Campaigners concerned over Bill that “shackles” charities

GOVERNMENT ministers must rethink controversial measures that threaten to curb charities’ campaigning power.

That’s the conclusion of Christian think-tank Ekklesia, which has highlighted “the wholesale disapproval” of the Lobbying Bill in the civil and public sphere. Ekkesia warns of “harmfully shackling voluntary organisations” by the Bill, which had been heavily amended in the House of Lords and was returning to the House of Commons as we went to press.

Churches Together in Sussex Co-ordinator Ian Chisnall has shared concerns about the Bill in his blog. He said there are three issues regarding charities and voluntary organisations.

“The first is that for a number of years, until test cases have been satisfied and people have got used to what the legislation actually means, there will be uncertainty for many charities – including some that will not be affected,” he told “Heart of Sussex.”

For charity trustees, even having a photo taken with an MP or a candidate during the period covered by the legislation could create concern – let alone holding hustings meetings.

“Then there is the organisational impact on the charities which are subject to the legislation,” he went on. “They’ll have to monitor expenditure and time spent on activity if they’re lobbying for changes to laws – Make Poverty History, for example.

“Finally – and one might argue most importantly – the nature of the relationship between these charities and the state. They will become one of the organisations registered for political activity. This may actually mean that they begin to take more of a role within the political world than before. In essence this may give them greater licence to do so.”

Concern over “designer babies”

BRITAIN is planning to be the first country to allow the controversial creation of three-parent babies – in a bid to combat mitochondrial disease.

Christian social concern charity CARE has issued warnings over Government proposals to allow the creation of children with DNA from three people – the first so-called “designer babies” in the world. They fear proposed techniques may not even cure the crippling effects of this rare disorder.

An Early Day Motion has been tabled so MPs can express their concern. “However, as yet only 14 MPs have added their name,” said CARE, “so please write and ask your MP to add his or her name too.”

Bible breaks the news

MILLIONS of newspaper readers have been encouraged to engage with Scripture through a special campaign recently.

The advertisements – which direct people towards God’s Word – appeared in “The Sun” and “The Daily Telegraph”. Behind the campaign is Bible Society, who claim they will have reached more than 7.3 million readers through this initiative.

“From Mozart to Mother Teresa, from Shakespeare to Scorsese, it’s woven into our world,” said one of the adverts. “The Bible. Always worth re-reading.”

Peers press for safer online gambling

PEERS have been calling for stronger safeguards for UK citizens in the face of unlicensed online gambling.

They were briefed on the issue by Westminster-based charity CARE. The group argued that the Government’s Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill should be amended to provide proper protections for problem gamblers and to prevent unlicensed online gambling providers from accessing the UK market.

During Committee Stage on the Bill, Lord Browne of Belmont called for better protections for online gamblers. Baroness Howe of Idlicote and Lord Morrow recommended prohibiting unregulated gambling sites from accessing the UK market.

“Bible Bedtimes” for nation’s children

ONE MILLION children to have a ‘Bible Bedtime’ throughout the year – that’s the aim a major Bible Society initiative for 2014.

Through “Pass It On”, the Society will be encouraging parents to read, watch or listen to a Bible story with their child. “Our campaign is about the people that count in children’s lives helping to keep the Bible alive for many generations to come,” said the Society’s chief James Catford.

Writing in his online blog, James expressed concern that despite blockbuster films focusing on the Bible, the sacred text faces its greatest challenge for centuries. “More than four in five never, or hardly ever, choose to open its pages,” he said. “Only one in ten reads it regularly.”

NI boosts anti-trafficking campaign

NORTHERN IRELAND could lead the way in addressing human trafficking and exploitation in the British Isles.

That’s the message from CARE, since Minister for Justice David Ford confirmed his support for most of Lord Morrow’s Human Trafficking Bill. Being considered by the Justice Committee, the Bill has been backed by a joint letter in which David Ford and Lord Morrow outline the large number of areas where they agree.

CARE claims that although there is not agreement on every aspect of the Bill – the Minister allegedly continues to oppose the Bill’s proposal to criminalise the purchase of sex – this is “a very positive development”.

Clive Price


Boris to be investigated for banning “ex-gay” bus advert

The Christian Legal Centre has hailed a “significant victory” after judges back the Core Issues Trust’s right to display its “ex-gay” bus advert.  The Master of the Rolls has ordered that the High Court investigate London’s Mayor Boris Johnson after Transport for London banned the advert when the Mayor was allegedly courting the “pink” vote during his April 2012 election campaign.

Kent first with “bank” in a church

In response to Archbishop Welby’s credit-union plea, All Saints’ Church, Murston, opened a branch of the local credit union, Kent Savers. (Bible Society)

Melanie Symonds

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