments:

Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

It is clear that the direction of travel is now to protect ‘any belief’. Experience with the civil and criminal laws in this area suggest a hierarchy of protection will be established (that is some beliefs will be accorded preference over others) for the general mass of the people.

This now sets the stage for a ‘new and evil religion’ to dominate public life.

There is of course one faith that is unassailable; the faith of the dominant political elite: the absolutism of moral relativity.

It is that faith that decides not only what will be permitted in the zone of freedom of expression but also that which will be established as ‘morally superior’ to all others.

The reason why the faith of the dominant political elite will crush Judaeo-Christianity is because, in their eyes, it is based upon a moral justification: Judaeo-Christianity has for far too long been dominant and influential.

The dominant political elite are taking this turn precisely because they do not believe in the truths of ‘fairies and elves’. When the Queen Fairy tells you not to do handstands in the glass palace; the Left-liberal elite will do handstands in the glass palace just to show that nothing of consequence can happen (whilst for the Judaeo-Christian there would be no reason to disobey the command unless it could be shown that the command was evil). Very much like when God advised Man not to eat of the fruit of the one tree (amongst the many others) in the Garden of Eden.

Doing handstands in the glass palace runs the risk of shattering the palace; eating of the one tree’s fruit which was forbidden led to death.

9 November 2009 at 10:17  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

There is of course an easy way out of this problem of defining "good" and "bad" religions/beliefs - don't define them at all and don't given any of them tax breaks!

9 November 2009 at 10:24  
Blogger D. Singh said...

It is a boys' philosophy not to think about the nature of good and evil.

No wonder your moral growth has been arrested.

9 November 2009 at 10:26  
Blogger gyg3s said...

Cranmer isn't able to see the wood for the trees.

Is marriage a 'philosphical belief' within this jurisprudence?

If so, are people discriminated against by taxation regimes if they are married rather than co-habiting? Will not the Equality Bill remedy this situation?

9 November 2009 at 10:26  
Blogger Gnostic said...

If Scientology is considered a religion then so must be The Force. I am rededicating my abode as a Jedi temple and claim my council tax exemption...

9 November 2009 at 10:27  
Blogger Botogol said...

I am not quite sure of Your Grace's position on this..

- do you consisder that the govt is being insufficiently diligent in distingushing genuine religions from bogus ones?

- or do you think that only the established church should benefit from the exemptions?

- or perhaps that no religion should enjoy exemptions?

(my position would be the last)

9 November 2009 at 10:45  
Blogger Botogol said...

@gnostic - you would also, alas, have to open it up to the public.... which means you'll soon need a flower rota, and a roster of welcomers

Still, it would be nice for you to meet other Jedis

9 November 2009 at 10:47  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Botogol - I'm not a Jedi, I'm an opportunist private citizen seeking to reduce my tax burden. Being also female the flowers would be welcome. As would the occasional box of chocs. Naturally my congregation would pay their devotions by scrubbing my house - er sorry, temple - and dishes free of the Dark Side of housework. :0)

9 November 2009 at 11:13  
Anonymous Knighthawk said...

A significant increase in qualifying organisations coupled with an outcry that sham religions/philosophies are seen to be benefiting from valuable tax breaks and I am inclined to think that the response will be to withdraw the concessions entirely. End of problem. Equality maintained, religion destitute, administration simplified and the coffers enriched.

Yet I have a nagging doubt. Perhaps some religions or philosophies are more equal than others.

9 November 2009 at 11:27  
Anonymous Sir Henry Morgan said...

Knighthawk

Yes: and one in particular. That'll be the one that claims it is ever so peaceful. We all know the one I'm talking about.

9 November 2009 at 11:36  
Anonymous Carl Gardner said...

I'm not completely convinced, your Grace. Are you not possibly using flawed Ladele-style reasoning here, i.e. their views count as a religion; someone won't give them what they want, applying rules that apply neutrally to everyone; therefore that person is discriminating against them on grounds of religion?

