Phillips riles the religious, and Pickles moves against council prayers ruling

A POLL currently running on the Telegraph website asks: Should religion have a say over public law? So far 52.56 percent of respondents have said No, while 42.45 percent said Yes.

The poll was sparked by the Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, who this week claimed that religious authority should end “at the door of the temple” and give way to the “public law”. He argued that Roman Catholic adoption agencies and other faith groups providing public services could not operate by “a different set of laws” from the rest of society.

Not surprisingly, religious leaders – including the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey – rounded on Phillips, not the least because he drew a comparison between exemptions demanded by faith groups and Islamic sharia law.

Legal specialists said Mr Phillips’s comparison was “inflammatory” because Islamic sharia law was associated with draconian punishments in some parts of the world, such as stoning and amputation of limbs for crimes including theft and adultery.

Phillips singled out the adoption agencies that fought a long legal battle to avoid being forced to consent to placing children with homosexual couples under equality laws.

Last year, following a High Court case, the Charity Commission ruled against an exemption for Catholic Care, an adoption agency operating in Leeds.

Speaking at a debate in London on diverse societies, Mr Phillips backed the new laws, which led to the closure of all Catholic adoption agencies in England.

You can’t say because we decide we’re different then we need a different set of laws. To me there’s nothing different in principle with a Catholic adoption agency, or indeed Methodist adoption agency, saying the rules in our community are different and therefore the law shouldn’t apply to us.Why not then say sharia can be applied to different parts of the country? It doesn’t work.

The ghastly Eric Pickles

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that Community Secretary Eric Piggles … er… Pickles says he plans to reverse the recent High Court’s “illiberal ruling” that a Devon council’s prayers were unlawful.

He says part of the Localism Act that aims to give councils greater powers and freedom will be brought in early.

By effectively reversing that illiberal ruling, we are striking a blow for localism over central interference, for freedom to worship over intolerant secularism, for Parliamentary sovereignty over judicial activism, and for long-standing British liberties over modern-day political correctness.

He added that the Bideford council case should be “a wake-up call”.

For too long, the public sector has been used to marginalise and attack faith in public life, undermining the very foundations of the British nation. But this week, the tables have been turned.

The Localism Act 2011 establishes a “general power of competence” enabling councils legally to do anything an individual could do unless specifically prohibited by law.

The National Secular Society questioned the act’s reach and said the move could be challenged in court.

Hat tip: AngieRS (Phillips report) and to the outraged dozens for the Pickles news.


36 responses to “Phillips riles the religious, and Pickles moves against council prayers ruling”

  1. AgentCormac says:

    I see this morning that Eric Pickles says he is “effectively reversing” the High Court’s “illiberal ruling” that a Devon council’s prayers were unlawful.

  2. Buffy says:

    To me there’s nothing different in principle with a Catholic adoption agency, or indeed Methodist adoption agency, saying the rules in our community are different and therefore the law shouldn’t apply to us.Why not then say sharia can be applied to different parts of the country?

    Quite true. Of course the people who scream loudest about how evil and dangerous Sharia law is are the ones who also fight hardest to get “Biblical Law” enforced. When their attempts are thwarted they whine about how persecuted they are. Somehow they can’t see the blinding hypocrisy.

  3. AgentCormac says:

    Barry, the link to the poll isn’t working.

  4. Har Davids says:

    Do the 42.45% that. not too long ago, religion did have a say over public law, and common sense, and what that meant to society? We have Christianity to thank for the Dark Ages, when science and progress were stifled, and dissidents were persecuted. Wars were fought with religion’s blessings, every participant convinced his god was on his side. And let’s not forget the way women were treated, even though many female believers do just that.

    Just read the Bible and you’ll see what religion is all about.

  5. Iain says:

    I also checked, and voted, on the poll yesterday. The results delight me, especially as I associate the Telegraph with an older, more conservative (not necessarily politically) audience.

    It gives me hope that people mainly see sense about the role of religion in civic life and that they recognise it has no place there.

    More than this, it forces those who do believe, such as Carey, into ever tighter corners. Their arguments to place religion firmly in public life are becoming more desperate, shouty and illogical.

    And it seems that the majority of people just won’t accept that behaviour any more, just as they no longer accept their unproven claims.

  6. remigius says:

    Oh dear, I find myself agreeing with Trevor Phillips. I’m going back to bed.

  7. Broga says:

    Example this morning from the main propaganda arm of religion in the UK: the BBC. The interviewed a bishop (man with a title), Sir Alan Beith (Methodist with a title), mention approvingly the uber privileged and titled Queen and the egregious Baroness Warsi (unelected woman with a title.) OK, so they all have tiles and are super privileged with access to the airwaves. No miltant secularists – the BBC phrase.

    The object of this demonstration of blatant and shameless bias was to support the role of the C. of E. as an established church and the role of religion in underpinning the values of the UK. (Best not mention the enthusiasm for the clergy in Victorian times for driving the poor into the Workhouses and advocating the most cruel of regimes there – source: “The Victorians” by A.N.Wilson.)

