Political activism isn’t charity

Greenpeace is in the Court of Appeal trying to overturn a ruling that it doesn’t qualify for charitable status:

Greenpeace of New Zealand, the environmental lobby group, is too big to miss out on charitable status just because the actions of a few members may be deemed illegal, the Court of Appeal heard today.

Counsel for the non-profit organisation , Davey Salmon, told Justices Rhys Harrison, Lynton Stevens and Douglas White, there was no evidence Greenpeace was engaged in illegal activities that would block it from registering as a charity. Even if some members were found to have trespassed in their non-violent action in support of Greenpeace’s goals, it was a side-issue to the organisation’s primary goals. . .

They’re arguing it’s only a few members whose actions are illegal. But look at the organisation’s core values:

. . . We take non-violent direct action to raise the level and quality of public debate and end environmental problems. Whether it’s a sit-in in front of a local government, or the scaling of an oil rig – peaceful direct action is our way to get us all talking and demonstrate solutions. . .

Scaling an oil rig isn’t very different from a sit-in on an oil drilling ship for which Greenpeace activists were charged and pleaded guilty earlier this year.

Both  look a lot more like political activism than charitable service.

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