Revenue Canada forbids Unitarians from working for justice

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NorthReport
Revenue Canada forbids Unitarians from working for justice

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NorthReport

Revenue Canada forbids Unitarians from working for justice

Tax auditors continue Harper-launched probe of religious charity under new Liberal government

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-revenue-agency-political-audit-un...

NorthReport

Although I am quite supportive of Unitarian leadership on social justice issues, why should any religion get tax-exemptions?

And why should non-public schools get tax breaks and government funding because all this does is create divisions in our societies.

And why should businesspeople be allowed to write off their lunches, etc. as tax exemptions? Everybody eats lunch, and most do not get tax breaks for doing so.

It is primarily the tax structure that keeps the poor, poor, and the rich, rich.

Mr. Magoo

When I first saw this it was just the link, that reads "Religious group told by Revenue Canada it can't 'work for justice' spends $38K to fight audit".  It didn't mention which religious group, nor what they mean by "justice".

So I kind of wondered, before clicking, whether "justice" would mean "ending inequality" or "fighting for the rights of the pre-born".

kropotkin1951

Justin another broken campaign promise. He is a pretty face that will say anything his handlers tell him to. They knew the right lines to fool the electorate and now it is merely business as usual. 

NDPP

Jewish National Fund, however, remains fully tax deductible

NorthReport

Part of a Unitarian minister's job description in the USA was to actually go and march with MLK.

Unionist

NDPP wrote:

Jewish National Fund, however, remains fully tax deductible

Hoping the Green Party will confirm their resolution on the JNF.

And the woman-hating, homophobic, imperialist bootlicking Catholic Church continues to suck people's blood tax-free, courtesy of Catholic Justin Trudeau.

As for the NDP, it has been explained by various babblers how taking a principled stand would be against their "electability", so they should continue to lick the derrière of all religious fanatics - except, of course, for those who take a principled stand in favour of the people. Like, when was the last time the useless NDP mentioned KAIROS? Or anything?

 

NorthReport

Those evil social justice Unitarians are sure to burn in hell over this picketing.

Oh wait, most Unitarians don't belive in heaven or hell! 

Unitarians picket Wendy’s over tomato suppliers

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2016/06/23/1-unitarians...

6079_Smith_W

More than likely they are still steamed about Harperman.

 

Rev Pesky

I fully support the ending of all tax exempt organizations. The government shouldn't be in the business of defining what is political or non-political. in addition, tax exempt status for religions is ridiculous. Thirdly, most of that tax exempt space gets used up by wealthy people looking to avoid taxes.

NorthReport

Uh, what about all the business tax breaks such as CEO so and so has lunch and writes it off as a cost of doing business?

I think most people do lunch and there is no tax break for them.

Why is that?

Rev Pesky wrote:

I fully support the ending of all tax exempt organizations. The government shouldn't be in the business of defining what is political or non-political. in addition, tax exempt status for religions is ridiculous. Thirdly, most of that tax exempt space gets used up by wealthy people looking to avoid taxes.

Rev Pesky

NorthReport wrote:

Uh, what about all the business tax breaks such as CEO so and so has lunch and writes it off as a cost of doing business?

I think most people do lunch and there is no tax break for them.

Why is that?

Rev Pesky wrote:

I fully support the ending of all tax exempt organizations. The government shouldn't be in the business of defining what is political or non-political. in addition, tax exempt status for religions is ridiculous. Thirdly, most of that tax exempt space gets used up by wealthy people looking to avoid taxes.

I don't think corporations should be taxed at all. As in the case you mention, it is far to easy to hide income, or to conclude that something is a business expense. I favour a flat tax on property, determined by everyone's balance sheet.

All property is owned by someone, and if you tax property, rather than income, you have a much sounder basis for taxation. That, as a side effect, would mean those who owned no property, wouldn't pay any tax. Now, I think we could, within that system, give a general deduction of say $5 million. That would exempt most homeowners and others with small and medium size bank accounts.

I know there would be details to work out, but I believe that overall a flat tax on property (that would include money, shares, buildings, cars, anything that could be characterized as property) would be a lot easier to determine, and would place the burden directly on those who have received the greatest benefit from society. That was what the progressive income tax was supposed to do, but unfortunately over the years it has been watered down by exemptions to point where only those who can't afford tax lawyers end up paying the proper amount.

