Comments: Puppet on a string

So what do we make of the opposite, when African church leaders now tie accepting gifts to certain theological positions of the giver?
Does the same "no ties" obligation that applies to giving also apply to receiving?

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 7:31am BST

Interesting point Erika. It would be good to know how often the person refusing such a gift is actually the intended end beneficiary as opposed to being the conduit.

Posted by David Walker at Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 1:45pm BST

My daughter works for Christian Aid, and I know from what she explained to me about a trip to a country in Africa, that the approach was not "We are coming here to do 'this' and 'this'", but rather it was a fact-finding and sharing initiative, trying very hard to listen to what people themselves were engaged with doing, and their own perceptions of where financial support was needed.

It was not about 'giver's agenda' but about paying closer attention to the agenda of people in their own communities already working hard to help others, and what resources might support these initiatives.

I think Christian Aid is an excellent organisation.

Attaching conditional values to aid giving seems like an unfair exploitation of economic privilege and power.

Rather, the opportunity to share (not just economically but in understanding, prayer, and engagement) needs to be rooted in identifying ongoing work, and being willing to help people (with resourcing and other ways) to help their own work and community building or practical outreach to others.

To take the example of Jesus, his help and engagement was not conditional on the recipient being Jewish, or male, or respectable, or any kind of pre-condition.

Probably our biggest principle for engaging with people is to put our own agendas behind us, and simply listen.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 3:46pm BST

Our experience, with TEC's many partnerships In Africa, is that no one has refused any gifts, let alone refused gifts based on our more inclusive theology.

The best "charity" is certainly in partnership with the locals, to actually serve their needs. There actually is something called "toxic charity" which involves feel good activities that make the givers feel good but don't actually help the people in need. That's often the case when missionaries come in to build things, rather than hire locals who are perfectly capable.

I got a little confused, +David, about the USA charity that got in trouble because it "announced it would not refuse to employ people in same sex marriages." Wasn't the case that they were going to be non discriminating, and then some of their donors complained and insisted that they absolutely discriminate against those in SSM? It reads as if it is bad charity because they decided to follow the non discriminatory policy, which I actually believe is the law of the land in most of our states, with some "outs" for religious organizations. Surely it isn't immoral for a charity to have nondiscriminatory hiring practices, that are in sync with law? Somehow it seems like that got muddled. Nondiscriminatory hiring practices is the norm in the majority of US states, especially when public funding raising, such as for a charity, is involved.

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 18 May 2014 at 3:28pm BST

Hi Cynthia. Sorry if it wasn't as clear as intended. That paragraph was, as it said, reflecting on the behaviour of individual donors.

Clearly some were more interested in the employment practices of the US charity than in the wellbeing of the recipients of their generosity.

My criticism was of the donors who withdrew their "gifts", not of the charity, which sought to abide by inclusive employment practices.

Posted by David Walker at Sunday, 18 May 2014 at 9:26pm BST

Thank you for the clarity, +David. I assumed that was the intent, but only from your previous writings.

Charity with strings attached are often a problem. No one seems to purchase the insistence of their particular "strings" more readily than rich American arch-conservatives.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 19 May 2014 at 5:11pm BST
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