Saturday, May 02, 2009

Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund


Further to Cranmer's post on Labour's decision to grant taxpayers' cash to the British Humanist Association from funds allocated to 'Faith Communities', His Grace has been forwarded an explanation from Government Ministers:

Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Peterborough of 11 March 2009, Official Report, column 483W, on the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund, for what reasons the British Humanist Association was funded from the Fund. [268692]

Mr. Khan: The British Humanist Association received £25,000 in order to establish and support a network of grassroots humanists to work and build relationships with statutory bodies and participate in groups that advise local authorities on matters of religion or belief, or encourage dialogue between people with different beliefs. The project aimed to enable local humanists to network with faith and ‘interfaith’ groups and participate in groups convened by local authorities, and thus contribute towards good relations and community cohesion.

The Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund was designed to increase the capacity of all religion and belief communities to engage with each other and with wider society. The guidance notes for the Fund included the following definition:

“For the purpose of this fund, a faith organisation is defined as one where the majority of its members adhere to the same faith. They share a world view or ‘life stance’ that involves a set of moral and spiritual values and beliefs about the nature of life and the world. They will usually, but not always, believe in a god or gods.”

The application was made under the “relationships with local, regional or national Government” category—one of the capacity building categories of the fund. In its application, the BHA described their faith tradition as: “Humanist (though we do not think of ourselves as a ‘faith’, we meet the definition of ‘faith’ given in the guidance)”.

Hansard, 20 April 2009, col. 428W

Well, this is interesting. The Government has helpfully defined what it means by 'Faith Community', and states the essentialist view that such groups 'share a world view or "life stance" that involves a set of moral and spiritual values and beliefs about the nature of life and the world'. To embrace the Buddhists and the Atheists, they specify that there is no necessary belief in a god or gods.

We are in the realms of Wittgenstiein's 'game', for inherent to the polythetic is the assertion that there is no single feature which all have in common.

With this revelation, Cranmer exhorts the Jedi Knight fraternity to make an immediate application. If they are denied funds, they must pursue such malicious and arbitrary religious discrimination through the courts.

In addition, Cranmer exhorts the Scientologists to do the same. The Government has no criteria for assessing the contribution of a 'Faith Community' to the concept of the common good. A group which may be proscribed in Germany (as Scientologists are) is deemed by New Labour to constitute a viable moral world.

Further, it is worth considering what might be the Government response to an application from Hizb ut-Tahrir which certainly has 'a world view or "life stance" that involves a set of moral and spiritual values and beliefs about the nature of life and the world'. They want a global Caliphate and the universal application of shari'a law. They are thereby a 'Faith Community' deserving of a government grant.

Yet 'Faith' money granted to the British Humanist Association for the propagation of a faith which seeks to eradicate faith is perverse. On the basis that it is a valid expression of a coherent 'spiritual world view', it is no different to granting funds to Hizb ut-Tahrir which are designed for the promotion of liberal democracy.

May one not possess a 'world view' which seeks to negate the need to have a world view? May one not have a set of moral values which embraces the anarchic disposition towards fractured amorality?

Statutory and judicial characterisations of religion may wrongly assume that familiar or favoured creeds are real religions, while different or new creeds are either not religions or are only pseudo-religions. The most troubling examples of this deficiency are laws that differentiate between traditional and non-traditional religions or that attempt to differentiate between religions and sects.

By defining the British Humanist Association as a 'Faith Community' Labour have opened a can of worms. Now every sect, cult, splittist, heretic, apostate and schismatic may apply for taxpayers' funds to propagate their world view, for it is 'moral' in a relativist sense. This opens the way for a British 'Falun Gong' or 'Branch Davidian' cult to emerge, financed by the taxpayer, spouting its corrosive gospel with impunity to wreak havoc on society.

Or perhaps that is the British Humanist Association.

34 Comments:

Anonymous Sir Dando Tweakshafte said...

Your Grace,

It seems to me that the British Humanists may not believe in a God, Holy Writ and so forth, but they do believe the pronouncements of Polly Toynbee, their President, which is a similary irrational leap of faith in defiance of logic or common sense.

