One of the country’s oldest charities has ditched the word Christian from its title with a controversial name change.
The Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), which formed 155 years ago, has renamed itself as Platform 51 claiming that its original name “no longer stands for who we are”.
The contentious decision is likely to concern many of the charity’s donors, and it’s also likely to heighten concern over the increasing marginalisation of Christianity in the public sphere.
Mike Judge, Head of Communications at The Christian Institute, said: “Many believe there is an anti-Christian bias among those who decide which charities get state funding.
“It was the Christian character of the YWCA that made it great. It is a shame that it’s turning its back on those values.”
The rebranding also appears to put the England and Wales branches of the charity at odds with the other branches accross the globe.
Sylvie Jacquat, a spokeswoman at the YWCA’s headquarters in Geneva, said: “The name has been there for more than 150 years and we are not even discussing a change.
“We see our name as an opportunity for promoting Christian values and principles.”
The YWCA was founded in 1855 by Lady Mary Jane Kinnaird and Emma Robarts to help young women going to London for the first time.
But now Platform 51, a name which was chosen because 51 per cent of the population are female, aims to “lobby for changes in the law and policies to help all women.”
Explaining the reason behind the rebranding the charity said: “During the 155 years since we were founded, we’ve had to evolve to reflect changes in society and the needs and expectations of women. This is true not only of the work we do, but also of our name.
“Our original name no longer stood for who we are or what we do and people often confused us with another charity.”
In 2009 it was revealed that a charity in Scotland was planning to drop the word church from its title, saying that it created “unnecessary barriers” to accessing public funding.
The chairman of Perth-based Churches Action for the Homeless (CATH) said he had been told “off the record” that their perceived religious identity has made it more difficult for them to receive grants.
In 2008 the Archbishop of York criticised Government “intolerance” of Christian groups when it came to the funding of community initiatives.
A recent Christian Institute report revealed the extent to which Christianity is being marginalised.
The report, called Marginalising Christians, catalogues numerous cases of Christians being sidelined by public bodies, popular media, employers, and facing barriers to public funding.