If your Grace's argument would work, why wouldn't human rights discrimination arguments work in just the same way? They didn't, in this case:

http://www.headoflegal.com/2008/08/14/lords-judgment-gallagher-valuation-officer-v-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints/

Your Grace may be proved right - I've not spent much time on this, I admit. But at this stage it's not obvious to me this would be the result of the Equality Bill.

9 November 2009 at 11:47  
Blogger Arden Forester said...

New Labour is a bit like George Orwell's Animal Farm. Some are more equal than others, but equality for equality's sake is the driving force. I'm not sure who represents who, but the pigs are having a swell time at the moment!

9 November 2009 at 12:20  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

The key issue is what is going to be permitted in the zone of freedom of expression by the Left-liberal elite in the world of politics and law.

In the case of the Christian magistrate, McClintock (gay adoption), a five criteria ‘belief’ test was constructed; the ‘belief’ must have:

1. sufficient cogency;
2. seriousness;
3. cohesion;
4. importance; and
5. should be worthy of respect in a democratic society.

In both McClintock and Nicholson (climate change belief) significant weight was placed upon to what degree the believers’ views were intransigent. That is to say, the more fundamental and closed minded – the better.

Prof. Dawkins and all those silly atheists, evolutionists and secularists like Mr Gardner – please note what the law is urging us to become. Indeed, for us to have an ‘open mind’ may well be fatal to us in an Employment Tribunal. British civil law is promoting ‘fundamentalism’.

However, tests ‘4’ and ‘5’ above act like floodgates. That is to say, does the philosophical belief have ‘importance and [is] worthy of respect in a democratic society?’ (para. (45) McClintock).

The tribunal judge said in Nicholson: ‘Indeed, they command the highest respect in democratic societies as can be seen from the conduct of modern global politics.’

Thus, a sub-test is how far does the belief reflect popular thinking in society?

However, in the Ladele case, Judge Elias said: ‘If the Tribunal were right to say that the fact that [Ms Ladele’s] conduct was the result of her religious beliefs meant that she was being discriminated against on religious grounds, the employer could never justify any refusal to accede to an employee’s demands that he should be permitted to manifest his religious beliefs, however bizarre they may be..’.

What Judge Elias had done, in my opinion, was to take one refusal by Ladele and link it to all potential refusals – she was being tried on what she may or may not do tomorrow.

Score:

Judaeo-Christians 0

Every other Left-liberal Fascist F.C. 5

9 November 2009 at 13:03  
Blogger indigomyth said...

D. Singh,

//Every other Left-liberal Fascist F.C. 5//

And tell me, just how Libertarian are you? Something suggests to me that you are as Fascist as those that you are accusing. Tell me, what are your thoughts on:

-Pornography
-Drugs
-Alcohol
-Violent video games and films
-Blasphemy
-Gay marriage
-Anti-discrimination laws that favour Christians?

Note; if you favour State sponsored restrictions on these, you are being authoritarian and a "Fascist". You favour state control of people's lives and bodies.

So, why is D. Singh's Fascism preferrable to the Socialist's Fascism?

Ladele did not do her job; she deserved to be fired.

9 November 2009 at 13:33  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Ah! Indigomyth!

Now I remember you were telling us how old you were on one post, here sometime ago; were you not?

It was in disaccord with your Guardian profiles, was it not?

How can we take you seriously?

9 November 2009 at 13:46  
Blogger D. Singh said...

'Ladele did not do her job; she deserved to be fired.’

One of the collaries to that must be: the SS did their job they deserved not to be tried at Nuremburg.

9 November 2009 at 13:51  
Blogger indigomyth said...

D. Singh,

I have never knowingly lied about my age. I do not know if the Guardian profiles update automatically, or at what interval you checked between the two. It may very well have been the case that my birthday intervened between your checking of my age, resulting in the discrepency between the date I told you, and the date the Guardian had. My birthday is 22nd March.

