British MP attacks Charity Commission attempt to tax the Brethren

Good news.  British MP Douglas Carswell today writes how absurd it is that a modern quango is involving itself in deciding which religious groups are allowed to be charities, and which must be taxed:

Religious freedom means – amongst other things – allowing practitioners of a faith to decide for themselves who is, and who is not, part of their denomination. In other words, they can be as exclusive as they like.

The Charity Commission is imposing a state dogma of uber inclusivity on to a religious group that chooses to be moderately exclusive. Not very Big Society, is it?

Once again, when state officials make a decision on what constitutes public interest or benefit, actual members of the public – such as those Brethren who live in my part of Essex – have no say.  If the Brethren fail to tick all the Charity Commission’s boxes, change the Commission and their boxes.  

Instead of replacing one quango chief with another, we need to overturn the dogma that says it is any business of state officials to be sitting in judgement of faith groups in this way in the first place.

I wrote about this story here.  It is good to see that mainstream conservatives have no desire to engage in this 17th century business.

2 Responses to “British MP attacks Charity Commission attempt to tax the Brethren”


  1. Ian

    If Douglas Carswell is right, and it is no business of state officials to be sitting in judgment of faith groups, then the Taliban should apply for charitable status and tax concessions. If you don’t want taxpayers’ money to be supporting the Taliban or the Exclusive Brethren or the Church of Scientology or the Mafia then you must allow the Charity Commission to assess whether an organization exists for the public benefit and confers a net public benefit.

    The law allows total freedom of religious belief, but it does not and must not allow total freedom of religious practices, because some practices carried out in the name of religion are seriously harmful and sometimes criminal.

  2. Roger Pearse

    The use of the term “religion” to describe widely different things is generally unhelpful to clarity. I don’t think we can reasonably create a state body to control “religio”n based on the idea that the Taliban and the Brethren are organisations of the same kind. Nor is it obvious that, if we havesuch astatebody, that it should be done by some official deciding his body shall do it.