C of E raises concerns over new charity rules

Christian charities are in danger from new ‘public benefit’ rules, the Church of England has warned.

The Church is worried that a charity existing exclusively to promote traditional Christian views in a particular area – such as marriage and sexual ethics – could have its charitable status threatened.

The warnings come in an official response to a public consultation on the Charity Commission’s draft guidance.

The draft guidance explains how the Commission intends to apply the new ‘public benefit’ test to religious organisations.

Earlier this month The Christian Institute raised concerns about the Commission’s intention to assess membership criteria, evangelism methods, doctrinal interpretation, and public opinion.

The Church of England has argued against the Commission’s proposals relating to the advancement of religion through pastoral work, such as running a soup kitchen.

The Charity Commission wants to know how religious activity of this kind can be distinguished from similar work by non-faith groups.

However, the Church says this is “confused and confusing” and questions the legal basis for the proposition.

“What matters is the motivation of activity of this kind rather than what badges are attached to it in practice,” the Church’s response states.

It also points out that religious groups who provide pastoral care are already under pressure in other areas to suppress their religious character.

The Charity Commission’s consultation on the new draft guidance closes on 30 June. The Christian Institute’s draft response and further information about the consultation is available here.

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