Central government will be trumpeting the message that "people
who do God do good," in order to influence local authorities that
are reluctant to fund faith-based organisations, the Minister for
Faith and Communities, Baroness Warsi, said on Thursday of last
She was speaking in the Palace of Westminster at the launch of
the 2012 National Church and Social Action Survey, which found that
the time spent by volunteers in UK churches on social-action
initiatives had increased by 36 per cent in the past two years.
When campaigning around the country, Lady Warsi said, she had
encountered faith-based organisations that "almost had to present a
secular face to the world, both to policy-makers and funders. I
found that unusual, as it was the very faith that motivated them to
do good that they were trying to hide."
Last year, during a visit to the Holy See, Lady Warsi called for
a "confident affirmation of religion" in the face of "militant
News, 17 February, 2012). Last week, she said that this had
been regarded as a "very odd thing to do", but spoke of actions,
including her appointment as Faith Minister, and the holding of an
Easter reception at 10 Downing Street, as examples of the "bold
statement" emanating from central government that it "does do
The Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Canon Michael
Camp, said that he had experienced the "nervousness" of local
authorities regarding the support of social-action projects
conducted by faith-based organisations; and noted a "decreasing
understanding of faith" among government officials.
Lady Warsi said that policy-makers could not afford to be
"religiously illiterate". The Foreign Office had held a series of
lectures to educate staff about faith and diplomacy which were very
well attended. The "loud" message coming from central government
would have an impact on commissioners of services, she said. "We
cannot be prescriptive, but eventually local authorities do respond
to that, because they do not want to be out of step with what is
happening in other parts of the country."
Lady Warsi also launched Together in Service, a three-year
programme to "celebrate, promote, and link" the social-action
initiatives undertaken by faith communities. Each month, a
different volunteering project will be highlighted, while a
"fellowship" of volunteers will provide training, information, and
support to new and existing organisations. A fund of up to £300,000
will be distributed as small grants for multi-faith projects.