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Christian group persuades cancer charity not to accept donation

Howard Lake | 23 February 2005 | News

Cancer care charity Maggie’s Centres has rejected a donation of £3,000 after pressure group Christian Voice warned them that it would offend and alienate “tens of thousands” of potential clients and Christians.

The money was raised at a charity performance of ‘Jerry Springer – the Opera’ when actors donated their day’s fees to the cancer charity. The charity was planning to accept the donation until it received a phone call from Christian Voice.

Christian Voice’s national director Stephen Green explained his approach on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning. He said that he had called the cancer charity and “explained that they were in grave risk of alienating Christian donors and their staff and cancer patients also by accepting money which had been raised from a performance of filth and blasphemy.”


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He was pleased that the charity had been persuaded to reject the donation. “They made the right decision… to honour the Christian faith,” he said, adding “this charity has shone out as a beacon of excellence.”

Joining Mr Green on the radio interview was actor David Soul who was the lead performer in the show, which closed on 18 February. He explained that he and his fellow actors had made “an act of goodwill to a charity which is doing fine work in the community around the UK.”

He disliked Christian Voice’s tactics with regard to Maggie’s Centres. “What I really resent here is the fact that they would strongarm a charity that is doing this work around the UK”, he said. In particular he objected that the pressure group was “suggesting to them that if they took this tainted money that somehow this could affect their fundraising capabilities in the future.”

Mr Green responded by claiming: “we saved this cancer charity from a public relations disaster.”

He admitted that his group had threatened to demonstrate outside Maggie’s buildings if they went ahead and accepted the donation.
“Absolutely”, he said when asked by the BBC interview. “It would be Christians from all over Scotland and all over London.”

David Soul acknowledged that “Christian Voice have every right in the world to protest”, but that “this is strong-arm mob-type tactics”. He added: “this really is un-Christian”.

Maggie’s Centres told the BBC: “we consulted internally and decided we would not accept the proceeds. Maggie’s exists to help people with cancer, their families, friends and carers, and to risk causing offence to anyone seemed unnecessary.”

Mr Green explained that the source of the donation did matter. “Raising money is a problem and Christian givers are known as amongst the most generous. And for this charity to have taken the 3000 quid, they would have lost an enormous amount of goodwill, in the fact that they would alienate Christian givers, Christian staff and a whole load of cancer patients who draw a great deal of comfort from their Christian faith.”

He did not respond to David Soul’s question: “what about those people who are not Christian?”

Before the interview ended the BBC interviewer said that they had received an email from an un-named cancer specialist and Chrsitian who asked: “what sort of
Chrsitian would blackmail a cancer charity?”

Mr Green replied: “we haven’t blackmailed them… If they accepted the money they would alienate supporters. I wish them a great deal of good.”

“It’s actually warning people of the consequences of their action and that must be a matter of Christian witness, that’s what we’re commanded to do.”

Rebecca Rendle, fundraising director for Maggie’s Centres, told Third Sector magazine: “we recognise that Christian Voice used this to publicise their activities. However, everything has to be guided by the people we provide a service to.”

You can listen again to the interview for the next 18 hours or so at the BBC.

There is no mention of the rejected donation on Maggie’s Centres website, although Christian Voice have published a news release heralding their good work for the charity’s PR. But there is a link on the Maggie’s Centres site to their online donation page which, given they are £3,000 short, seems a more appropriate link to include here than a link to Christian Voice.