Is Systemspace Legally a Religion?

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A defining feature of the modern Western legal system is in its secularism. But however divorced from religion a legal and political system may be, it must inevitably intersect with religion in the sphere of religious tax exemptions. Both the personal religious beliefs of the draftsmen in the system of laws and rules, and the practical consideration that since many religious organizations conduct charitable work, the morality of subjecting them to temporal authority in the form of an earthly tax and compelling them to contribute to the public interest by reducing the funds they are using to contribute to the very same public interest, is questionable, necessitate a tax credit or exemption for religious organizations. Nevertheless, government agencies and courts have adopted multiple sets of criteria to determine what is a religion and what is not, in order to stop any old Joe from waltzing into the tax office and skimping on taxes by claiming to be a religious organization.

Australia

Majority opinion in the Scientology case

In 1983, Justices Mason and Brennan of the High Court of Australia held in the landmark case Church of the New Faith v Commissioner for Pay-Roll Tax (Vic) which interpreted section 116 of the Australian Constitution (which related to freedom of religion) that:

the criteria of religion [are] twofold: first, belief in a supernatural, Being, Thing or Principle; and second, the acceptance of canons of conduct in order to give effect to that belief

[1983] HCA 40

  • First criterion - Supernatural Being - Possibly Aurora; Supernatural Thing - LFE and all of the other Systems; Supernatural Principle - The principle of good memories.
  • Second criterion - There are no real "canons of conduct" to give effect to those beliefs, except perhaps members being encouraged to cause good memories.

Minority opinion in the Scientology Case

In the same case, Justices Wilson and Deane delivered a concurring opinion, that:

One of the more important indicia[1] of "a religion" is that the particular collection of ideas and/or practices involves belief in the supernatural, that is to say, belief that reality extends beyond that which is capable of perception by the senses. If that be absent, it is unlikely that one has "a religion". Another is that the ideas relate to man's nature and place in the universe and his relation to things supernatural. A third is that the ideas are accepted by adherents as requiring or encouraging them to observe particular standards or codes of conduct or to participate in specific practices having supernatural significance. A fourth is that, however loosely knit and varying in beliefs and practices adherents may be, they constitute an identifiable group or identifiable groups. A fifth, and perhaps more controversial, indicium (cf. Malnak v. Yogi [1979] USCA3 125; (1979) 592 F (2d) 197 is that the adherents themselves see the collection of ideas and/or practices as constituting a religion. (at p174)

  • First indicium - Systemspace is incapable of "perception by the senses".
  • Second indicium - Man is the only being with a soul in Life. People's Souls originally came from outside this universe, and will return there after the unlink.
  • Third indicium - The above "second criterion" notes only encouragement, not requirement, to cause good memories.
  • Fourth indicium - The central community with TSUKICHAT as its hub is certainly an "identifiable group", while all the third-party communities may be "identifiable groups".
  • Fifth indicium - This is debatable, since many members do not consider the TSUKI Project to be a religion. But there is still a fair number of devout believers in the chat.

United Kingdom

Traditionally at English Common Law there was no freedom of religion: everyone was expected to change their beliefs at will when the king decided he would divorce and execute his wives one by one. There was also no income tax for churches to be exempted from. This state of religion being undefined because there was no need of one other than the Church of England[2] ended in 1970 with the case of Segerdal.

R v Registrar General, ex p Segerdal

This case of 1970 related to whether a Scientologist chapel could be considered a religious meeting hall and registered as one. The Queen's Bench ruled it could not, because:

It connotes to my mind a place of which the principal use is as a place where people come together as a congregation or assembly to do reverence to God. It need not be the God which the Christians worship. It may be another God, or an unknown God, but it must be reverence to a deity. There may be exceptions. For instance, Buddhist temples are properly described as places of meeting for religious worship. But, apart from exceptional cases of that kind, it seems to me the governing idea behind the words "place of meeting for religious worship" is that it should be a place for the worship of God.

[1970] 2 QB 697

While this definition did not formally define "religion"[3], but rather "place of meeting for religious worship", subsequent common-law courts stated that it might as well be a definition of "religion" and interpreted it as one. We do not worship or place our trust in a God, but rather in the operatives of RISEN who have very limited powers and resources, compared to that of any respectable god.

