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Believers want better legal protection

Believers want better legal protection

Only eleven per cent of voters in marginal constituencies think religious liberty has improved since David Cameron became Prime Minister, according to a new survey.

The ComRes poll, commissioned by The Christian Institute, found that over four in ten (44 per cent) of those surveyed support legal protections for people with “sincere, profoundly held beliefs”, like Hazelmary and Peter Bull, above, the bigoted owners of a Christian guesthouse who were ordered to pay damages for turning away a gay couple.

Only 21 per cent disagreed that:

The tide of equality legislation has gone too far in elevating equality over religious freedom.

Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said the results should act as a “wake up call” to party leaders, as voters in key marginal seats are:

Very concerned about threats to religious liberty and free speech. Those surveyed rightly believe that religious freedom in this country has not improved under Mr Cameron’s leadership.

He added:

This poll confirms the high levels of concern that the public have about religious freedom and free speech in the UK after four years of the Coalition Government. They feel that there has been no improvement and the only way this can be addressed is to offer people of faith and beliefs real protections. If they are to be meaningful they must be enshrined in legislation.

Meanwhile, it is reported by the Telegraph that the Christian Institute and the National Secular Society have united to condemn sweeping new powers planned by the Conservatives to combat terrorism.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, unveiled plans last month for so-called Extremism Disruption Orders, which would allow judges to ban people deemed extremists from broadcasting, protesting in certain places or even posting messages on Facebook or Twitter without permission.

Both the CI and the NSS  – two organisations with often diametrically opposing interests – are fearful that that this could result in people being branded as “extremists” if, for example, they criticise sharia law or gay marriage.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, has made clear in a letter to constituents that the aim of the orders would be to “eliminate extremism in all its forms” and that they would be used to curtail the activities of those who “spread hate but do not break laws”.

He explained that that the new orders, which will be in the Conservative election manifesto, would extend to any activities that “justify hatred” against people on the grounds of religion, sexual orientation, gender or disability.

He also disclosed that anyone seeking to challenge such an order would have to go the High Court, appealing on a point of law rather than fact.

The NSS and CI  said they shared fears that the broad scope of extremism could represent a major threat to free speech.

Keith

Keith Porteous Wood, director of the NSS (above), said secularists might have to think twice before criticising Christianity or Islam. He said secularists risk being branded Islamophobic and racist because of their high profile campaigns against the advance of sharia law in the UK.

The Government should have every tool possible to tackle extremism and terrorism, but there is a huge arsenal of laws already in place and a much better case needs to be made for introducing draconian measures such as Extremism Disruption Orders, which are almost unchallengeable and deprive individuals of their liberties.

He emphasised:

Without precise legislative definitions, deciding what are ‘harmful activities of extremist individuals who spread hate’ is subjective and therefore open to abuse now or by any future authoritarian government.

Simon Calvert, Deputy Director of the Christian Institute, said traditionalist evangelicals who criticise gay marriage or even argue that all religions are not the same could find themselves accused of extremism.

Anyone who expresses an opinion that isn’t regarded as totally compliant with the Equality Act could find themselves ranked alongside Anjem Choudary, Islamic state or Boko Haram.

He added:

How many times a day do intellectually lazy political activists accuse their opponents of ‘spreading hatred’? The left does it, the right does it, liberals do it, conservatives do it, it is routine.

Hand a judge a file of a thousand Twitter postings accusing this atheist or that evangelical of ‘spreading hatred’ and they could easily rule that an EDO is needed. It’s a crazy idea – the Conservatives need to drop this like a hot brick.

A Conservative spokesman said:

Freedom of expression and freedom of speech are a vital part of a democratic society. In Government, Conservatives have always tried to strike the right balance on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom to manifest one’s religion, and the need to protect the public. We have never sought to restrict peaceful protest or free speech, provided it is within the law.

Our proposal to introduce Extremism Disruption Orders reflects the need to go further on challenging the threat from extremism and those who spread their hateful views so that we can keep that democratic society safe.

