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Charities: Religion

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN HL1674, tabled on 5 July 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to prevent religious organisations that promote intolerance and harmful messages from becoming registered charities.

Answered on

12 July 2021

To be registered as a charity, institutions, including religious organisations in England and Wales, must meet the legal test for charitable status set out in the Charities Act 2011. This requires the institution to have a wholly charitable purpose for the benefit of the public. The advancement of religion has long been recognised as a charitable purpose.

The requirement for public benefit has to be demonstrated with evidence. Any benefits that the charity provides must be weighed against any detriment and harm. An example of activity by an organisation which would be considered as detrimental or harmful includes encouraging or promoting violence or hatred towards others, or unlawfully restricting a person’s freedom. An organisation’s public benefit will be affected where there is evidence of significant detriment or harm from what the organisation proposes to do, or practises, which outweigh the benefits of the organisation carrying out its aims.

The Charity Commission, as the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, is responsible for assessing if an institution meets the legal test for charitable status. The Charity Commission takes a robust approach to registration, demonstrated by the fact that it registered on average 60% of applications received in 2020-2021.

There are currently no plans to change the legal test for charitable status.