Many Christians who take Jesus’s unambiguous stand for the poor seriously, try and implement his teachings in their daily lives by choosing a career in a charity or other organisation that works to alleviate poverty here or abroad. In doing so, they acquire insight and expertise about the true nature and extent of poverty in our world today. This knowledge could be of value to government policy makers. However, it seems we now have a situation in Britain where the government thinks there isn’t much poverty, and that anti-poverty campaigners are exaggerating the problem for political ends.
Existing charity laws already cramp charities’ style, as I understand it; but it’s attractive to register as a fund-raising charity (like Oxfam) rather than as a campaign group (like War on Want) as there are tax benefits. So, you can be a rich gently purring cat or a poor church mouse with a loud squeak.
Now, charities are gagged even more, and are too scared to take on Ministers. Controversial policy decisions are being left unchallenged by charities which fear criticising the Government because ministers have undermined their role in politics. The minister for civil society said charities should stay out of “the realms of politics” and “stick to their knitting.”
A Tory MP reported Oxfam to the Charity Commission for campaigning on poverty in Britain.
Save the Children was criticised after highlighting the plight of British children in 2012.
A senior government official has warned the Trussell Trust it could be “shut down” for highlighting food poverty.
I for one have no confidence that Labour would be any different if they were to take over the reigns of power from the Conservatives at the next election.
Mere charity is never enough. Alleviation of a problem can never match addressing the causes of that problem, and only government can do that. Our democratically elected government must be made aware that plenty of us want a more equal and more just society. If redistribution of wealth is painful and means we have to pay more taxes, so be it.
To know what London’s poorest think, read Zingcreed’s Posts ‘London’s homeless speak‘ (See alphabetical index on title page of this blog.)
(i) i, the essential daily briefing from The Independent 11/11/14, p.11
(ii) Wilkinson, R. & Pickett, K. “The Spirit level. Why equality is better for everyone” Penguin (2009)
(iii) Dorling, D. “The no-nonsense guide to equality” New Internationalist (2012)
(iv) Dorling, D. “Injustice, why social inequality persists” Policy Press (2011)
[396, i&l, t&c]