The founder of a charity which provides information about cults has warned that the UK is the 'laughing stock of Europe' when it comes to dealing with brainwashing groups.
The Cult Information Centre, which is endorsed by leading church figures including the general secretary of the Baptist Union, and a former Principal of London Theological College has been told it may lose its charitable status, after a complaint was made to the Charity Commission.
Ian Haworth, founder of the Cult Information Centre.
A complainant, whose identity is unknown, said that the charity was biased in terms of the information it was providing to the public.
But the charity’s founder says that his organisation has been subject to an on-going campaign of complaints since it was founded 25 years ago.
And having fought long and hard to gain vital charitable status in the first place, founder Ian Haworth now faces the possibility of seeing it disappear, which could cripple the organisation financially.
Former cult member Mr Haworth said: “We have always tried to help families, individuals and society as a whole understand a very serious problem. But the charity commission have become part of the problem for us.
Britain has got this wrong, and has had it wrong for a very long time.
“When you look at countries like Germany and France, they are way ahead of us, the French even have an entire government department specialising in Cults.
“In Britain, it really isn’t an issue of religious liberty, it’s about religious license to practise coercive behaviour in the name of religion.
“I don’t know if we’ll lose our charitable status, and I’m not someone who gives up easily. But I’m frustrated.
I love the UK, I think it’s a wonderful place, I appreciate the good things about the country, but the fact is that it’s the laughing stock of Europe in this area. It is also giving religion a bad name.
“I do worry about the Charity Commission, as I understand it charities are supposed to operate for the benefit of society, we have clearly been operating for the benefit of society, from the word go. We’ve been working for public benefit.
“I can’t think of a single cult which operates for the public benefit.
Foolish Charity Commission
“I believe in the concept of having a Charity Commission, but I feel that it is really looking very foolish at the moment, which is unfortunate.”
A charity commission spokesperson said: “The Cult Information Centre is registered with the Charity Commission with charitable objects for the promotion of education.
“For an organisation to be educational in the charitable sense, its education work must be neutral rather than propagandist. The Cult Information Centre was registered on this basis.
“Following complaints that CIC’s activities were not sufficiently neutral to be an educational charity, in 2007 the Commission reviewed its activities. We concluded that some of the charity’s activities were based on a particular viewpoint and were therefore not sufficiently neutral to be regarded as educational.
“We explored with the charity whether its work might be charitable on some other basis and concluded that it would not.
“The charity informed us in June 2011 that they would appoint an independent advisor to the trustees to review the charity’s activities and suggested a framework for future activities to ensure these are exclusively educational and charitable. We await the results of this review.”
March 5th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross