Trouble at Tearfund

Long ago charities like Oxfam and Christian Aid were infiltrated and hijacked by the political left.  They then started pushing left-wing ideology as if it was morally righteous and attempting to overthrow regimes unpopular with that constituency.  Meanwhile they kept demanding money from the public.  This went so far that War on Want were rebuked by the Charities Commission.  They also abandoned any serious Christian element to their programmes.

Thirty years ago, the Evangelical Alliance in the UK recognised that at least half the population found these charities repugnant, while wanting to aid those suffering from famine etc in the Third World.  They set up a charity to do so, naming it The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund, or Tearfund.  Since then it has done good work.

But something is wrong.  Last weekend I turned on the TV news and found myself watching a march of organised anti-capitalist demonstrators in London — described as such –, preparatory to the G20 riots then being anticipated.  To my astonishment, amidst the usual banners of the hard left, I saw banners reading “Tearfund.” 

Going to the Tearfund website, I found a page urging participation: “Join the global church’s call for justice” — a typical code word for more state control or something of the kind. The “global church” is not calling for anything; at least, I didn’t hear me call, and I’m part of it!  Calls for “justice” tend to be code-words for demands to force poor taxpayers in rich countries to fund rich despots in poor countries.

Today I find this page, showing a photograph of their presence at what they call:

Saturday’s rally for jobs, justice and climate… The rally afterwards was supported by a coalition of development agencies, unions, faith and environment groups, demanding jobs and public services for all, an end to global poverty and the creation of a green economy.

Since when was running the UK economy something that Tearfund specialised in?  The real story is in the Guardian: it was a standard left-wing coalition protest.  The photograph carefully omits the Socialist Worker placards that were so prominent!  This story in the Observer tells the truth of what was going on:

This time the protest – although it draws on equally diverse social and political quarters – is a complex weave of movements and priorities united by one emotion: a disgust at the latest incarnation of capitalism that demands a different way of organising the economy of the planet.

Another page on the Tearfund website trumpets a “victory” — but for whom?

We’ve got some great news to share with you! Last week Ed Miliband, the new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, announced that the target for reducing the UK’s emissions by 2050 would be raised from 60% to 80% in the Climate Change Bill.

For over two years Tearfund has been asking you to join thousands of other supporters in campaigning, praying and making changes in your lifestyle as part of the campaign run as part of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition. …The campaign has been asking for three things which will ensure that the UK plays its part in keeping the global temperature rise below 2 degrees, these were:

• Ensure that 80% of UK emissions are cut by 2050
• Include annual targets and milestones (to keep progress on track)
• Include the UK’s share of international aviation and shipping in emissions reduction targets.

Lots of bureaucracy needed there.  Lots of activity, none of which produces any wealth or goods.  Lots of interference in the lives of ordinary people.  And… lots of rises in the prices of transport, indeed of everything — including food –, to pay for it all.  So Tearfund as a famine relief charity is  boasting about a “victory” that will raise the price of food!?!   

None of this is the sort of thing I expect from a Christian famine relief agency.  I expect them to feed the hungry, not make their food cost more.

So I wrote and queried all this. I also asked whether they were still part of the EA.  I got back a letter which tried to justify this on the grounds that the only way to deal with poverty was some sort of political action.  I have asked in return whether they have obtained the approval of the Charities Commission for this change of mission.  They didn’t answer my query about their relation to the EA.

Now of course there is a sense in which poverty is indeed a political problem.  Most famines are caused by wicked men.  For instance, everyone agrees that the misery in Zimbabwe will only end when Mugabe is removed.  But removing him is not the duty of a famine relief charity.  If it is, then few political parties could not claim charitable status.  It is not specially the concern of the Christians.  If Tearfund spent money campaigning for his overthrow, it would be abuse of the donations, even though the cause is worthwhile. 

There are many different political opinions on how to “mend the world.”  In my time at college the political left agreed that only a Soviet-style despotism in the UK would do this — thankfully it never happened.  In a democracy, the proposals are submitted to a vote, and none is given tax privileges.  Those are reserved for charities where the benefits are universally agreed.  Unfortunately some sections of the political spectrum take the view that only they are right, and they are entitled to do anything they like because they are right and everyone else is wrong.  These people have been rioting in the streets today.

It is very sad to see Tearfund promoting agitprop.   This is precisely what it was set up to avoid.  Looking at the website, all the Christian material appears to be old, to be legacy material.  What the current managers of the charity are interested in is partisan politics.

If you are a Tearfund donor, I suggest that you cancel your donations immediately, and write to them and tell them why.  Make sure your charities reach the poor as you intended.

2 thoughts on “Trouble at Tearfund

  1. You are making an important point here as to where the legitimate boundaries actually lie. How quickly we forget the lessons of history. We have seen what happened to the Childrens’ Society, and the Shaftesbury Society (now name changed to ‘Liveability’) for example, has now largely lost its defining evangelical distinctives following infiltration and takeover by similar left wing political ideologies which downplay or completely relativise the gospel. Even the Salvation Army has encountered liberal secularist political pressures. Let’s hope and pray that tearfund doesn’t go further down the road you are describing.

  2. I’m very sorry to see what has happened, I must say. I would be just as sorry if I happened to agree with the causes being promoted. But not sorry enough to fund people to raise the price of food!

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