Public bodies are ‘intolerant’ of Christian groups
Dr Sentamu said Christian groups ‘are working at the coalface of pastoral care and social practice, motivated by nothing more than their love of God and the love for their neighbour.’
And the statistics are unequivocal. There are 22,000 faith-based charities in England and Wales which work tirelessly for the benefit of the elderly, children, the homeless and the disabled. Churchgoers contribute more than 23 million hours of voluntary service each year.
But Dr Sentamu has noticed ‘a chill wind that blows around grant makers and managers of funds’ when they consider the plans of faith groups. He said: “We must resist any trend in national or local Government where the decision as to whether a solution works is not based on results, but upon the intolerance that sees a project motivated by faith as being tainted and unsuitable for receipt of funding. Rather there should be a recognition of the valuable work being carried out by groups motivated to serve the common good by a belief in dignity of all as God’s creatures in which his divine spark resides.”
The Archbishop added: “Of course there will be those who will say the Church has no role to play in service delivery and that faith has no part to play in the solution. But the facts tell a different story. The Church has a role to play because it is based in the community. It does not drive in to places of strife in the morning and leave before the lights go down.”
One might think that a nation with a Christian heritage might be content to trust the spiritual force and theological bedrock which forged its identity. The liberal democracy which has developed over the centuries has become manifestly illiberal where Christianity is concerned, yet the philosophy demands several ideological commitments:
First, it requires state tolerance of all beliefs that do not restrict the freedom of others. Second, it involves equality of citizens before the law regardless of their beliefs and practices. Third, it imports neutrality on the part of the state towards religions and their communities and even (though this is a rather grey area) towards distinctive moral visions of the common good.
In pursuit of Labour's 'common good', it is to be observed that the state is increasingly intolerant of Christianity; all citizens are no longer equal before the law; and the only neutrality expressed by the state towards religion is that which is profoundly anti-Christian, which is no neutrality at all.
Significantly, a study by Cambridge University accused this Labour government of ‘planning blind’ on community projects because they had no evidence of the work Christian groups carried out, despite ‘focusing intently’ on Muslims.
One wonders why.