Secularist MP questions contracts for faith groups

A Labour MP has implied that faith groups should not be given public money to carry out work for the Government if they only employ staff who share their beliefs.

Graham Allen, MP for Nottingham North, is an honorary member of the National Secular Society (NSS) and a known opponent of faith schools.

He used written parliamentary questions to ask about the Government’s policy on giving contracts to faith groups if they make use of legal protections in employment equality laws.

These laws include religious liberty provisions so that organisations can employ members of staff who share their beliefs, if it is a genuine occupational requirement.

Mr Allen was told by Jonathan Shaw MP, of the Department for Work and Pensions, that as long as organisations complied with the law they would not be excluded from receiving Government contracts.

However, Mr Allen’s questions follow hints that the Government’s new Equality Bill could introduce barriers to religious groups being awarded public contracts.

Announcing a White Paper on the Bill, Women and Equality Minister Harriet Harman hinted that state contracts may only be given to organisations which fall in line with its equality agenda.

One Christian care home has already had funding withdrawn because of its religious beliefs on homosexuality.

Brighton Council – renowned for its political correctness – wanted Pilgrim Homes to ask its elderly Christian residents about their sexual orientation every three months, and use images of homosexuals in its promotional literature.

Residents at the Brighton home are made up of 39 single Christians aged over 80, including former missionaries and a retired church minister.

Phil Wainwright, director of human resources for Pilgrim Homes, said he was told by the council that the home must ask residents if they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual or ‘unsure’, even if they objected.

Mr Wainwright said: “There was a strong feeling among people in the home that the questions were inappropriate and intrusive.

“They felt they had come to Pilgrim Homes because of its Christian ethos and were upset they were not protected from such intrusions.”

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