Of course, I am assuming that you are recalling correctly, and are not merely mistaken or fabricating.

In any case, an argument stands or falls on whether it is true or not, not on the character of the person putting it forward. It is typical of a certain type of mindset which believes that ad hominem queries in anyway affect the validity of an argument.

So, back to you; are you a libertarian, or aren't you? If not, then explain how you are so very different from Socialists.
(socialism is bad enough without putting Fascism in the mix.)

9 November 2009 at 13:58  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Indigomyth

"Anti-discrimination laws that favour Christians"

Which laws would these be then?

9 November 2009 at 14:00  
Blogger D. Singh said...

'not on the character of the person putting it...'

I take it then that you disapprove of charcater witnesses in a British court of law?

By institutionalising religion and belief, through the courts system, you national socialists have ensured that elements in society become more fundamental. You people do not realise what you have done by 'playing with' religion and belief.

You have ensured that the clash of civilisations now does take place.

Your small minds have opened Pandora's box.

9 November 2009 at 14:09  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

D Singh

I'm quite happy to think about the meaning of "good" and "evil" - but perhaps I know enough about philosophy not to try and define it.

9 November 2009 at 14:30  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Socailist Boys Who Never Grew Up

It is not enough merely to know about philosophy.

9 November 2009 at 14:35  
Anonymous Thurston said...

Excellent news! This will save the English pub from extinction.

Henceforth all public houses should be dedicated to the worship of the great and ancient God Bacchus. This will absolve them from business rates and many other forms of meddlesome legislation which have hitherto interfered with their sacred rituals.

Bacchus Akbar!

9 November 2009 at 14:38  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Thurston

No chance unless:

a) You are a Bacchussian fundamentalist; and

b) the majority of politicians, in a democratic society, like a good booze-up.

9 November 2009 at 14:46  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

And another thing here is a portion of a letter to the Times from Lord Waddington today:

'Today the Government looks set to ask the Commons to repeal an important protection for free speech. It was inserted by the Lords into the new homophobic hatred offence in May 2008 and, after twice trying and failing to remove this free speech protection, the Government reluctantly accepted the position and allowed it to go on the statute book. But then, in a move for which there seems to be no precedent, it introduced a clause in another Bill in the very next session to repeal what they had enacted. The repealing clause came before the Lords in July and the House rejected the measure by a large majority.

'The free speech clause is supported across the political spectrum. Liberty, the Church of England, Matthew Parris and Rowan Atkinson have also joined the ranks of those who back it. It says: “For the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.”'

9 November 2009 at 15:03  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

Thurston

This would only work for wine bars - Silenus is the god of beer - not sure who is responsible for spirits - perhaps Johnnie Walker could be cannonised ;)

9 November 2009 at 16:12  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Those b******s are rich enough.

There is only one thing to say about that Harmaman woman, she’s pissed!

Labour wont be satisfied until they have this country on its knees in the dirt. Town centres are becoming ghost towns as little businesses are choked with excessive running costs, anyone with a hint of entrepreneurial spirit gets hammered into the ground and all that silly bitch wants to do is give daft cults like this a break. Words cannot describe the frustration, anger and loathing I feel towards this stupid STUPID woman and the Labour party altogether.

9 November 2009 at 16:52  
Anonymous IanCad said...

TBNGU
Jim Beam and Jack Daniels have better backing.

9 November 2009 at 18:03  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Give me a good old pint of English ale !

9 November 2009 at 18:11  
Blogger indigomyth said...

D. Singh,
//you national socialists have ensured that elements in society become more fundamental. You people do not realise what you have done by 'playing with' religion and belief.//

What evidence do you have that I am a National Socialist? Do you mean economically, for that is what socialism refers to.

I am not a socialist. I believe all taxation is theft, that free markets and free trade are the only Just form of economics, and that the National Health Service should probably be discontinued, or severely overhauled. Point out the socialist element, please do.

