The Society for Promotion of Community Standards Incorporated [Inc. No. 217833] was registered as a charitable entity with the Charities Commission [Reg. No. CC 20268], under the Charities Act 2005, om 17 December 2007.
The Society’s primary charitable purpose, as recognised and approved by the Charities Commission when it was registered, is ”THE PROMOTION OF MORAL & SPIRITUAL WELFARE”. This purpose comes within the Fourth Head of “Charitable Purposes” – namely “Other Purposes of Public Benefit” - as found in the Preamble to The Charitable Uses Act 1601 (the Statute of Elizabeth). It conforms to the spirit and intendment of the purposes set out in the Act.
The Society’s primary charitable purpose has been pursued since it was registered by means of engaging in various activities (see “activities” tab – website Homepage). ALL of these fulfill its ”objects” as stated in section 2 of its Constitution. ALL have been recognised as “charitable purposes” by the Charities Commission
Sections 2 and 8 of the Society’s Constitution states:
2. The objects for which the Society is established are:
(a) To encourage self-respect and the dignity of the human person, made in the image of God.
(b) To promote recognition of the sanctity of human life and its preservation in all stages.
(c) To promote wholesome personal values, including strong family life and the benefits of lasting marriage as the foundation for stable communities.
(d) To focus attention on the harmful nature and consequences of sexual promiscuity, obscenity, pornography, violence, fraud, dishonesty in business, expoitation, abuse of alcohol and drugs, and other forms of moral corruption.
(e) To foster public awareness of the benefits to social, economic and moral welfare of the maintenance and promotion of good community standards, including supporting enforcement agencies to uphold such standards as set out in law and encourage constructive debate and discussion in this area.
(f) To support responsible freedom of expression which does not injure the public good by degrading, dehumanising or demeaning individuals or classes of people.
(g) To raise money that will be used, under the control of the executive, to promote the moral and spiritual welfare of sectors of society that need special help and to advance the charitable objects of the Society (a) to (f).
The Society has been established for the charitable purposes set out in its six objects (s. 2) and therefore its funds cannot be used for private pecuniary benefit of any member or an associate of any member. The funds of the Society are to be used wholly for charitable purposes in New Zealand, are under the authority of the Executive Committee and are to be administered by the Treasurer who shall report to the committee the state of the funds at each Executive Committee meeting.
Any recommendation from the Executive Committee to borrow money shall be determined by at least a two-thirds majority vote at either an AGM or a Special General Meeting of the Society called for such a purpose.
The Executive Committee shall appoint at least three of its office holders signatories to the Society accounts.
HOW THE SOCIETY (SPCS) MEETS ALL THE SPECIFIC CRITERIA RELATING TO “CHARITABLE PURPOSES” AS DEFINED IN SECTION 5 (1) OF THE CHARITIES ACT 2005.
Promotion of moral and spiritual wekfare: To advance good moral values is to advance those qualities foundational to religion – including the sanctity of human life – Man is made in the image of God, fidelity and faithfulness in marriage and the care of nurturing of children and young persons etc The robust promotion of good morals and values in the public forum benefits and advances religion and ensures that sound religious beliefs based in theism are passed on to others.
The Society’s first “object” (or objective) found in clause 2(a) recognises that its advocacy (advancement and/or encouragement) of the concept of “the dignity of the human person”; is undergirded, informed and sustained by a sincere and committed belief that “the human person [is] made in the image of God”” (imago Dei).
A vast majority of members of the Society are personally committed to promoting Judeo-Christian values, in the belief that they form the best basis for a civil society. We recognise that these values have shaped and nurtured New Zealand society for about 200 years. The Society has received support for over 25 years from leaders within all the mainline Christian churches. The Society’s patrons and executive members have all been committed to the Judeo-Christian values and a number have been recognised as outstanding community leaders (e.g. the late Sir John Kennedy Good KBE, QSO, and the Society’s Founder Patricia Bartlett O.B.E.) How then does this relate to Community Standards? To answer this question we assert:
1. “Community values” do not exist in a vacuum, they are founded and nurtured on religion and the human spirit and the intergenerational passage of such values is enhanced and preserved by religion.
