In her Charities Amendment Bill 2018, Reason/Sex Party leader Fiona Patten MLC requested the Victorian Government to remove the ‘advancement of religion’ as a ‘charitable purpose’ from Victoria's taxation law. The practical effect of this would be to expose churches and other faith communities to expensive land and payroll tax.
The Bill is an expression of Ms Patten’s long-held ambition to ‘tax the churches’.
She exempted from this harsh measure what she termed ‘objective’ or ‘genuine’ charities performing non-religious work, including feeding the poor, advancing health, education and welfare.
What is missing from the discussion is the understanding that our faith and actions cannot be separated.
Jesus said that we are to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34) and that if we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit. (John 15.5)
The Apostle James said that: “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:16-17)
Clearly our Christian charity is made alive by our faith.
It is impossible for government policy to support the fruits of our faith and at the same time take an axe to the base of the tree, our worship of God in community, by imposing onerous taxes on churches.
Thankfully the Victorian Government and the Victorian opposition do not support Ms Patten's Bill. They understand that unless you allow the Christian faith to flourish you will never receive the abundance of charity that flows from it.
A summary of the parliamentary debate is in the article I wrote for The Spectator, published on 25 May.
Thank you for your faith in Jesus and the fruitful work that you do in our community as a result. Australia is richer for it!
‘An unprecedented attack on faith and freedom defeated’ by Dan Flynn published in The Spectator, 25 May 2018