Comic Relief Humbug Rage

rednoseYou probably shouldn’t write blog posts when you’re angry, but something I’ve read this morning has got me decidedly cross. I’d go so far as to say it’s the stupidest, most narrow-minded thing I’ve read from a fellow Christian in a long time.

It’s this post – Comic Relief Humbug – from the Proclamation Trust website. I’m not generally a critic of Proc Trust; I know some people struggle with their reformed-ness, but since I came out of a conservative evangelical stable myself (I’ll blog separately about this at some point), I can see a lot of positives in their approach. But this piece, written to coincide with Red Nose Day, really vexed me when I read it this morning.

The writer suggests that Christians should be cautious about giving money to the charity Comic Relief for a couple of reasons – a) because it’s not clear where the money goes, and b) because some of the projects Comic Relief then makes grants to are what he brilliantly terms ‘Christianly dubious’. Let’s gloss over that assault on the English language for a moment, and take those points in turn…

The post author writes:

“First, it seems somewhat irresponsible to give to general campaigns without first doing some groundwork. There is little or no visibility of where your giving is actually going. That’s OK for Christian organisations (and there are plenty of worthy ones that we support corporately and personally), but for those who are not, how do you know how your money is being spent? I think churches should be nurturing specific relationships, either with individuals or projects or trusted organisations. That seems a more appropriate way to give.” 

The Internet is hard work, isn’t it? I mean, you have to go all the way to the Comic Relief website, and click on this page to find out where the money goes. Much easier to speculate that such a page doesn’t exist, isn’t it? But more ridiculous than this claim is the idea that it’s OK for Christian charities not to be transparent about where your money goes. Really? In my experience, some Christian charities (not all of them by any means) can be the worst when it comes to good use of resources. Do we forgive, overlook and continue pouring money into potentially poorly-stewarded things because these people sign up to the same set of doctrinal statements as us?

To be fair, I actually agree with his point about thinking more seriously about who we give to, and the bit about nurturing specific relationships is wise. But you can’t write off the importance of an event like Red Nose Day, the heart behind it, and the good it does, because you already give in other ways. That’s not particularly radical generosity is it?

But all of this is preamble. Here’s the bit that provoked me to write this…

“second, more specifically, some of CR’s projects are Christianly dubious. That’s because they give to alleviate injustice and they have a broader view of justice than you or I. They don’t publish a list of donations, but in the past when I’ve managed to get hold of the list, I found they have supported groups lobbying for women bishops in CofE and Lesbian, Gay and Transgender helplines for teenagers.”

Is it ‘Christianly dubious’ to support a young person who is struggling because of the bullying and rejection they’ve suffered because of homophobic bullying? Is it really ‘Christianly dubious’ to want to reach out to someone who might possibly be suicidal as a result? To save a life? To listen? To offer friendship? To love unconditionally? If anything around here is ‘Christianly dubious’ mate, it’s your blog post.

I wrote this for a couple of reasons. First, because there’s no facility to post comments on the Proc Trust blog, and second, because a few people have shared this piece on social media and thought it was generally good; and I disagree. I think it would be rather good if the original post was removed, and fast. As the author notes, we’re called to be both generous and wise as Christians – this post displays neither of these traits.

Oh, and you can give some money to Red Nose Day here. I might just go and do that now. Here endeth the rant.

Hang on, just going to pray before hitting ‘publish’ on this one. Yep, He seems ok with it. Maybe He’s got a ‘broader view of justice’ than the Proc Trust…

14 responses to “Comic Relief Humbug Rage

  1. We bought a voucher for our niece in Claire’s Accessories on Sat and were asked if we want to give 50p which we did. I was almost certainly wearing a cross necklace or earrings – while appreciating that does not necessarily identify me as a Christian I have been surprised at how many conversations it has got me in to. Christians have enough trouble being seen as humourless killjoys that I always want to positively give to things like comic relief as for me it is part of my witness to a loving generous God who cares about those who benefit from such projects. It is not about what people think of me but rather what they may infer about my God.

  2. The original article had so many ‘whoah, hang on there a minute’ moments that if you hadn’t written this excellent counterpost I would have felt compelled to do so myself. However, you did, so all I have to do is say a loud ‘AMEN’.

    PS. Having glossed over the assault on the English language for a moment, I had hoped you would revisit this and really go to town!

  3. Having read your post, I then read the original article. What I read angered me so much I wrote to the Proc Trust website. I then posted a request for others to do the same on my facebook profile. Whether I agree or disagree with their theological position, I found the original blog insensitive and hurtful, and lacking the love of Christ. I have since received an email from them, a gracious response resulting in a reframing of the blog regardless of their very different theological position.

  4. Agree with your stance Martin.
    Where does the money go? Just visit the website and see our watch the show this evening to see exactly what the donations are used for.
    Even if some of their choices for funding would not be our first choice it does not mean that they are not worthy. Are those people suffering? Look at them from God’s view, would He stand with them and give grace and mercy. Does God love them? If so who are we to say No and stand in the way of Gods work.

  5. Christianly dubious?! I only wish you hadn’t glossed over that assault of our great language … I’m sure I would have enjoyed that post equally as much as your thoughts above. Agree that blogging angry is normally ill-advised, but this must be the exception to prove that particular rule.

  6. Thanks for your post, Martin. Giving to those in need is always a response of the heart – whether it’s someone on the street or a high profile fundraising charity. We don’t ask someone on the street, who is obviously in need, to give us an account of where the money is to go, do we? We respond in good faith – and yes, many will have been deceived by rogues – it happens. But those who represent high profile fund-raising charities, sponsored on the BBC (Children in Need and Red Nose Day in particular) have assessed what the ‘needs’ are in any given situation and we should trust their integrity. Maybe I’m too trusting, but I believe that when (and if) we give to such charities we should just give, as Christ would. Many young people generously respond in this way by using phone donations – theirs is a simple trust – they see the need and they respond – why can’t we do the same?

  7. Martin, goo on you. I think there is something seriously wrong in the psyche of the ‘Christian despisers of Red Nose’. There are legitimate debates to be had on many of the issues, but I think much of the reaction comes down to one simple issue – Jealousy. I think there is a sense in which the ability to mobilise a nation, the platform and profile and the setting of the agenda in terms of how one ethically responds to living in the world has passed to the new establishment of Entertainment. Not withstanding a good dose of Team America – World Police to reset the balance I think we need to be more generous in our attitude. Nice pen work here Martin.

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