Can pro-lifers give to Children in Need?
Posted by Alithea Williams on 18 November 2016
Since 1980, Children in Need has raised £840 million for disadvantaged children. But is a media run umbrella organisation the best way of helping children? And does it pose any problems for pro-lifers?
On Wednesday, I explored whether giving to charity is always a good thing. Now it's time to look at whether giving to a specific, and very topical, charity, is safe for pro-lifers. I am, of course, talking about Children in Need, the BBC's annual telethon which raises money for, well, children in need.
Many SPUC supporters ask us if there's any problem with giving to campaigns like Children in Need and Comic Relief. After all, what better cause could there be than helping disadvantaged and disabled children? And the whole spectacle of celebrities making fools of themselves in the name of charity is such good fun.
So what's the problem with it? Are pro-lifers who raise objections just being killjoys? Let's start by looking at what Children in Need actually is.
What is Children in Need?
BBC Children in Need is not really a charity in of itself (although it is registered as one). It is an umbrella organisation, whose function is to give grants to a large number of smaller charities across the country. Last year (2015) there was a list of approximately 2,500 charities and projects receiving funding. This year, the website has split the grants into separate lists for the different regions of the UK, but there are at least that many.
So what's the problem?
In my previous blog, I spoke of the importance of doing research before we give to charity. Where our money goes is a decision we make - one that matters. The first problem with huge media charity campaigns like Children in Need is that they make doing research almost impossible. It takes long enough to read the names of all 2500 odd charities, let alone doing any in depth research into what they all do. How can we make an informed decision on where our money goes in these circumstances?
Let's face it, we don't live in a pro-life culture. There's no reason why the organisers of Children in Need would be basing their selection of charities on whether they directly (or more likely indirectly) support any anti-life practises. We can't just assume they'll all be fine.
But does Children in Need actually support abortion?
Children in Need does not tend to fund projects that directly provide abortion. BPAS and Marie Stopes do not quite fit the criteria of small local projects. However, as I explored previously, the issue is far more often finding out if generally good charities also support abortion.
In past years, Children in Need has made grants to numerous sexual health centres and to projects supporting young people with same-sex attraction. Such centres and projects often support and/or facilitate legal abortion, abortifacient birth control and/or damaging forms of sex education. Unfortunately, it is often the case that projects doing very good work generally, such as rape crisis centres, will provide or refer for abortion and abortifacient birth control.
What about this year?
It would take months to comb through the policies of each of the over 2500 projects being supported this year. However, even a cursory look reveals the same causes for concern. Several sexual health centres are listed as recipients of funding. One you might not expect to be problematic is the Manchester Deaf Centre, but the project listed is working with Brook (an outspoken promoter of abortion) to deliver sessions "which deal with sex, religion, personal rights and sexuality for deaf children and young people in Manchester." It seems inevitable that digging into more of the projects would reveal issues problematic for pro-lifers.
So what to do?
Many will say that supporting Children in Need is legitimate because only a small amount of money will go towards supporting abortion. But this seems rather feeble. Where we decide to give our money to is a decision that matters, and one we have control over. We have to pay our taxes, even though some of that money will go to NHS funded abortion. We don't have to give to a particular charity, especially when we have the option to choose one where there's no chance at all our money will be spent on abortion.
Rather than give money to an umbrella charity, which will spread it out among over 2500 charities; why not give to one or two you definitely feel you can support? If you still want the fun of watching the show, and are moved by a particular appeal, there's nothing stopping you researching that cause, and giving directly to it. That way, they'll have your full donation, not just a tiny fraction of it, and you'll be 100% sure that none of your money is supporting abortion or other anti-life practises.
You can also contact Children in Need, and express your concerns. Many of us doing so might make the organisers seriously consider people's ethical concerns when selecting the projects they fund. This isn't about attacking the good works charities do, or maligning the intentions of those who support them- it's about working towards a state of affairs where every penny of our charitable giving goes to causes which truly respect life at every stage.