Petition to stop Scientology tax breaks
At the time of writing, this e-petition has garnered a meagre 336 signatures, but they have a whole year to trundle along to the requisite 100,000. It concerns the Scientologists, who are either a supremely enlightened group of magnificent global beneficience, or an evil cult which practises dubious psychology and defrauds adherents of their money. Discernment between these polarities appears to depend on whether or not you’re an ex-member of their church. They include amongst their number such stellar luminaries as John Travolta, Lisa Marie Presley, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, and this A-list ensures considerable publicity.
You can read up on their beliefs at Wikipedia: it is doubtless monitored and ‘corrected’ by a small army of good, omniscient, non-material Thetans to ensure the propagation of the truth of Lord Xenu.
In the UK, religious groups qualify for tax breaks on account of their contribution to society and the common good. The problem is, of course, that no government has ever defined what constitutes bona fide religion in this ‘post-Christian’ era: all we know is that all religions are equal and that discrimination is illegal.
Although many international and regional human rights instruments guarantee rights related to freedom of religion or belief, none attempts to define the term ‘religion’. The absence of a definition is not peculiar to international human rights conventions; most national constitutions also include clauses on freedom of religion without defining it. Thus we are presented, on the one hand, with important provisions guaranteeing fundamental rights pertaining to religion, but on the other hand the term itself is left undefined. Of course, the absence of a definition of a critical term does not differentiate religion from most other rights identified in human rights instruments and constitutions. However, because religion is much more complex than other guaranteed rights, the difficulty of understanding what is and is not protected is significantly greater.
Theologians and philosophers may have the luxury of imprecision, but lawyers and judges do not – especially when it comes to taxation.
It would greatly assist if the judiciary would establish a little case-law clarity on what now constitutes a legitimate religion in the UK, who is judged to be a messenger of God, what doctrine may be preached, what creed followed, and what liberties may be granted or rescinded. As far as His Grace is concerned, Scientology is intellectually difficult and religiously rubbish. It is a money-spinning cult of mind-bending psychology. It is about as much a religion as a Star Trek convention.
But as Christianity is supplanted by polytheistic ecumenism, Christ is subsumed to the politically-correct Pantheon. Political correctness has become the state creed: we must all now adhere to an ideology that classifies certain groups of people as victims in need of protection from criticism: we are obliged to feel that no dissent should be tolerated.
And so, by virtue of Labour’s Equality Bill and under the benign Anglican aegis, Scientology is as worthy of tax breaks as any other religious sect or pseudo-religious cult. That which does not constitute the majority expression is, by definition, a minority religion and so worthy of protection and promotion. The Government cannot remove tax breaks from Scientology without seeking to define religion, and that would be a spider's web, can of worms, knot of vipers and a house of cards all rolled into one. It may even prove a Gordian Knot.
His Grace won’t say he told you so.
But he told you so.