1. The big five churches had revenue of more than $21.7 billion in 2004. They do not have to file income tax returns, and unlike in most other countries, they do not have to pay tax on commercial businesses or capital gains tax on the sale of assets.
2. The Roman Catholic Church, which turns over more than $15 billion a year, runs schools, hospitals and aged-care facilities, but it also runs an insurance company, a mortgage broking business, car parks, a winery and controls more than $4 billion through the various super funds that it managed.
3. The Seventh-day Adventists run the Sanitarium food business, and Hillsong Church sells pop music, self-help books, television programs and even mobile-phone tunes for $4 each.
4. The churches are mega-businesses. Most churches own real estate in prime locations worth many many billions, and if they sell it, they do not have to pay capital gains tax.
5. The Roman Catholic Church alone is thought to have more than $100 billion in property and other assets in Australia.
6. The sector is powerful – financially and politically. Some of the bigger organisations have lobby groups more sophisticated than those of listed companies. Most of the bigger organisations have offices in Canberra.
INSIDE THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
The above is the Heading in the BRW article. Consider the following findings:
1. The Roman Catholic Church is the wealthiest non-profit organisation in Australia. If it was a corporation, it would be one of the 10 biggest in the country. Through its network of schools, hospitals aged-care facilities, employment services and other business ventures, it makes at least $15 billion in revenue a year. That figure does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars donated by its congregation on the collection plates of its 1500 parishes a year. Nor does it
2. The Roman Catholic Church is the wealthiest non-profit organization in Australia. If it was a corporation, it would be one of the 10 biggest in the country. Through its network of schools, hospitals, aged-care facilities, employment services and other business ventures, it makes at least $15 billion in revenue a year. That figure does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars donated by its congregation on the collection plates of its 1500 parishes a year. Nor does it adequately measure the revenue that it makes from its welfare “businesses”.
3. The five biggest religious groups turned over $21.6 billion in 2004, with the Roman Catholic Church making more revenue than the other four put together. Through its vast empire of health and education the Church earned
i. at least $5.28 billion from its 1700 schools
ii. at least $5 billion from health, which includes 65 hospitals and more than 485 aged-care homes and hostels
iii. at least $3.2 billion from sinruance and property rentals
iv The church also has more than $4 billion in superannuation funds under management that BRW could locate.
iv. The church operates and insurance company, a multi-storey car park in Melbourne’s CBD and a vineyard.
v. The church is the biggest employer in Australia – employing 180,000 people.
4. What makes the Roman Catholic Church unique is its size and structure. As one of the biggest organizations in Australia, and the biggest employer ( 180,000 people) its influence across education, health and welfare and politics is enormous. The BRW claims it is “unassailable”. The DOGS are prepared to take the church on, so it is not unassailable. At its most triumphant , wealthy, influential and bully priest best, it is at its weakest- as history illustrates only too well.
RISE OF THE EVANGELICALS
The BRW notes that attendance at Pentecostal “happy clappers” churches has jumped by 27% in recent years. They are run as slcik marketing enterprises and their founds, the pastors, exhibit all the traits of a commercial marketing director or chief executive.
The only difference is – they do not pay tax and most of their workers are volunteers, so they do not have to pay wages. Consider the following “MONEY POT” Pentecostal revenue earners in 2004.
i. Hillsong Church $40 million
ii. Christian City $38 million
iii. Paradise Community $ 5.3 million
iv. Cornerstone Community $ 3.8 million
AUSTRALIA’S TOP 200 CHARITIES:
The BRW lists the top 200 money earning charities. The following are Educational “Charities”most of which are in the first hundred wealthiest income earning charities in Australia
RANK ORGANIZATION AFFILIATION GROSS REVENUE (4M) 1 Catholic Education NSW Catholic 1836.8 2 Anglican Schools (National) Anglican 1442.8 3 Catholic Education Victoria Catholic 1369.4 10 Uniting Church Schools (National) Uniting 545