2. Advocacy for “freedom of expression” (see clause 2f of our objects) also serves the “advancement of religion”.
Point 1 is cogently affirmed in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Ethics (Collins, 1964, pp. 55-56). The book was published posthumously after Pastor Bonhoeffer was hanged by the Nazi regime.
Point 2 is illustrated our Society’s efforts to advance religion by its efforts to promote Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ” (See Appendix below).
Advancement of Education: The Society has been involved in over 35 years of research and publishing leading to a wealth of knowledge in the area of appropriate community standards for films, videos, DVDs, books, computer games and television programmes etc. – all of which is readily accessible to the public. In the field of moral education – involving family, marriage and moral issues for example – the Society has had a significant input into public debate which has served the “public good” – alerting parents to the destructive and morally corrosive effects of exposure of their young persons to gratuitous violence and hardcore porn. The numerous press releases, newsletters and published articles that inform the New Zealand public of our views serve to advance education and a moral stance. It should be noted that the Society newsletters and other publications characteristically tend to involve a degree of complexity and technical detail. They are very detailed analyses of current standards issues, drawing on the Judeo-Christian philosophy that support good morals and caring family-values, essential to a successful civil society.
Relief of Poverty: Providing “relief” to people addicted to porn and associated vices (prostitution etc.). Many face financial hardship and serious psychological damage through such long-term addictions and have difficulty in addressing that need themselves because of the condition (addiction) they suffer. A team of American researchers from Stanford and Duquesne Universities has called cyber-sex compulsion a “hidden public health hazard”. Brett McCann, a senior lecturer in the sexual health program at the University of Sydney, says it is a growing problem “with big implications for the public health dollar” (Sydney Morning Herald). Family breakdown and relationship dysfunctions resulting from such addictions are addressed by the Society in values-based literature we promote and public education (lectures, seminars etc.). Like the New Zealand charity Internet Safety Group Inc. (known as NetSafe), we seek to inform parents of “safety strategies” to protect young persons and children and seek to “focus [public] attention on the harmful nature and consequences of sexual promiscuity, obscenity, pornography and violence” (object 2d). [Refer to articles in Appendix below: “Inside the Mind of an Internet Porn Addict”; “Addicted to Love” and “How Porn is wrecking relationships”].
“Other purposes beneficial to the community” Protecting the “public good” against the corrupting, insidious and corrosive influence of “objectionable” content matter in films, videos, DVDs, computer games, etc. by ensuring that our standards laws contained in the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act (1993) are upheld by the various agencies, in line with the clear intentions of Parliament. The Society also seeks to protect the “public good” and benefit society by supporting responsible “freedom of expression” by holding the censorship agencies to account when classification decisions are issued that deny such basic freedoms. All discussion, research, publishing and debate on society standards guidelines – in particular that affecting children and young persons – serves a “charitable purpose” because it seeks to “provide public benefit” for the common good. For example,
(a) Helping parents to be aware so they can protect their children and young persons from the addictive and pernicious influence of hard-core pornography, serves a very worthwhile “public benefit” and
(b) Assisting public health – addressing the addiction harms to psychological/psychiatric health caused by addictions to pornography etc.
SPCS also meets 3 additional criteria re “Charitable purpose”:
SPCS exists entirely for public purposes, not private purposes. Its sole public function is upholding and promoting community standards
SPCS sole function is for the public benefit and common good.
SPCS is able to be controlled by the Court if necessary (It is subject to Incorporated Societies Act 1908)
SUPPORTING FACTORS FOR THESE CRITERIA
The expenditure, activities and powers of the executive committee and its individual officers are limited strictly to advancing the objects of the Society, which serve a “charitable purpose”. It is strictly a non-profit organisation.
The Charitable objects remain defined by the Constitution, cannot be altered without the full authority of the AGM and must be notified to the Companies Office under the Incorporated Societies Act.
Funds cannot be used for personal benefit or private gain but rather must be used for the benefit of the Society.
Purposes are limited to New Zealand
In the case of wind up, funds must be dealt with in accordance with the Incorporated Society’s Act.
There is no business activity. We rely on the generosity of our members.