I notice you have not denied being a Fascist. Still, at least you are now being honest.
---

Lord Lavendon,

//Which laws would these be then?//

I was using it as a test question to see if Singh would favour them, which would indicate that he was a Statist, and therefore a Fascist.

However, the blasphemy laws of Ireland make illegal criticism of religion, and, hence Christianity, could be construed as laws favouring Christianity.

9 November 2009 at 18:29  
Blogger indigomyth said...

D. Singh,
//By institutionalising religion and belief, through the courts system, you national socialists have ensured that elements in society become more fundamental. You people do not realise what you have done by 'playing with' religion and belief.

You have ensured that the clash of civilisations now does take place.//

Hmm, so you favour disestablishment of the Church? How else do you propose to completely un-institutionalise it?

9 November 2009 at 18:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the c of e had not left a spiritual vacuum in the land by their failure to uphold christian values and minister the true gospel there would surely be less looking for answers elsewhere. However we have a welsh druid running a church drifting towards rome whom burnt her ancestors for refusing the very teachings they are now embracing, Ichabod. No doubt bloggers will deny this, and that is their right, but the evidence is your dwindling congregations, the lack of respect and belief the general population have in you , whilst the house churches grow and prosper and minister the word of God leaving out the religion.

9 November 2009 at 18:33  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Indigomyth

In Britain, the old blasphemy laws were repealed a while ago- not they were really taken seriously by the justice system of the past few years. Although New labour has now constructed a far more restrictive blasphemy law, called the equality bill....

9 November 2009 at 19:08  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Anon @18.33

Where is the evidence that Rowan Williams is a druid ?

9 November 2009 at 19:17  
Anonymous IanCad said...

Being one those for whom it hurts to think, to comment here is definitely above my pay grade. "Render to Caeser" suggests separation of church and state. The violation of this principle has been shown to be disasterous. From Constantine to James 2nd. blood and tears have flowed. Government expansion of the definition of religion can only lead to a very sorry outcome. On the bright side. If these privileges are expanded to include those who incline toward Autolatry then we can all look forward to great reductions in the geld that is currently extracted from us all. On the other hand.... ramble, ramble...

9 November 2009 at 19:46  
Blogger indigomyth said...

Lord Lavendon,

//In Britain, the old blasphemy laws were repealed a while ago- not they were really taken seriously by the justice system of the past few years. Although New labour has now constructed a far more restrictive blasphemy law, called the equality bill....//

Yes, I know they were repealed; against the wishes of most Christians, including the owner of this site. That is the point I am trying to make; Christians like D. Singh are perfectly happy to take away peoples freedom, just as long as it is not their own.

And yes, I agree with you. The equality bill is diabolical. As I have said, all anti-discrimination laws being applied to private institutions should be repealed. As should all of the Hate Speech laws we have. Yet, I find it interesting that a lot of Christians only favour the repeal of Hate Speech laws that apply to homosexuality. Not race? As least Libertarians are consistent!

9 November 2009 at 21:34  
Anonymous The Wizard of Ozz is Fake said...

Indigomyth

I have missed you.

9 November 2009 at 21:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did somebosy mention queers?

9 November 2009 at 21:41  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Indigomyth

I am not here to discuss or explain or defend Mr Singh’s view , he is quite capable , I am sure, of doing that by himself.

I agree that freedom of speech is essential to a system of government such as ours.People should be allowed that freedom of speech, if it is on homosexuality, religion or race or whatever. We should have these rights firmly established by an act of Parliament.

If certain people do get offended by another's view then the best remedial action is the ability/right to put the counter view as to why a position is wrong and argue their case accordingly.

I am quite happy to explain or defend my faith to whomever wants to listen and I do not need to hide behind a blasphemy law to do.

As a general comment about the labour party , it is a pity that this party seem to feel that people can't think like adults and we some how require protection from thought and to have restrictions on what people can or cannot say is just odious.

