Nearly half of Christian charities use charity to convert people

November 29, 2016

Humanist Society Scotland has called on public bodies to ensure that public contracts awarded to faith based charities are not used as a platform to proselytise and convert people to their faith.

The call comes in response to a new report published by New Philanthropy Capital  ‘ What a difference a faith makes’ that shows that one in four charities in Great Britain is faith-based. The report found that 46 per cent of Christian charities who responded to the survey either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that ‘Through our activities we aim to increase the number of people who share our faith’.

The role of faith-based charities has changed in recent years as communities have responded to the increased demands following welfare reforms and austerity cuts. However, many donors may be unaware of many food-banks religious character and that invitations to pray are often included alongside food parcels.

Speaking today, Gordon MacRae, Chief Executive of Humanist Society Scotland said:

HSS Chief Executive Gordon MacRae
HSS Chief Executive Gordon MacRae

“The authors of this flawed report aim to highlight the positive contribution faith-based charities make to society.  Instead they have inadvertently highlighted the declining importance of religious faith to the good work done day in communities by charities and voluntary groups.

“Despite presenting no data about the motivations, commitment and sense of community felt by people of no faith or of secular charities, the authors make bold claims about the feelings of faith-based charity leaders that they are ‘uniquely’ willing to help the most vulnerable. That is despite the same report highlighting that 75 per cent of charities in Great Britain have no identifiable religious character in their charitable purpose or history.”

He added:

“Of particular concern is the open admission that 46 per cent of Christian charities asked said they use their activities to convert or proselytise. At a time when we see state provision of public service recede, and a greater emphasis on third sector partners to reach communities, this should be of serious concern to commissioners of public services.

“People in need of support from public bodies or charities operating on their behalf, should not expect to fend off unsolicited attempts to convert them to a service provider’s world view – be that religious or non-religious.

“Public contracts must not be allowed to become a platform to proselytise. I trust that public sector commissioners will reflect on the findings of this report when deciding how to manage and procure future services from faith-based groups.”


 

For further information contact Gordon MacRae 07506413843 gordon@humanism.scot

Notes to editors

  1. Humanist Society Scotland is the national charity for people in Scotland aiming to lead a fulfilling live based on ethical, rational and secular values. HSS has more than 14,000 members and our 110 HSS Registered Celebrant conduct more than 3,500 weddings and funerals every year. To find out more about our work visit www.humanism.scot
  2. New Philanthropy Capital’s report ‘What a difference a faith makes’ can be downloaded here – http://www.thinknpc.org/publications/what-a-difference-faith-makes/
  3. The report’s finding that ‘one in four charities in Great Britain are faith-based’ cites only data for England and Wales from the Charities Commission. No data from Scotland appears to have been included in the Great Britain total.
  4. The reports authors (page 17) are clear that the question about aiming to increase the number who share their faith’ was asked to understand concerns and views on proselytizing.
  5. The reports authors are only able to cite three reports funded by Christian charities to support the assertion that local authorities can benefit greatly from including faith based groups in service delivery. No independent evidence is presented.

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