HOW THE SOCIETY’S ACTIVITIES SERVE A “CHARITABLE PURPOSE”
Research and publication of issues relating to the advancement and promotion of good community standards (including the enforcement of existing standards laws designed by legislators to protect the “public good” from harm), religion and family values etc. Our website (www.spcs.org) contains all our published newsletters to members which document some of the Society’s activities, highlights current values-based issues and serves to focus the attention of the public on the harmful nature and consequences of sexual promiscuity, obscenity, pornography and gratuitous violence.
Promoting values-based literature that analyses and debates these topics (above) as well as encourages self-respect and dignity of the human person, promotes the benefits of lasting marriage, and strong family values etc.
Participating in robust public debate through the media and public forums on issues relating to family, marriage, and morality from a Judeo-Christian worldview, in order to foster the “pubic good”.
Equipping and informing the public on how to be involved in the process of debate and promoting good community standards in all areas dealt with in the Society’s objectives (clause 2 of Constitution).
Public issues input on issues directly affecting children, young persons, the moral health and well being of families and communities.
“ADVOCACY” AND THE CHARITIES ACT (2005):
Fact sheet 19 from the Charities Commission states: “The term “advocacy” can be used to describe two types of activities
(1) Personal and representational advocacy – for example helping people access benefits as part of charitable work.
(2) Political advocacy – for example, lobbying for a law change…. Advocacy for political change, for a political party, for a law change or enforcement of a particular law…… regarded by the courts as non-charitable.
The Society has never supported, promoted or advanced any political party. Of necessity it is apolitical.
The Society has been involved in a number of cases involving personal and representational advocacy that are central to its charitable work – serving the “public good” by upholding good community standards. This is very much a secondary and minor role. Applications are occasionally made on behalf of a member or members of the public to the Film and Literature Board of Review to have the classification of films, videos and DVDs etc. containing gratuitous sexual violence etc. re-classified. Individuals who have approached the Society, have been very distressed by the potentially corrupting and corrosive effects of certain restricted and unrestricted publications that they note are being freely accessed by children and young persons. The Society has paid the application fee for the review and proceeded to make a robust oral and written submissions to the Board urging for a tighter restriction on the films, which in some cases were already screening in cinemas.
The Society offers its expertise, free of charge, to any individual or group that wishes to use the review process set out under the Classification Act to challenge questionable classification decisions relating to “objectionable” film content; issued by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. This mechanism in the Act, allowing public involvement, was clearly intended by Parliament to be used as another “check and balance” in the democratic process.
Occasionally, in the public forum, via press releases and/or media publications, the Society has supported the views of other groups and agencies operating for charitable purposes, e.g. Sensible Sentencing Trust, Maxim Institute, World Vision, Family First Lobby etc. In seeking to advance religion – by advocating good morals and family values foundational to religion – the Society’s “personal and representational advocacy” serves a “charitable purpose”. In seeking the “advancement of education” by informing the public in the area of censorship law, especially the nature of the review process and how a concerned citizen can help uphold “the public good”, the Society’s “personal and representational advocacy” serves a “charitable purpose.
In the last ten years the Society has never engaged in any lobbying for a specific law change. Rather it has merely sought to engage in the democratic process in a way open to any NZ citizen or group – and provide its views on proposed law changes, by way of written and oral submissions to select committees (e.g. the Society’s written and oral submissions to the Government Administration Committee on National MP Anne Tolley’s bill dealing with child pornography and Government’s Bill that arose from it – The Films, Videos and Publications Classification Amendment Bill – passed in 2005). We stress that MPs proposed these law changes without any input from the Society.
It is noteworthy that other groups such as The NZ Prostitutes’ Collective (NZPC), which has Charitable Trust status, the NZ AIDS Foundation (NZAF), a “not-for-profit registered charity” that is funded by the Ministry of Health (but is also reliant on donations to continue their work) and YWCA of Aotearoa-New Zealand Inc. which is a registered charity; have in recent years worked very closely with individual MPs such as Christchurch Central Labour MP Tim Barnett to effect specific and comprehensive law changes, through public lobbying and input into a private member’s bill introduced to parliament in Mr Barnett’s name – The Prostitution Reform Bill.
