Plymouth Brethren banned in Britain

Or they might as well be, if their members have to pay 33% tax on every penny they donate, and the church then has to hand over 20% of all donations to the state.

From the Daily Mail:

MPs are demanding an inquiry into the Charity  Commission after the watchdog banned a Christian group from charitable status on  the grounds that religion is not always for ‘public benefit’.

More than 50 MPs from all the main parties  have signed a Commons motion calling on the charity regulator to think again,  amid fears that hundreds of religious groups could be stripped of their  tax-exempt status, threatening their very existence.

They accuse the Charity Commission of ‘politically correct bias’ against faith groups after it ruled that the Preston  Down Trust of the Plymouth Brethren Church – which has 16,000 members across  Britain – is not entitled to charitable status because it does not do enough  good works in the community.

MPs say the ruling is ‘outrageous’ because it  ignored the way the group, which has enjoyed charitable status for 50 years,  runs soup kitchens for the poor and hospital visits for the sick.

Tory MP Robert Halfon said: ‘There is  something rotten in the Charity Commission. I cannot understand why the  Brethren, good people who do so much in their communities, have been singled  out.

‘I believe an inquiry is needed into the role  of the Charity Commission, to consider how it came to make the decision. What  has happened is unjust and is creating fear in many churches across the  country.’

In a ruling that sent shockwaves through even  the established church, the Charity Commission ruled that its 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’.

It’s great news!  Yes, the establishment has rediscovered the Test Act and the Act of Uniformity!!!!

I was so missing the days when the state decided which religions were “authorised” and “not authorised”.  We got rid of that around 1850.  Now, at last, once again we can sneer at people as “dissenters” and subject them to discriminatory taxes and legal penalties.

And that should show these dissenters which way their bread is buttered.  After all, if they aren’t a charity, they will have to pay 20% corporation tax on all donations.  David Cameron will take 20% of every church collection.  And …. those donations won’t be eligible for gift aid either.  So church members will have to pay 33% tax on every penny they donate, and then the church will have to pay 20% of whatever pennies they receive.  That’s teach them not to conform, the vile dissenting creeps!  Hang them!  Burn them!

Cracking!

More seriously, this is evil news.  It has been a long, long time since we have had state servants operating a system of “approved” and “unapproved” churches, with legal penalties and discrimination against the latter.  Abolishing all that sort of thing in the mid-19th century allowed half of England back into public life.

This is, of course, a political case.  The Charities Commission — whoever that is — made their decision based on political grounds.  The political left has a deep hatred for Christianity.  The Exclusive Brethren look like a small, powerless group, unlikely to have friends at London dinner parties.  No doubt the inquisitors decided that they looked like suitably helpless victims.

The Charities Commission used to be an innocuous group.  But there is very little practical difference between banning an organisation which relies on donations, and levying on it the brutal taxation to which small businesses in Britain (but not big ones like Vodaphone, Google, Starbucks, and so on) are subjected.  Indeed that is rather the point; to persecute while disclaiming the name, to harass while claiming to be impartial.

I am not a member of the Brethren, about whom I know little.  But I do know that they are a small and harmless group who cause no-one any trouble and who have been quietly doing their own thing for decades.  Only a complete shit would decide to attack them.

Evil days indeed, these.

UPDATE:  The New American also reports on this.

Two members of Parliament have defended the Brethren. The first is Charlie Elphicke, who called the attack on the church “anti-religion,” LifeSiteNews reported. Elphicke, a member of the committee that uncovered the letter from the commission, told members of the Brethren that the charity bureaucrats “are committed to the suppression of religion and you are the little guys being picked on to start off a whole series of other churches who will follow you there.”

Another member of parliament, conservative Bernard Jenkin, explained a larger purpose in the government’s attack on the Brethren, said LifeSite:

“The Commission seems to be using the group as a test case to establish the meaning of the public benefit requirement in charity law,” he said.

“Picking a relatively vulnerable organisation and putting you through huge time and expense is a rotten way to decide what charity law means,” Jenkin said.

Indeed.

There is a useful article at the Third Sector site here.

