The Church of Scientology of New Zealand Inc. [“CoSNZ”] was ruled by the New Zealand Charities Commission in 2008 to be a body established for a charitable purpose – the advancement of religion under the third head of charity law. All its six religious objects were ruled to be “charitable” and the controversial activities of the church – auditing and training of its financial members – were, in effect, ruled to be serving a “public benefit” – i.e benefiting non-members of the church.
Its Rules state:
The object for which the Church is established (hereinafter “the Object”), and to which all provisions of these Rules are subservient, is to operate exclusively for charitable, religious and educational purposes solely within New Zealand, and, in particular, for:
2.1 The espousal, presentation, propagation and practice of, and the maintenance of the purity and integrity of, the religion and the creed of Scientology.
2.2 The advancement of the religious and other charitable work of Scientology Churches and Missions in New Zealand.
2.3 The regulating and conducting of religious services according to the rites of the Church.
2.54 The maintenance of the fabric and furnishings of Scientology Churches and Missions in New Zealand.
2.5 The production and dissemination of Scientology religious works.
2.6 The advancement of religious education and other charitable work in accordance with the doctrines and practice of Scientology.
According to the NZ Charities website (www.charities.govt.nz) CoSNZ employed 21 full-time workers and six part-time workers in the financial year ended 31 December 2010: involving on average, per week, 914 hours of paid employment. The church is overdue in its filing of its financial statements for the year ending 31 December 2012 (due date 30 June 2012). Its gross income in 2010 was $1,235,207 sourced from “service provision” ($341,417), donations ($495,559), investment income ($$11,316) and all other income ($386,915). Its total expenditure was $966,858, comprising salaries and wages ($151,418) and service provision costs of ($475,522).
Scientology was ruled by the Charity Commission for England and Wales as failing the “public benefit” legal test applied to charities, in that public benefit was not established. It was ruled to NOT constitute a religion.
However, the New Zealand Charities Commission, which has now been disestablished and absorbed into the Department of Internal Affairs, ruled CoSNZ to be a bona fide religion in 2008 and granting it charitable status. Once under the “religion” covering the Commission presumably made an assumption that its activities must therefore be of “public benefit”. However, it is noteworthy that:
“The Commissioners [England and Wales] considered the core practices of Scientology, namely auditing and training, and concluded that the private conduct and nature of the practices together with the general lack of accessibility meant that the benefits were of a personal as opposed to a public nature. Accordingly, following the legal test referred to above, public benefit had not been established.”
Source: Extracts quoted from:
[The] Charity Commission [for England and Wales]. Decision of the Commissioners [4 pages]
Application by the Church of Scientology (England and Wales) for registration as a charity
[Made on 17th November 1999]
[Emphasis in original]
For full Decision see: http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/Library/start/cosdecsum.pdf