Did you think their help came without strings attached?

Another reason why we should be wary of leaving the provision of basic services up to charities, particularly religious charities: they use their position to force their religious point of view on our governments, to the harm of real people.

Major New South Wales adoption agency Anglicare is threatening to withdraw its services if the State Parliament passes a bill allowing same-sex couples to adopt.

Anglicare is one of the three accredited non-government adoption agencies in the state.

Of course it’s a disgrace for Anglicare to play politics with the provision of a fundamentally-needed service (what an ugly look for a supposedly humanitarian organisation) – but it’s more of a disgrace that governments have let themselves (and we’ve let them let themselves) become so dependent on these organisations that this kind of threat is in some way persuasive. They’re kind of like loan sharks – they offer to help the government out of a jam, and then threaten to break its kneecaps if it ever stands up to them.

Peter Kell: Sure we’ll help you out with that social welfare problem. And if we ever come to you needing a favour, like tax-free status or forcing our religious beliefs on the whole state, you’ll do what we say…

Reminds me of the dearth of drug rehabilitation services provided here in Victoria, which means that young addicts are regularly given a choice of reoffending, staying in jail, or being bailed to the care of a religious group that will use the rehabilitation opportunity to indoctrinate the patient in their religious beliefs. Join their cult or you get no help, says the government.

Governments being addicted to outsourcing their responsibilities in this way is a serious problem. And the only way to beat it is to take the first step to weaning themselves off it: call Anglicare’s bluff, and increase the funding for the government service to pick up the slack. Where will they find the money? Look at cutting the religions’ special tax-free status, which is only there because of exactly this sort of bluff. Seriously, CALL IT.

PS Mr Kell? Children do not “need” a parent of each gender, and to arrogantly assert they do is a serious insult to the many excellent single parents out there who are doing a fine job of raising them.

17 responses to “Did you think their help came without strings attached?

  1. I think there’s some kind of rule in the USA whereby if a tax-free organisation such as church directly interferes in politics then they lose the tax-free status.

    I realise this doesn’t appear to work all that well, mainly because it’s not policed by government(s) fearful of losing the religious.

    My own opinion is that religious organisations should have to pay tax especially now as they cop so many handouts from the taxpayer – school funding, Mary McKillop jaunt funding, etc etc

    And I believe Sanitarium food company operates as a tax-free business (or at least it used to) as it uses profits for their social programmes. Is this fair to other food manufacturers?

  2. Ideally religion should lose all of it’s privilege, from tax-free status to officially sanctioned religious holidays (i.e. xmas). In terms of the government it should be treated like any other business — if they need tax-free status as a reason to do good, then they’re not inherently good in the first place, are they. (No question mark, because that’s a rhetorical question)

  3. That’s a real nice adoption service you’ve got there. Wouldn’t want anything to happen to it now would you?

    Show some balls NSW and call that bluff!

  4. Putting this specific case to one side, there is something very totalitarian about the desire to force people to act against their consciences and beliefs as is suggested in this thread.

  5. LOL. Yes, it’s the poor oppressed Christians who are being marginalised here. Why can’t they impose their religious beliefs on everyone else? Why shouldn’t gay people be treated as second-class citizens because the fundamentalists don’t like them?

    How dare we seek to undo government reliance on organisations that insist on discriminating against other people!

  6. I don’t like discrimination any more than you, and there should be more adoptions, not less, but this is hardly Jim Crow territory we’re in. Celebrate diversity, and understand that some people may have very different views to you, for their own very good reasons.

  7. They’re welcome to those private views.

    They’re not welcome to blackmail government to discriminate against other people according to them.

  8. It’s bullshit anyway. The Catholic Church tried that tack down here when the decriminalization of Abortion went through – they threatened beforehand to shut down all the Catholic run hospitals if it went through. Did they?

    Did they heck. They make too much money out of it.

    I’m pretty disappointed with Anglicare, because they’ve always done such fantastic work. To threaten to shut down services for everybody because they don’t want to deal with a certain section of the community is blackmail. Nothing less.

  9. Rosondalby, you’re mistaken about Sanitarium. It does not, and never did, operate as a tax free business. It pays all company, income and other taxes, just like any other company. It gets no benefit in competition from this.

    It’s owners, however, are a church run charity. Any money they take out of the business and use for charity purposes, they do not pay taxes on that profit. Just the same as any other person giving stuff to a charity does not have to pay tax on what they give. That is not the same as the business itself being run tax free.

  10. Celebrate diversity, and understand that some people may have very different views to you, for their own very good reasons.

    And they’re quite entitled to their views. However in order to continue to get government funding and benefits they should be expected to abide the same standards the government itself must abide by. The government has a policy of non-discrimination, so any services run in lieu of government services should also have that policy.

    If they want to run an adoption service without government funding, they’re entitled to do that. But I don’t accept them taking my tax-payer dollars while simultaneously being allowed to discriminate against me.

  11. Putting this specific case to one side, there is something very totalitarian about the desire to force people to act against their consciences and beliefs as is suggested in this thread.

    Ahh yes – Shabadoo reveals to us the last intellectual bastion of the bigot.

    Someone (i.e. a bigot) is being forced to do something they don’t want to do (i.e. administer a public program without allowing personal prejudice to interfere) and so the bigot are the real victim. Not the person being discriminated against – the actual discriminator.

    This is how vapid and irrational the Right is forced to be in order to support its disgusting prejudices.

  12. jordanrastrick

    What dezinerau said. Christian (or other religion-based) charities should be under no obligation to provide services that they feel conflict with their religious beliefs, except to the extent that they provide these services on behalf of the government, including when they take government money.

  13. “Celebrate diversity, and understand that some people may have very different views to you, for their own very good reasons.”

    What “very good reasons” are there to discriminate against gay people?

  14. I remember something about stoning to death disrespectful children … or was it vultures plucking out their eyes?

    it might be a concern to put these people in charge of kids…

  15. jordanrastrick

    “What “very good reasons” are there to discriminate against gay people?”

    If you believe that:
    a) The Bible is the holy infallible Word of God (in some sense of those words); and b) The Bible takes a negative view of homosexuality, then its quite logical to discriminate against homosexuality, at least in some contexts.

    Personally I think b) is quite a sensible standpoint, but that a) is wrong (at least in the way most Christians hold it to be true.) So I see no good reason to discriminate against gay couples wishing to adopt; quite the opposite in fact. Further, the state can and should grant people of all sexual orientations equal status and protection under the law – this follows plainly from the democratic values on which our society is based.

    What the state should not do is try and compel an openly Christian organisation like Anglicare to provide private charitable services in a fashion that contradicts with their religious beliefs, any more than individuals should have the philanthropic causes they donate their money to dictated by the government.

    The issue here is the extent to which Anglicare is implicitly or explicitly supported as a provider of these services by the state – as Jeremy argues, this may well include the state abrogating its own responsibility to provide such services – which entails that the state itself is, de facto, refusing gay people equal access to adoption services. Then the perfectly legitimate private values of Anglicare are in effect imposed on the wider populace, which is, well, horsecrap.

  16. Jeremy, it would have been handy if you had of given us a link to show where you got the info from…referencing is important! It stops detractors from accusing you of bullshit…no criticism intended, but just a note.

  17. It was from the ABC story – sorry, the html link stuffed up. Fixed now.

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