Sunday, November 26, 2006

Church loses English Temple Tax Exemption Case

Top judges ruled against the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day
Saints, saying the temple did not qualify for a rates exemption –
because it can only be used by selected Mormon believers and is not "a
place of public religious worship."

The Appeal Court decision is a bitter blow to the Church whose 6,300
square metre temple is just one of a number of very large buildings set
amidst 15 acres at Temple Way, adjacent to the M61 motorway.

Lord Justice Neuberger said that, for Mormons, their temples are
considered the "Houses of the Lord and the most sacred places on earth."

At the Appeal Court, the Church challenged a decision of the Lands
Tribunal that its Chorley temple did not qualify for exemption from rates.

But, dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Neuberger said: "The activities
carried out in the temple, far from 'relating to the organisation of the
conduct of public religious worship,' are in reality 'acts of ritual
worship carried out in private'."

He said the characteristics of the Mormon faith "cannot warrant a
departure from the terms of the Local Government Finance Act 1988."

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