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Legislation Breaches Separation Of Church & State

Special Legislation For Melanesian Trust Breaches Separation Of
Church And State

The President of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and
Humanists (NZARH) Elizabeth McKenzie, said today the special legislation
being pushed through Parliament to grant special tax exempt status to
the Melanesian Mission Trust is a breach of the principle of separation
of church and state.

Ms McKenzie said that while NZARH would not oppose charitable work that
directly eases poverty in Melanesia, it is inappropriate for the
Government of New Zealand to allow tax exemptions for that part of the
Trust's work which is purely missionary or purely commercial.

She said the politicians cited in today's New Zealand Herald report of
the Trust's activities should understand that Parliament is not a church
and elected politicians are not elected to advance the cause of any
particular religion's missionary activities.

"Even the poorest people in New Zealand pay tax, yet this multi-million
dollar trust doesn't want to pay tax like the rest of us. If religious
trusts such as these paid tax and property rates like the rest of us, it
would reduce the individual tax burden considerably. Tax privileges
based on religion should be a thing of the past."

"If Parliament was passing a Bill advantaging the Scientologists or the
Destiny Church in this way there would be uproar. There is no
difference when it comes to Parliament funding any religion. We
either have a separation of church and state or we don't'."


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