I therefore understand entirely the wish of a Labour Minister to dispense folding money.

2 May 2009 at 09:50  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Your Grace

The smile on Dawkin's face in the picture resembles that of Dear Leader Brown, whose smile was aptly described by Daniel Hannan as the glint of moonlight on a brass coffin handle.

2 May 2009 at 09:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1969 - A document entitled "Marriage and the Family" is published by the British Humanist Association stating that "some opponents of humanism have accused us of wishing to overthrow the traditional Christian family. They are right. That is exactly what we intend to do."

I find it's always a good start, to trace the originaters of these Associations.

2 May 2009 at 09:52  
Anonymous Chief Priest of Bacchus said...

It's pay day lads! See you all down at the pub!

2 May 2009 at 10:48  
Anonymous len said...

By defining the British Humanist Association as a 'Faith Community' Labour has opened a can of worms.

Faith in what?

I agree Dawkins has a slightly sinister look on his face somewhat like Jack Nicholson in 'the shining'

2 May 2009 at 11:35  
Anonymous Preacher said...

It always amazes me that the atheist brigade spend so much time & effort trying to disprove a God they say they don't believe exists.
I mean everyone is entitled to their own beliefs & to tell others what they believe, but to argue from a negative standpoint against a positive one is either highly presumptuous or plainly self defeating i.e "I don't believe in God & I don't care if He hears me."
Still if their is fiscal gain to be had..........

2 May 2009 at 12:07  
Anonymous len said...

Atheists know perfectly well that God exists. The evidence of God is displayed throughout His creation.
But atheists will do all they can not to acknowledge this Fact!

2 May 2009 at 13:02  
Blogger Forlornehope said...

The simple answer is that government should not be handing out money to "faith communities" at all. If I wish to put my money on the collecting plate, or fill out a standing order, that is my business. I don't want government subsidies for my church.

Where I would make an exception is the support of historic church buildings. The Edwardian reformation confiscated the assets of parishes, above a very minimum level deemed to be sufficient for their immediate needs. It is only justice that the maintenance of these buildings should now be funded by the treasury.

2 May 2009 at 13:35  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

I'm obviously in the wrong faith community with the wrong life-stance ... our project only got £2,500 for doing actual hands-on work with children form some of the neediest areas in our city. Knew I should have just set up a talk shop to "build relationships with statutory bodies"

2 May 2009 at 13:38  
Blogger Gnostic said...

This is probably based on the same system of logic that denies Gurkhas the right to settle in Britain yet welcomes merchants of hate, scroungers and criminals.

2 May 2009 at 14:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what if the bewildered and confused con the fund for a tidy sum? Their efforts will end in the usual mess. The day these roosters are free from religion will be a long time away. It's not going to happen.

The believing church has no business in depending on mammon's bagmen for sustenance, no matter that it is called The Faith Community building Fund or whatever.

2 May 2009 at 14:21  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

To adopt the question from Monty Python -

"What have the Atheists ever done for us?"

The question arisised out of a point raised in the 1950's by the then Pastor of Abraham Lincolon's old Church that Secular Atheists are essentially parasitical.

They benefit from the culture established by the Judeo-Christian heritage but give no benefit back, prefering to weaken the host that has sustained them.

Whilst we can point to a heritage directly responsible for Art, Music, Literature, Scientific encouragement, Universities, any number of Charities, Parliamentary Democracy,Hospitals, the Abolition of the Slave Trade, Prison Reform, the (original) BBC vision, Trades Unionism, the Shaftsbury Reforms for Children, Voluntary work in this country & throughout the world, schools, youth work and many many more outworkings of the Christian imperative to "love your neighbout as yourself" The likes of Polly Toynbee and Dawkins seem to have created a mean spiritedness, a sneering culture, and a selfish view of life that promotes the "all about me" approach to life, because they ultimately believe that that they are indeed the measure of all things.