Hat tip: Trevor Blake (Telegraph report)

26 responses to “Believers want better legal protection”

  1. Broga says:

    I suppose to the sensitive Christian, offended by challenge, much of what is posted here might be viewed as encouraging hatred of religion.

    What about the hatred of some Christians for atheists and their slavering enthusiasm at non believers being consigned to an eternity of hell fire.

  2. Jobrag says:

    I have a sincere profoundly held belief that unless I rip the living heart out of a human sacrifice the sun will stop rising, I demand protection from all those intolerant people who would stop me from following my faith.

  3. Matt Westwood says:

    The Conservative party is spreading hatred. They should be prevented from engaging in communication of all forms.

  4. Brogue Heely says:

    Bishops in the House of Lords …….is that fair?

  5. Brogue Heely says:

    Why don’t the believers ever look happy? The Bullshitters look like a pair of slapped arses.

    Come to think of it they are a pair of arses that have been slapped for their profound prejudices and bigotry.

  6. jay says:

    “that they would be used to curtail the activities of those who “spread hate but do not break laws”

    Wow. that is one of the scariest things I’ve read in a long time

  7. Dioniogi says:

    The telling words were “of those surveyed” who were they asking, a cross section of the largely secular public or a group of people in a church? and what exactly was the question?

  8. L.Long says:

    Theocracy….Whine…People don’t like me being a Ahole…more whine.
    Please pass a law to stop them from saying nasty stuff about me being an Ahole bigot…more whining…

  9. Trevor Blake says:

    I have a few “sincere, profoundly held beliefs” but not one of them relies on an invisible monster that lives in the sky. Thus I remain oppressed by dull reality.

  10. I RussellW says:

    Where do religiots get the strange idea that religious freedom is somehow separate from and superior to, other human rights, as with other freedoms it’s subject to the laws of the secular state.

  11. Paul Cook says:

    “… Religious freedom has not increased …..”

    Why should it.
    2,000 years of uncontrollable murder, mutilation, burning, body part removal, torture, humiliation, and out right mind control on the rest of us, lack of human progress in all areas that could have benefitted our lives, seems to now equate to demanding MORE freedom for religion.

  12. Brogue Heely says:

    Now for the hymn…please look really forlorn and persecuted while we all sing our battle cry to the tune “onward christian soldiers”

    Wah wah wah wah wah wha wha
    Wha wha wha wha wah
    Wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wah wha wha
    Wha wha wha wah wha wha wha
    Wha wha wah wah wah
    Wha wha wha wha wha wha wha wha wha wha wha wha wha

  13. barriejohn says:

    I think we should be extremely wary of getting into bed with people like the Bulls (just look at them!). As others have pointed out,what is this sort of nonsense supposed to mean:

    The tide of equality legislation has gone too far in elevating equality over religious freedom.

    So “gay rights should not be able to trump religious rights” (whatever that means), but “religious rights” (and we all know what they mean by THAT) should be allowed to”trump” human rights?

    And we’ve discussed Theresa May’s spanking idea (regurgitated by Georgie Porgie) here before:

    they would be used to curtail the activities of those who “spread hate but do not break laws”.

    I don’t see any objection to that, do you, Mein Feuhrer?

  14. Newspaniard says:

    It’s the same old story of, what looks like a reasonable law becoming, in fact, a very repressive one. Take for example, the tax laws which were introduced to extract tax from “big” companies who were “getting away” without paying their share. After introduction they were used against the self employed and single director companies to “great” effect. Laws which were introduced to give greater powers to the police in their fight against “terrorists” were used against protesters who had no connection to terrorism but were expressing their opinion against government policy. If this came into law, imagine the abuses it would be used to justify. Watch out Sweden and Iran, we’re catching you up.

  15. Matt Westwood says:

    Sweden?!? What the heck’s up with Sweden?

  16. Dave Godfrey says:

    The fact is, religious freedom is probably better now in the UK than it’s ever been. People are more free to follow their particular beliefs, but less people hold such beliefs.

  17. barriejohn says:

    Dave Godfrey: I was looking at some religious blog recently where the NSS was being lambasted by people like the Bullshitters, and umpteen commenters stated quite categorically that what secularists want is a society where people are forbidden from following their religious beliefs. What utter tosh. They had obviously never even visited the NSS site, where one of the first things that they would have seen is a statement that secularism is the best safeguard for individual religious freedom!

