Dec 11, 2020

The Jehovah’s Witnesses Are About to Lose Their Tax-Exempt Status in Australia

Friendly Atheist
November 30, 2020

"The Jehovah’s Witnesses are in danger of losing their tax exempt status in Australia because they refuse to play their part in addressing allegations of child abuse.

Here’s the backstory: In 2013, the Australian government set up the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to look into the very serious issue. Rabbis were implicated alongside Catholic priests. Secular organizations weren’t immune from wrongdoing.

One of the recommendations from that Commission was the creation of the National Redress Scheme, a formal way to literally pay back victims of child sex abuse for all they had suffered. It’s not a perfect system by any means — could anything be? — but the idea behind it was that victims could fill out paperwork explaining what they went through, officials would calculate what that trauma is worth, and victims would receive a check. Among the many criticisms was that the NRS pushed a hierarchy of abuse; penetration was deemed more damaging than any other kind of abuse, for example. (That’s a discussion for another thread.)

In order to receive any payment, though, the guilty organizations had to agree to be part of the NRS system. Those that refused to join were always going to be named and shamed. Even more, the government said that groups that chose not to join would no longer be eligible for any kind of federal funding and could even lose their non-profit status.

Back in July, six organizations were announced as having not joined the program. (One of them quickly signed up after that announcement.) These were groups that were responsible for cases of child sex abuse… but because they refused to take part in the NRS, their victims’ applications could not be processed.

One of those groups was the Jehovah’s Witnesses."

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