30 Responses to “Plymouth Brethren banned in Britain”


  1. jun

    “members have to pay 33% tax on every penny they donate” – I don’t understand what this means. I’m an American so bear with me. How do you pay tax on what you donate? Just in the sense that you don’t get a tax exemption for the donation? I’ve never claimed what I gave to church as a charitable donation so I have no clue how avoiding tax on the giving side even works.

  2. jun

    In other words, to me, I’d rather just pay the stinking tax then jump through the government’s hoops for my refund. I typically claim less exemptions on my taxes than I could in order to avoid an audit by the IRS.

  3. David

    Roger,

    This paragraph is the crux of your argument:

    “I am not a member of the Brethren, about whom I know little. But I do know that they are a small and harmless group who cause no-one any trouble and who have been quietly doing their own thing for decades. Only a complete shit would decide to attack them.”

    Err, no. Let me fill you in a bit.

    There are numerous groups that would be considered as “Brethren” or “Plymouth Brethren”, and they fall into two categories, the Open Brethren and the Exclusive Brethren. This ruling relates to an Exclusive Brethren organisation.

    The Open Brethren are basically independent churches (many are called Gospel Halls) with mainstream evangelical beliefs and an ecclesiology that rejects denominationalism.

    The Exclusive Brethren are completely different. They are not a church as would be understood by the vast majority of people (christians or otherwise). They are a closed sect who have virtually no dealings with outsiders. For example, members are not permitted to eat or even drink a coffee with non-members. Their worship services are for members only. I don’t think anyone joins them – it’s only the children of members that perpetuate the movement.

    Members have all their personal, social, and employment relationships tied up in the Exclusive Brethren (and nowhere else) so there is incredible emotional pressure to conform to the huge amount of arbitrary rules and regulations handed down from on high. For if you don’t, you get shunned and excommunicated from all those nearest and dearest to you. In some cases, the distress of this has driven people to suicide.

    The Exclusive Brethren are NOT a harmless group – they are highly abusive – they divide families and destroy lives. Anyone who has been a victim of them will say that they should be banned and would be deeply upset that you are defending them and using insulting language about their opponents. Please take the trouble to spend a couple of hours researching the Exclusive Brethren online and you’ll see what I mean – people call them an “evil cult”.

    UK law says that charities must benefit the public in some way. In this case, it was decided that the activities of the group do not benefit the public, so their application for charitable status was refused.

    Let me put it another way – would you have written what you did about the Moonies or Scientologists being refused charitable status? I doubt you would, because you would be aware that the activities of those groups are harmful. In fact, you’d probably be praising the Charity Commission. Well, the Exclusive Brethren do just as much harm as those groups, so we should be rejoicing at this decision.

    I pray the Lord will bring comfort to all those who have been hurt by the Exclusive Brethren, and that He will stop the abusive practices.

  4. jun

    David, honestly, I think the basic outline of what you just said can be said of pretty much any church. Stuff like “members are not permitted to eat or even drink a coffee with non-members” sounds to me just like some atheists misinterpretation of a sermon on 1st Corinthians 5, and all churches are misinterpreted by outsiders. “the distress of this has driven people to suicide.” Here in the US the radical gay maffia claims that gay teens by the hundreds are committing suicide because of churches condemning homosexuality. This type of boilerplate stuff can be easily made up; and no antireligious type ever demands any actual proof. That demand that we believe it without proof and get up a lynch mob to take care of them crazy religious people. I’m not buying it. And even if there were an objective standard definition of an “evil cult” (to a Calvinist, an “evil cult” is anyone who doesn’t believe in Calvinism! yet to me, Calvinism is an evil cult!) and even if it were applied objectively….why I’m I even arguing this hypothetical, you know if would never be applied objectively! Why isn’t Islam being attacked as an evil cult? And if we are to label certain religions as “evil cults” in a Democrasy, shouldn’t it be put to a popular vote rather than decided by a beurocrasy? Lets have a ballot listing every religion and a multiple choice box next to it: [] Good religion [] Evil cult.

    Islam [] Good Religion [x] Evil cult
    Anglicanism [x] Good Religion [] Evil cult
    Methodism [x] Good Religion [] Evil cult
    Calvinsism [] Good Religion [x] Evil cult
    Judaism [x] Good Religion [] Evil cult
    Wicca [] Good Religion [x] Evil cult

    Its the only fair way to do it…more fair anyway.