9 November 2009 at 22:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are a number of very good things about the CoS, its confessional system really seems to deliver the goods for a minority of folk who can afford to work their way through its grades. It even has a few insights in to real esoteric phenomena. Crowley said Hubbard was a con-man and Crowley was very often right. What is worrying about CoS is their habit of holding on to the confessions of those they are supposedly attempting to clear. This potentially gives them a very strong hold on their associates. Clearing costs a small or large fortune depending it seems on how much they can persuade their associates to pay up. They also enslave a number of poor but promising associates in the SEAcorp.
They are also extremely aggressive in their pursuit of any who dare stand against them. They use the law in an effort to undermine those who attempt to expose their system. They use copyright laws and other legal means to ensure they are
Able to continue what is I believe essentially an abuse of privileged information.
They are not a church in any sense we understand in the UK . We cannot stop them practicing their method, but we can refuse them charity status and publish clear information about their methods of control. We need a change in our law to
Stop them attacking freedom of speech. Scientology is certainly a cult and I believe it is an extremely dangerous one, even I feel that posting under my real name is asking for trouble when addressing this organisation. Their clear policy of SP’s Suppressive Person's, such as myself who expose their false path could well be the key to ending their bullying attacks on other people. In many respects they resemble a Communist dictatorship. There are very few Cults I would like to see ended but unless they are willing to change a number of the ways they operate I cannot see how we as decent law abiding democrats can allow them to run amok in our nation.

9 November 2009 at 22:41  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Ah indigo myth appears when scientology is the topic !

Being as we all look through a lens far be it for me to say when the high hand of facism is being weilded in these subjects.

Your grace has done a detailed outline of the change ,but left his communicants a lot of lee way.

If scientology is belief ,then why must you be in and pay for its details of belief??

If scientology is a religon why is it unable to name its highest representatives ??.

If scientology influences politics why does it do so clandestinely ??.

The christ has many aspects , but there is no money price for his love , that aspect alone is enough to ponder if scientology needs tax relief .

9 November 2009 at 23:48  
Blogger ZZMike said...

We are not surprised - after all, all belief systems (including the one recently recognized as a religion - global warming) are equally valid and should be treated with the utmost respect.

(Except perhaps for Christianity, which is always suspect.)

Lafayette Hubbard (also known as Ron), a known swindler and deadbeat, once told a group of friends that the best way to make a lot of money was to start a religion.

There's a fascinating connection between Hubbard and one Jack Parsons (one of the co-founders of Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Laboratory - JPL, which at least a few people called "Jack Parsons' Laboratory). Parsons invented the JATO unit. He was friends with Hubbard, who cheated Parsons in more ways than one, and also close friends with Aleister Crowley - whose name you may recognize and who was rather naughty.

A web search for 'jack parsons' will turn up the sordid details.

I do have to wonder, though, about a "religion" that copyrights its "sacred texts". One possible explanation is that they are so outrageously ludicrous that a non-initiate would fall over laughing were they revealed too early. Only after one has poured a few thousand pounds into the group's coffers will one realize he's in far too deep to laugh at this sacred nonsense.

On the other hand, it should not be long before we see a few Temples of Jedi spring up on untaxable soil. (Alas, our gracious host once again beats me to the finish line.)

I thank our gracious host for unleashing a word unknown to me: "hereditament: a property that can be inherited". What that has to do with anything is another question.

tory boys...: "I'm quite happy to think about the meaning of "good" and "evil" - but perhaps I know enough about philosophy not to try and define it.

In other words, you know what it is but cannot define it. It logically follows then that you do not, in fact, know what it (the difference) is.

Thurston has a good point: Let public houses be temples of Bacchus (and Silenus) worship. We could introduce suitable rituals - perhaps the congregants could all stand, hold their glasses (or tankards) high and recite vaious chants ("To the Queen!!!", &c). Members would also be expected to memorize arcane lore, such as the 752 brewers of ale, and to repair, after evening services, to their several homes, in order to meditate (often mistaken by unbelievers for sleep) until the break of dawn. Or of noon.

