Church’s future as charity in doubt after ‘plague protection kits’ row

Posted: Fri, 05 Mar 2021

Plague protection oil

The Charity Commission has appointed an interim manager to a church following concerns raised by the National Secular Society about 'plague protection kits' sold by its bishop.

England and Wales's charity regulator announced today that it appointed an interim manager to The Kingdom Church GB in February, who will "consider the charity's future operation and viability".

The commission opened an inquiry into the south London-based charity in August after the NSS raised concerns about 'plague protection kits' made of oil and string sold by bishop Irugu Wiseman during the coronavirus outbreak.

The commission said it had "serious ongoing concerns" about the charity's administration and the financial relationship with its two subsidiary companies.

It found the charity does not have a bank account and charity funds have instead been deposited into the charity's subsidiaries' bank accounts. It is investigating the legality of this relationship.

The commission only appoints interim managers to charities "after very careful consideration" if there is misconduct or mismanagement in the administration of a charity, or if it is necessary or desirable to protect the charity's property.

Sale of 'protection kits'

In March 2020 a post on the Bishop Climate Ministries website promoted the protective power of "the Divine Plague Protection Oil" and "Scarlet Yarn".

The post originally included claims that "every coronavirus and any other deadly thing" would "pass over" those using the oil and yarn.

It was later edited to remove some specific references to coronavirus, but continued to claim people could "be saved from every pandemic" by using the oil and string.

Kingdom Church's website linked to an online shop, which carried the same post.

Local paper Southwark News reported that the kits were originally on sale for £91.

A disclaimer was later added to the posts to say they were "solely under Bishop Climate Ministries and Not the Kingdom Church" (sic).

NSS response

NSS head of policy and research Megan Manson welcomed the intervention from the Charity Commission.

"This church's future as a registered charity is now being questioned, and rightly so.

"All charities, including religious charities, must be held to account when they engage in unethical and harmful behaviour."

The NSS's campaign for charity law reform

  • The Charities Act of 2011 outlines 13 purposes which charities can pursue to ensure they provide a public benefit. One of those is 'the advancement of religion'.
  • In 2019 the NSS published a major report making the case for 'the advancement of religion' to be removed from the list. Under the NSS's proposals religious charities which benefit the public would retain their status, but all charities would be required to pass a secular public benefit test.

The Kingdom Church's charitable purpose

  • The Kingdom Church is registered as a charity with the purpose of advancing the Christian faith and "other such charitable purposes as are beneficial to the community".

Image via Bishop Climate Ministries.

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Tags: Charity, Healthcare