JUDGES in Strasbourg have ruled that a Mormon temple, which is not open to the public, must pay council tax.
Leaders at the Mormon Temple in Chorley have claimed during a long-standing legal case that previous rulings were a breach of its human rights.
The temple, which belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is already eligible for an 80 per cent rate reduction due to its charitable status.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that denying the full rate exemption did not violate the worshippers’ rights to show their religious beliefs.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was told in 2005 it was not exempt from business rates because it is not providing a public service.
However, the case was appealed to the European court as Mormon leaders claimed they were being discriminated against.
At Chorley, congregational services are attended by, on average, 950 people a week.
The ceremonies held at the temple carry profound theological significance to Mormons, who believe as a tenet of their faith that only the worthy may be admitted.
Only the most devout members of the applicant church, who hold a current ‘recommend’, are entitled to enter.
The Strasbourg judges agreed with a 2005 House of Lords that the tax should be imposed.
In the ruling the court said that the exemption law was to benefit religious buildings which provided a service to the general public, which the Chorley Temple did not.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has around 190,000 members in the UK.
The Chorley temple is one of two in the country, the other one being on the outskirts of London.
A spokesman for the Mormon faith said the church would respect the court’s decision.