I would also end sales taxes, and other fixed taxes that unevenly punish the poor.

swallow swallow's picture

Well, that could be worth a thread of its own. ;) 

As for this thread topic, the politicized attack on some charities is outrageous, and it's outrageous that the government will do nothing to end the witch hunt. The Revenue Canada attack on some groups seems to be on those seeking basic change, while those tat tinker around the edges are ignored. Oxfam can't work to end poverty, only to "alleviate" it - because Revenue Canada insists that poverty continue, I guess. The Unitarians (are they even a religion? Some of the would say no) can't work for social justice, only for - what, social "improvement"? Because Revenue Canada can't permit justice, I guess. It's a fucking travesty. 

 

6079_Smith_W

swallow wrote:

The Unitarians (are they even a religion? Some of the would say no)

Yes they are a real religion, one with a fairly long tradition.

 

6079_Smith_W

swallow wrote:

The Unitarians (are they even a religion? Some of the would say no)

Yes they are a real religion, one with a fairly long tradition.

 

Rev Pesky

6079_Smith_W wrote:
...Yes they are a real religion, one with a fairly long tradition.

What is a 'real' religion?

iyraste1313

Revenue Canada is a private corporation with a corporate mentality which is totally incompetent to judge what is or is not charitable activity.

I have begun a lawsuit in Federal Court to deprivatize the surveillance of non profits by a super capitalist mentality.

Additionally all charities must now provide exhaustive financial and confidential records to be passed on to CSIS ad nauseum...welcome to the fascist state of Canada!

NorthReport

The first sentence says it all - they are a liberal religious group. No wonder those low-down dirty Unitarians have incurred the wrath of the federal government, eh! Frown

Unitarian Universalism

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_Universalism

6079_Smith_W

Maybe he means what does "real" mean

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/227126-neil-degrasse-tyson-says-its-v...

Not surprising though, because like deism, universalism was pretty much ignored (and attacked) by established religions because they are based on principles rather than a specific creed. And they are surprisingly invisible; a good example is Charles Dickens (a Unitarian) book A Christmas Carol, which doesn't mention Jesus once, and is probably more responsible than anything for the rebirth of Christmas as a secular holiday of good will and helping others.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism

and @ NorthReport

Though let's not forget that the Mennonites and KAIROS have also been hit by this ideological campaign. It isn't so much about whether they are liberal, because not all are. but because they are working on social issues.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Rev Pesky wrote:

I fully support the ending of all tax exempt organizations. The government shouldn't be in the business of defining what is political or non-political. in addition, tax exempt status for religions is ridiculous. Thirdly, most of that tax exempt space gets used up by wealthy people looking to avoid taxes.

Interesting arguments along with the argument for a flat tax based on property. But it is also worthwhile to note that this Orwellian attempt by the Canadian regime, through its CRA, to function as a kind of political police has a long history.

Back in the 1980's, reaching up to today, the federal government of Canada has attempted, mostly successfully, to strangle any sort of political component to civil society organizations. The plan, I think, was to separate "service" from "political" actions, to drain the water from the ocean as it were, so that community activists would be forced to choose. I saw this in many community organizations over the years. The end result is N"G"O's (note the scare quotes) that support war in Syria, for example, but are afraid to organize a picket of the unemployed. The "right" kind of politics seems to be OK. So I'm tempted to suggest that keeping government out of defining what is political is about 35 years too late. They've been doing it by stealth for a very long time. We should argue, perhaps, without much chance of success, that government should support justice struggles and that any government that does not do so is not worth supporting, etc.

De-politicizing government? No. We want our side to win. And the others, like the JNF and the Fraser Institute, to drop dead.

Penney Kome Penney Kome's picture

FTR, Unitarian-Universalism is a liberal social justice religion that arose out of the Protestant Reformation in 1450 CE.  Universalists ordained the first woman minister ever, in 1868 (yes, 1868). Unitarians and Universalists took part in the Underground Railroad that brought escaped slaves to Canada. In my lifetime, Unitarians marched with Dr Martin Luther King Jr at Selma and two Unitarians died there. Unitarians were always the only church that welcomed and provided weddings for couples crossing religious or racial lines, or re-marrying after divorce, and that supported those couples' children through Religious Education programs. Lotta Hitschmanova was a Unitarian leader, supported by Unitarians. Winnipeg Unitarians celebrated Canada's first same-sex marriage in 1974. We offer pre-teens an Our Whole Lives human sexuality course that normalizes the whole spectrum of human sexuality while emphasizing self-respect, so they're prepared for whatever puberty brings them.

About 5000 Canadians are Unitarians. We live our faith, daily. CRA seems confused about what "faith" and "religion" mean.

Here are the seven Unitarian principles and six sources for our religious teachings:

Principles

We, the member congregations of the Canadian Unitarian Council, covenant to affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Sources

The living tradition which we share draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbours as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
  • Spiritual teachings of Earth-centred traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As free congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.

