Pastor Paul Rika
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An organisation called the Holiness Revival Movement Worldwide Europe has managed to become a registered charity, with all the tax benefits and esteem that entails, despite preaching some repugnant views.
One of its publications implies that women who dress in a way that is “pleasing to the eyes of men” are to blame if they are raped.
“No wonder there is increase in rape today and people are not addressing the real problem,” says one of its leaflets.
“You who dress like this is (sic) a strong contributor to the problem.”
The movement’s international director, Pastor Paul Rika, attacks women who wear trousers, calling it “the uniform of the harlot”.
He also says that people who cross-dress are an “abomination unto the Lord thy God”.
Another of the pastors, Bright Chimezie, has laid into other churches that to do subscribe to their version of Christianity.
"The vast majority of churches are in a lukewarm and backslidden state, yet they boast to have need of nothing, whilst their true spiritual state is really blindness and nakedness," he says.
"God has raised up Holiness Revival Movement in this end-time to herald the message to return to righteousness according the uncompromising Word of God."
Some of the views on the group's website are so barking that you can only hope no one takes them seriously. There is, for instance, the repeated claim that the end of the world is near: "This can be seen in various events such as cashless society, legalization of abortion and same sex marriage, transgender change, advent of internet, push for global implantation of microchips, one world religion, extreme moral decadence."
There’s no mystery about how this organisation, which has not responded to my questions, became a registered charity.
All the Holiness Revival Movement Worldwide Europe had to do was claim that its objective was the promotion of religion.
According to Charity Commission rules, promoting religion counts as a public benefit.
Yesterday, the National Secular Society wrote to the Commission alerting it to the “deeply misogynistic messages that fuel rape culture” being spread by the group.
It told the Commission: "On its website, we found written material that we believe to be incompatible with the public benefit requirement, incompatible with the principles of promoting equality and diversity, and incompatible and the requirement for charities to not promote extremist views."
But the issue goes beyond this one organisation, however shocking it may be. There are more than 12,000 charities existing solely to promote religion.
Research by the National Secular Society from 2019 found that out of the 165 religious charities with an annual income of over £10 million, over 25% list no objectives apart from religious activities.
“The 13 charitable purposes set out in The Charities Act 2011 are clear; relieving poverty, promoting good health, saving lives and protecting the environment are undeniably in the public interest,” said Stephan Evans, chief executive of the Society.
“But the benefit to the public of advancing a religion is far more contestable and is based on the outdated presumption that religion is inherently a good thing.
“Not only has religion ceased to be the force for social cohesion that it once was, the rise of religious fundamentalism has also demonstrated how religion can exacerbate tension, division, segregation and conflict in Britain.
“As such, there is a clear need now to consider whether advancement of religion should be regarded as an inherent public good, deserving of the status of a charitable purpose.
"Removing the advancement of religion from the list of charitable purposes wouldn’t prevent religious organisations from being charities, but it would require religious charities to justify their charitable status in exactly the same way that secular organisations must do.”
A Charity Commission spokeswoman said any change to the definition of a charity was a matter for Parliament.
"It is not our role to make value judgements about the aims or ideas put forward by any organisation," she said. "Instead, we decide whether an organisation’s purposes fall within the legal definition of charity."