The Salvation Army has won a government contract to oversee help for victims of trafficking, but humanists have hit out at the move.
The £6m contract went to the Christian group because it had put in a stronger bid than a secular group which had held the contract, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.
But the British Humanist Association (BHA) attacked the move, calling it “deeply concerning”.
The Salvation Army will oversee support and accommodation for male and female victims of all types of trafficking, including sex trafficking.
It said its aim was simple: “To ensure that every woman and man who is identified as trafficked will receive a quality support package that is tailored to their individual needs.”
The MoJ said the previous group, Eaves Housing, “had done a very good job” in recent years but Salvation Army had put in a stronger bid for the contract.
“Eaves are upset and it’s not great for them, but it’s much better for victims of trafficking,” the MoJ said.
Calling the move a “shock”, the BHA said the Government should make sure “religious groups working under contract will not be able to discriminate or proselytise in the provision of public services”.
In 2010 the BHA was part of an aggressive secular agenda which forced several major church denominations to withdraw from the Government advisory body on religion.
At the time Dr Malcolm Brown, the Church of England’s representative on the advisory body, said: “The British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society use the group to argue for the exclusion of religious voices from public life”.
And earlier this year the BHA launched a campaign on the nationwide census which aimed to reduce the number of people claiming to be Christian. Its slogan was: “If you’re not religious for God’s sake say so”.