Christianity, Charity, and the opportunity for Conservatism
The founder of a charity to assist single mothers applied for a grant from the DfES, and was turned down because the charity’s website revealed its Christian foundation. This led the DfES to conclude that the charity ‘was not open to everybody’ (despite the fact that it ministers to all single mothers regardless of faith), and the letter of rejection identified the crime: ‘Your assistance for single parents includes extending Christian comfort and offering prayer’.
The Spitalfields Crypt Trust has ministered to homeless alcoholics for forty years. It owns two houses where alcoholics are permitted to live while they are recovering, but Tower Hamlets Council is threatening to remove its grant. The charity mission statement states: ‘It is our firm belief that a personal Christian faith offers the greatest hope, most effective dynamic and surest foundation for sustainable recovery and personal development. We want to make this faith accessible to our service-users while at the same time offering our services to people of any faith or none without obligation to engage in any exploration, observance or instruction of a specifically Christian nature.’ Tower Hamlets Council wants it to say: ‘We will do nothing to promote our faith’, which the Trust has rejected.
In the UK, around 20% of charities have a religious basis, and it is testimony to the faith that the vast majority of these are Christian. While few doubt that their involvement in society is very much needed, the foundation upon which they are built is under concerted attack from increasingly aggressive secular authorities. They may no longer employ Christians, for that is ‘discrimination’; they may no longer talk of their faith, for that is ‘anti-diversity’; and they may no longer explain their morality, for that is ‘intolerance’.
As one looks at the moral state of the country - prostitutes, homeless, gambling, drunks, drug addicts, over-crowded prisons, anti-social behaviour - there is no doubt that we live in a sinful and broken world. Christians have a unique answer to these ills, which goes far deeper than any government-led solution, and has been proven to be effective over two millennia. The faith base of much charity work is the precise motivation which urges believers to help those who are less fortunate, yet now that faith is deemed ‘inappropriate’.
New Labour has done more to undermine the Christian foundations of the United Kingdom than any previous government in history. The party that was built on sacred motives has become the most secular. It therefore comes as no surprise that the Christian Socialist Movement is in crisis, and therein lies a distinct opportunity for Christians in the Conservative Party to articulate their vision. The secularisation process of the past decade has outstripped that of the preceding three centuries, and while Christians on the Government benches have been mute, those in the Conservative Party have been networking, listening, and praying. While some may assert that our social context has become post-Christian, it is not for any government to hasten the demise of the Judeo-Christian worldview. It alone has revealed to the world the light and liberty that is eternal, and it must therefore contend with the culture, confront the zeitgeist, and endure the consequent ridicule and persecution that was foretold.