Sunday, April 22, 2007

WASP Summary of the speech of noble Lord Baroness Murphy in the House of Lords debate Relgion: Non believers, 19th April 2007

WASP Summary of the speech of noble Lord Baroness Murphy in the House of Lords 19th April 2007, Relgion: Non Believers debate.
Full text of speech here in Hansard (or with WASP highlights here).

highlights Main Points & Key Points.

TheyWorkForYou Baroness Murphy entry, Baroness Murphy Wikipedia entry.

Action: WASP to Send a message of support to Baroness Murphy

Baroness Murphy said:

I speak as a rationalist, agnostic—I shall not say atheist in the light of the comments of the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Carey. It is not a particularly comfortable matter, but one reason to contribute to this debate is to stand up and be counted.

I was going to remain rather calm throughout this, but I was rather offended by the comments of the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Carey, about the role that people without faith have played in doing good in the world. He is entirely and wholly wrong. We feel just as passionately as those who have faith about ensuring that society is just.

I want to spend my few minutes expressing concerns about the growing influence of religion on the delivery of public services. I am very uncomfortable with the 2003 Government policy of encouraging faith-based organisations to participate in public service provision. Of course, I acknowledge that there are occasions when religious organisations or their representatives can reach the unreachable by statutory sector workers.

The crucial issue for me is whether religious service organisations compete on an even playing field for public service contracts, are explicitly committed to delivering services to people of all faiths and none without prejudice, disapproval or prosyletisation, and whether they have employment practices consistent with public service values....

An example that is more worrying is CrossReach, which was formerly known as the Church of Scotland Board of Social Responsibility. It employs more than 2,000 staff in 80 services stretching from Shetland to the Borders, providing care and support services for thousands of people. Indeed, it has an excellent reputation for the quality of care that it provides. I say that first of all. It has an annual expenditure of more than £45 million, of which more than 99 per cent comes directly from local government. It is overtly proselytising, its website is as embarrassing as Radio 4's “Prayer for the Day” and it makes quite clear that it reserves jobs in the organisation for those who share its particular brand of faith. The Scots are even less religious as a nation than the English or Welsh. I wonder what it feels like to have your social care delivered by this overtly missionary organisation.

How can the Government encourage local government to contract with religious organisations for public services? What guidance do they provide on mission statements and the policies that they follow before handing out public money for back-door ways of pushing beliefs that most people now find unbelievable?

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