A British charity network has forced a Christian organization to lose its membership because its counselors offered to pray for victims of debt, an act officials insist is "incompatible" with membership.
Advice U.K., the largest support network in the Britain, claims that Christians Against Poverty (CAP) made receiving prayer a requirement for those seeking debt advice, accusing CAP counselors of exacting an "emotional fee" from clients.
Chief executive of Advice U.K., Steve Johnson, stated that while the network is affiliated with several religious groups that offer advice services, advisers are not allowed to "offer or impose their values" on their clients.
"We don’t feel that praying as part of the advice process is compatible with our membership criteria. Advice should be impartial and offered with no strings attached," he told civilsociety.co.uk.
Johnson added, "At the end of the day, praying is not advice. We don’t feel it is compatible with what is regarded throughout the advice sector as normal practice."
According to both parties, the decision to end the affiliation was mutual.
CAP stated that offering prayer as part of their objective service is the premise of their charity, but that prayer has never been a requirement for receiving debt advice.
CAP said in a statement: "Whilst CAP is committed to provide impartial help and advice to all members of society, as an expression of our care for clients we do offer to pray with people. We also have the furtherance of the Christian faith as a charitable objective. In order to protect the integrity of both organizations it was amicably agreed that CAP would not continue to be a Advice UK member."
CAP, a national charity network of 160 churches, had been apart of the Advice U.K. network for six years.
Despite the amicable parting, and Advice U.K. stating that it does not discriminate against organizations with religious directives, some observers feel that it should not be a surprise that a religious organization would want to include religion as part of its aid.
"There is increasingly a chilling notion prevailing that there is something wrong, something sinister, about being motivated by faith," Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Center, told the Daily Mail.
Williams added, "It should come as no surprise that an organization with the term 'Christian' in its name may have a Christian ethos and may offer prayer alongside its primary services."
A CAP spokesperson confirmed that the organization will continue to offer faith-based debt counseling despite their split with Advice U.K.