Another Perspective

Goodbye to Britain’s YWCA

Another revered institution drops its "Christian" association in favor of a left-wing "Platform."

By 1.12.11

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In a further maneuver in the one-way war against British traditions and values, what was known for 156 years as the Young Women's Christian Association has dropped the word "Christian," along with the rest of its title, changing its name to Platform 51.

This is not, apparently, a new point of departure for the Hogwarts Express, but a reference to the fact that women make up 51% of the population. The word "Platform," it is said, was chosen to reflect the fact that they can use the charity as a platform "to have their say" and "to move to the next stage of their lives." The old name, it is said, "no longer stands for who we are."

This is despite the fact that the organization has been funded mainly by legacies left by Christian supporters who intended its specific Christian orientation to continue. The YWCA was founded by Emma Robarts, who ran London prayer groups, and Mrs. Arthur Kinnaird, who ran a London hostel for nurses on their way to work in the Crimean War hospitals. 

However, officials at the World YWCA headquarters in Geneva said none of the 124 branches in other countries are changing their names, and appeared taken by surprise by the news. 

Spokesman Sylvie Jacquat said: "The name has been there for more than 150 years and we are not even discussing a change. We see our name as an opportunity for promoting Christian values and principles."

It is thought that the word "Christian" has been dropped from the British organization in an attempt to get more government funding. Several other charities have also changed their names in recent years for similar reasons. Mike Judge of the think-tank Christian Institute was quoted as saying:

"Many believe there is an anti-Christian bias among those who decide which charities get state funding. 

"It was the Christian character of the YWCA that made it great. It is a shame that it is turning its back on those values."

The organization has told supporters:

During the 156 years since we were founded, we've had to evolve to reflect changes in society and the needs and expectations of women. This is true not only of the work we do, but also of our name.

Our original name no longer stood for who we are or what we do and people often confused us with another charity.

The "other charity" is presumably the YMCA, which, unlike the YWCA, continues to pursue its original objective of providing accommodation for young people, including women.

Platform 51 has made it clear that it intends to embark on a political program and to "lobby for changes in the law and policies to help all women."

In fact, it has been involved in leftist activism for some time. Its Wikipedia entry, apparently written by a strong supporter in impeccably leftist jargon, states: "The World YWCA is the umbrella organization of the global network of the YWCA, a movement of women working for social and economic change around the world. It advocates for young women's leadership, peace, justice, human rights and sustainable development, both on a grassroots and global scale."

Given this, is it not surprising that YWCA Palestine-East Jerusalem (as it is still called) is associated with the dissemination of anti-Israel material.

Its website endorses something called the Kairos Document, originating from a number of left-wing church organizations and associated with the far left World Council of Churches.

Not only does this document not say one word about Israel's right to exist, even with its original borders, it implicitly denies it, claiming:

"The Palestinian people have faced oppression, displacement, suffering and clear apartheid for more than six decades" – i.e. since the founding of Israel in 1948 -- "The suffering continues while the international community looks on at the occupying State, Israel."

The report goes on to claim: "The document also demands that all people, political leaders and decision-makers put pressure on Israel and take all legal measures in order to oblige its government to end its oppression and disregard for international law. The document also holds a clear position that non-violent resistance to this injustice in a right and duty for all Palestinians including Christians." The logical end of this demand is that Israel has no right to any territory.

It continues; "It is hoped that by learning from Palestine voices we can develop a better understanding of the ways in which trapped Palestinian communities and individuals… living in enclosed enclaves in East Jerusalem are not only controlled, restricted and excluded, but also survive and resist traps." It is not stated what these traps are, nor is there any suggestion that the Arab countries might take in the Palestinian refugees as Israel took in about a million Jewish refugees when it was formed and has taken more since.

There is in this not one word of condemnation, or even mention of, the violent and indiscriminate terrorist attacks which have been made on Israeli civilians by rockets and suicide bombers. The document makes no pretence of balance or even-handedness, or suggests that Israel has any right to exist behind secure boundaries, or at all. Admittedly I have not read all its literature, but in what I have read there is not a single word about Islamic oppression and intolerance.

Those who have supported the YWCA in the past in the belief that it is a non-political Christian organization might care to think again.

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About the Author

Hal G.P. Colebatch, a lawyer and author, has lectured in International Law and International Relations at Notre Dame University and Edith Cowan University in Western Australia and worked on the staff of two Australian Federal Ministers.