Thus we are awash with anti-social behaviour, an explosion of family breakdown. sexually transmitted disease, abortion, consumerism, substance abuse, cynicism, selfishness and even genocide and totalitarian government which are all compatible with their world view but utterly incompatible with the teachings of the Prince of Peace fulfilling the promise to His Jewish forebears

2 May 2009 at 17:25  
Anonymous merely a mouse said...

Dawkins obviously hasn't studied The Bible, or he'd know it's more than Lit. It has strands of History and Theology, too - and probably a bit of psychology as a result! But then, Dawkins always was a bit limited in scope, wasn't he?

Therein lies the difference too, between Christianity and this latest fragment of Anti-Christ's fragments! .... Judaeo-Christian theology has developed gentle, and loving for uniting humanity under the Love of the one God. The strength of His Justice works against those who abuse that Love, and who break and destroy others. It does so in both 'short' and 'long term views,' I'd say.

Has anyone ever suggest to these self-styled humanists that their activities might be anti-human? Or do they indulge in schizophrenia simply because it's fashionable in their philosophy?

2 May 2009 at 19:23  
Anonymous merely a mouse said...

sorry - that's 'gentle and loving means for uniting'

2 May 2009 at 19:25  
Anonymous Adrian P said...

A few weeks ago I bought my first crucifix which I now wear at all times.
I'm not religious, I just want to Piss the Govt off.

Unless this Govt stops destroying my country and its values I'm going to press the Nuclear button and start going to church.

2 May 2009 at 19:40  
Anonymous Adrian P said...

Didn't the Communist manifesto also state the destruction of the family and Christianity as one of its aims.

They believe that the state should be the Parent.

I also note the Baby case is back in the news, sadly in a country of 60 million you are going to get things like this happening.
I believe the Govt wants thios to happen, I believe those in the Cabinet want our society to decay, I believe they are actively conspiring to bring this about with incidents like the Baby P case.
Is there any wonder that events like this go on in our society when the Establishment subverts society with crap like this, day after day, week after week, month after week, year after year.
The Govt and the Mass TV Media are as much to blame about Baby P as the adults involved.

Anti British Psychological Warfare in your living room

2 May 2009 at 19:49  
Anonymous steadmancinques said...

They used to put a sticker on the back of Citroen cars saying, 'Ce n'est pas une auto, c'est une mode de vie'.
Now as myself and mes amis consider the Citroen DS (Deesse equals 'goddess', very apt in the context) to be the finest car ever produced, despite it's susceptibility to the corrupting effects of moth and rust, and meet on regular occasions to worship at the shrine of this goddess, will that nice chipmunkish communities secretary give us an appropriate slice of dosh to help us spread the message of the joys of the DS, the 2CV, the Ami, Dyane and GS?
I thought not....

2 May 2009 at 22:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is an excuse to use public money for religion but under Eu rules cannot be focused and must use a scattergun approach....except....when in a public building - like say Bradford County Court - a "Quiet Room" is in fact a mosque with prayer mats and an arrow painted on the wall facing Qibla.

I don't know how Jews, Christians and Hindus make use of this room - its symbols seem to be highly focused...perhaps this courthouse is in Saudi Arabia not West Yorkshire ?

3 May 2009 at 06:34  
OpenID yokel said...

Now this is getting serious! I have just clicked on the link in Adrian P's second post on 02 May 2009 (at 19:49).

YouTube tell me that "This video is not available in your country." What was it?

I am in Britain using a British ISP (though YouTube may be confused by the fact that it has a ".com" domain name.

[Add to that the word verification is "setwar", and I think we have it all!]

3 May 2009 at 09:52  
Blogger Chris said...

If it reduces the amount of government money available for religious groups preying on the weak minded it's fine by me.

3 May 2009 at 10:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever suggested to these self-styled humanists that their activities might be anti-human?

IMO they are anti-human and anti-humanist.

Very much like a con artist always pretends to be honest, or a fascist may find it often 'useful' to pretend to be a libertarian.

The Anti-Christ will come dressed as something quite the opposite.