  5. David

    Jun, you don’t seem to take what I’ve written seriously. I am not an atheist or anti-religious type, as you possibly are suggesting. I am an evangelical christian and I am familiar with the Exclusive Brethren. I didn’t write what I did based on hearsay or speculation. I have re-read it all and stand by evey word.

    In the Exclusive Brethren, it is literally the case that you are not allowed to eat or drink with non-members. You are allowed to work for a non-member. Their extreme view of separation means that you are not allowed to share a driveway or even a sewer pipe with a non-member. If you do any of these, you are a sinner in their eyes and will be ostracised. At one time owning a radio or a computer was considered a sin. Their definition of sin is arbitrary and comes down from their unaccountable leaders.

    I included the bit ‘people call them an “evil cult”’ to emphasise how abusive they are. Obviously there is no fixed definition of these terms but we are not talking about the usual christian doctrinal disagreements. We are talking about organisations that exercise almost total control over the details of their members lives and come down hard on anyone who steps out of line.

    Please try what I suggested to Roger – doing your own research – you’ll soon realise that I am telling the truth.

  6. Roger Pearse

    David, please have a look at this post.

    http://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2012/11/19/aesopica-the-horse-and-the-stag/

    I don’t think that you’re wrong about the Exclusive Brethren; but to support the Charities Commission on this is suicide. The Commission is not investigating the problems you describe; it’s doing a power-grab.

    At least, that is my reading of the situation.

  7. Roger Pearse

    @David and @Jun: I think you’re talking past each other. @Jun, you’re right, and your point is mine. @David, I don’t disagree, but the Charities Commission doesn’t care about your points. That’s not the issue before the public here. It’s trying to turn itself into something which has the power to approve or disapprove churches (since levying heavy “taxes” on unapproved groups is equivalent in most ways to prohibition). That is a hideous evil, of a kind that we abolished 150 years ago, to the great relief of everyone. If the CC wins here, it won’t help you, or do anything to solve the problems you report. Believe me, the CC are not your friends.

  8. Roger Pearse

    I am troubled, tho, at the allegations against the Exclusive Brethren. Surely these should be investigated properly? Perhaps by the Evangelical Alliance? If there is reason to suppose that people are being abused using the name of Christ, and at the moment this may be so, this is a hideous thing.

  9. jane

    Roger
    the allegations about the exclusive brethren that ‘David’ writes of could only be written by someone with a deep grudge, and hatred of the said exclusive brethren. There are so many lies in what he writes that it is horrific to behold.
    I know a lot of ‘exclusive brethren’, and they are certainly not the people he is trying to portray them as. They are the ones who are being abused in the name of Christ, I assure you.
    Sadly, the ‘exclusive brethren’ – their new website, is, I believe, (www.plymouthbrethrenchristianchurch.org) are coming under a lot of attack from some who call themselves ‘Plymouth brethren’.
    This doesn’t mean to say the ‘exclusive brethren’ referred to are perfect – what human being is??

    regards
    Jane

  10. David

    Roger, the exclusive brethren aren’t EA members and never would be, so I can’t see why the EA would do anything about then.

    Jane, I have no grudge against the exclusive brethren, but I do hate anything that systematically abuses people. You said there were “many lies” in my comments, so please provide the detail – what have I said that isn’t true?

  11. Roger Pearse

    David, I had not known that they weren’t part of the EA.

    None of us want anything cultic associated with Christianity.

  12. Steve Clark

    I refer to Jane’s posting above:-

    ‘the allegations about the exclusive brethren that ‘David’ writes of could only be written by someone with a deep grudge, and hatred of the said exclusive brethren. There are so many lies in what he writes that it is horrific to behold’.

    Jane, I was born, brought up and married in the Exclusive Brethren cult. As a genuine Christian with a conscience, my wife and I reluctantly left as the lying and hypocrisy we witnessed on a day to day basis did not sit easily with us. We left behind our brothers, sisters and parents who continue to refuse to have contact with us, even though my wife has a serious medical condition. We do not hate them, we are simply mystified by people purporting to be Christians who act in ways quite unlike Christ Jesus ever did. He came to save sinners. The Exclusive Brethren banish people they consider have sinned. Sins which include being seen in a pub, watching TV in a shop window, ladies wearing trousers, and eating with non members. I have often wondered if their refusal to sit on a jury is possibly because they are unable to discern between right and wrong without first calling their leader Bruce Hales.

