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Still Waters

Churches not necessarily for public good

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The Church of England and other religious groups are not necessarily acting for the good of the public, Britain’s charity watchdog has ruled.

Its officials decided that religion is not always for “the public benefit” as it denied charitable status to the Plymouth Brethren, an exclusive Christian group, for one of its churches in Devon.

In a letter to the Plymouth Brethren, the watchdog set out its most recent decision that “there is 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”.

http://www.telegraph...y-watchdog.html

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I assume this goes to their tax exempt status. The govt in australia has done something similar. While parts of church activities are stil tax exempt, other parts are not, or have only the normal tax exemptions of similar businesses.

Thus where a church activity is providing a public good (or service) from a charity to a sheltered workshop or a school, it might gain tax exemption, but where, say, it is running an unemployment office, it might not get any special religious tax exemption.

It is a fair call in my opinion as long as the judgement is made on well defined and measurable criteria. For example, where a church sets up a money making enterprise, it should be taxed as a commercial enterprise. In this case the judgement was that the charity was not truly set up for charitable purposes to benefit the public. Eg it might only benefit members of the plymouth brethren, but not enough information was provided to ascertain the full story.

Edited by Mr Walker

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You can tell if a church group is actually beneficial to the community. It all comes down to the collection plate. If you get horrid looks as it goes by because you didn't drop money in to it. Run like the wind. If they do not give you horrid looks and rude remarks. Stay and help out. When you cannot give to the plate give some time volunteer. That doesn't just apply to churches it applies to anything that involves money and says that it wants to help people out. It's common sense stuff.

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