Breaking faith

Jan 4, 2022 by

by Mike Davidson, The Critic:

My grandfather was a Barclays Bank manager. My father worked for Barclays briefly and banked with Barclays his entire life. I have banked with Barclays all my working life. When I became the director of two initiatives, approaching Barclays for business accounts felt the natural thing to do.

Barclays provided for the Christian ministry Core Issues Trust since 2011, and the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice (IFTCC) since 2019. On 13 July 2020, Barclays notified us that, following a three month notice period, both accounts would be closed. On phoning the general manager who had signed the letters, I was told they did not need to give any reason for their action.

Businesses can, of course, choose their customers; failure to provide services is not necessarily discrimination, as the Asher’s bakery case taught us. The issue for Christian organisations like Core Issues Trust, however, is that since 2011 when we were welcomed warmly into these services, banking appears to have changed. All had been well until Stonewall, or activists supporting Stonewall, stepped in to complain that Barclays was facilitating “Conversion Therapy” by providing banking services to us.

We know that social media campaigns during the time were calling for the closure of Core Issues Trust, and that Barclays appears to have conceded to activists’ demands. Threatening calls and emails went on for days, culminating in the letters by which Barclays severed ties. We must now ask whether Barclays has overstepped its role in becoming an arbitor in the ongoing debate about conversion therapy. Despite no definition of Conversion Therapy being offered in the Government’s consultation, and Parliament’s POSTnote stating that “‘Conversion therapy’ (CT) doesn’t have a settled definition”, Barclays has accused our organisations of something we deny. This is reputational damage, one of the reasons we feel compelled to take the matter to the courts.

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