Humanism very much like socialism is all about selecting those who will be allowed into the future. Rather like the SS Doctors who decided which line people where to be standing in.

It could possibly be BRAVE, it will not be NEW, but it will be the whole WORLD.

Atlas shrugged

3 May 2009 at 18:42  
Anonymous Chris said...

Are you suggesting that the state be responsible for declaring what is and is not a religion? According to whose politics should this decision be made?

This reeks of pragmatism: the assertion that the government not 'interfere' with the use of language conceals the insistence that they provide special privileges to those of your political stance. You're effectively hiding behind the status quo.

As much as anyone, I do not want to see additional resources put in the hands of those who would promote shari'a law as a norm (as in your imagined scenario), but I also understand that it is a matter of individual freedom on which religious attitudes we pursue, not a matter to be determined by the state.

If you would like to promote a government which puts its foot down and states "these are the acceptable religions and no others will be recognized," which confers special privileges on certain groups according to some obscure metric, go ahead, but I'd like to see if you are as cavalier when you are not among the favoured few.

3 May 2009 at 21:21  
Anonymous Philip said...

While the £25,000 is a small amount compared to the billions of wasted taxpayers' money, this £25,000 could still be an obvious candidate for being cut to enable the nation to pay its debts.

The purpose of the money? "to establish and support a network of grassroots humanists to work and build relationships with statutory bodies and participate in groups that advise local authorities on matters of religion or belief, or encourage dialogue between people with different beliefs….to enable local humanists to network with faith and ‘interfaith’ groups and participate in groups convened by local authorities, and thus contribute towards good relations and community cohesion." Is this really something for the State to be involved in? Thinking up such schemes perhaps just creates non-jobs for busybodies. All this an obvious candidate for the chop without any impact on frontline public services.

3 May 2009 at 22:18  
Anonymous Chris said...

Whether the government should be allocating funds for any religious bodies, Humanism included, is an entirely legitimate question.

Once again, though, I think it betrays an obvious double standard to single out this act in particular. There's a bigger picture here than simply £25,000 that could be spent one way or another.

If you are against the equal treatment of religions by the government, that's obviously a stance you're allowed to have, but I think it's something one ought to be honest about up front.

3 May 2009 at 23:31  
Anonymous churchmouse said...

I'm just fascinated that someone can sport the name "Chris" without understanding what it means!!!
In Britain. In a this traditionally Christian country.

4 May 2009 at 05:17  
Anonymous len said...

How does a humanist advise on religious beliefs?
Are they saying that Humanism is a religion?
What deity do they worship?

4 May 2009 at 10:19  
Anonymous Douglas said...

Dear Ien,
A "religion" is merely a set of beliefs. They don't have to be irrational or based on the suspension of disbelief in order to be religion. Humanism qualifies as a religion.

4 May 2009 at 22:18  
Blogger ZZMike said...

In this country (USA) at least, our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not from.

Though there are those who are working mightily to change that.

I would quarrel with Douglas about what "religion" is. Religion treats of the relation of man to God, and man to each other in terms of that first.

Some have tried to water down the definition, with things such as "Smith attends football games religiously", but any serious person knows what's meant ("diligently", steadfastly", "unfailingly", ...).

So while it is tempting to call "global warming" a religion (because it offers many of the attributes, namely, oppressive guilt, a means of doing penance (carbon credits, onerous sorting of this and that into the proper bins), a hierarchy of Enlightened Ones (Al Gore, James Hansen), a flock of heretics (like Bjorn Lomborg, and the 700 or so real scientists who have come out [of the closet?] against it), it isn't.

We know it's not a religion (though some take it as a way to worship Gaia), but simply a dog's breakfast of plots and plans to reduce first world countries to third-world status.

Adrian P: Good for you! Do you think you might put on a little Cross of St George as well?

yokel: "YouTube tell me that "This video is not available in your country." What was it?"

Evidently it's OK for non-Brits to see. It's a video titled "Repression", and consists mostly of clips from British TV (BBC?) showing Britons in a very negative light (swearing, fighting, yelling). Some seem to be from "reality shows". One segment is of two or three people dressed only in large towels, arguing and fighting.

