Research Handbook on Not-For-Profit Law
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Research Handbook on Not-For-Profit Law

Edited by Matthew Harding

This Research Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of scholarship on not-for-profit law. The chapters, written by world leading experts, explore key ideas and debates in relation to: theories of the not-for-profit sector, the composition and scope of that sector, not-for-profit organisations and the constitution, the legal conception of charity, the tax treatment of not-for-profit organisations and the regulation of not-for-profits. The book serves to represent not-for-profit law as a field of academic inquiry, and to point the way to future research in that field.
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Chapter 12: Not-for-profit law and freedom of religion

Pauline Ridge


This chapter considers the ways in which freedom of religion might impose demands on not-for-profit law in the United Kingdom. The chapter tackles this question with reference to European jurisprudence, but also the charity law and other common law of the UK itself. The chapter argues that the legal definition of ‘religion’ in not-for-profit law should be as broad as possible, to ensure that freedom of religion is properly respected and that the question of what counts as a religion is kept separate from the question whether a religion should be constrained or interfered with by the state. It further argues that European jurisprudence should be developed with an eye to ascertaining when states might legitimately discriminate between religions, within the ‘margin of appreciation’ that they enjoy under European law. Finally, the chapter suggests that freedom of religion demands the restoration of a ‘presumption’ of public benefit in English charity law or the abolition of the public benefit requirement altogether.

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