Canadian Unitarian Council  website has a wealth of information.

 

Unionist

My favourite Unitarian Universalist minister.

[url=http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/public-opinion-passionately-divid... Jonasson withdrew from race after social media comment about Orthodox Jews was published[/url]

The NDP dumped this compassionate humane progressive voice - and kept Pat Martin. Just saying.

Rev Pesky

6079_Smith_W wrote:
...Maybe he means what does "real" mean...

Nope. You suggested some group was a 'real' religion, and I asked what a real religion is. That is, for the hard of understanding, what criteria establishes whether a religion is 'real', or 'not real'?

As Thomas Paine pointed out over two hundred years ago, all religions say they are 'real'.

So it's a simple question, what is a 'real' religion?

 

kropotkin1951

Given that there are an estimated 4,200 religions in the world it sounds like a good question to me, when someone claims some are real and some are not.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Indeed, it is very difficult to come up with an algorithm that includes the religions that are obviously real (christianity, islam, hinduism, buddhism, judaism, baha'i, etc.) and excludes the religions that are clearly scams or jokes (scientology, pastafarianism, etc.). Many religions exist on the borderline between obviously real, and obviously fake (unification church (moonies), mormons, christian scientists, jehovah's witnesses). I would be surprised if there is any consistent set of rules that can sort this out, so we actually have to choose between all fake and all real. I favour all fake.

6079_Smith_W

I know what you meant, Rev. For what I meant, I'll refer you back to swallow's quite correct point, that some don't consider them a "real" religion because they are principle and value-based, have no creed or dogma, and are open to all conceptions of the supernatural and atheism.

My point is that they are in fact a well-established religious tradition.

People can recognize them as such or not. It doesn't matter. No one ever recongized the deist tradition as a church, and as far as I know they never had one in a formal sense. Doesn't change the fact they exist and have had great influence.

 

 

kropotkin1951

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Indeed, it is very difficult to come up with an algorithm that includes the religions that are obviously real (christianity, islam, hinduism, buddhism, judaism, baha'i, etc.) and excludes the religions that are clearly scams or jokes (scientology, pastafarianism, etc.). Many religions exist on the borderline between obviously real, and obviously fake (unification church (moonies), mormons, christian scientists, jehovah's witnesses). I would be surprised if there is any consistent set of rules that can sort this out, so we actually have to choose between all fake and all real. I favour all fake.

I would agree that they are all fake despite the fact that most of the adherents are convinced theirs is the one true religion.

6079_Smith_W

@ Michael

How is christian science any more made up than the Baha'i faith? Or Christianity, for that matter?

And I'd challenge any modern believers to have the guts of JWs when it comes to standing up to state oppression. They got their own special triangle back in the camps.

I get that many anti-religious types think it is all nonsense. I am more amused when it is people within churches trying to sort who is real from who is not. I was especially amused when the last pope - Benedict - declared that that the orthodox churches which were in fact older than catholicism were "aberrations".

 

6079_Smith_W

Here's a made-up church, one with a lot more life and purpose to it than some of those that are hundreds of years old

http://www.coltranechurch.org/

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

@ Michael

How is christian science any more made up than the Baha'i faith? Or Christianity, for that matter?

And I'd challenge any modern believers to have the guts of JWs when it comes to standing up to state oppression. They got their own special triangle back in the camps.

I get that many anti-religious types think it is all nonsense. I am more amused when it is people within churches trying to sort who is real from who is not. I was especially amused when the last pope - Benedict - declared that that the orthodox churches which were in fact older than catholicism were "aberrations".

Well, the classifications I used in my post are based on what I perceive to be the accepted wisdom in North America today. My whole point is that such distinctions are unjustifiable on any logical basis.

Of course, the individual courage and compassion of some members of various religions is beyond question, but also beside the point.

Unionist

Why should any religious organization - "real" or not - be tax-exempt?

Surely the criterion should be "charitable, not-for-profit", something along those lines.

 

kropotkin1951

Unionist wrote:

Why should any religious organization - "real" or not - be tax-exempt?

Surely the criterion should be "charitable, not-for-profit", something along those lines.

They should not be tax exempt, period. If they make a profit then tax them.

 

6079_Smith_W

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Of course, the individual courage and compassion of some members of various religions is beyond question, but also beside the point.

I'd disagree, for a reason that might not be clear on the face of things.

Personally I'd say the question of supernatural stuff like god and afterlife is beside the point. If anything gives a religious tradition validity, it is the meaning its beliefs have for people.

We aren't talking about whether not having transfusions actually does anything after all. The churches most of us recognize as the most "real" are full of ideas we mostly disagree with. I am talking about whether it gives people a spiritual sense of community. And while I don't agree with JWs world view, their sense of conviction and religious opposition to secular government is a very real thing.

