Plans to exclude Christian charities from receiving public funding unless they promise not to evangelise may be scrapped.
A humanist organisation says the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) is to drop plans for a new Charter for Excellence for faith groups seeking public funding.
Referring to the charter earlier this year, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears had made clear that funding would only be available to help Christian groups “promising not to use public money to proselytise”.
But the British Humanist Association (BHA) says it has now been told that the CLG plans to stop working on the charter.
The BHA is now calling for amendments to the Equality Bill to replace the measures the Charter would have contained.
“We did not believe it went far enough to protect service users,” said Hanne Stinson, Chief Executive of the BHA.
But, she continued, the “CLG reassured us it would at least ensure that organisations receiving money would have to sign up to equality good practice and promise not to proselytise.
“Now, even this small safeguard has been lost”.
The Equality Bill already contains statutory duties that could force public bodies including local councils to promote ‘equality’ in areas including sexual orientation.
Such bodies would also have to make sure that any groups undertaking work on their behalf also signed up to their equality agenda.
Even without such a statutory duty, a Christian care home lost thousands of pounds in public funding last year when it refused to ask its elderly Christian residents about their sexual orientation every three months.
The funding was eventually restored after the home launched a legal action, but there are concerns that the Equality Bill could see other Christian groups providing valuable services denied funding.