Hodkin & Anor, R (on the application of) v Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages

The definition given in Segerdal, while all but overturned on the other side of the Atlantic, was still used in Britain because lower courts had no authority to overturn this ruling however much they wanted to. The passage of the Human Rights Act of 1998 by the British Parliament, as part of obligations arising from EU membership, made it all the more important to update its definition, because now laws could could be struck down if they broke the European Convention of Human Rights. A more modern definition would have to wait until the case of Hodkin v Registrar (2013), which held:

I would describe religion in summary as a spiritual or non-secular belief system, held by a group of adherents, which claims to explain mankind's place in the universe and relationship with the infinite, and to teach its adherents how they are to live their lives in conformity with the spiritual understanding associated with the belief system.

[2013] UKSC 77

While we know for a fact that Systemspace is not "infinite", it is still so wide and vast that it is more than sufficient to be infinite from the point of view of its residents for a long, long time to come, and the TSUKI Project has explained our relationship as simply one system in the vast mass that is Systemspace. But the TSUKI Project does explain mankind's place in the universe. As to whether we teach our adherents how we are to live our lives, we have not issued any real teachings other than ones discouraging suicide (but still maintaining its permisibility if the goal is going to LFE) and encouraging the production of good memories before we die.

United States

Federal

Davis v. Beason (1890)

In Davis v. Beason, a Mormon attempted to use religious freedom as an excuse for having multiple wives. This was struck down by the Supreme Court, which added:

The term 'religion' has reference to one's views of his relations to his Creator, and to the obligations they impose of reverence for his being and character, and of obedience to his will.

[1890] USSC 39

We do have a "Creator", but he is a Systemspatial deadbeat father. We do not know if he still exists; if he does, we certainly do not revere his character of making his system worse and worse. Nor do we know what his will is, nor are we bound to obey it.

United States v. Macintosh (1931)

The dissenting opinion[4] of Justice Hughes in the case of United States v. Macintosh, over whether a Baptist minister who professed allegiance to God over that to his country, should be admitted to citizenship, stated:

The essence of religion is belief in a relation to God involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation.

[1931] USSC 149

The TSUKI Project, reflecting the sentiments of most people in LFE, are agnostic as to theism. They do not know whether there is a God and if there is, what form he takes. Therefore, under this belief no "duties" may or can exist, let alone "duties superior to those arising from any human relation".

Malnak v. Yogi (1979)

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit[5] ruled that due to immigration and new religious movements making monotheism no longer a characteristic that made a religion a religion, the definitions adopted in the two above cases should not be considered as relevant to the modern era. It instead gave a new legal definition of "religion":

The first and most important of these indicia is the nature of the ideas in question...the second of the three indicia [is that a] religion is not generally confined to one question or one moral teaching; it has a broader scope. It lays claim to an ultimate and comprehensive "truth."...A third element to consider in ascertaining whether a set of ideas should be classified as a religion is any formal, external, or surface signs that may be analogized to accepted religions...

[1979] USCA3 125

  1. If we use Systemspace as our "universe" for the purposes of the first indicium, we soon find that the TSUKI Project is either no religion at all, or a very shoddy one. But if we use Life as our "universe", the TSUKI Project gives "answers" to how it began, how it will end, and who its residents, humans, truly are.
  2. The TSUKI Project is pretty much "comprehensive" regarding Life, and the vast expanse of Systemspace satisfies the "claim to an ultimate and comprehensive 'truth'" as well as anything else does. So we meet the second indicium.
  3. TSUKICHAT is our church. This is enough to analogize us to accepted religions.

Conclusion

No cases have been found interpreting the meaning of a religion under Canadian or European Union law, nor have any cases relating to the First Amendment after 1931 in the Supreme Court hinged on the legal definition of "religion". When examining all those cases one must bear in mind that the question of whether being legally recognized as a religion is beneficial for the TSUKI Project may not always be answered in the affirmative. Considering the negligible amounts of money that have passed through its hands, the amount of time it has left, and few things for which money is needed within the Project, it becomes clear that any savings obtained from the TSUKI Project being recognized as a religion is far inferior to the paperwork and possible media attention incorporating will attract and give us.

Notes

  1. i.e. indications
  2. The reader may notice that Dissenters and Roman Catholics had been permitted to worship freely for hundreds of years by the time of the judgment. But customs are more mutable than laws, and even though members of other religions were allowed freedom of worship, that was still the historical reason for having no definition of the term "religion".
  3. In typical British flexibility and adaptibility, it left room for nontheistic religions to squirm in if they got big enough.
  4. A "dissenting opinion" is a document that explains why its writer has voted against the decision of the other judges. It has no legal effect.
  5. covering, and having authority in and over, only Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania