The British government is attacking a Christian church because it enforces its doctrine. The government’s Charity Commission has ruled that the Plymouth Brethren Church, which does not permit outsiders to receive communion, is not eligible to be called a charity for tax purposes. Apparently, maintaining rules for who may partake in religious rituals is discrimination, and thus makes a church ineligible to be called charitable.
The question is what the move means for other churches, most notably the Catholic Church, which forbids Holy Communion to anyone but Catholics in a state of grace. Chillingly, the commission explained to the Brethren that religion wasn’t really something intended for “public benefit.”
No Charitable Status
The Christian Institute, which has taken up the Brethren's case, reports that it received notice of the decision by letter. According to the Institute, elders from the Plymouth Brethren gave evidence on the matter to a parliamentary select committee last week:
During the evidence a letter from the Commission’s head of legal services emerged claiming that churches cannot be assumed to be acting for the public good.
It said: “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.”
Frighteningly, the Commission has been attacking the Brethren Church for seven years, the Institute reported, and “began after the Commission denied charitable status to one of the Brethren group’s churches in Devon.”
The Institute quoted a spokeswoman for the charity’s bureaucrats:
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Photo of British Parliament building