Category Archives: Charity

“Don’t Bring Politics Into Politics!”

IDS and Lurch Selous
This is Andrew “Lurch” Selous with his boss, festering Iain Duncan Smith. It was Selous who is reported to have threatened that the government would “shut down” the Trussell Trust for campaigning on behalf of the people who have been reduced to relying on foodbanks. Apparently, the Trust should “keep politics out of charity work”.
Starvation is about as political a problem as there is. To talk about it at all is political. What it isn’t is Party Political unless, of course, the party you support is working hard to push people into poverty and starvation. Most decent people don’t want that. No doubt Christians who owned slaves had much the same problem with abolitionists (most of whom were also Christians, by the way).

Another DWP lickspittle, Neil Couling, has claimed that the Trussell Trust’s foodbanks are merely a front for their “evangelism”.

As an atheist, I’d find it disturbing if that was true, but even a cursory glance at their website strongly suggests it is not:

“Whilst we are a Christian organisation, we serve people of all faith groups and beliefs or none. We are passionate about inclusion and being non-judgemental is central to what we do. We believe that everyone has the right to have food on their plate, dignity, skills, a chance to work and hope for the future.”

IDS, on the other hand, doesn’t get this accusation from Couling, even though he often uses his Catholic beliefs to override actual evidence. He “believes” that taking money away from poor people helps them, while IDS himself needs the taxpayer to pay for his underpants, because marrying into money makes hime somehow more deserving.

Andrew Selous is so strapped for cash that he once claimed 55p on expenses for a cup of Horlicks. Perhaps he has an addiction for the drink, and slept through some of the more pertinent Bible passages, the ones about compassion, and caring for the poor.


The War on the Poor (continued)

Food Banks
I’ve mentioned before that, though I don’t respect religion, I have a great deal of respect for some religious people. The Trussell Trust is a Christian organisation that battles poverty and injustice, best known for running food banks. There is no religious test to receive their help, however, so I can happily endorse them, even though I’m an atheist.
Some Christians are less sympathetic. Iain Duncan Smith has accused the Trussell Trust of having a “political agenda”, and his DWP lackeys regularly brief against them. The Trust’s crime? Telling people facts about their work. There are more food banks than ever before, and they are used more and more.
Now the Mail on Sunday has joined the fray, sending a reporter to a Citizens Advice Bureau office to obtain a voucher by misrepresentation. That he succeeded is not an indictment of the Trussell Trust, nor even of the CAB really, though they could beef up their procedures a little.
It is an indictment of the Mail and its staff. Just because they are dishonest, and because they can find a few other people who are, doesn’t mean everyone who uses food banks is a crook.


There has been one positive note following this story. The backlash against the Mail has encouraged more people to donate to the Trussell Trust. If you’d like to add your donation, click here.


More from around the web:

“This Lent I will eat no food, to highlight the hunger all around us”

“This Lent I will eat no food, to highlight the hunger all around us” says Keith Hebden, in a “Comment is Free” piece for the Guardian on Monday. As an atheist, I have no automatic respect for religious rituals. I think it’s a good idea to eat fish at least once a week, for example, but I don’t see why it should be a Friday.

So a religious man, doing something that ties in with his religion, but taking it a little further, is just a publicity stunt. One that I applaud.

We can probably all recall at least one Tory politician who has spent a week on as much money as someone on benefits gets, to show how, with a bit of planning, it’s possible to adequately look after yourself. These cynical ploys are undermined, either by abject failure, or by revelations of cheating.

Keith Hebden isn’t trying to prove anything by fasting. He isn’t trying to show either how easy it is, or how difficult. He almost certainly won’t suffer any long term health problems, though I hope he has taken, and will heed, medical advice. He isn’t even evangelising for his faith, as he concludes his article with:

“We can all help: whether you are spiritual, religious, or just that wonderful thing called “human”.”

He’s fasting to raise awareness of a very real problem. The phrase “publicity stunt” is usually taken to mean that there’s an ulterior motive, but it doesn’t have to and, in this case, I don’t think there is.



You can follow Keith’s progress on Twitter by clicking here.

Sally Ann loses the plot

I have, for a long time, had a sneaking regard for the Salvation Army. Yes, they’re religious, but they do tend to get off their backsides and really help those in need. They habitually go into pubs and clubs to collect donations, even though they have an antipathy to alcohol consumption, so one would expect them to be equally grateful for the proceeds of a song, no matter that it was written and sung by an atheist. One of Tim Minchin‘s songs has already appeared on this blog, but this time there will be no need to warn anyone that it isn’t safe for work. Minchin doesn’t grovel to religion, but this song is fairly innocuous, and the ingratitude shown by the Salvation Army when they said ‘we do not in any way support the statements made in this song.’ is staggering. Why could they not say they were grateful for the donation whoever gives it? Anyway, Tim has reacted to their disdain by switching the donation elsewhere and you can click here to buy his version in aid of a secular charity.

In the meantime, I can only hope that the stupidity is confined to Australia’s Sally Ann. It would be a shame if their good work elsewhere was contaminated by such intolerance.

Here’s the song in question – as usual, if you like it please click through and tell him so.

The Timonen Saga continues….

As some of you may know, Mr Timonen has joined several atheist forums, presumably so he can invoke the rule that most of them have against the personal abuse of other members. Naturally this hasn’t gone down too well, and even those of us who think the rule ought to upheld are annoyed, but not surprised, by his underhand tactic. Some people have been creative though, and while these videos probably don’t abide by the letter of the rule, they seem to have survived on at least one board. I think they were made by the people who put it on Rationalia (using the names Tigger, Bella Fortuna and Paula there), but you need to be a member to see them in that forum.  Here it is for non-members.(In case you don’t know, FUA stands for Forum User Agreement.)

As usual, if you like any of these videos click through and tell the right person.

Click for Charity!

WWF Logo

Image by ponChiang via Flickr

You may have noticed what looks like an advertisement on the top right of the screen. In fact it’s a way of helping, in this case, the World Wildlife Fund, without spending a single penny. All it takes is a few clicks and a few minutes of your time. Even if you hate what I have to say, please consider helping the planet we all live on.