Monday, 27 February 2012

Report questions the freedom of Christians in the UK

Updated Tuesday evening

The All-Party Parliamentary Group named Christians in Parliament has published a report titled Clearing the Ground, and subtitled it: Preliminary report into the freedom of Christians in the UK.

This report and related documents can be found at the Evangelical Alliance website, here.

Writing in advance of the report’s publication, Jim Dobbin MP and Gary Streeter MP said in the Telegraph on Sunday that: We need reforms to protect the rights of Christians. There is an accompanying news story Britain failing to stand up for Christians, say MPs.

In the Mail on Sunday Jonathan Petre reported this story as Harriet Harman’s law on equality ‘is anti-Christian’ and unacceptable.

Today’s Independent has Committee claims rights laws leave out Christians by Nina Lakhani.

The BBC had Equality law ‘should be extended to cover faith’.

Today’s responses to the report so far include:

Ekklesia Report alleging discrimination against Christians ‘confused’

British Humanist Association British Humanist Association refutes findings of ‘Clearing the Ground’ report


More responses:

Andrew Brown Cif belief Are Christians being marginalised?

Are Christians their own worst enemies in Britain today? This question is raised with unusual frankness in a couple of paragraphs of an all-party parliamentary group’s report into Christians and discrimination, which was launched yesterday.

It contains a really quite startling attack on Christian campaign groups:

“The actions of some campaign groups can discredit the Church in the UK and result in perceptions that Christians are seeking unfair exemptions. By bringing highly emotive cases to the fore, they also can add to the feeling among Christians that they are more marginalised than they actually are.

“On some occasions we perceive that campaigning becomes inflammatory or even counterproductive to Christian freedoms. This is due to factors such as: the strategically unwise selection of cases; a distorted presentation of facts for manipulation of the media; and most alarmingly, the deliberate misinforming of the church constituency in order to motivate support.”

But the report also maintains that there have been cases in which Christians have been unfairly treated, usually as a result of ignorance in the wider culture, rather than malevolence; and it demands a reshaping of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which evangelical Christians loathe…

National Secular Society Christian discrimination report is just another call for special privileges

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 12:15pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church in Wales | Church of England | Church of Ireland | Scottish Episcopal Church | equality legislation

more thinly veiled gay bashing ?

These priveleged wailing tories are a disgrace.

I want to distance myself from their 'complaints' after 60+ years as a Christian- do these people even participate in any form of Christianity ?

I have only ever had my freedom removed as a gay person and they hope to revert to 'the good old days' asap.

You wouldnt find a Jesus signing up to this BS.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 1:12pm GMT

oh please ! - this stuff doesnt even need decoding:

'Religious illiteracy has led to legal restrictions on the way that faith can be expressed. Recent changes have
compelled Christians to provide services that they had never previously offered and which may be contrary to their beliefs.'

We all know it means services to lgbt people.

These groups though mealy-mouthed have vile intentions.

They are mealy-mouthed as a political ploy.

As for religiously illiterate ! ...

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 1:18pm GMT

Ah, they wish to use more insulting language more often ! Now that's what I call religious literacy !

• The 1986 Public Order Act, and specifically Section 5, places the bar too low through its prohibition on
insulting language.
• The policing of the Public Order Act and other legislation demonstrates a lack of understanding of what
is a legitimate expression of Christian belief.
• Government departments handle religious belief in a complex and confused manner and lack

I almost pity this pathetic small and unrepresentative group as they seek to bolster their egos and fight for all that they have lost - their world view with the right to patronise and dominate others.

Well they can still patronise for England - 'religious illiteracy'? Who do they think they be !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 1:30pm GMT

The BBC report says the equality law should "cover faith". Of course it already does - religion and belief are one of the protected characteristics and there are extensive religious exemptions in the legislations to cater for those whose faith require discrimination.

As to the report - Ekklesia says it all really. I think the report was probably written by feeding various Lawyers Christian Fellowship and Christian Institute press releases into a computer and pressing a button - out comes the report.

People should look at the narrow, self selected membership of the "committee" before reading the "report".

As regards the issue of trumping which they get very excited about - the only way such people are happy is if their rights always trump other people's.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 1:46pm GMT

This report, "Clearing the Ground," can only further damage religious groups in England, especially those who call themselves "Christian". The authors of this report seem to have learned nothing from the history of institutional Christianity, which, though notable for many and profound works of charity, is also characterized by egregious persecution against scientists and humanists, and appalling violence against those with whom they disagree, especially against women, children and LGBT persons and families.

These groups apply the name "Christian" to themselves, thereby smearing the name of other Christians and Churches who do not agree with them. In the United States, this same movement has produced a mass exodus of young adults from evangelical communities because they cannot stomach their communities' vitriolic attacks of LGBT persons and their attempts to restore official prejudice against sexual minority persons and, most recently, against women and our rights to control our bodies.

Don't imagine that this regressive movement cannot gain a voice in the UK. Twenty years ago, I would never have imagined that the 2012 presidential campaign in the US would be about the right to access to contraceptives as part of a woman's health insurance. That said, you in the UK are in a much better position to bring sanity to the argument about equality. Discriminate all you want in your Church but not in the provision of licensed public services nor as a recipient of state funds to provide public services. The idea that it is part of Christian witness to deny service to a person because you regard them as a sinner is appalling. And, to these so-called Christian groups, for the love of God, please stop dragging the Name of Jesus through the mud. Consider meditating on Matthew chapter 25 as your guide for providing care for others.

