Strip Shinners’ Ministry of its charitable status!
EARLIER this month a damning report by the UK Public Accounts Committee said that the Charity Commission was “not fit for purpose”. MPs investigating the Commission said it had been “performing poorly” for many years but a strategic review in 2011 had failed to bring about the “fundamental transformation” needed.
Now, under normal circumstances, a report such as this would be of little or no interest to Freethinker readers.
However, one particular decision regarding a ghastly religious organisation called Passion for Souls Ministries does make the Commission’s work our concern. It is this: In 2009 it granted charitable status to Passion for Souls, headed by former footballer Paul Shinners, who hung up his boots to became an evangelist.
Shinners used money from the charity to travel to Africa to “preach the word of God” – and generate extreme hostility towards gay people.
In December 2012, at a Christian rally, he told a large gathering of the faithful in Uganda that the country was on the right path with its proposed “Kill the Gays” Bill, which has since passed into law, but without the death penalty.
After Shinners was reported in the The Uganda Monitor as saying [the Bill] was “a clear stand for God and “there is no other nation world over that has such a plan and through this, Uganda is going to be blessed” I, together with San Francisco-based human rights commissioner Melanie Nathan, ran reports about his hatemongering role in Uganda’s campaign of terror against homosexuals.
The story went viral, demonstrations took place at St Neots in Cambridgeshire where Shinners runs the Christian Cornerstone café, , and, as a result, he claimed that his staff had been intimidated and that the café was forced to close on two occasions.
What grabbed media attention was the fact that Shinners flatly denied commending Ugandan lawmakers on their proposed anti-gay legislation, and threatened Nathan and myself with legal action for “defamation”. He also told the local paper that he had demanded an apology from both of us, which was a lie.
This expose of Shinners and Passion for Souls of may well have led to the formation of an organisation called the Human Dignity Trust, established in 2012 to:
Support individuals who seek to challenge legislation criminalising consensual sexual activity between same sex adults in certain countries.
The HDT applied for charitable status, but was refused. It appealed against the decision last October, and lost. The Charity Commission said:
The principal activity of the HDT is to bring legal proceedings in certain foreign jurisdictions, or in international courts, to clarify the law where the HDT considers that domestic legislation criminalising homosexuality is at variance with constitutional law or international law. The Commission says that the purposes of HDT are not cast in an exclusively charitable form and that it cannot meet the public benefit requirement for a charity as its purpose is directed towards changing the law.
William Shawcross, Chairman of the Charity Commission added:
I sympathise with the aims of the Human Dignity Trust and know that many people around the world will support their work to tackle discrimination. However, the Commission’s role is to assess whether an organisation is charitable in law. We cannot and must not make our decisions based on value judgements about the merits of an organisation’s aims or activities. I appreciate this decision will come as a disappointment to the Trust and its supporters.
So, an organisation that promotes hatred is allowed charitable status, but one that opposes discrimination is not.
Bizarre, but understandable if the granting of charitable status to an organisation like HDT goes against Commission rules.
What does not make sense is the fact that, after receiving complaints about the Shinners’ outfit following our revelations about this foul insititution, the Commission refused to take appropriate action against it. It should have summarily revoked its charitable status.
Commented the Kill the Bill Uganda blog:
We sense more than a little twisted thinking by the Charity Commission on the issue of international human rights where LGBT people are concerned.
If Shinners imagined that the row over his presence in Uganda would eventually die down and be forgotten, he clearly hadn’t bargained on the persistence of St Neots-based blogger Daniel Law, who for months has been demanding – but not getting – any clear answers from Shinners
And he has organised another demonstration at Cornerstone’s this coming Saturday.
At the last demo Law organised, Shinners invited the blogger into his “Healing Room” for a conversation under the supervision of one of the charity fellow trustees Paul Imrie.
Shinners – who had earlier received an open letter from Law – played the victim.
He claimed he was being persecuted (rather ironic given the situation in Uganda)
When I asked him his opinion on homosexuality he and his college just openly laughed in my face. He was consistently vague and evasive and always brought the conversation back to how he was a victim.
He accused me of attacking him online without getting his side of the story first, but last year I did attempt to contact him first and he agreed to a meeting but then kept on rescheduling over a couple of weeks until it was clear that he was unwilling to have a conversation.
He was also approached for answers from a number of other individuals both locally and internationally and has been unwilling to respond. His only communication appears to have been to the local paper the Hunts Post and a couple of online bookshop blogs/websites to cover his tracks and protect his business.
The conversation quickly descended into farcical nonsense. Shinners claimed to be able to fully cure the blind and his website also claims they can cure cancer. He also said that he would be able to heal my spine injury. When I asked him why there were no scientific papers regarding this he said that they would rather keep it quiet to avoid ridicule.
He appeared ignorant of many parts of the Bible and holds the worrying belief that children who are disabled are born that way because of the actions of the devil.
Throughout our conversation he was continually evasive of the important questions regarding his views on homosexuality, showed complete apathy and (apparent) ignorance regarding the plight of the Ugandan people. He also claimed to have a recording of what he said in Uganda but refused to make it public. Why would an innocent person hide the truth or be unwilling to clearly state his beliefs?
I will be organising a protest outside the Cornerstone café on Saturday, February 15 to call for answers and action from Paul Shinners and raise public awareness of the situation. If anyone would like to join me or help me organise it please contact me via my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please feel free to contact the Hunts Post on 01480 443451; email@example.com or 01480 411481 or firstname.lastname@example.org if this is an issue you believe is in the interest of the local community.