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Faith charity funding ban may be scrapped


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.

‘How to deal with religious employees’, by gay lobby


The Government’s equality watchdog has funded a top gay lobby group to advise employers on dealing with the ‘clash’ between sexual orientation and religious liberty rights.
Stonewall’s 38-page guide, Sexual Orientation and Religion: How to manage relations in the workplace, was produced with funding from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The lobby group’s Chief Executive, Ben Summerskill, is an EHRC Commissioner.

Stonewall backs Islington Council’s attempt to force Christian employee, Lillian Ladele, to act against her religious beliefs on marriage. Her legal case is ongoing.

The group is also supporting a legal action by a gay couple who are suing the Christian owners of a guest house because they have a ‘married couples only’ policy for double rooms.

Stonewall is also pushing to remove a free speech protection passed by Parliament last year which makes clear that criticising homosexual conduct isn’t, in itself, a crime.

The EHRC has previously given £35,000 to an atheist group, part of which funded another set of guidelines for employers in which it claimed that Christians who evangelise at work could be breaking the law.

The guidance, from the British Humanist Association (BHA), claims that attempts by religious believers to proselytise “are highly likely to amount to harassment of their colleagues”.

The head of the EHRC recently appeared to regret appointing an evangelical Christian to the Commission because it upset gay and atheist campaigners.

Trevor Phillips said if he had anticipated the reaction to the appointment of Joel Edwards, formerly the head of the Evangelical Alliance (EA), there might have been a different outcome.

In September 2008 it was revealed that a senior official at the Equality and Human Rights Commission told a fringe meeting of trade unionists that the Commission would act to root out ‘homophobia’ in religion.

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