    Roger, you are right to be concerned about these Brethren people. There is no attack on Christianity. In the last year the Charity Commission have granted charitable status to over 1000 religious organisations and only turned down one, the Exclusive Brethren. That fact speaks for itself,
    the Charity Commission have made it very clear they are not considering withdrawing charitable status from anyone else.

  13. Roger Pearse

    @Steve,

    Thank you for your note!

    I think that two distinct points are being made in your comment here:

    1. The Brethren are not actually a Christian group, but a cult; or at least, a group which you (and quite a few other ex-members) don’t like for what seem to you excellent reasons (and probably are).

    2. You want the (definitely anti-Christian) Charities Commission to assume the power to decide whether or not they can operate, and thereby create a climate in which a group which has operated as a charity for 50 years can be denied it on some woolly pretext (since the objections you have are not the basis for their decision).

    I am open-minded on point #1 (rather more negative on them this evening, after a curious experience today with what may be an Exclusive congregation, which left me wondering whether the people had intentionally misled me).

    But I don’t think we want to do #2. Really we do not. Whoever is the victim. It’s very like the case of Christian Unions at universities, where groups that have been happily affiliated to the universities for 50 or 80 years are suddenly closed down for being “bigoted” or “insufficiently diverse”, or some other pretext.

    If the allegations against the Brethren are all true, then this is not the right way to deal with them. The CC is not banning the group (or what amounts to the same thing, levying taxes that not even a mega-corporation could or would pay on a tiny congregation) because they are cultic. They have choosen a group which looks cultic, in order to gain the power to do the same to any Christian group that fails to be politically correct. Their objection to the Brethren is not that they mistreat members and ex-members. It is that they don’t participate adequately in — endorse — the cesspool of modern society, as failure to do so is only permitted to immigrants, Moslems, and other favoured groups.

    Consider the tide of political legislation and media attitudes to Christians in our society. The Church of England narrowly failed to appoint bishopesses this week. There was a huge outpouring of rage and hate from the establishment, for their temerity in failing to conform. We live in intolerant times, lusting for blood.

    If we had confidence in the impartiality of the Charities Commission — which we cannot have, since 2006 — and if we lived in times in which interference in the church did not happen, in times when no public official would think of harassing a church for failing to be politically correct, then I think your point might be valid. (Although, I must say, I am deeply unhappy about any form of state regulation of religion; not because it is logically a mistake, but because it has always been a vehicle of state persecution of Christians.)

    But we are not so fortunate. We must defend the Exclusive Brethren’s right to pursue their religion without interference by drunken, drug-taking, sodomising, adulterous, back-stabbing fornicating liars (which would describe nearly all of Britain’s political and media establishment today, if they are all true to their principles). Because if we do not hang together, we shall assuredly hang separately.

    Again, have a read of Aesop’s fable of the stag and the horse. It seems entirely relevant to me.

    None of which should be taken as endorsing cult-like practices.

  14. Steve Clark

    Hi Roger

    Thank you for your comments. I have no problem with the Exclusive Brethren ( now re-branded Plymouth Brethren Christian Church) operating as such, I simply do not agree that they offer any public benefit. It is all very well offering food and refreshments to firemen, but will they share a pot of tea with you ? No. Because they misuse the scripture of 2 Timothy 2 ‘withdrawing from iniquity’ as their charter for separation. As a scholar of the bible yourself, you will be very aware that they are not understanding it’s translation. I am not an adulterer or a thief or a drunkard, but they steadfastly refuse to eat or drink with me. In other words, if you are not a member, you too are considered to be ‘iniquitous’.

    The bible is very clear on this, ‘Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean’. Acts 10:15

    I therefore do not feel it right for them to gain the benefit of tax payers money masquerading as a charity. I would be very interested to hear more about your ‘curious experience’ today. Do feel free to email me if you do not wish to post details on your very interesting weblog.

  15. Roger Pearse

    Well, all this may be so (I am ignorant, remember.) But I don’t think that you’ve engaged with my point, tho. It’s really, really dangerous to all of us to give the Charities Commission this role.

