Thursday, July 17, 2008

Christian Charities: don't do social work if you spread the gospel

Action: please lobby Hazel Blears: Christian charities do social work inspired by their religious convictions: obviously. What they do is therefore an exemplification of Christian values: obviously. Their work is a major way in which the Gospel makes itself felt in the world: inevitably. Evangelisation and social work cannot be separated. Please tell Ms Blears.

Department for Communities and Local Government
Eland House
Bressenden Place

From LifeSite, via CFNews: Last year, the Charities Commission instituted a new criterion under which religious charities must prove that what they do is of 'public benefit', or face the loss of their tax status. Now a secretary of the Labour government has said that those Christian charities that engage in religious evangelisation will not also be allowed to conduct social service work. Hazel Blears, the Labour government's Communities Secretary is the author of a White Paper entitled 'Communities in control: real people, real power', that lays out the criteria for participation by Christian organisations in social services. But Blears indicated in the House of Commons that in the name of 'inclusiveness' Christian religious charities that are interested in promoting Christianity will be excluded from engaging in charitable social works. Although 'many people are motivated by faith of all kinds to do great acts of social good,' she said, 'I am concerned to ensure that if faith groups become involved, they do so on a proper footing - not by evangelising or proselytising, but by providing services in a non-discriminatory way to the whole community.'

Blears said she will draft a 'charter' for churches and Christian agencies providing community services. The charter will require groups to pledge to provide 'an inclusive service to our community' in a number of ways. One of these is, 'Never imposing our Christian faith or belief on others.' The Christian Institute, a non-denominational organisation that promotes traditional Christianity in public life, said that there have already been cases of Christian groups being denied funding because they refuse to compromise on their specifically Christian ethos.

In 2005, one Christian-run homeless shelter was threatened with the loss of £150,000 of funding unless it stopped saying grace at mealtimes and putting Bibles out for use by guests. Teen Challenge UK, an organisation in Wales that helps drug addicts, had £700,000 of funding withdrawn. Although the Welsh Assembly denies this was the reason, MP Bob Spink said in the House of Commons, 'The organisation's grant was removed essentially because it has Christian roots and is run by Christians.'

Last month Blears said that the 'sidelining' of Christianity in public life is 'common sense' and said that in the place of Britain's 1500 year Christian heritage, Islam should be promoted. Blears told BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme that the government's interest in Islam is 'just common sense. If we've got an issue where we have to build resilience of young Muslim men and women to withstand an extremist message.' Her comments came in the wake of a scathing Church of England report that accused the Labour government of being 'tone-deaf' to religious matters, especially in its lack of a fundamental grasp of the principles of Christianity, the country's officially established religion.

Blears immediately cemented the Church's point when she told BBC Radio that she found it a source of joy that 'we live in a secular democracy.' The Church of England bishop responsible for the report, the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, said afterwards, 'That comes as news to me - we have an Established Church, but the Government can't deal with Christianity.' The Church of England's report effectively threw the weight of the Established Church behind the resurgent Conservative party that has been making significant overtures to Britain's disaffected Christian majority. The report, entitled 'Moral, But No Compass,' accused Labour of 'religious illiteracy', refusing to acknowledge the breakdown of civil order in society and of having excluded religious voices. The government, it says, 'consciously decided to focus...almost exclusively on minority religions.' [LifeSiteNews]

No comments:

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