Campaigning by charities (and Churches) during elections

It has been confirmed that so-called “purdah”, the pre-election period during which there are restrictions on contacts with civil servants and campaigning by charities – which include religious charities, whether they are registered with the Charity Commission for England & Wales or not – will begin tomorrow: Saturday 22 April. Continue reading

Monks’ charitable status challenged

Today, BBC Devon carried the story “Strip ‘violent wine’ monks of charity status, say secularists“; this states: “monks who make Buckfast tonic wine linked to violent crime in Scotland should be stripped of charitable status…The National Secular Society says the beverage made at Buckfast Abbey in Devon is harmful. Buckfast Abbey Trust does not pay tax on the income because it is a charity, which the society claims is an;abuse of the charitable system'”. Continue reading

Lords Select Committee on Charities publishes its report

The Report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities, Stronger charities for a stronger society, was published on Sunday 26 March 2017: you can access all the Committee’s documents here. The committee received 184 written submissions and took oral evidence from 52 witnesses. It also visited the Charity Commission and held three roundtable events outside London. As promised by its Chair, Baroness Pitkeathley, it produced one hundred conclusions and recommendations – though in the case of some of them words like “apple pie” and “motherhood” came to mind and I suspect that the people who produced the draft may have struggled slightly to reach the magic number. The Committee made 42 concrete recommendations, some of which are more obviously relevant to religious charities than others.

The recommendations

The most important recommendations for religious charities are as follows: references in brackets are to paragraph numbers in the Report.

Trusteeship, trustee skills and training Continue reading

Taking the Queen’s Shilling: the implications for religious freedom of religions being registered as charities

This guest post by Robert Meakin is an abridged version of a forthcoming article in the next edition of Law & Justice and is published here with the kind permission of the Editor, John Duddington. 

Introduction

There have been concerns recently about whether religions might have religious doctrines and practices challenged if they are registered as charities.[1] This article looks at possible grounds to challenge the Charity Commission, including the common law principles of non-justiciability, charity law (the definition of religion and public benefit) and human rights.

Grounds for challenging the Charity Commission’s approach to religious charities

  • The Principle of Non-Justiciability

Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 19th March

A week dominated by Brexit, ‘First Minister vs Prime Minister’ and the fall-out from the first judgments of the CJEU on religious manifestation… 

Brexit

As expected, on Monday the Commons rejected the Lords amendments to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, the Lords did not insist on their amendments and the bill passed. So after a total of 70 hours of debate, the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill completed its passage through Parliament and received Royal Assent on Thursday. The BBC reports that the Prime Minister is expected to wait until the end of the month formally to notify the EU of the UK’s intention to leave.

Meanwhile in Scotland… Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 25th December

Evidently a week for clearing desks – including ours…

Charity and the advancement of religion

On Monday the Charity Commission for England & Wales published its decision to reject an application from The Temple of the Jedi Order to register as a charitable incorporated organisation with purposes including “to advance the religion of Jediism, for the public benefit worldwide, in accordance with the Jedi Doctrine”: we noted it here and Russell Sandberg analysed the decision in depth here. Continue reading

The Farce Awakens: Why the Charity Commission’s decision on Jediism reveals a need to revisit the definition of religion

This guest post by Dr Russell Sandberg, Head of Law at Cardiff University, explores what the Charity Commission’s decision to reject an application for registration by the Temple of the Jedi Order (TOTJO) reveals about the developing definition of religion under English law. It develops a shorter article previously published in The Conversation.

The story so far

There is no common definition of religion under English law. Instead, there are different definitions (more often than not developed by courts and tribunals) in relation to different religious rights. That said, several ideas have become common to the case law both on charitable status and on the registration of places of religious worship. Continue reading