The Christian Post reports that the Charity Commission has rejected a complaint about the Barnabas Fund’s Islamophobic propaganda, as featured in a booklet entitled Slippery Slope: the Islamisation of the UK.
A report of the decision on the Barnabas website headlined “Barnabas Fund vindicated by Charity Commission” quotes a letter from the Commission as stating:
The charity, in its campaigning around “Operation Nehemiah” appears to be acting within its objects, as the campaign can be seen as promoting “the advancement of the Christian faith”. A charity can become involved in a campaign which furthers or supports its charitable purposes….
The campaign does not appear to be inciting racial hatred and the charity believes that it has public benefit in that it “is committed to maintaining Christian values of freedom of conscience, speech and religion for the next generation in church and society”….
We are therefore content that the charity, in carrying out this campaign, is operating within its objects and within the terms of our guidance.
Patrick Sookhdeo crows that Commission’s decision has legitimised the Barnabas Fund’s campaign against “the growing influence of Islamism and its impact on the Church and the Christian heritage and liberties of Western society”.
Update: Here is the full text of the Charity Commission’s letter:
Dear Mr XXXXX
Complaint lodged with the Charity Commission regarding the work of the Barnabas Fund
Our ref: AB-1092935/C-33257-BN7O-LCD
Thank you for your email.
You may be aware that there was an article in the Sunday Times on 7 August which referred to the Barnabas Fund. I include the wording of the article at the end of this email for ease of reference. We subsequently received a complaint that referred to the article and in particular to the charity’s reported decision to campaign against the growing “Islamisation” of Britain.
We responded to the complainant as follows:
“The Commission produces guidance on the issues that you raise – “Speaking Out: Guidance on Campaigning and Political Activity by Charities.” This explains that a charity can become involved in campaigning which furthers or supports its charitable purposes. A charity can campaign using emotive or controversial material, where this is lawful and justifiable in the context of a campaign. Such material must be factually accurate and have a legitimate evidence base. Section F of our guidance covers issues that trustees should consider before embarking on a campaign. It is up to the trustees to weigh up the risks, costs and benefits of campaigning.
I have looked at the Sunday Times Article that you refer to and also information on the charity’s website relating to Operation Nehemiah, a campaign by the Barnabas charity with a stated aim of rebuilding the Christian foundations of the United Kingdom. I have also looked at a booklet produced by the charity as part of Operation Nehemiah, entitled “Slippery Slope The Islamisation of the UK”. The booklet was enclosed with the May/June 2011 magazine Barnabasaid which is produced by the charity and available to its supporters on subscription; extracts from the magazine are also available to download from the charity’s website. Additional copies of the booklet are for sale at 50p a copy from the charity.
I have also looked at the charity’s objects which include “the advancement of the Christian faith”.
The charity, in its campaigning around ‘Operation Nehemiah’ appears to be acting within its’ objects, as the campaign can be seen as promoting “the advancement of the Christian faith”. A charity can become involved in a campaign which furthers or supports its charitable purposes. We would expect the trustees to have considered the risks and benefits to the charity of the campaign, including reputational risks.
The campaign material could be viewed as controversial but it fits within the aims of the campaign. Sources are quoted in the booklet for statistics used and other claims made. The booklet makes clear that it is “not intended to provoke anti-muslim fear or hatred…but to address seriously the challenge of Islam…to society.” The campaign does not appear to be inciting racial hatred and the charity believes that it has public benefit in that it “is committed to maintaining Christian values of freedom of conscience, speech and religion for the next generation in church and society.”
We are therefore content that the charity, in carrying out this campaign, is operating within its objects and within the terms of our guidance.”
Large Charities Division
PO Box 1227
020 7674 2358