From the British Humanist Association
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has announced a £400,000 programme to ‘strengthen faith institutions’. The fund will be available only to bid-winning charities to support the growth of ‘places of worship’ in Britain. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has criticised the project as a poor use of public money and discriminatory.
Justifying its decision, the DCLG stated that ‘Faith communities make a vital contribution to national life: they guide the moral outlook of many, inspire great numbers of people to public service and provide help to those in need.’ Fitting with previous comments made by senior Government ministers, including the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles, the impetus for this enormous spending drive appears to be an unsupported belief that religious organisations and people do more good for local communities than non-religious ones, and so are more deserving of public funds.
In the project specification, the DCLG provides the following list of areas where faith institutions could benefit from £400,000 in public support:
- Finding suitable training, advice or support when needed
- Using social media effectively
- Learning of others’ approaches to problems and using them to improve practice
- Engaging with places of worship of other faiths
- Engaging with women and young people
- Being known by, respected and having strong links with the wider community
With the exception of ‘engaging with places of worship of other faiths,’ all of these needs are faced by all charities and organisations doing work in their communities. They are not unique to religious institutions.