From Dr Andrew Purkis
Sir, — The Revd Dr Hugh Rayment-Pickard rightly argues that Christian love (charity) is bigger than compassion (Comment, 25 September). The same is true of charity as practised by relgious and secular charities registered with the Charity Commission.
There is a pervasive view that charity should be uncontentious and beyond political strife, bringing us all together. And, of course, it can often be so. Senior Conservative Ministers and members of the Charity Commission Board have drawn on such a view in aid, mixed with less exalted motives, in decrying campaigning by charities. There has been the injunction that charities should “stick to their knitting”, as if this should be practical and inoffensive.
They have questions to answer. Would they prefer the slave trade and slavery to remain in full swing? Would they wish little children to be working in factories and mines, or cruelty to children to remain tolerated behind untrammelled parental rights? Would they wish homosexuals to be jailed, as in the 1950s, or women to be politically inactive and bound to hearth and home? Would they be happy without protection of National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Green Belts, and prefer no distinction between town and country? Would they wish animals to be tortured without public sanctions?
In the world as it is, belief in the possibility of a better world has to be carried into the political arena, argued for, and campaigned for. Determined contention has always been integral to how churches and secular charities have helped change the world around them.
The right of charities to pursue their objects by non-party political activity must be celebrated and robustly defended against those who have forgotten their history.
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