Thursday, 7 May 2015

Charity Commission examines claims that Plymouth Brethren have campaigned for Tory candidates

According to reports in The Times this week, members of the Brethren have leafleted for the Conservative Pary in various constituencies considered marginals

A Plymouth Brethren meeting
A Plymouth Brethren meeting

The Charity Commission is looking into claims that the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church has provided campaigning support for Conservative general election candidates and held prayers for a Conservative victory.

The Times newspaper reported earlier this week that members of the Brethren, who do not vote, had been "leafleting for Conservative candidates in key marginal seats", including Chippenham in Wiltshire, Montgomeryshire and Yeovil in Somerset, and had said prayers for the party’s success.

The paper said that hundreds of Brethren volunteers had leafleted for Conservatives during the 2010 election, and many of those MPs later went on to support the church in its bid to be registered as a charity by the commission.

This claim has previously been reported in The Times and reiterated to Third Sector by Paul Flynn, who was then the Labour MP for Newport West.

In January 2014 the Preston Down Trust, a Devon-based congregation of the church, was registered with the commission after a five-year legal battle over whether it was established for the public benefit. The church adheres to a doctrine of separation and has been accused of breaking up families and using harsh disciplinary practices. Since the registration of the PDT, a further 70 Plymouth Brethren congregations have been granted charitable status by the commission.

A spokeswoman for the commission said today: "We are aware of concerns raised in the press regarding the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church and have contacted representatives to establish the facts of this matter." Once this happened, she said, the regulator would decide what action to take, if any.

"Charity Commission guidance on campaigning and political activity makes clear that a charity must not give its support to any political party or candidate and that all charities must ensure their independence is maintained and perceptions of independence are not adversely affected," the spokeswoman said. "As charity regulator, we expect charity trustees to take account of this fundamental requirement as a core part of their decision-making processes."

A statement issued by the church to Third Sector said it had conducted its own investigation into the allegations and would cooperate fully with the Charity Commission's review.

It said: "The PBCC, like any church, has an interest in good government – not only how it will affect the interests of the church, but also what is best for all in this country.

"However, there is no instruction from anyone regarding which party to support. Many people of faith will look at candidates’ commitments to faith schools and other related issues and support accordingly. Many Brethren members run small businesses and that too will have an impact on their political positions. However, above all, we seek strong leadership cognisant of Christian values."


  1. Am I the only one who suspect the EB/PBCC wasn't being honest? Which reminds me of:

    John 8:44 Darby

    44 Ye are of the devil, as [your] father, and ye desire to do the lusts of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks falsehood, he speaks of what is his own; for he is a liar and its father:

    What do you think LJO. Was he telling the truth or lies?

  2. No member of the brethren has lied since age 12, especially Daddy.

    #furnituresalesman (sorry can't reveal my real name for security reasons)

  3. "Charity Commission guidance on campaigning and political activity makes clear that a charity must not give its support to any political party or candidate and that all charities must ensure their independence is maintained and perceptions of independence are not adversely affected"

    Oops, you slipped up a bit there then didn't you, dear brethren!

  4. It is offensive that they campaign for any political preference. THEY DON'T VOTE! THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO VOTE! Which begs the questions -

    If you feel so strongly about who you want to win an election - then VOTE like the rest of us! Or do you want that for nothing as well?

    You say God chooses our political leaders - not us. So what - you don't trust him? You have to augment God's decision making with a bit of pamphlet distribution of your own? (And let's not forget the big advertising campaigns and smear campaigns in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.) Bit sad when you can't trust your God to get the job done.

    Using your so called bogus lightweight 'charity' as a reason for not being able to vote is preposterous. It's worse actually - its evil. If you can't vote and your 'charity' makes it impossible for you to support a political party - then what the hell are you doing all this campaigning for? Can you stupid people not see the blatant anomaly in that one?

    The trouble with the Brethren these days is that they have been forced to enter more deeply into a world to increase their (leader's) commercial dreams - without actually thinking through what they are doing. "We can't vote - God chooses our Governments - but could you please vote Conservative - because they are nicer to us."

    And this from a people who destroy people's lives - for life. What a wonderful testimony they really are.

  5. In UK meeting rooms, which have always enjoyed favourable taxation status, Jim Taylor had quite a lot to say in support of particular politicians and particular political parties during what were supposed to be church meetings. You find a lot of this in Volumes 145 and 148, along with a great deal of other objectionable material that could not remotely be described as being purely for the public benefit. He boasted that it was the Brethren that got Ted Heath into power. He said the Heath Government was the best government for a long time; you don't want any union people; you want spiritual Tories.

  6. The story has been echoed by the Civil Society newspaper