 

6079_Smith_W

Unionist wrote:

Surely the criterion should be "charitable, not-for-profit", something along those lines.

Is it that you don't think churches should be tax exempt at all, or is it that they get preferential treatment?

I don't have a problem with churches providing a community service having tax-free status. I think non-religious organizations that do that should have similar status. I think we should be able to donate to Rabble and get a tax receipt for it. There are plenty of cases of double standards around what is considered a charity. This attack is a perfect example.

I do have a problem with larger churches whose wealth gets to the point that they are turning a profit, for themselves or a few of those who run them. And I think a church should be subject to the same scrutiny any corporation is.

Unionist

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Unionist wrote:

Surely the criterion should be "charitable, not-for-profit", something along those lines.

Is it that you don't think churches should be tax exempt at all, or is it that they get preferential treatment?

I meant exactly what I said. Religious or not must not be a criterion. Bev Oda cancelled funding to KAIROS, because she didn't like the fact that it was humanitarian. Of course it's Christian, but that should be irrelevant. Thankfully Oda's place at the trough has been cancelled, may she rot in some secular hell somewhere.

NorthReport

Everybody (well most everyone eats lunch) - why the tax breaks for the rich people's lunches, eh! Frown

NorthReport

I basically support Smith
Where we may differ perhaps is in the wages paid to CEOs of charitable organizations such as the Cancer Society which I believe is one of if not the most unethical, immoral and massive ripoff going in society
We have 1000s of retired folks who are comfortable financially and who could love to do these CEOs jobs for 1/10 or 1/100 the CEO wages
You probably would not even have to pay these retirees who would love to give back to their communities for $1 a year in wages it is for reasons like these that our governments don't have enough money to provide the services our citizens require for a healthy lifestyle

6079_Smith_W

Unionist wrote:

I meant exactly what I said. Religious or not must not be a criterion.

I figured, and that is sort of what I am getting at, though I don't think we entirely agree. I have no problem with the nuts and bolts of a local church congregation - the building, and community organization -  being tax exempt. I think that sort of exemption should apply to more organizations which can demonstrate that they provide a public service.

It is when it gets into larger operations - schools and hospitals and charity operations, particularly ones which turn a profit, or which get public funding, that I think there should be limits, and greater oversight, and that there should be limits on personal donations.

6079_Smith_W

And @ NorthReport

I agree completely there. There is a lot of abuse, both in terms of people lining pockets, and misuse of some of these funds and operations in political ways. And by political I mean abusive - like attacking LGBT people overseas, or using those resources for campaigns like Proposition 8 in the states.

6079_Smith_W

Funny thing is, there was a similar crackdown within the U.S. Catholic church against some of their charitable associations which were not strictly religious - farm security, environmental and other issues. One of the things they were really after was anything that might hint at support for reproductive choice. I know Pope Francis spoke out against the crackdown

I will try to find the link. It was a year or two ago.

Here's part of it. Not the best article, and it doesn't get into the fact that some of these charities were linked with and funded non-catholic groups

https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2012/05/29/is-cardinal-dolans-threat-to-e...

mark_alfred

Liberal Party of Canada wrote:

We will allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment, and will modernize the rules governing the charitable and not-for-profit sectors.

This will include clarifying the rules governing “political activity,” with an understanding that charities make an important contribution to public debate and public policy. A new legislative framework to strengthen the sector will emerge from this process.

https://www.liberal.ca/realchange/canada-revenue-agency/

CBC article wrote:

Many charities targeted by CRA's political activity audit program, begun in 2012 under the Stephen Harper government, had expected relief from the Liberals, who campaigned on a promise to set charities "free from political harassment."

But those expectations soured in January when Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier said the 24 political activity audits underway would continue without interference from the new government. She also said notices of revocation of charitable status issued to another five groups would not be rescinded.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-revenue-agency-political-audit-un...

More lies from the Libs.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

NorthReport wrote:

Everybody (well most everyone eats lunch) - why the tax breaks for the rich people's lunches, eh! Frown


Businesses can claim 50% of a meal where business is conducted. Basically, you take a client to lunch, pay for your own but claim theirs as a business expense, paid with pre-tax dollars. It is, for some people, literally the cost of doing business. Not all of them are "rich", either.

swallow swallow's picture

Thanks for the post, Penney. 

Penney Kome wrote:
Winnipeg Unitarians celebrated Canada's first same-sex marriage in 1974. 

And performed mine, quite a few years later, but before it was legal. For which I shall always be grateful. 

