Thursday, December 13, 2007

Charity Commission in Wonderland

Briefing: following the recent change in the law removing religion as a charitable object, the Charity Commission has been holding consultative meetings with representatives from religious charities. All well and good. But in the strange world where the Commission exists, the only religions which count are non-Chritian ones. Readers of the Catholic Herald may remember the letter from the Dame Suzi Leather, Chair of the Charity Commission (22nd June) responding to reports that the new law will be bad for Catholic charities: she clearly believed that the best response was ridicule and sarcasm, while reiterating the policies which created the problem without apology or explanation. 'The Act wasn't created as a cunning ploy to cull religious charities from the Register.' Oh, so that's ok then.

From Christian Concern for Our Nation: The Charity Commission have announced the launch of a dedicated new ‘Faith and Social Cohesion Unit’ to provide support and expert advice to faith-based charities. The unit’s stated aims are to strengthen the governance of faith-based charities, identify and support organisations that could be but are not currently registered as charities and improve the regulator's and society's understanding of faith-based charities and the contribution they make.

The Commission announced that they will be “building on the findings of a two year programme of workshops with representatives from over 800 faith-based organisations across 11 different faiths. Events were held with Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist communities as well as special meetings with the UK's smaller faiths such as Baha'i and Zoroastrianism, and a special multi-faith event for women only.” It is of great concern to note that over the last 2 years no specific mention at all is made of any consultations with Christian
organisations or faith groups apart from in the development of a model governing document for independent evangelical churches in 2004. It is hoped that in all future events and in the composition of the Faith Advisory group the Commission will seek to re-address this balance and correctly represent Christians, bearing in mind that in the last national census about 72% of the population stated their religion as Christian.

Details about the Unit on the Commission website show events with feedback from
Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist and Hindu Charities with no mention of
Christianity. It is stated that “The Unit will initially work primarily with
Muslim charities and communities. A Project Board including representatives of
the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) has been established to
direct the Unit’s work and to provide specialist advice”.

The focus on primarily Muslim charities ignores the faith based Christian
charities and this is an important omission which needs re-addressing,
particularly as the new Faith Advisory group will play an important role in
advising the Commission on policy and issues affecting all faith based
charities, including Christianity.

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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