QUOTE(Alicia Ocean @ Jun 16 2012, 06:45 PM)
While the Church of England enjoys its tax-free status every tax payer is paying a little bit more on their behalf. That's reason enough why anyone should feel free to enjoy the surroundings of a lovely church for their wedding, whatever their belief. These old buildings are part of our national heritage and the public pay for them. We chose a city centre registry office because it was convenient. If I had fancied a nice country church for my wedding I don't see why anyone should have the right to object.
Please can you explain this for me, because as a former Church Treasurer I don't recognise the picture that you paint?
It is true that all established churches are Registered Charities, and so can reclaim income tax on certain declared donations (i.e. 'Gift Aided' Donations); but then so can all Registered Charities, including many public schools. (I believe this also includes other, non-Christian faiths including Islamism and Judaism.)
Churches and places of worship are also exempt from Rates and Council Tax, as are houses permanently occupied by Ministers of Religion.
In all other respects, the church pays the same taxes as every other organisation, including VAT (unless VAT Registered), Corporation Tax and Employers NI. Ministers also have to pay NI and Income Tax on their stipends and benefits in the same way that everyone else does.
There is no state subsidy for any church, including the Church of
England, although certain Grants can be made by English Heritage for work on Listed Buildings, but those grants are not confined to church buildings.
There is a popular misconception that the church is supremely wealthy, but this is not the case. It is true that The Church of
England was given a lot of money by Queen Anne [I believe], in reparation for the destruction of church buildings and theft of church property by Her predecessor, Henry VIII, but most of that has long gone. Indeed, the Commissioners of the Church of
England are currently faced with a huge black hole in the church's pension provision for both Ministers and Lay Staff in exactly the same way that the government and some corporations are.
The Church of
England does still own a lot of land, especially here in the North East, but any income is used to pay clergy, and for the 'good works' of the church. Individual churches receive no payment from Diocese; rather, each church is required to pay a 'Parish Share' or 'Quota' to the Diocese, which pays for clergy stipends, training, pensions, housing and so forth.
Charitable works by individual churches are paid for by donations to that church. All PCC's (Parochial Church Councils) are responsible for maintaining their own churches, and for paying Surveyors, Architects and other Professionals.
Having said all of that, as the Church of
England is the Established Church, there is usually no reason why couples with what is known as a 'qualifying connection' with a parish should not be married in the parish church.