The Daily Mail has admitted that Winterval, as a replacement for Christmas, is a myth, but there is another myth that originated with the Daily Mail that, although not quite as old, is potentially more damaging.
I’ve wrote about it last year and it’s reared it’s ugly head again: The Red Cross Ban Christmas.
The Mail story goes back to 2002 and about this time of year, just like Winterval, someone new finds this story and starts the shouting all over again. Go and read my previous post, here, and then come back.
Now you know the background to the Daily Mail story I want to re-iterate just why the Red Cross/Crescent needs to not do Christmas or any other religion.
One of the Red Cross’ Seven Fundamental Principles is neutrality. Without this, they are just another charity. I don’t mean to denigrate charities or make them sound inferior to the Red Cross, but without these seven principles, especially neutrality, the Red Cross wouldn’t enjoy the respected and unique position it has.
the purpose of complying with the principle of Neutrality is to enjoy the confidence of all. Implicitly, this compliance with the principle of Neutrality is also a condition for operational efficiency, which requires confidence of all in many contexts, i.e. not only in armed conflicts contexts;
the principle of Neutrality prohibits a component of the Movement from taking part in hostilities;
the principle of Neutrality prohibits the Movement from engaging at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.
The point is that the Red Cross is not a political or religious organisation. This neutrality is one of our fundamental principles and governs everything we do in the whole Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It means that we can reach and help people in need, whoever and wherever they are. Often we provide help in countries that other organisations cannot or will not work in.
We cross front lines in times of war to help conflict victims and visit prisoners of war on both sides. We can only do this life-saving work because we are understood to be a completely neutral, independent organisation. Put simply, our neutrality saves lives.
We can’t let people in need down by compromising our neutrality. That is why we do not align ourselves with any particular political cause or religious creed anywhere in the world. And that’s why we don’t have any items of a religious nature in our shops.
A nativity scene in a shop in Kent might seem like it has nothing to do with our sensitive, precarious work in a war zone in Africa or the Middle East. But in a world where information travels quickly and pervasively – a world where an eight-year-old news story is still raising questions with our supporters – we have to make sure we act consistently across the board with regard to our neutrality.
I’m pretty sure most shops wouldn’t bother with xmas if they didn’t lose sales. The Red Cross would ‘do Christmas’ if it didn’t have ramifications in other areas of it’s operations.
People claim that the Red Cross is pandering to Muslims and minorities and being politically correct. Every time the story is repeated, the poster, a commenter or a forum thread member say they are going to stop donating, if they ever did in the first place, because of this. “This is a Christian country” they claim. This is flip side of the coin that the Red Cross gets from other quarters that mean there is a Red Crescent organisation. Exactly the same sentiment that shows exactly why the Red Cross needs, at it’s core, to be and to be seen to be neutral.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent need to be above this sort of bickering and this neutrality principle is them saying that they do not care where you are from, what you look like, who you believe in or what you have done. They will help you and you can let them help you because they will not preach, or condemn you, and the authorities will let them help because they will not interfere.
The Red Cross’ neutrality means that they can use that money were it’s needed, where other organisations cannot get to. I would say that is a little more important than pandering to people that want to see a little model nativity scene in every building they walk in to.
Is a fairy on a tree really that important?