At the core of Jesus' message to all who would listen is, "Be profoundly changed from within (repent) for the reign of God is so close to you that you can touch it." When will these so-called Christian groups and Churches repent of their violence and violence-provoking rehetoric against LGBT persons? We are in the holy season of Lent. Where are their public declarations of repentance? Where are their demonstrations agianst violent attacks on LGBT persons and, especially, our children? Many of these groups have strong relationships with conservative Christianity in Africa. Where are their unequivocal public statements against the further criminalizing of LGBT persons in these countries? Sometimes, silence speaks the loudest.

Posted by: karen macqueen+_ on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 7:13pm GMT

Not a good day for spiritual religion.

And yet how could true spiritual religion ever be finished off ? It's like saying the golden rule, the sermon on the mount or love between people could be murdered in the people's breasts.

Posted by: Mary Marriott on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 7:50pm GMT

They'll have Jesus turning in his grave Kirsty -- because, for them he hasn't risen yet! They've made sure that wopping stone has blocked his exit! Just like tory policies are endangering the well being of low income families, elders, ill people, disabled people .......blocking their exit from poverty, illness and tory-libdem broken promises

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 10:15pm GMT

American Christians also enjoin the battle for Christian freedoms :

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 10:28pm GMT

I find it hard to understand how a nation with an established Christian church can be said to need special protections for Christians.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 10:36pm GMT

This is just one more way of the conservative wing of the Church of England trying to establish its authority as Establishment Church. This is surely no longer feasible in the context of the 'freedom of religion' ethos of the multi-cultural society of the united Kingdom - where even the Monarch is now known, at least colloquially, as the 'Defender of Faiths' - not just of the C.of E.

For Lord Carey and his friends to assert the pre-eminence of his sola-Scriptura point of view as the fulcrum of the English legal system, is hardly consistent with the role and function of civil government. The united Kingdom is not a theocracy - like Iran - nor should the Church of England behave as though it part of a theocratic state.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 28 February 2012 at 1:50am GMT

'Which of you, by being anxious, can add one moment to his lifespan?' (Matt. 6:27)

Certain qualities, such as lifespan, are largely determined by genetics and, regardless of our best efforts, at the mercy of divine providence. Such characteristics should not be a cause of fear and guilt. Beyond these demonstrably pre-determined traits, the gospel challenges every aspect of human behaviour, bar none, with the call for change. All other limits on marital affinity are applied without exemption. There is no room for special pleading.

No aspect of human personality, however intractable, is off limits. The true prophet Jeremiah showed remarkable insight into these aspects of human behaviour: 'Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.' (Jer. 13:23). Clearly, God doesn't assume that instinctive behaviour is morally neutral.

It is the false prophet who cordons off specific aspects of human personality, as if they were exempt from divine censure and only to treat the church's mere challenge to them as a sin in itself. Especially when St. Paul charges the church with a duty to: 'Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.' (Eph. 5:11).

Posted by: David Shepherd on Tuesday, 28 February 2012 at 2:50am GMT

Mr. Shepherd, indeed, but it does seem sad that so few of the traditionalists have been supportive of efforts to expose the fruitless deeds of homophobia and other acts of darkness.

There have been recent studies in neuroscience and genetics showing that a tendency toward conservative views about social order might be congenitally predisposed. Nonetheless, I appreciate your reminder that those who are against the recognition of the legitimate partnerships of same sex couples cannot plead that they were born with a bend toward bigotry. We need to encourage them to leave the errors of the 13th century and recognize the full humanness of gays and lesbians. We need to go further and call on those who labor for the fruitless deeds of darkness to repent and to actually acknowledge that same sex marriages are a good thing. It will take many years of education and the training of tolerance in schools and in churches and in the popular media, but we will get there.

Homophobia and the denial of the love and value of same gender marriages is a real moral failing, even if it is based in a genetic predisposition, but we progress toward that day when even that evil will be overcome.

Posted by: Dennis on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 at 9:02pm GMT


That would all make sense if those studies to which you refer (and those claiming gay genetic/psychological determinism) produced established scientific facts, rather than promising lines of enquiry.

If there is no variation to the polarised view that the mere challenge towards any behaviour constitutes a phobia of it, I guess that, in thrall as I am to other Levitical pronouncements, I'm also incestophobic (not thereby implying a 'slippery slope' connection). I also break out into a terrible rash at the repeated mention of the all-too-clever 'shellfish and mixed fibres' argument (Howbeit, therein lies a cure for my insomnia!)

Forget 'the errors of the 13th century', let's target the real culprits, those presumptious patriarchs and rabble-rousing rabbis who invested their prejudices with divine authority long before, penning papyrus as they did with 'tabloid' taboos.

You might want to jettison all scripture as outmoded for good, rather than take an X-acto knife to the bits you don't like.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Friday, 2 March 2012 at 4:09am GMT

David, I wonder if you are really aware that Jesus condensed 'all the Law and the Prophets' into the New Commandment - "that you love one another as I have loved you" - This is my commandment! Jesus did not cling to shibboleths, as you appear to be doing.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 3 March 2012 at 2:10am GMT


It's a pity that you only target as shibboleths those ideas that challenge your 'progessive' world-view, Especially since state-enforced *multi-culturalism* (that you espouse in an earlier post) has failed so spectacularly in Britain.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Saturday, 3 March 2012 at 6:06pm GMT

Have you, David, personally experienced the failure?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 5 March 2012 at 4:58am GMT

Our failure's only remedy:

'It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.' (1 Tim. 1:15)

'The servant therefore fell down, and worshiped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' (Matt.18:26)

'Not the labours of my hands,
Could fulfil thy laws demands,
Could my tears forever flow,
Or my zeal no respite know,
All for sin could not atone,
Thou must save,
And Thou alone!'

Posted by: David Shepherd on Tuesday, 6 March 2012 at 9:42pm GMT
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