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On kindness and Christianity

The not-for-profit organisation that I work for has recently changed its name. Its work for the past century and half with some of the poorest, most oppressed, most abused and most vulnerable women, in times of war, peace and political turbulence, is something I am immensely proud to be part of. To witness the change in women as a result of our organisation’s interventions is always  inspirational. I am faithless so I don’t need to score points with God, do work for Jesus or any deity you care to name. I work at what is now called Platform 51 because helping each other – that most noble of human qualities – is simply The Right Thing To Do.

After 155 years with our old name, the decision to change it was not taken lightly. But the more we talked to people the more we found that the old name, YWCA, was misunderstood, mistaken for another charity or not even recognised. A name change was vital. Inevitably some people would get shitty about that fact that we dropped a name which contained the C-word. But I can hardly believe the reaction of some so-called Christians could be so uncharitable, so unChristian!

The Daily Mail ran this story last Friday. Now I’m generally of the opinion that if this hideous excuse for a newspaper says nasty things about you you’re probably doing the right thing. But the publication of this story sparked a spewing of bilious comments online – mostly from so-called Christians. Their mindless sectarianism, bigotry and sheer unChristian-ness is truly shocking. I won’t repeat the precise comments to you because they were not made in the public domain; but to give you an idea, they say things like ‘disgraceful’, ‘shameful’, ‘erosion of principles’, ‘degradation to reflect secular views’… ‘which do not engender righteous living’ and a general withdrawal of support – not that most of the commenters ever gave us a penny.

Hey, wake up! You don’t need the bible – or any other so-called ‘sacred’ text – to have morals. My own moral compass is firmly set to natural standards of human decency, as can be learned in the works of Dickens and Shakespeare, Hemingway, Harper Lee and McCall-Smith.

When will these Christians realise they don’t have a monopoly on being good, kind and helpful? They can hardly claim righteousness and virtue when they speak of withdrawing their support to a charity that exists simply to help women in need. They are an embarrassment to all the millions of people of whatever faith or of no faith at all that strive To Do The Right Thing.

Sorry about that. Rant over.

For a really good read on human kindness, try Professor A C Grayling’s An Essay on Kindness.

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