    However the BBC interviewer was not content with his references to these religious enthusiasts. He suggested that some secularists supported the C. of E. as the established church (which I don’t doubt) and perhaps the BBC should arrange a debate between secularists in favour of this and militant secularists. This is a great new wheeze they may be inventing.

    In its readiness to abandon any semblance of balance, fairness and decent journalistic standards this was a shameful example.

  8. Barry, the link doesn’t work and I can’t find the poll on the Telegraph website. Any chance of fixing the link?

  9. Broga says:

    I meant to mention in my previous post that they ignore any discussion about whether any of their assumed beliefs are true and what evidence they have for them. This is the elephant in the room and it must not be noticed in any discussion. Would it be so difficult to ask, “But why do you believe this and what evidence do you have? What do you mean by God?” This must be avoided in favour of tacit, unthinking acceptance.

    Have a nice day. I’m off to walk my dog by the sea. He gets bored with all this religious stuff.

  10. Barry Duke says:

    Link’s fixed. Sorry. Don’t know what went wrong.

  11. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    These are just the sort of special privileges that christians are always bleating on about, they’ll claim that they just want equality, to be able to follow their faith when, in reality, what they want is for the law not to apply to them and their hobby.

    They are quite correct in claiming that sharia law is best known for being draconian but they forget that it wasn’t that long ago that christian law was equally draconian, with torture, hangings, burnings etc. If they were given the power to do so, I believe that they would quite happily return to that kind of thing.

    Re: the Bideford case, isn’t it amusing that when the law goes against them, that law is illiberal. So what Mr Pickles, the christian community secretary wants, is to return to a situation where discrimination is the order of the day and anyone that doesn’t follow his superstition is made to feel an outsider.

  12. AngieRS says:

    I don’t see how piggles (thanks, Barry) can reverse a ruling made in court. Surely what he is saying or aiming at is illegal and the court decision must be overturned by another court on appeal.

  13. Ivan says:


    Here is a link to listen again to the clueless 08.10 feature on the Today programme:

    An unbalanced, unprofessional and editorially unsupportable segement conducted by an interviewer who left unsupported claims pass totally unchallenged and then giggled inanely at the end in a display that made it clear he was unaware that “militant” secularists is an oxymoron.

    Piss poor. Complain here:

  14. Trevor blake says:

    Local laws for local people!

    Looking forward to learning how Mr. Pickles implements Commandments 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 & 10 as law.

  15. Gill says:

    Surely piggles is in contempt of court

  16. Angela_K says:

    What is it with the revolting christo-fascist piggles and his loony followers? The Bideford case has been through the democratic process and the rule of law applied, but Pickles doesn’t like this fair result so is changing a 40 year old law to his nefarious ends. There is something disturbingly Orwellian about this.

  17. Ian says:

    Oh, how delightful are the squeals of the righteous.

    One of the few things we have to thank the French for is the enlightenment, and now as the box is well and truly open and religion is being pushing into the box the shrieks and howls of Mssrs Carey, Piggles et al rend the heavens.

    But to be fair to Piggles I actually remember him with two things that he doesn’t have now: A neck and a waist. Admittedly they were not too prominent but they were there.

    I was reading an article from the NSS newsletter ( yesterday and this is one of the letters they published:

    From John Wainwright:
    Congratulations to all at the NSS who worked so hard to bring about the Bideford victory – and of course to Clive Bone for bringing the case in the first place! As if that wasn’t enough good news to brighten up a Friday, we were later entertained by the sight of Eric Pickles doing his comedy routine about Britain being a Christian country, about how every last man, woman and child blesses queen and country in their prayers before bedtime, so what could possibly be wrong with a few more in a council meeting?

    The thought that immediately sprung to my mind was a sketch from Mr Bean and his teddy. Eric Pickles in his Christopher Robin pyjamas, with his teddy named ‘Prayer’ firmly graped under one arm saying, kneeling by his bed after saying his ‘prayers’, ‘I won’t let them take you away from me teddy’, as he struggled to get to his feet.

    From one Yorkshire to another: Eric Piggles, tha’s a Yorkshireman, STOP TALKING BOLLOCKS!

  18. tony e says:


    I don’t suppose you will be organising the street party where you live to celebrate Lizzies Diamond Jubilee? Only joking.

    Trevor Phillips speaking sense – I’ll put this in my diary.

  19. AgentCormac says:

    @ Gill

    I don’t know about in contempt – contemptible, more like. The pompous oaf really does embody everything I find so repulsive in the whining, bleating prigs who have been spouting off left, right and centre this week.

  20. Ian says:

    Just found this tweet on the guardian website:

  21. Broga says:

    @Ivan: Many thanks. I have complained, used most of the words available, and in what I hope was a temporate and persuasive way. I have made the point that many of the Radio 4 audience are non religious and that segment had no representative. I would guess, although I didn’t say this, that there are far more non religious listeners to Radio 4 than in the general population as they tend to be better educated, critical and intellectually confident.

