Charitable status of churches under attack

According to Christian Concern Britain’s charity watchdog has put the charitable status of the nation’s churches in question after it ruled that a congregation in Devon did not exist for public benefit.  Under charity law, churches and other organisations must show that their existence has some form of 'public benefit.'

But in a letter to the Plymouth Brethren, the Charity Commission explained its refusal to grant charitable status to one of the denomination’s churches in Devon.  Head of legal services for the commission, Kenneth Dibble, stated: 'This decision makes it clear that there was no presumption that religion generally, or at any more specific level, is for the public benefit, even in the case of Christianity or the Church of England.'

A committee of MPs is currently investigating the Charity Commission.  Some of these have expressed concern that the Charity Commission is engaged in a 'politically correct' campaign aimed at supressing Christianity.

Charlie Elphicke MP, a Conservative member of the committee who disclosed the letter, said: 'The concern of many of us is that they (the commission) are actively trying to suppress religion in the UK, particularly Christian religion, with a kind of north London, Hampstead secularist approach.'

MP for Harlow Robert Halfon, another member of the committee, said: 'I think there has been some kind of conspiracy by people in the commission . . . They are using this group as a test case to have a wider go at Christian groups.

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