Tax Deductible Belief

I was toggling through radio stations as I drove recently and came across the local Christian station. As is often the case with Christian media this station adopts more of a "belief centred" Christian paradigm rather than a "transformative values" paradigm. As I listened a short syndicated program, presented by an Australian "belief paradigm" Christian group, was playing. The program offered a reasonably narrow interpretation of a Markan Gospel reading, a promotion for how the group was "changing lives" around the World and then, as usually seems to be the case with these things, an opportunity to contribute financially to "life changing ministry."

Whilst listening to this was not a particularly comfortable experience for me, there was nothing necessarily out of the ordinary in any of it. The real challenge for me came next when the representative of the organisation proclaimed that "contributions to our organisation are tax deductible." Now in Australia, unlike some other jurisdictions, donations to specifically religious activities cannot be tax deductible. Knowing a little about donation tax deductibility I am struggling to understand how a quite narrow Christian activity like this could have deductibility applied.

Of course, I am trying to keep my feelings about this in perspective. I'm taking a deep breath and realising it won't make or break anything. Yet my dis-ease at this continues to unfold on two fronts:

•1) Most organisations, Christian or otherwise, who offer a more holistic spiritual message can't attract tax deductible donations.

•2) Whilst people can claim a deduction for their donation to this narrowly focussed organisation, the tax impost on others is increased.

More deep breaths Adrian.

When are tax donations for religious donations justified?

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