I love Unitarianism's celebration of diversity and its open-ness to diversity within its own ranks. I've met people who called themselves Atheist Unitarians and Muslim Unitarians. I love that this is a church that never stops questioning, that even questions itself. 

How dare Revenue Canada crack down on an organization like this? How dare the Trudeau government stand aside and refuse to act? They should either stand up for the right to fight for social justice, or admit that they don't give a damn about social justice. 

iyraste1313

more lies from the libs?....

As I tried to explain in my last post...it's far worse...

Revenue Canada political audit groups are totally incompetent to judge the value of a charity!
They have only one interest, and do it with total hostility, to wipe you out as a charity!

And they demand access to all confidential records to be passed on to CSIS under Bill C51...

We are an internationalist Canadian charity under review and will be launching legal actions and internationalist actions where need be, to shut down this witchunt...something which the other stricken charities in Canada ought to have done as well.

Revenue Canada must be removed as incompetent from their management of the non profit sector!

NorthReport

Tax breaks for eating lunch, which is something everyone does.  This is just another attack on the poor.  

Timebandit wrote:
NorthReport wrote:

Everybody (well most everyone eats lunch) - why the tax breaks for the rich people's lunches, eh! Frown

Businesses can claim 50% of a meal where business is conducted. Basically, you take a client to lunch, pay for your own but claim theirs as a business expense, paid with pre-tax dollars. It is, for some people, literally the cost of doing business. Not all of them are "rich", either.

sherpa-finn

A coalition of NGOs came together during the Harper years to fight gov't efforts through CRA and more to silence dissenting voices and limit NGO advocacy. 

While at one point ther leadership expected to wind down post the 2015 election, the recent activities of the Trudeau Gov't (most notably the anti-BDS resolution in February and on-going CRA harrassment) has prompted them to re-charge their engines.  

More info here: http://voices-voix.ca/en

mark_alfred

Good.

Rev Pesky

swallow wrote:
...How dare Revenue Canada crack down on an organization like this? How dare the Trudeau government stand aside and refuse to act? They should either stand up for the right to fight for social justice, or admit that they don't give a damn about social justice. 

How dare the government decide which organizations are tax deductible and which aren't.

You see the problem, right? As soon as 'some' charitable or religious groups are given tax exempt status, you have to give all organizations the same status, or none of them. As it is, the situation in Canada is that we know which organizations are real religions by the fact the government designates them as such. The same is true for charitable organizations.

As we should know, there are no criteria for religions that sucessfully separate the 'real' from the 'non-real'. The only way to solve that problem is to remove religion as an excuse for not paying taxes. Otherwise, the government is in the business of deciding what's a religion and what's not.

The same problem applies to other charitable organizations. Who decides whether what they do is 'good'. Why, the government, of course. I do not agree with the government being given the right to decide what's 'good' and what's not, but the only way out of that is to deny tax exempt status for all organizations.

Who are the biggest donors to tax exempt organizations? The wealthy, of course, and they're the ones who reap the greatest benefit from the tax receipt.

If there were some iron-clad definition of what a relgion is, or what 'political' is, or what 'good is, then it might work. Until that time the only proper thing for the government to do is to make no deecisions as to what a religion is, or what 'good' charitable work is, or what non-political means.

That means no more tax-exempt status.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

NorthReport wrote:

Tax breaks for eating lunch, which is something everyone does.  This is just another attack on the poor.  

Timebandit wrote:
NorthReport wrote:

Everybody (well most everyone eats lunch) - why the tax breaks for the rich people's lunches, eh! Frown

Businesses can claim 50% of a meal where business is conducted. Basically, you take a client to lunch, pay for your own but claim theirs as a business expense, paid with pre-tax dollars. It is, for some people, literally the cost of doing business. Not all of them are "rich", either.


No, I still pay tax on my lunch. It's the cost of the other lunch that is a business expense. And unlike you, I get to pay tax on a lunch I eat while I'm working.

6079_Smith_W

Rev Pesky wrote:

The only way to solve that problem is to remove religion as an excuse for not paying taxes. Otherwise, the government is in the business of deciding what's a religion and what's not.

That doesn't solve the problem because this isn't about religion, it is about ideology.

The Fraser Institute is a registered charity, and while the first wave of attacks on environmental and progressive groups were happening, these guys were given charitable status:

https://nowtoronto.com/news/mens-rights-group-used-feminists-names-on-ch...

Religious organizations might be fast-tracked to get charitable status, but there are also many arts and other organizations who have it who would never get that status nowadays. But this has nothing to do with rules being unclear. It is crystal clear what Harper's appointees were up to.

And it is why some religious groups were among the first to be attacked.

 

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