Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Pickles in call to stop Scientology tax breaks

  • Comment

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has urged councils not to give special tax breaks running into hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Church of Scientology.

Mr Pickles said he did not believe the majority of voters would want their councils to give favoured tax treatment to the organisation, whose celebrity members include actor Tom Cruise.

He said local authorities should take account of the rulings of the Charity Commission, which in 1999 rejected an application for registration as a charity after finding that Scientology was not a religion.

According to The Guardian, at least four authorities - the City of London, Westminster, Birmingham and Sunderland - have given rate or tax relief to the church in relation to buildings in their areas.

In a statement last night, Mr Pickles, left, said: “Tolerance and freedom of expression are important British values, but this does not mean that the likes of Church of Scientology deserve favoured tax treatment over and above other business premises.

“The Church of Scientology is not a registered charity, since the Charity Commission has ruled that it does not provide a public benefit. Nor are its premises a recognised place of worship.

“Councils may award charitable relief. They should take into consideration the Charity Commission’s rulings when weighing up whether to do so.

“I do not believe the majority of the public would want their own council to be giving special tax breaks to such a controversial organisation.”

A Church of Scientology spokesman told The Guardian: “Scientology is very popular with those who have visited our churches, met with Scientologists and observed or utilised our numerous community activities that effectively address drug abuse, illiteracy, declining moral values, human rights violations, criminality and more.

“Local council authorities, government bodies in this country and many others, and the European Court of Human Rights have all recognised the religious nature of Scientology or the fact that Scientologists are actively helping those in their communities as a direct reflection of their religious beliefs.”

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.