Thursday, 4 February 2010

Harriet Harman, UK deputy Prime Minister has just signalled that our draft Equality Bill, part of which was designed to force UK churches to employ staff who do not share Christian beliefs (and who do not live a personal life which reflects Christian beliefs) will not be forced through and made law. But this decision was only taken after our House of Lords voted it down by a small margin led by Anglican Bishops and only after the Pope "chipped in" criticising the Bill as a step too far.

This experience has surely woken the deeply slumbering Church. Its leaders must now realise that there is no longer a wider consensus that Christianity can rest on general goodwill to maintain its survival and integrity. It must either regain lost ground - or "go underground" within a couple of decades.

Where the idea for this legislation came from, I am unsure. Human rights were designed to protect minorities, especially minority faiths (e.g.the Jews in World War Two). "Freedom of religion" is one of the key articles of "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights". Somehow this basic principle became obscured by later developments of what was in essence, a desirable set of respectable, shared ideals.

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