As for taxing real houses of worship, I think back to Henry VIII, who imposed the ultimate tax on churches and abbeys.

I don't see that taxation has anything to do with freedom of speech. In my country, it's a bit dicey - we allow churches freedom from taxation, but only as long as they don't go meddling about in areas of politics - such as encouraging votes for or against this candidate or that measure. That is coming under scrutiny these days.

Let us ask the question in all innocence: why are churches tax-exempt?

In the case of the CoS, what does being taxed or not have to do with their prosyletizing and preying on the less fortunate?

10 November 2009 at 02:31  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Indigomyth

‘I believe that all taxation is theft.’

That is a proposition which you must have plagiarised from the cell wall of the lunatic asylum.

10 November 2009 at 08:12  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Indigomyth

'Christians like D. Singh are perfectly happy to take away peoples freedom, just as long as it is not their own.'

A demos needs us to agree to certain limitations upon our freedom.

That is the hall-mark of a patriot.

Clearly, you no patriot and therefore your right to vote, speak or act within this demos: must be questioned.

10 November 2009 at 08:17  
Blogger Weekend Yachtsman said...

I imagine that the "religion of peace" (you know, the one that threatens to cut the heads off anyone who suggests its not a religion of peace) already enjoys this exemption, since whatever its failings, nobody doubts that is is in fact a religion.

More interesting are the implications of the recent Employement Tribunal decision that a belief in global "warming" is of a religious nature.

Are we seeing the way to an imposition of the Dhimmi tax on global warming sceptics?

10 November 2009 at 10:40  
Blogger indigomyth said...

D. Singh,

//A demos needs us to agree to certain limitations upon our freedom.

That is the hall-mark of a patriot.

Clearly, you no patriot and therefore your right to vote, speak or act within this demos: must be questioned.//

The will of the demos is irrelevant when compared with the freedom of the individual. More communitarian, authoritarian thinking from you, not me. And still you do not deny being a Fascist, for with every word you write it becomes more clear that you are one. Though cheerfully at least you have stopped throwing the vacuous accusation of Socialism at me. Congratulations, you are growing up.

And tell me, if it was the will of your much vaunted "demos", to deny Christians the freedom to practice their faith, would you support that? I imagine then that you have no problem with the persecution of Christians in many Muslim countries, where it seems certain that the demos supports restrictions on things like Freedom of Religion.

//‘I believe that all taxation is theft.’

That is a proposition which you must have plagiarised from the cell wall of the lunatic asylum.//

So you believe it is acceptable to force, through threat of violence, people to give up their property to the State? Now I turn the accusation back on you; Socialist!

10 November 2009 at 13:41  
Blogger D. Singh said...

I refer you to the text of my previous posts.

Carefully study pays dividends.

If you cannot commit yourself to that then I suggest you deaort to the Guardian or Bedlam.

10 November 2009 at 13:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What we really want is a reformed scatology, one that doesn’t hold paper work beyond a reasonable date. One that reverses its nonsense about Sap’s, and which
Doesn’t cost it adherents more than a healthy 10% of income. Its product is common knowledge and it cannot copyright esoteric discoveries (OT’s is a valid description of a real phenomenon) If we are prepared to let it go at that is then something for a civilised People to decide for themselves I am rather concerned at its present practices.

10 November 2009 at 16:52  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Anonymous 22:41 9th Nov

You are right there is no way it can be classed as a religion or a philosophy
It’s a dangerous cult and dodgy a scam that prays on the young and the gullible in society.

Aged 20 in Munich a friend and I were chatted up in the street by a rather good looking young man in his late 20’s. After some light hearted flirting banter he got us to follow him to the offices on the top floor at the back of some shops nearby all the time telling us of this marvellous way of life that would help us achieve our dreams and do good and we could travel and meet people. Oh! great we thought.