    May I respectfully take really violent (!) objection to one sentence in your epistle, however? When our masters do not tax us, they are not giving us anything. They are simply not robbing us, as they usually do. When a church is a charity, it does not cost any taxpayer anything. It merely leaves them in possession of their own money, rather than obliging them to hand it over to strangers to spend, or rather waste.

    The wasters love to create a climate in which they own all our money, and just allow us, out of generosity, to keep some. Resist this propaganda, for your own sake.

  16. jun

    “Their definition of sin is arbitrary and comes down from their unaccountable leaders.”

    How does this statement not apply equally to all churches, David? They’ve all got “unaccountable leaders” — its not like Jesus is going to come down and discipline them anytime soon — and they all make whatever they want to be a sin into a sin, as with the Calvinists making it a sin to disagree with them on predestination.

    And if you give a secular organization the authority to take away a church’s tax exempt status if it thinks their definition of sin is “arbitrary” wouldn’t they certainly refuse tax exempt status to every church that opposes homosexuality?

    David, you make the same mistake as all ultra-fundamentalist-evangelical types. Because you don’t like a particular church you want to use the secular state to punish them. Get over your Augustine and Calvin on this point already. If you give the secular state clearance to punish the so-called ‘cults’ they will also use it on you. Don’t be stupid. So much of evangelicalism’s attitude toward “the kingdom of the cults” is nothing but stupidity and attacking of religious liberty that will backfire on you in the end.

  17. Roger Pearse

    @Jun: I think there are some real problems in the exclusive brethren, as their history of repeated fracturing over leadership makes plain; and I am quite prepared to believe that what is defined as sin and so on is indeed a little arbitrary.

    But I think the key point you make is valid. The establishment are desperate to persecute. Let’s not help them.

  18. Henry

    I’m sorry but I find two serious errors in the factual content of this article. Firstly the representation of the tax figures is absolutely wrong. For example corporation tax is paid only on profit, not revenue. And even then only after allowances for thresholds, credits & capital items. So no, it is not 20% of church offerings. That is grossly untrue. And the charitable status is actually about tax recovery in other areas which this article totally omits.

    Regarding the EB being harmless. This is also a patent nonsense. Just ask one of the many parents who haven’t seen their kids for years, etc. Cases are many and well published. It is a controlling cult which ruins lives & us manipulative. For example I used to allow two elderly ladies to visit my home, and meet their brother of 70+yrs, who was a member and had been barred for decades from meeting his sisters. They lived in the same district. And the only contact they could have without fear of discipline, was to meet secretly on neutral ground, in my home.

    So not quite as you describe it here. And big questions as to whether taxpayers money should help them abuse folk this way?

  19. Nee

    May the lord have mercy on us all, that is why prayer is necessary , to have a strong enough relationship with God so that no matter what they throw at you , you remain standing is what is required these days and will be required in the days to come,no i am not a Brethren member but a beleiver who feels for other beleivers in Christ as things stand they have started to very subtly and sometimes not so subtly discriminate on Christians doing things they dare not to other religions to Christians because most Churches are spirititually still struggling, its time we started praying, fasting, and studying the word but most of all getting right with God , getting our houses and Churches in order and getting deep in the word of God afterall they who know their God will do great exploits, may God have mercy on us all

  20. Roger Pearse

    Thank you, Henry, for your comment.

    I am mildly perturbed that you write as if you do not grasp the difference between taking and giving! This cannot be so; but it diminishes greatly the force of your comments. We all know that, if I have the power to steal your iPhone, and I do not do so, I have not given you anything! No, I have merely not taken something from you. It is a habit of the political left to write as if all property belonged to the state, and whatever it leaves us is a gift. But it is nonsense. Likewise charitable status does not cost you or I a penny. It merely involves not taking money from a group.

    Now, you are quite right that corporation tax is levied on profits, after expenses. With this refinement we enter into the morass of the details of tax law. But unless there are substantial allowable expenses, there is no practical difference between this and levying it on the only source of income, which is donations. I really don’t think the points that you raise are points of substance. They might reduce the tax bill, to some extent. But that is neither here nor there. That offerings will be taxed like shop takings is not in dispute.

