Historically, religious missionary activity has been related to hardships, cultural disruption and social upheaval for communities all over the world. Some are sceptical of ideologies and values being presented as intrinsically linked with material wealth. Some argue that modern faith-based aid still poses a risk of delivering a hidden evangelical agenda.
Alistair Gee, Executive Director of Act for Peace, disagrees:
[Act for Peace] is based on (what we believe to be) universal values or ‘good practices’, including full recognition of the importance of local participation, transparency, mutual responsibility, developing capacity, non-discrimination, gender equality, cultural and spiritual sensitivity, protection of human rights, advocacy, promotion of peace and reconciliation, effective communication and environmental sustainability. Religious values can help to reinforce these universal values. There is an important distinction though between a development agency set up by a church and a mission agency. It is very important to us that we support development work which is distinct from evangelism and we monitor programs to ensure this is the case.(2)
It is worth considering whether the religious foundations of an organisation potentially impede an NGO’s ability to participate in vital development activities. For example, would the Catholic Church’s anti-contraception stance hinder its involvement in HIV/AIDS prevention programs? If so, are there other organisations working in partnership with the faith-based organisation and fulfilling such needs?
Last updated 4 November 2010
((1)49.6% of total funds raised were shared by 4 religious based NGOs: World Vision Australia, CBM Australia, Caritas Australia and TEAR Australia. Of the remaining 50.4%, 31.66% was shared between 10 secular organisations. The remaining 18.74% represented contributions made to the remaining 85 ACFID members and Code of Conduct signatories, which are both religious and non-religious based.
Source: ACFID, Which agencies raise most? http://www.acfid.asn.au/resources/facts-and-figures/which-agencies-raise-most , last accessed 11/10/10
(2) Interview, Stephanie Lusby, NCCA offices 379 Kent St Sydney, September 2007