    @tony e: No, I won’t be doing that. I hear that the “Palace” – the speaking building – is concerned at the indifference of the plebs i.e. “subjects” to the Queen’s Jubilee. The current explanation is that the plebs are focussed on the Olympics. The true explanation might be that they “dont GIVE a damn”. (Acknowledgement there to Clarke Gable in Gone with the Wind.) Get ready for a big publicity push from the BBC and others to persuade the subjects that the Queen in wonderful because she is wonderful. I didn’t see Andrew Marr’s programmes myself – my masochism doesn’t extend that far – but from what I read and hear they were a sustained excercise in lick spittling sycophancy.

    Cheers. Gotta go. My dog (Labrador) has been swimming and needs feeding.

  22. john.c says:

    Complaint lodged at bbc, disgusting bias from a supposedly world leading broadcaster, Also, in response to the queens diamond jubilee, i am not anticipating draging my george cross flag out until England are playing again.As to celebrating that bunch of parasites and their reigning over us, dream on.

  23. barriejohn says:

    I don’t see how piggles (thanks, Barry) can reverse a ruling made in court. Surely what he is saying or aiming at is illegal and the court decision must be overturned by another court on appeal. (Angie)

    I have made the point several times now that the ruling was not made on the grounds of human rights or equality legislation, but because the judge came to the conclusion that legislation governing councils did not grant them the authority to act in this manner. All that Pickles has to do is to give councils the requisite powers – though the NSS are going to challenge that. I think that celebrations have been a bit premature. Much more here:

  24. barriejohn says:

    And some common sense from Egypt!

  25. Brian Jordan says:

    Pickles has form in aiding and abetting religious practices. I remember long ago, when he was running Bradford Council, he took the (first ever?) decision to provide halal meat for school meals, despite much local opposition. Talk about a Wedge Strategy – when you suddenly discover they’ve secretly been putting halal meat on your child’s dinner plate, remember that Piggles (oh, the irony!) has helped slide it there.

  26. AgentCormac says:

    Completely OT, I’m afraid, but I read this review in the paper earlier and thought it sounds like a wonderful book.

  27. AgentCormac says:

    Sorry, here’s the link I thought I’d included but hadn’t!

  28. Broga says:

    As the desperation of the pius crescendos any cheap shot will do as in the comments on Richard Dawkins’ ancestors and slavery. Dawkins, of course, being such a central figure is the one they want to wound. He is attractive, talented, doesn’t back off and, worst of all for the faithful, commands the most literate and entertaining of language. While the current crimes of the Papacy, for example, are ignored and Ratzinger is elevated into a phony veneration, imagination has to be used to dredge up something to try to pin on Dawkins.

    The genie is out of the bottle and the faithful cannot put the doubts about religion back in. The question that must be asked in any debate is destructively simple where religion is concerned: “Is it true?” No debate should take place without this being asked. The easy compliance of tacitly allowing clergy to assume that religion is based on truth must end. Ask the question, “Is it true?” And if the answer is yes then we want the evidence.

    The non religious must also demand that we are represented by those who share our views in debates and particularly where the BBC, with their record of tendentious deceit, is concerned. We too pay out licence fee and we are entitled to expect some representation in return. The time for dismissing and ignoring our views is finished. If we are not represented in the debate – and those who share our views are no longer a minority – then complain.

  29. barriejohn says:

    Broga: He was on The Big Questions this morning. Did you see it?

    Cristina Odd-one made a complete fool of herself, as usual (bat shit crazy), but the best thing was the sight of the Muslims rushing to the defence of the Chritian faith. It was embarrassingly obvious to all that what THEY were thinking of was a return to the Christianity of the Middle Ages that denied people basic human rights and dealt out severe punishments to those engaged in “licentious behaviour”. Lovely stuff!

  30. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: No, I didn’t see that. And thanks for the poll. The internet, especially in the USA, is eroding belief and atheist groups are increasingly common in the colleges. The acknowledgement of belief depends on any analysis or thinking not taking place. Only unthinking acceptance without questioning. Most people who believe, including some of my relatives, have no idea what they are believing in. If you ask them what they mean by God they can’t tell you. The best you get is “some kind of spirit.” Pursue that and they are lost.

    My immediate family are all atheists, thank God.

  31. Jacob Jonker. says:

    The confusion arose when people started to drop the O of orgasm.God is a misnomer.It’s Good!All these descriptions believers give to Good apply to consciousness.Consciousness means self-awareness-it’s simply knowing that you exist.You exist because of sex.Without procreation in some way or other,no universe,no you to be versed in the arts of feeling,thinking,reading and writing.Religion started as the politics of myth-induced belief.The tyranny of institutionalised religious politics in Europe caused The Reformation and the long fight for democracy.The separation of Church and State was an attempt to get the established Church out of the politically privileged position it had.It did not separate religion from politics,which is impossible.Religion is a more primitive form of politics.As long as religion exists,it will be part of politics.So,as long as people want to believe religiously,there is only one way to politically deal with it.Every person’s beliefs should be equal,no matter if it’s called religion or not.

  32. Jacob Jonker. says:

    The other letters stand for Greatest,Overall and Defined,in case you wanted to know.