Conclusion: Among religion scholars and debaters, it's fair to say the Me-the-Magician practices of Scientology are the primitive, self-centered core of Scientology. For purposes of government policy, however, you can't yank religion privileges from Scientology without going after the Buddhists or other amorophous groups, and making judges or lawmakers pick and choose which group is really "a religion."
My first recommendation: It would avoid many questions if Australian (and US laws) can be changed, that all organizations wanting tax exemptions have to prove they are charitable
, that is, benefitting the entire community, not just a members-only self-help club, and just LEAVE OUT the word "religion," a word that can mean ANYTHING, and thus is legally meaningless.
My second recommendation: Law-breaking should have tax consequences, aside from the legal punishments. A local church corporation (Say CoS of Adelaide) whose president, secretary or treasurer committed a felony to hide church crimes or church member crimes, or committed the felonies of extortion and fraud to enrich the church, will lose for CoS of Adelaide any tax benefits, but the members can re-group and apply for tax benefits as a new corporation. If the Sea Org/leaders of Scientology in the entire country of Australia committed similar felonies, then that ruling corporation, and any local churches found guilty of conspiring in any felony, should be denied tax breaks. Any of these groups re-applying under new names, will be scrutinized for their promises of benefitting the entire community. If the corporation feels it is a hardship to re-apply, they are welcome to continue on as a regular non-charity, and are required to pay taxes.
My third recommendation: Financial disclosure rules should be the same for all charities, including churches. Any group that cannot summarize its own assets, liabilities, revenue and expenses once a year is itself vulnerable to fraud from within. Disclosure should especially include payments sent overseas. Australians should see the pile of money headed to Los Angeles, or the Vatican.
My fourth recommendation: International Association of Scientologists and its offshoots, if claiming to be charities, should be especially required to summarize its revenue and expenses. This group uses lavish and high-pressure fund-raisers supposedly to fight psychiatric abuses and countries that are unfriendly to Scientology. However, it is said to spend vast sums on private eyes spying on critics. It would be revealing to IAS members to see where their money goes.
My fifth recommendation: Australia should require that any religion getting charity status actually be a functioning group in Australia with at least two-thirds of its staff residing permanently in Australia and doing work that relates to Australia. This could also be part of the disclosure rules, where the corporation lists details about its activities, with a requirement to state where the activities/benefits occurred, and where its staff has permanent resident (by country). Form 990 in the US asks charities for their activities over the past year, and Australia likely has a similar requirement: why not add a rule that charity activities be further described as Australian and non-Australian? Church of Scientology Religious Education College, Inc, (CSRECI) is an Australian charity sited in the UK. http://www.scientology.org.uk/
Although reciprocity is not required for charity status between England and Australia, CSRECI uses its Australian charity status (even though CSRECI has no staff or members IN Australia) to impress UK authorities and get out of paying some UK taxes. See http://www.rickross.com/reference/scien
My sixth recommendation is that there be no "ministerial exception" for labor law violations, except if the job, like Catholic priest, requires only males because of long-held dogma. Another exception might be a church that wants to only hire its own members as staff. But, exploitation like below-minimum-wage salaries for employees, or forced abortions, should be illegal. Recent bad publicity from the Headley case has made Sea Org more willing to let Sea Org woman who have a wanted pregnancy, to quit and have their babies. However, accusations about starvation wages well below minimum wage haven't been enough to embarass Sea Org into paying better - the government needs the will to enforce the minimum wage law ONCE, and then Sea Org might change. The Herald Sun said August 2011 that CoS in Australia may go bankrupt paying back wages. If so, so hurray for Australia, and enjoy the boost to your economy if money comes from LA to pay the back wages. If the Australian orgs close, at least CoS will find it harder to extract money from Australian members and send it to LA.
IF Australian orgs go bankrupt, all the above recommendations and discussions can be used for other countries like New Zealand.
A final recommendation is to be bold, like other countries have been about denying that Scientology is a religion, mostly on grounds of fraud and exploitation. These bold countries include**
Canada has mixed regulations
France is unresolved
Germany is unresolved
Italy has mixed regulations
Russia (though Russia goes too far - thinking the Salvation Army is militaristic!)
UK has mixed regulations
* http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/more-n ... 6123609542
** http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientolog ... by_country