Time To reform charity law.
The Charity Commission for England and Wales has a lot on its plate. It regulates over 185,700 charities, and actively seeks to register more – including more religious charities.
It's therefore laudable that despite its heavy workload, the commission is keeping its ambitions high in its 2021-22 business plan. The plan's aims include "keeping charity relevant" and continuing to "put the public interest front and centre of our approach to regulating charities".
The National Secular Society, which campaigns for religious and non-religious charities to be held to equally high standards, naturally supports these aims. But without fundamental reform to charity law itself, the commission will be unable to truly realise its objectives.
According to charity guidance, charities must serve a public benefit and must not promote extremism. But over the years, the NSS has reported dozens of charities to the commission for promoting extremist ideas, including homophobia and misogyny, through their websites.
What do these charities have in common? They're all registered under the charitable purpose of "the advancement of religion".
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