Saturday, January 11, 2014

Britain's Charity Commission Agrees To Register Insular Christian Church After It Makes Various Changes

Under British law, for an organization (including a religious organization) to be registered by the Charity Commission as a charity it must, among other things, show that it was created for the "public benefit." (See prior posting.) In 2012, the Charity Commission refused, on public benefit grounds, to register the Preston Down Trust (PDT) which supports the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church. The Commission found that the church's doctrine of "separation from evil" resulted in limited interaction with the community beyond the Brethren. It also heard evidence of disciplinary practices that were allegedly harmful. Following that decision, an appeal was filed, but it was stayed as the parties explored a negotiated settlement. Britian's Charity Commission announced this week that an agreement has been reached. In Application for the Registration of the Preston Down Trust, (Charity Commn., Jan. 3, 2014), the Charity Commission concluded that it is willing to register PDT on the basis of revisions in its governing document and changes in its practices that have lessened its insularity-- such as public access to worship, street preaching and a certain amount of engagement with the wider community including disaster relief. The Commission has also published a summary of the decision. Law & Religion UK blog reports further on the Commission's action, as does The Christian Institute. [Thanks to Alliance Alert for the lead.]