Each scene cuts away to photos of young children, whom we are to believe are watching this.

One of the scene titles is

"Over time, these scenes become our self-image."

A self-image that is no self at all, but imposed upon you carefully and deliberately.

Over here we call it propaganda.

5 May 2009 at 02:24  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

ZZMike.

Completely agree. The worlds population used to be pliable and dumbed down by the church alone, fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you choose to view it), a lot of people are not taken in by the magical stories of the various churches available (obviously a lot of people still are and will defend them against anything that says otherwise, but that is neither here nor there) so the general public must be dumbed down in other ways in order to stop the inevitable questioning of those in power that would occur if people were actually capable of thinking for themselves rather than being told what to think.

On topic though, I see no problem with this at all, if you can give money to one group to support religion I see no reason why it not fair to give money to another group to support their lack of religion. I am an atheist yet still expected to pay for various religious funds I am quite happy that finally some of my money goes to the opposite (I would also be quite happy if my taxes went to neither). I think the only people that seem put out by this are the ones that have enjoyed the status quo for so long.

5 May 2009 at 14:19  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

"Preacher said...

It always amazes me that the atheist brigade spend so much time & effort trying to disprove a God they say they don't believe exists.
I mean everyone is entitled to their own beliefs & to tell others what they believe, but to argue from a negative standpoint against a positive one is either highly presumptuous or plainly self defeating i.e "I don't believe in God & I don't care if He hears me."
Still if their is fiscal gain to be had.........."

I don't even know where to start with this so the logical place would be the beginning.

What amazes me is the arogance the religious groups show when talking about anyone that doesn't share their beliefs, only to be twice as flabergasted when I read further to see the hypocrisy on top of the arrogance.

The atheist brigade as you call us do not spend very much time trying to disprove god, only ask people from your illogical standpoint to try and prove him, small change in sentence structure big change in message.

We do not argue from a negative standpoint, we argue from a neutral standpoint, their is no conclusive evidence of the existence of god, there are things that I do not have an explanation of but the natural answer to theseis not definately, as you think, "god". You are making the claim god exists therefore the burden of truth lies with you. I do not disbelieve god, I do not believe as it is faith founded on a lack of evidence that is required to have the belief.

Back to the point of the piece however, I see no reason for anything you have said why the humaist association should not be given the same (and in my opinion) unfair perks that the church gets, at least the playing field is leveled ever so slightly (since they are still not getting hand-outs to anywhere near the level the church gets.

5 May 2009 at 19:24  
Anonymous len said...

Atheists,
God exists whether you acknowledge him or not.
Jesus came to,( Isaiah 41:7)
" Open the eyes of the blind (spiritually blind ) to bring prisoners out of the dungeon, and to bring those who sit in darkness from the prison"
You mention arrogance in speaking about christian beliefs.The gospel of Jesus Christ is preached through love( not arrogance). If you saw someone driving down a road which you knew ended in a fall off a precipice would you warn the driver, or would you keep quiet so you would not be accused of arrogance?

9 May 2009 at 14:07  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Oh please Len, all you have done is prove my point with another unbelievable show of arrogance.

I mention arrogance when speaking about christian beliefs, when people such as yourself seem to think that this automatically makes them factual truths.

And to use your analogy (as tenious as it is)

If I saw someone driving down a road which I believed in a fall off a precipice would you warn the driver?

No I would keep quiet so I was not accused of delusions when I couldn't prove the existence of the cliff I believed so strongly in. Because unlike yourself I don't allow the preposturous idea that if I alone believe in something then it makes it a factual truth regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

13 May 2009 at 13:22  
Anonymous len said...

There is none so blind as those who will not see!

17 May 2009 at 18:26  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

I take it the church couldn't see the fact that it was abusing children for years then and thats why they covered it up, not because they wanted to but because they didn't want to see.

Hypocrite.

22 May 2009 at 13:12  

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