The campaign in support of the bill was organised as Mr Barnett has stated, by a coalition of community groups and academics and includes the New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women Inc, the National Council of Women of New Zealand, NZAF and NZPC. The latter two made public submissions to the Justice and Electoral Select Committees in support of the Prostitution Reform Bill and the Civil Union Bill which passed into law in 2003 and 2004 respectively. The New Zealand Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux joined the YWCA and the National Council of Women in supporting the Prostitution Reform Bill.
The Society has occasionally got involved in select committee presentations when it has responded to direct written requests from select committees for input into bills that deal with matters about which MPs know the Society has a high level of detailed knowledge and experience. Here it has sought to function its charitable purpose role of advancing good community standards – via the advancement of religion and education.
1. All the objects of SPCS (see separate “Objects” entry on main page) are charitable.
2. Agencies and groups such as Barnados, NZ Plunket Society, Save the Children, and other charitable groups, have spent years lobbying for a change in the law – for example, the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act (1961). SPCS, like many groups operating solely with “charitable purposes”, has simply entered into the huge public interest, on a range of issues, along with other groups serving “charitable purpose” such as Family First New Zealand, NZ Plunket Society, Maxim Institute and others, and played its part in advocacy for family issues, particularly those relating to community standards.
We see all our work as being somewhat similar in principle to that of many groups (examples listed below) that are currently registered with IRD as charities and on that basis donors are entitled to tax-deductible status with respect to their donations:
The Peace Foundation Disarmament and Security Centre Charitable Trust
Peace Movement Aotearoa
New Zealand Prostitute’s Collective
YWCA of Aotearoa-New Zealand Inc
Internet Safety Group Inc.
ECPAT NZ Inc.
Family First New Zealand [Lobby Group]
NZ AIDS Foundation
Caritas Aotearoa – New Zealand
Child Poverty Action Group
Sensible Sentencing Trust
For the Sake of our Children Trust
Maxim Institute Charitable Trust
Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc
NZ Plunket Society
Save the Family Crusade Trust
Action for Children and Youth Aotearoa
Amnesty International New Zealand Inc
Family Planning Association
Barnardos New Zealand
RE ADVANCEMENT OF RELIGION
The Passion of the Christ. Film Directed by Mel Gibson
A striking example of how the charitable objective of the “advancement of religion” was awarded priority over a clearly secondary representational advocacy role is afforded by the Society’s successful efforts to promote the film “The Passion of the Christ” and, as part of, but ancillary to such promotion, to seek to downgrade the overly restrictive classification of the film. The Society clearly held that the film in question would contribute to the “advancement of religion”, indeed, to promote conversions to religious belief and commitment, or to help effect recommitment to religious belief where such commitment had waned. (Space limitations preclude an exhaustive detailing of the reasoning; our point is that this was indeed the objective). It followed that those who had less acquaintance with the Society and may have not previously clearly understood the priority of the charitable objective, were on the mark in their observation that this showed the Society in its true colours, but wide of the mark in any suggestion that a narrow and unidirectional advocacy role should trump the prime charitable role in this case.
The Society made a lengthy and detailed written and oral submission to the Film and Literature Board of Review on the film’s R16 classification in support of the film’s distributor successful appeal that the classification be downgraded to R15. The distributor was the sole official applicant to the Board in the appeal process. As a result of the film’s restrictive classification (R16) being downgraded to R15 – it was made available to a much wider viewing audience both in the cinema and in on video and DVD in schools to students in year 11 and above. The Society’s exhaustive submissions on the film detailing the religious significance of its contents have been made widely available to hundreds of senior Media Studies Course students throughout New Zealand. These submissions are on file with the Office of Film and Literature Classification and can be obtained from that agency. The Society’s secretary had a major opinion piece he wrote published in the NZ Herald promoting the virtues of the film and defending the integrity of the Society’s actions in supporting the film distributor’s appeal.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer Ethics (London: Collins, pbk, 1964, p. 55-56)
“Uncontrollable Urge,” by Dawn Tratt Capital Times May 2-8, 2007 (p. 5)
“Inside the Mind of an Internet Porn Addict,” Sunday Star Times (Cover Story March 25, 2007)
“How Porn is wrecking relationships,” (Sydney Morning Herald) stuff.co.nz 30 May 2007