The government is urgently investigating its relationship with a Christian charity after a video emerged in which the charity’s chair made “abhorrent” Islamophic comments.
A spokesman for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said comments made by the chair of Zion Projects were “hate speech”.
Zion Projects, based in Hampshire, was among the 16 religious organisations given a total of £1.3m in public money as part of DLUHC’s Faith New Deal fund.
The charity received £43,220 to deliver a project called As One Hampshire.
The National Secular Society revealed on Wednesday that the charity’s chair and trustee, Danny Stupple, made a series of anti-Islam statements in an online meeting of the Eastleigh Prophetic Hub in June 2020.
The charity subsequently uploaded the recording of the meeting to Vimeo.
The video opens with the charity’s logo and depicts Stupple speaking to the camera in a room covered in Union Jack and England flags.
In the video, Stupple answered a question about Islamic “calls to prayer” being broadcast during lockdown by saying “a very strong force of spiritual wickedness known as Islam is engaging in warfare against the Lord with its open-air prayers”.
He said Islamic open-air prayers were “one example” of “the enemy also trying to use the situation [the pandemic] that we’re in”.
Stupple added: “I know that sounds very negative towards Islam, I don’t mean it – as you know and I’m sure you don’t – towards the people, but that system of belief in my understanding is truly demonic.”
The National Secular Society said it had written a letter to Baroness Scott of Bybrook, parliamentary under-secretary of state at DLUHC, to “express its concerns and ask what checks were made on the recipients of Faith New Deal funding”.
The department told Third Sector it would “urgently investigate” its relationship with the charity, including funding.
A spokesperson added: “These comments are abhorrent and we strongly condemn them. We take hate speech against any group or individual extremely seriously.”
This comes after a report noted that there were no Muslim charities among the 16 recipients of the Faith New Deal fund.
DLUHC said all bids for the fund were assessed on deliverability and value for money.
It added that the religion of applicants was not considered during the assessment process and due diligence checks took place on all funds.
Third Sector has contacted Zion Projects for comment.