British Christian Group Appeals Rejection of Charity Status

A British Christian congregation is seeking legal review of a decision by the country’s Charity Commission to deny it charitable status, a case some observers say could have broad implications for the agency’s handling of faith groups, writes The Guardian.

The Preston Down Trust, which operates a meeting hall for the Plymouth Brethren community in southern England, launched an appeal last month to the charity tribunal, the legal body that reviews regulation of nonprofit organizations.

The Brethren sect, founded in the 19th century, practices “separation,” a restriction on time spent with those outside the movement, and limits participation in some rites to members. The Charity Commission said Brethren doctrine is incompatible with U.K. law, which dictates that tax-exempt groups demonstrate a public benefit to win charity status.

The ruling provoked an acrimonious debate in Parliament, with critics branding the commission anti-Christian. A hearing on the appeal is scheduled for March.

Return to Top