  18. Broga says:

    @Dave Godfrey: Not only that, but the religious are loaded with privileges e,g, unelected bishops in the House of Lords; support for faith schools; their own licence fee funded propaganda radio; tax advantages; the right to deprive people of their home if they don’t pay the infamous chancel tax.

    And here is another. If I knew of a practising paedophile and kept that secret I might expect a visit from Inspector Knacker were it revealed. I listened this morning to the Sunday programme – something I rarely do. A C.of E. bishop was asked if clergy should be required to tell the police if they heard admissions of paedophilia in the confessional. In passing, I didn’t know the C.of E. did confessionals.

    There followed blather about tradition, the confessional always being secret, problems of the various dioceses and as shifty a reply as you would ever get from a politician.

    At length the interviewer, and it was the usual deferential approach, asked if the bishop himself would report the matter. He said genuine regret on the part of the sinner was so important and the bishop would say he could not give absolution unless the paedophile went to the police. That would get the criminal heading for the nearest cop shop, I suppose. Or not.

  19. sailor1031 says:

    “Anyone who expresses an opinion that isn’t regarded as totally compliant with the Equality Act could find themselves ranked alongside Anjem Choudary,….”

    Who believes that this law would ever be applied to Andy Choudary? Against his critics? – yes, fervently. Against Andy? not a chance!

  20. Brogue Heely says:

    “I am a Christian and my rights are being eroded by secular forces”…….means ….”As a zealot I deeply resent being forbidden to practice my deeply entrenched spiteful selfish devisive dogmatic prejudices whenever and wherever I want. It’s just not fair and I will rant and scream and protest and whinge and whine and use every devious underhand opportunity to get my way”.

  21. Paul Cook says:

    Actually I think most miss the true point of all this.
    I think the true religious want this in their totalitarian religious utopia:
    ‘My religion is best, I want everyone else to do as I say, and don’t ever think about doing as I do. ‘

  22. Newspaniard says:

    @Matt Westwood. Are you unaware of what is happening in Sweden today? Just that it has become the most left wing state in Europe, rivaling the worst excesses of Stalin’s USSR. Don’t believe me? They have a complete “Open door” policy on muslim immigrants. Any slightest criticism of islam is met with the likelihood of demotion or job loss and considerable abuse from your (frightened) colleagues and neighbours. Appearances in court for anything which doesn’t meet the state’s perception of behavioral norms which could (and has) ended with people being sent to “asylums” for “re-education”. (See Stalin above). The Swedish editor of Dispatch International, left the country from fear of “re-education”. The other editor was subject to an assassination attempt by an “Allah U Akba” screaming individual. The Swedish police made a note and closed the case almost immediately. As he was a Danish citizen, the Danes took it very seriously, despite it happening on foreign soil. Malmo used to be the centre of a thriving community of Jews, those that can afford it either have left the country or are trying to find somewhere safe to live. Sweden is now the rape capital of the World and guess who is doing the raping against whom with almost total invulnerability from prosecution. I read a long article on this recently but can’t find it, however Pat Condell made a very cutting video on the subject and it covered some of the points I have made here.
    http://youtu.be/RZsvdg1dkJ4
    http://youtu.be/o_znVnOizU8?list=UUWOkEnBl5TO4SCLfSlosjgg
    Like him, or hate him, he still cuts to the chase.
    Ask me again, “What’s wrong with Sweden?”

  23. Matt Westwood says:

    Sweden sounds brilliant if it promotes rants like that from right-wing lunatics. I always was fond of it. Personally, I think you’re full of amoebic dysentery.

  24. Vanity Unfair says:

    Broga,
    I, too, thought that confessions were not C of E practice. However, see http://www.lawandreligionuk.com/2014/10/28/seal-of-confessional-its-future-in-the-cofe/#more-15345 on the Law and Religion website. I often has surprising pieces like this. There’s a new one on the House of Lords that I haven’t read yet.

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