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Monday, 7 September 2009

Fools and their money . . .

A mega-rich religious organisation that’s been investigated by the UK’s Charity Commission has been told it can’t build a massive new church in London.

It appealed against a decision to refuse planning permission, and has now lost that appeal.

The think tank Ekklesia tells us that Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) wanted to build the church on a site in Rainham, “a key regeneration area in the Thames Gateway”. Residents and their local council said they wanted community and business facilities in the area.

Ekklesia says of the organisation:

Kingsway is reputedly the largest church in Britain. It also preaches a message that wealth is a sign of divine blessing – something which most Christians argue directly contradicts the Gospel message and Jesus’s favouring of the poor. [. . .]

KICC’s leader, Matthew Ashimolowo, tells his congregation that “God wants you rich!” His church has assets of £23 million.

The church is reported to have made a profit of £4.9 million in the last 18 months and its wealth outstrips St Paul’s Cathedral’s foundation by a factor of three.

The money comes from worshippers, who pay a tenth of their annual salary, often by bank transfer. A large tax bill is avoided by KICC’s charitable status.

The charity behind Kingsway International Christian Centre was investigated by the Charity Commission of England and Wales between 2002 and 2005.

Fools and their money and all that . . .

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