Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Religious freedom

I don't think we as Christians can argue with the rights of anyone to be treated fairly and equally regardless of their colour, race, creed ot sexual orientation. However 'rights' work both ways and the rights of Christians to live out their faith without fear of discrimination or persecution are in danger of being undermined in the new Equality Bill that is passing through the House of Lords at the moment. The following article talks about what we, as Christians, can do to make our feelings felt on the matter. My thanks to "Christianity Today".

"A new petition has been launched to press Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the right of religious believers to live out their faith.

The petition was posted on the No 10 Downing Street website by Blandford Forum resident David Skinner. He fears the Equality Bill currently passing through the House of Lords could impinge on the rights of religious people to act according to conscience and belief, in the workplace and places of worship in particular.

If passed as it stands, the Equality Bill will narrow the exemptions allowed for organised religion by the 2003 regulations on employment equality and sexual orientation.

The Bill limits exemptions to the employment of people in posts concerning formal worship activities or the teaching of doctrine but states that other positions like those of church youth workers would not fall under the exemptions.

If the Bill is passed, churches and other faith bodies may find themselves forced to employ someone as a youth worker or worship leader with a different interpretation of sexuality.

Mr Skinner added: “I invite people to sign the petition and encourage others so to do. We must join together to commit ourselves to reaffirm the value and necessity of religious and civil liberty and the rights of conscience across the UK today.

"We believe that religion and civil liberty must include the right to live and speak according to one's conscience privately and in the public sphere, both individually and collectively, without harassment or the fear of civil or criminal penalty.”

If you want to act click on the following which which lead you to the petition: www.petitions.number10.gov.uk/harryhammond

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