16 October 2006
An evangelical group which openly refuses to employ non-Christians looks set to carry out compulsory work-focused interviews on disabled claimants.
Pecan, which has won through to the next round of the Pathways to Work providers competition, will also be responsible for finding work related activities and employment for claimants.
Pecan is a London based grouping of Evangelical Christian churches and has won through to the next round for the Central London and City and East London regions.
Pecan's stated policy is that all Board Members , employees, and volunteers must accept Pecan's fundamental beliefs. When an employee signs a contract with Pecan this is taken as indicating their agreement with an eleven point spiritual statement which includes belief in:
'The one true God who lives eternally in three persons-the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.'
'The personal and visible return of Jesus Christ to fulfill the purposes of God, who will raise all people to judgement, bring eternal life to the redeemed and eternal condemnation to the lost, and establish a new heaven and new earth.
Pecan also aims to give employees the opportunity to pray for the projects they are involved in and with their clients.
There are jobs, such as teaching in a faith-based school, where the law permits employers to discriminate on the grounds of religious belief. However, it is difficult to see how there can be any reasonable grounds for claiming that employees carrying out work-focused interviews on behalf of the DWP must have an unshakeable belief in the Holy Trinity, the virgin birth and the second coming of Christ.
Even if legal, such a requirement should automatically disqualify an agency from carrying out the functions of a state department. That Pecan have won through to the next round of the Pathways to Work competition will leave many claimants and welfare rights workers wondering what secret selection criteria are actually being used..
Visit the Pecan website