We spent the next four and a half hours filling out forms with all our personal information and doing intense psychometric tests whilst being supervised by the chap and some others. It felt more like an exam. When finished they then tried to engage us in a serious conversation about our lifestyles, our beliefs and thoughts on life. By this time it was after midnight and I got the feeling they didn’t really want us to leave so became quite suspicious. We were tired and wanted to go the only way we could extricate ourselves was when they asked for money to join which we didn’t have enough of so we agreed to go back the next day with it and ran.

These people were on the streets every day aggressively recruiting naïve youngsters and selling the books pictures and other paraphernalia for the master guru.
Ron Hubbard who said “If you want to make any decent money, set up a new religion” and he did.

11 November 2009 at 00:26  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

ZZ Mike

To paraphrase GE Moore in Principa Ethica - good is an attribute the meaning of which is indefinable. I think you will find that this is something of an old chestnut among philosophers.

11 November 2009 at 16:11  
Blogger tory boys never grow up said...

I probably couldn't define what an elephant is either - but I do know what one is when I see it!

11 November 2009 at 16:14  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

The only reason people scorn scientology is because it was invented at a time when the human race contains some level of logical intelligence (I admit not the majority unfortunately).

Indigo.

I wouldn't even bother asking Singh anything. He picks and chooses his answers to questions that allow him to pour scorn on anything he doesn't agree with at the best of times. At the worst he just completely ignores the question and calls your character into question instead. Typical closed minded religious action.

12 November 2009 at 11:32  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Glovner

Keep taking the tablets, that you advised us you are taking, to maintain the chemical balance.

12 November 2009 at 18:44  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

"Keep taking the tablets, that you advised us you are taking, to maintain the chemical balance."

I don't believe i have ever advised you of anything of the sort. But then again you may well just be making up fantasies and believing them to be true.

Way to prove my point though, well done thanks for that.

12 November 2009 at 20:42  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

"Keep taking the tablets, that you advised us you are taking, to maintain the chemical balance."

I don't believe i have ever advised you of anything of the sort. But then again you may well just be making up fantasies and believing them to be true.

Way to prove my point though, well done thanks for that.

12 November 2009 at 20:42  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Hmm. Apologies for the double post, how strange.

12 November 2009 at 20:43  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Glovner

You ought to keep a record of your posts.

12 November 2009 at 20:47  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

You ought to tell me where I posted such a thing so I can actually read it and see that you are not just taking parts of sentence out of context which you are more than guilty of doing on a number of occasions.

So please, do tell exactly what I wrote? Or indeed where I can find it.

13 November 2009 at 08:36  
Blogger ZZMike said...

tory: "To paraphrase GE Moore in Principa Ethica - good is an attribute the meaning of which is indefinable."

The venerable G. E. Moore may have been known as a philosopher, and I appreciate his point of view (e.g., as an axe-murderer, I may find the pursuit of my profession good, because it brings me happiness, and I find it pleasant).

But still, there is a difference - a noticeable difference - between good and evil.

That the axe-murderer finds his occupation good, is not because we do not know what good is, but rather because he does not.

13 November 2009 at 21:21  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

The usual response when asked for some evidence then?

16 November 2009 at 07:35  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Glovy

I've noticed you post the same post over again.

The ward GP could advise a stronger dosage?

Concerned about you old boy.

16 November 2009 at 18:59  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Which post would that be? The one where I state that you never answer a question or present any evidence for your statments?

Only reason for posting that is for drawing attention to the facts. As you act in the same manner in so many "debates" I will add the comment on each of them every time to fail to reply to the question.

You make a statment, I ask for some evidence and you completely ignore it.

No need for pills here old bean, I certainly think you could be in need of something though given your recent postings.

17 November 2009 at 08:34  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Should probably point out that you still failed to actually answer the question yet again.

17 November 2009 at 08:35  

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