Aleister Crowley - esias - Plymouth Live online -
I had arrived at the conclusion that the Plymouth Brethren were an exceptionally detestable crew. I wanted sin. A supreme spiritual sin. But hadn’t the slightest idea how to go about it. Aleister Crowley, diary entry
The European Court ruled recently that cults and religions were granted charitable status and public tax relief status as a privilege, not as a prerequisite. The Court of Appeal holds that cults and religions must satisfy the public duty of care test of being for the public benefit. And for action in the High Court, you must show that on the balance of probabilities, that the cult fails to provide reasonable charitable public benefit.
But when is your Brethren not your Brethren? The Charity Commission supports the 2012 case of the Bad Boys Brethren – as reported:
‘MPs have made a robust defence of the exclusive Brethren church that has been denied charitable status by the Charity Commission in an important test case for churches and Christian organisations throughout the country.
‘In a well-attended debate led by Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP for Congleton, in Westminster Hall on Tuesday (13 November), members discussed the implications of the decision against Preston Downs Trust, which owns gospel halls in Torquay, Paignton and Newton Abbot.
‘The Brethren church was denied charitable status over concerns that it does not satisfy the ‘public benefit’ requirement; the lack of public access to the communion services held in gospel halls was specifically mentioned.
‘Ms Bruce and numerous other MPs highlighted the extensive work carried out by the Brethren in their communities, including support for families, care for young people, disaster relief, visits to prisons, hospitals, and donations of substantial funds to many charities. She said, ‘Surely no one can argue that they do not provide public benefit’ and also defended the ‘openness’ of the Brethren; they actively share their faith and make information about their services available to non-Brethren. Ms Bruce said, ‘Restricting access to Holy Communion should not be a reason for refusing charitable status.’
Other MPs raised concerns about the wider implications of the Charity Commission’s decision for churches and Christian groups.
Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover, said: This is a test case on religion and the thin end of the wedge, particularly given that the Charity Commission’s letter says that even the Church of England would have to prove public benefit.
Amendments under the Charities Act 2006 removed the presumption of ‘public benefit’ for organisations that advance religion and required charities that had been registered under the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855 to seek registration with the Charity Commission.
Churches therefore now have to demonstrate how they are of benefit to the public, whereas before it was taken as a given that they were.
‘Public benefit’ is not clearly defined in the Act, but the Charity Commission states that it must be identifiable, balanced against any harm, appropriate to the charity’s aims, and not ‘unreasonably restricted’ in a way that might prevent some people from benefiting from the charity’s work.
The Brethren, which has over 370 gospel halls throughout the UK, has enjoyed charitable status for over 50 years. Following the changes to the law under the 2006 Act, they had to re-apply. Brethren representatives met with the Charity Commission in 2008 to discuss a programme for registering all their gospel halls, and it was agreed that a sample application would be submitted by one of their trusts, Preston Downs. This was made on 18 February 2009
The third Plague Upon all their houses was the curse of the judges that temples and houses of worship were not worthy of tax relief status.
My Lords, The Morg fails the duty of care test of public benefit, and the sooner they're forced to account the better. esias, Board post 20th May 2014 ‘Beware the Brethren Who Are Not Your Brethren’
When you consider Plymouth and its history, you probably think of the armed forces, the Blitz during the Second World War, or maybe the Mayflower setting sail from the Barbican.
When you consider Plymouth and its famous people, you might think of Tom Daley, Dawn French and Sir Francis Drake.
And when you consider Plymouth’s religious roots, you probably scratch your head and think, what religious roots?
Yet the city is one of the founding homes of one of the world’s biggest Christian movements – the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, which has more than 40,000 members spread across the globe.
Here former Plymouth Herald writer Alex Wood shines a light on a world that still to this day boasts influence, power and buckets full of goodwill for communities the length and breadth of the planet.
Plymouth Brethren is described as a conservative, nonconformist, evangelical sect of the Christian faith and was first practiced in Dublin before quickly relocating to Plymouth.
Two groups still operate in Plymouth, with further brethren organisations dotted across the country and abroad, wrote Alex in a fascinating feature about the history of the Brethren in 2016.
But how much do you know about Plymouth Brethren and its beliefs?
Did you know they’re expected to attend church up to three times a day and often have their own schools?
It’s likely the women you’d have noticed with their long hair and a head covering – usually a scarf …
The Plymouth Brethren are a conservative, low church, nonconformist, Evangelical Christian movement whose history can be traced to Dublin, Ireland in the late 1820s, originating from Anglicanism.
Among other beliefs, the group emphasises sola scriptura, the belief that the Bible is the supreme authority for church doctrine and practice over and above ‘the mere tradition of men’.
Brethren generally see themselves, not as a denomination, but as a network of like-minded independent churches.
The origins of the Brethren are usually traced to Dublin, Ireland, where several groups of Christians met informally to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together in 1827–8. Plymouth Live online article 31 August 2020, ‘Secrets of Plymouth Brethren: The Global Religious Movement that Rose to Fame on the Humble Streets of Devon’