PBCC response to Times Article March 2015
1. £13M Tax break The headline suggests that the Charity Commission decision secured all tax reliefs for all Brethren charities. This is nonsense, as the Commission decision only related to the gospel hall trusts. The charitable status of other charities administered by the community was never in doubt.
2. The charity regulator secured tax breaks for PBCC worth millions per year The Charity Commission decision concerned the gospel hall trusts. By the article’s own estimation, the gift aid reclaims made by the hall trusts is £125,000 for construction, and “Unknown” for upkeep. Rating relief (claimed by the article to be worth £3m) does not depend upon registration with the Charity Commission, as it is granted by local authorities to places of public religious worship, and has nothing to do with charitable status. The charity regulator secured tax breaks” is also wrong. Tax breaks are determined by HMRC, which can (and does) take its own view.
3. PBCC ‘shun outsiders’ This is untrue, as a multitude of our non-brethren friends in business, schools and local communities would confirm
4. “Strict disciplinary practices” PBCC disciplinary practices follow the teachings of the Bible, as outlined in Schedule 2 ‘Faith in Practice’, -approved by the Charity Commission. Discipline is rare, and used only as a last resort.
5. Brethren lobbying campaign PBCC members support whatever Government is in power and make use of their democratic right to approach MPs or Peers about any issues of concern. There is nothing illegal about individuals choosing to help MPs, for example by distributing leaflets.
6. ‘Cult’ accusation The PBCC is a mainstream Christian church.
7. Brethren life restricted & controlled PBCC members find their lives to be full, varied and rewarding.
8. Travel is limited PBCC members travel widely, often overseas, for Church, family, business and educational reasons.
9. STI data collection The PBCC does not undertake such surveys.
10. Large cash reserves for ‘end of world’ This is complete nonsense.
11. ‘Rapture’ in 2022 The Lord Jesus said “ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Matthew 25: 13
12. Hewitt family shut up for ‘unauthorized’ computer This is false.
13. The ‘money trail’ diagram This diagram is a misrepresentation including many inaccurate estimations, assumptions and spurious claims. The Gospel Hall Trusts are recognised by the Valuation Office Agency as public places of religious worship and are therefore (like all public places of religious worship such as synagogues and churches) entitled to claim relief from liability on non-domestic rates. This relief is not linked to their charitable status.
14. 340 windowless meeting rooms across the country with security gates We protect our Gospel Halls, which have been paid for entirely by our members. Many Brethren Gospel Halls do have windows. For example, Blackborough End Meeting Hall. Kings Lynn.
15. The Brethren believe the rest of the world is evil Like millions of other parents, PBCC parents want to protect their young people from damaging influences.
16. Children move out of homes when parents shut up Shutting up is rare. It is the choice of the parents if their children move to family or friends. If older teenagers decide to move out temporarily it would be at their own prerogative and with the full consent of the parents.
17. Following CC decision, ‘nothing has changed’ Nothing has changed in Holy Scripture, nor will it ever change, but there has been a renewed committal and putting into practise of fairness and compassion.
18. The 76 slide presentation This was done by an individual member and did not meet with general approval.
19. Letter read out about helping Conservatives False. No such letter was read out.
20. ‘secretive Christian sect’ The PBCC website gives details of our services and beliefs.
21. Exclusive Brethren struck a deal with the Charity Commission’ False. The Charity Commission reached their decision independently after careful investigation and examination of all the evidence
22. brethren have lived in secretive communities, isolating themselves from the rest of society. False. PBCC members live in ordinary residential areas and interact with society in business and other areas