    Note, by the way, that if we did discuss what expenses might be allowable by HMRC to a church which had been denied charitable status, then we might observe what a power of constant interference it would give to the state. Once again we are in Soviet territory with all this. And that is the real point.

    Pardon me, therefore, if I do not allow the point of this article to be derailed into a discussion of possible hypothetical corporation tax allowances.

  21. Roger Pearse

    NOTICE: this article is not about whether or not we like the Exclusive Brethren. It is about whether we should create a new Court of High Commission to control Christian groups, under the title of the Charities Commission.

    This evening I had yet another comment here which consisted entirely of hate. I know that there are ex-EB’s who hate the EB. For all I know they may have good cause! But this is not the issue here, and discussing it derails the point at issue to the rest of us, which is one of religious freedom from state interference.

    That the target for this interference is the EB is accidental; the new inquisitors merely thought that few would defend the EB. We need to defend them, not because we agree with them, but because we are undoubtedly next.

    Any comment which is off-topic and consists entirely of attacks on the EB will (sadly) be removed. The reason is simply to avoid the derail of discussion of an issue of importance to every Christian in the UK.

  22. Roger Pearse

    UPDATE: Today I see yet another example of the political manipulation of charitable status by the politically correct left, this time from from New Zealand. Virtue Online reports:

    Family First New Zealand has received notification that the government’s Charities Commission intends to deregister the charity. Why? Family First has a traditional view of marriage being one man and one woman. The commission’s investigation began just after NZ’s gay marriage debate started last year. The decision means that the organization will no longer be exempt from income tax and, more importantly for a non-profit, donations to it will no longer be tax-deductible.

    “This is a highly politicized decision which is grim evidence that groups that think differently to the prevailing politically correct view will be targeted in an attempt to shut them up,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

    “The Commission argues that Family First’s efforts to represent the voice of 80%-plus of families on the anti-smacking law or half of New Zealanders on attempts to redefine marriage, for example, have no ‘public benefit’, and that it is in the ‘public interest’ for Family First to be deregistered.”

    “The timing of the investigation and notification is also cynical in that the Commission deliberately held off the notification until after the final reading of the gay marriage bill, despite the Commission promising that their decision would be made at the end of January. The investigation began just after the gay marriage debate started last year.”

    The “culture wars” are what we are experiencing; ploys and techniques for gaining power, devised in various places in the English-speaking world and used ruthlessly by the political left.

  23. Ivor
  24. Roger Pearse

    Useful and relevant (which makes a nice change) – thank you.

  25. Suzie Best

    Here is the end result of the Charity Case decision, which may shed some more light on the matter. http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/media/591398/preston_down_trust_full_decision.pdf

    For the record, the Charity Commission found the Exclusive Brethren now calling themselves Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (or PBCC), were on evidence received, “causing detriment and harm…” both to “wider society and also individuals”, “including children”. Surely this is not the kind of public charity we want the Government to allow to carry on unchecked?

    It is also rather obvious that the Charity Commission do not believe the newly instigated “charitable activities” of this group to be without doubt, as they have given them one year before review to prove themselves. I can verify that when I was a member of this group 25 years ago now, we were told and taught to NOT do anything charitable for anyone outside of our own group, on command from the leader. If you are interested, I have written copies of this teaching from him in print.

    It might also be worth noting that on asking the Charities Commission for facts and figures on how many Churches had applied for and been refused charity status by the Commission over the two year period when this case was before them, the answer was there were hundreds of Churches granted and NONE denied, except the Exclusive Brethren/PBCC, so this can hardly be called an attack on Christianity. It was simply a Government appointed agency doing its job, and wanting to ensure that the well-known detriment and harm of this ‘church’ group did not outweight any public help it may now give. I have attached this information below for you:

    Yesterday in Parliament
    “Baroness Berridge (Conservative)
    To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many churches were given charitable status in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
    To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many churches were refused charitable status on the grounds of lack of public benefit in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
    To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many Christian charities were granted charitable status in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
    • Hansard source (Citation: HL Deb, 27 January 2014, c190W)

    Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Liberal Democrat)
    The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Charity Commission. I have asked the Commission’s chief executive to reply.
    Letter from Sam Younger BCE, Chief Executive, Charity Commission, to Baroness Berridge, dated 24 January 2014.
    I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Questions on how many churches were given charitable status [HL4789], how many churches were refused charitable status on the grounds of lack of public benefit [HL4790] and how many Christian charities were granted charitable status [HL4791] in the years 2012 and 2013 respectively.
    Our records indicate that 446 and 395 churches were registered in 2012 and 2013 respectively. No churches were refused charitable status on the grounds of lack of public benefit in either of these years.
    A further 461 charities which clearly identify themselves as Christian in their objects successfully applied for charitable status in 2012, along with a further 303 charities in 2013.
    These figures are estimates based on a search of entries on the register of charities using the information charities provide to us. It is not always possible to identify from the details a charity has given for its register entry whether or not it operates a church or
    other place of worship. In addition, new charities may not currently operate a church or place of worship but may plan to do so in the future.
    There may also be additional Christian charities which do not show as such from their entries on the register because they have not self-identified as Christian or having purposes to advance the Christian religion.”

    Blessings, Suzie Best

  26. Roger Pearse

    Thank you for this note, which I moderated until I could read it properly. The Charity Commission response, if quoted accurately, comes across as rather shifty: it fails to answer how many charities were refused on “grounds of lack of public benefit.”

    As I have said several times, this post and its comments are not about putting the Exclusive Brethren on trial, a task for which I am unsuited by reason of ignorance and temperament. It’s about the question of whether we wish to have the charities commission using the tax system, via the new laws, as a means to express official approval or disapproval of this Christian group or that. The Exclusive Brethren passed the old laws perfectly well, and are therefore an excellent case for what the new laws mean, and for seeing whether we have an inquisition coming into being. I think, plainly, that we do.

    For the moment all has gone quiet. The coalition government has no stomach for this, it is plain; but this is a labour policy. My reading is that it was designed to attack the public schools, but also the churches if they failed to conform to PC ideology; so it will undoubtedly be pursued again once they come back to power, unless it is abolished.

    I realise that quite a few ex-EB’s hate the organisation. I was always aware that it had a doubtful reputation in days gone by. I have never known any EB’s myself. But this is not the point. The evils of having the state harass Christian groups are very great. Let’s not go there.

  27. Brethren

    Hi I am part of the Plymouth brethren church you talk about. I would like to inform you all of the above horrible things you say about us are completely untrue. I am a VERY HAPPY young person. We have a lot of bad media, why don’t people come and talk to people who are members instead of spreading all these lies…. because it would RUIN their story!! the media wants a good story and don’t want to tell the truth because it would be on the contrary to what they would want people to think! why don’t you all have a look at this website and find out what we really are: http://www.plymouthbrethrenchristianchurch.org/ or why not TALK TO A MEMBER!

  28. Roger Pearse

    Hi, thank you for posting that comment. I found, after I wrote this post, that there are a lot of people posting bad stories about the Brethren. Of course it is hard for an outsider, like myself, to know what to believe; and I do believe that some people have had bad experiences, because that’s human nature. But I don’t set myself up as a judge here; my concern is with the wider story. I’m glad that you are happy in your church.

  29. Brethren#2

    I am also a young member of the PBCC. Thank you for your comments! It is good to see someone thinking for themselves and making an effort to understand the situation.
    There are comments claiming we are harmful and blaming us for ‘tearing families apart’. Check out these Australian statistics from the Monash University dated May,2006:

    Plymouth Brethren (Exclusive Brethren) Total Population
    Married persons 62.5% 51.4%
    Widow/ers 3.6% 6.2%
    Divorced/Separated persons. 0.8% 10.8%
    Children / Never Married 33.1% 31.6%

    While there are divorced/separated persons, it is clearly very rare. Like everyone, we have our faults. They are blown out of proportion. These things happen, if the authorities could sentence Jesus to death 2000 years ago for doing nothing wrong, we can hardly expect government bodies such as the charities commission to leave us alone. I do feel they are attacking Christianity, there have always been such attacks; it is part of being a Christian. Definitely worth it:)
    If you have any questions about anything said in my post or the above posts, please ask!
    Also, interested to hear about your ‘curious experience’ (on Nov 24th, 2012).(email is fine)

  30. Roger Pearse

    Many thanks for your note.

    Btw I’m not sure divorce statistics are quite the point being raised by other commenters. :-)



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