Thursday, December 14, 2006

Haringey Council threatens Christian charity

Background briefing.

From CFNews. Gosia Shannon, the organiser of a Family Centre for Eastern European migrants who have settled in London, was told last month by Haringey Council that unless the Centre agreed to renounce all expression of Christianity from the voluntary services they provided, they would lose the vital funding they received from the local authority. In one of the letters from the Council, it was said 'We expect all our services to be inclusive and without religious content, so I was concerned to learn that Gosia leads the singing of songs about loving Jesus in every session. I asked Gosia to leave this song out in future but she is still refusing to do so.' This response came after the Family Centre sought to change its name from 'The Polish Drop-In Centre' to 'The Polish and Eastern European Christian Family Centre'.

Reacting to the use of the word 'Christian' in the name of the organisation, Haringey Council explained that this could damage the funding that was currently provided. Gosia, motivated by her Christian faith, set up the voluntary centre, including mother and toddler groups, in order to help and meet the needs of Eastern European migrants as they sought to integrate and settle into life in London. Andrea Minichiello Williams, Public Policy Officer at the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship comments 'The scenario highlights one of the main threats posed by the Government's controversial Sexual Orientation Regulations. If the Regulations come into force unamended, they will require all local authorities to withdraw funding from Christian voluntary organisations, if those organisations wish to espouse the Biblical position on sex outside of heterosexual marriage' Gosia's family centre had sought to explain to Council officials that 'we welcome gay people but will not promote gay values' Thomas Cordrey, Public Policy Analyst at the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship, commented 'The dedicated voluntary work done by thousands of Christians across Britain is jeopardised by these Regulations. The losers will be the most vulnerable, lonely and isolated people in society who currently benefit from Christian voluntary work. If the Government press ahead with these Regulations, no Christian organisation in receipt of public funding will be able to refuse to promote or assist homosexual practice.' Mr Cordrey continued 'The issue is broader than sexual orientation. These Regulations deny the ability of Christian organisations to hold to basic truths in the Bible that we should not promote or assist conduct which God says is wrong. Christians must continue to insist that the Government alter their stance so that Christian organisations can continue to receive public funding for the work they do, as well as adhere to the Bible's teaching'. [Lawyers Christian Fellowship]

As the shadows of legislation such as the Sexual Orientation Regulations begin to fall upon us, CF NEWS asked for a comment from Haringey Council on whether public prayer is a consideration when giving a judgement on funding, but is still waiting for a response.

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Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen