Feb 27

Turn the Tide Christian Freedom Call

Jim Shannon MP will lead in a debate prompted by 'Turn the Tide'

Jim Shannon MP will lead in a debate prompted by ‘Turn the Tide’

MPs Jim Shannon and Norman Lamb are leading a debate on Christian freedom in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Westminster Hall will stage the debate at 1.30pm. The title is”Freedom of religion or belief.”
Earlier this month Barnabas Fund published a booklet entitled ‘Turn the Tide’ to which we provide a link here.   (All our links open automatically in a new tab.)

Magna Carta vs Louise Casey

The booklet shows the history of religious freedom in our jurisdictions. It quotes Magna Carta: ‘”The English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired.” So says the very first clause of Magna Carta, the “great charter” signed by King John and the barons of England on 15 June 1215. Only four of the Magna Carta’s 63 clauses have remained part of English law to this day. This is one of them.’

It goes on to show a Government review carried out by Dame Louise Casey struck against the Magna Carta principle.  Christian Voice carried an earlier article on the Casey Report. ‘Turn the Tide’ says: ‘The report defined “extremism” as views “at odds with the views of mainstream society.” It gave examples from various religions include “newer Christian churches” and stated that “all such instances undermine integration and should be challenged.” Elsewhere the Casey Review made clear that it considered such views to include traditional views of sexuality. Dame Louise recommended “a new oath for holders of public office” indicating that this should express support for “British values.” Elsewhere in the report she included support for LGBT ideology as part of British values.’

Test Acts

The booklet reminds us that Parliament abolished various “Test Acts” between 1719 and 1871. It says: ‘These “Test Acts” required anyone wanting to become a school teacher, magistrate, local councillor, MP or university student to publicly assent, often by swearing an oath, to a particular set of beliefs. The law thus excluded Nonconformist Christians and Roman Catholics from any of the above positions.’

Orwellian: Dame Louise Casey

Orwellian: Dame Louise Casey

But in an astonishing display of anti-Christian prejudice, Dame Louise wrote: ‘While many people in the UK appear to be seeing religion as increasingly less important and, in some cases, less of a force for good, for others, religion is very important in their daily lives. Within this latter group there appear to be some who are keen to take religion backwards and away from 21st Century British values … on issues such as …sexual orientation.’

‘Turn the Tide’ contends that the courts and tribunals are upholding a new set of surreptitious Test Acts, brought in with no parliamentary scrutiny.

Cases cited by ‘Turn the Tide’

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‘Turn the Tide’ cites the following recent cases in support:

In 2015, academics at Sheffield University expelled Felix Ngole from a social work course because he previously posted comments on Facebook supporting a Biblical view of marriage.

This is a new “University Test Act” it says – Sheffield University requires social work students to support same-sex marriage. And that is a religious or quasi-religious view.

In November 2017, Cherwell School in north Oxford suspended Christian teacher Joshua Sutcliffe.

Joshua Sutcliffe with Andrea Williams of Christian Concern

Joshua Sutcliffe with Andrea Williams of Christian Concern

His offence was inadvertently to include a girl pupil who claims to be a trans boy in an approving ‘Well done, girls.’ Mr Sutcliffe had immediately apologised, saying it had been a mere slip of tongue.

‘Turn the Tide’ goes on: ‘However, later the pupil’s mother complained that the comment was discriminatory. Mr Sutcliffe was removed from teaching and made to work in the staffroom while an investigation took place. He was then suspended for an indefinite period after the school said his “misgendering” breached its equality policy.’

In a third case, it says: ‘Andrew McClintock, who had served as a magistrate for 18 years on the South Yorkshire bench, was forced to resign after requesting to be “screened out” of cases involving children for adoption with same-sex households.’

Preaching cases more doubtful

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When it comes to street preaching, ‘Turn the Tide’ is on less stable ground. Yes, Michael Overd and Michael Stockwell were convicted of public order offences in Bristol magistrates court in February last year. Indeed, the prosecutor told the court ‘that publicly quoting from the King James Bible “in the context of modern British society, must be considered to be abusive and is a criminal matter.”‘

But our brothers saw their conviction overturned in the Crown Court later that year. No street preacher, properly advised and represented, has ever been convicted of a public order offence in our jurisdictions.

Nor is the case of Pastor James McConnell compelling. He was indeed ‘prosecuted for a theological critique of Islam in a sermon he preached in his church’ in Belfast. The sermon appeared on YouTube.  According to the Guardian, Pastor James denounced Islam as “heathen”, “satanic” and a “doctrine spawned in hell”.  Charges came under the Communications Act.  But the court cleared Pastor James ‘after a three-day trial in a verdict that upheld the right to offend under the principle of freedom of expression.’

‘Turn the Tide’ calls for ‘a new law’

The DUP's Chief Whip and Defence spokesman Jeffrey Donaldson supports a new law

The DUP’s Chief Whip and Defence spokesman Jeffrey Donaldson supports a new law

Barnabas Fund is calling for a new law ‘which positively affirms all seven aspects of freedom of religion that have developed over the last 500 years in the UK.’ It has the written support of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP on the back page of ‘Turn the Tide’.

‘Turn the Tide’ says it will need to include ‘freedom from being required to affirm a particular worldview or set of beliefs in order to hold a public sector job or stand for election; work in professions such as teaching, healthcare and law; study at school, college or university; or give parental care to a child.’

Andrew McLintock lost his case to have his freedom of conscience recognized when practising as a Justice of the Peace. The Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled against him.

Similarly, Christian prison worker Barry Trayhorn lost his case at the Employment Appeal Tribunal in 2017. That was over his right to quote the Bible on homosexuality in a prison chapel service.

In 2009, as the Independent reports, Christian registrar Lillian Ladele lost in the Court of Appeal. She contested a ruling that she had not been discriminated against by being disciplined after she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnerships. And she lost.

Do we need a new law?

Whether we actually need a new law is open to debate.  The same judges will interpret any new law who are ruling against Christian freedoms on a day to day basis in our courts and tribunals. It may be that a law could be drafted in such a way as to compel judges to uphold freedom of religion. However, they might simply invoke the higher cause of ‘human rights’ and strike it down.

In 2013 both the Christian Institute and the National Secular Society became concerned at the number of Public Order Offences the police and prosecutors were bringing against Christian street preachers. The Christian Institute were concerned on the matter of Christian freedom. The National Secular Society were concerned from a freedom of speech point of view.  They wanted to protect comedians such as Rowan Atkinson who would insult religions and the religious.  They were also concerned about adverse publicity of police crackdowns on preachers.

As a result, the Institute and the Society joined forces.  They successfully campaigned to have the word ‘insulting’ removed from Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.

The change has made not a scrap of difference to Christian preachers. The police are still arresting them. The CPS are still preferring charges. They are merely basing the arrests and the charges on the word ‘abusive’ instead. They are, as we point out above, still losing those cases.

But the heavy-handed police approach needs not a new law but smarter guidance from senior officers.

Support the MPs

Christian Voice intends to start taking these cases to the streets. We are now planning a witness outside Sheffield University and another outside Cherwell School. Watch this space.

But in the meantime, the Bible says:

1Tim 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Please email your MP via this Parliament website link and ask him or her to attend the debate in Westminster Hall on Thursday and support MP’s Jim Shannon and Norman Lamb. Above all, please pray for the debate for the light of Christ to shine through.

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20 comments

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  1. I have every sympathy with the teacher who lost his job (more or less) because of forgetting than one of the girls was pretending to be a boy. Why are there so many more cases of this behaviour now than one ever heard of before ?

    But I think you have got to be a bit careful in some other cases. For you, not entertaining homosexuality is a matter of religion, and you make a special case for religion (indeed, for Christianity) going back to Magna Carta. But for many other people it isn’t a religious question at all. They see discrimination against homosexuals as being similar to discrimination against black people. There are ladies who will say that you are a typical middle-aged straight

  2. [ My comment was not finished ]
    a typical elderly straight white man, against them because they are young black lesbian girls . Religion doesn’t come into this way of thinking. For them, you are in the same position as Britain First , and are beyond the pale.

  3. At her coronation service in 1952 the Queen as monarch promised formally to defend the law of God. The service was an Anglican service presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury (in pre-Reformation times it would have been a Catholic mass). In other words Britain is constitutionally a Christian country. As for “British values”, I have yet to hear a precise definition of what this expression means. Isn’t it in Alice in Wonderland or some such story where one of the characters says, “It means whativer I want it to mean.” I have never heard in any discussions involving “British values” and mention of the coronation service, which should be a definitive reference point for any such discussion.
    David Prentis

    1. there’s much waffling about “British values”, and the need to adhere to them, but not much attempt to define them, as you say. A Conservative Party politician, a woman, I forget who, was aked about this, I think on the Today programme, and she was initially stumped, then came up with “agreement with homosexuality”, or words to that effect. So there we have it: Christians’ disagreement with gay marriage will be used to exclude them from public, & charity, sector jobs, and, no doubt if the secularists have their way, private sector jobs too. Atheist/secularist regimes have ALWAYS ended in authoritarianism and totalitarianism, and persecution of Christians, this seems to be the way we are headed. Meanwhile, of course, the muslims, whose teachings prescribe far worse punishments for homosexuality that Christinity, will as usual get off scot-free.

      1. I am not happy about taking a definition of “British values” from a woman whose name Mark can’t remember who was asked a question on the radio, perhaps on the Today programme, and came out with an obviously incomplete answer.

        I’m not altogether happy about codifying such a thing as “British values” either, but it’s clearly an attempt to lay down rules which immigrants can expect to have to follow, and to moderate the extreme views of some kinds of Muslims, which you ought to be welcoming.

        Did you think of googling “British values” before quoting this unknown woman ?
        The Department for Education guidelines, which must be influential whether you like it or not, list the key British Values as only four :

        Democracy
        The rule of law
        Individual liberty
        Mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs

        There is nothing very new or controversial here, in fact many foreigners would claim the same for their own country. It is the fourth one which is probably the most peculiarly British.

