The advancement of religion remains one of the 13 'descriptions of purposes' that are able to be charitable.
The specific guidance that was previously under the heading of advancement of religion on the Charity Commission website is still there but carries the following note:
This guidance is currently under review It no longer forms part of our public benefit guidance and should now be read together with our set of 3 public benefit guides. It will remain available to read until we publish replacement guidance. - See more at:http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/det ... kKwKX.dpuf
Interestingly the first booklet in the link I posted yesterday (Public benefit: the public benefit requirement) has two very pertinent comments on page 12 about deciding what is a 'sufficient' section of the public. It states : Charities must not define their beneficiaries in the following ways as these will not benefit a sufficient section of the public:
- a purpose which is confined to a closed religious organisation
A private (or 'self-regarding') members' club generally exists for the benefit of its members only, and so cannot be for the public benefit. Even if it has open membership, an organisation that is 'inward-looking' supported by its members for the purpose of providing benefits for the members, does not benefit a public class of people and so cannot be a charity.
As we know the brethren have been spending the last several months trying very hard to make it appear that they are not a closed organisation and that they are not inward-looking providing benefits just to members.