        And it is. The Church of England was an attempt to compromise between various Christian leanings (while excluding the actually Roman), and what official discrimination was left against those who would be Nonconformists or would be Roman Catholics come what may, was gradually eliminated before the 20th century. Let’s not forget that this “key value” now is supposed to be not only British Christians tolerating British Muslims, but British Muslims tolerating British Christians, which (odd though it may sound) is surely very desirable.
        Presumably the word “belief” is intended to cover more than just religion. That is very reasonable. Mark can’t always expect to be right, yet I tolerate him, and so should everyone else.

        Other Google results are very similar, sometimes coming up with five values (where “Mutual respect” is separate from ” Tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs”. I don’t think “Mutual respect” is quintessentially British, but there is nothing particularly sinister about it.

        1. Some of you may have heard on the BBC World Service yesterday a presentation of different views on British values given by the former Swedish ambassador to Britain.

          When she interviewed William Hague (a former Foreign Secretary, of course) he mentioned tolerance and “justice”, whereas several others mentioned fairness. I suppose this is similar to “The rule of law”, although “fairness” encompasses a little more, and tends to be difficult to translate into foreign languages.

          Cleverly, because despite the differences we know so well, France is a very similar country to England, she found a young Frenchman who had just taken part in a ceremony which gave him British nationality. He said that British values are really very similar to French values, but that the one which stands out particularly is tolerance. That is in 2018, in multicultural London, and it occurs to me that it involves large numbers of miscellaneous foreigners being tolerant of each other too !

    2. You have given me an opportunity to quote a comment on the Sun website, not something I would normally do. The Sun’s story is about a new series of 26 10p coins which went into circulation on 1st March, one for each letter of the alphabet, and representing “Quintessentially British Things”. Q is queuing, Z is Zebra Crossing, E is English Breakfast, F is Fish & Chips. Someone has come up with this :

      ” Surely this will cause offence to all those luvvies who deny that there’s any such thing as Britishness or British Traditions? Now whenever they demand an explanation for what ‘being British actually is’ whenever immigration is discussed, we can just point to the new coins and say there you are, mate, note the presence of bacon and pork sausages and the absence of halal, prayer mats, FGM and ‘honour killings’. ”

      I do feel that the Royal Mint has been less than cautious here. When the Post Office did six stamps on British food, one example was rice eaten with chopsticks, one was pasta. and one was sushi. They said “Britain’s tolerance to humanity gave it the core of gastronomic excellence that we see in our country today.

      It was Humpty Dumpty in the sequel “Through the Looking Glass” who said to Alice ““When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean.”
      Of course, this was written in an Oxford college, and academics do use words to mean precisely what they want, and define this carefully for the reader. But politicians are less conscientious. I have always found “multicultural” to be particularly ambiguous.

      There is little doubt that Prince Charles will go for a multicultural coronation including Muslims. Will you then say that “Britain is constitutionally a Christian and Muslim country” ? I don’t think this follows at all. The power of the hereditary peers has been somewhat curtailed. but I don’t expect many them to be absent from the next coronation. A coronation is not a cast-iron statement of a country’s constitution. The Queen already, at her coronation, promised to uphold the faiths of all the peoples in the Commonwealth, but that would not have made what were then Muslim colonies (like the Maldive Islands) subject to Sharia law, or anything like it.

      1. nothing wrong with the “Currant Bun”. They do bingo now, as well, I think.

        1. IMPORTANT CORRECTION: I should, of course, have said “the SUPER SOURAWAY Currant Bun”. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

            • Rocks
            • Rox G on 6 March 2018 at 18:04

            Actually, C is for Cricket, and B is for Bond.

      2. Sorry, I realise now that Mark’s reference to a Currant Bun is to the Sun (rhyming slang, get it ?).
        SUPER SOURAWAY he will have to explain.

        It is certainly an ample source of ample cleavage. I found this out from following the links in Christian Voice, which never fail to provide some stunning cleavage angles on “celebrities”, which must be a bit of an eye-opener to more sheltered readers. Whether there is anything wrong with it, it is for each individual to decide.

    3. You might be interested to know the Queen’s coronation was designed by St Dunstan when he coronated King Edgar in 973. He was a wiser man than Ms Casey! Terrible, isn’t it.

  4. It was in 1953, by the way .

  5. While the debates (politically, nationally and locally) continue, there is room to boldly challenge and stand up for biblical truth in our schools.
    I am a teacher in a Junior school in Wiltshire and recently I was able to hold up the tide of LGBT propaganda threatening to sweep in an become a force of influence among our staff and pupils. During one staff meeting the issue was raised by a teacher and by the end of the staff meeting, the decision was made to purchase ‘alternative family’ class reading books and to put up child appropriate LGBT posters around the school. There was an encouragement to subtly promote and demystify ‘alternative’ lifestyles.
    After calling an emergency meeting with the head teacher and chair of governors, and challenging the decisions made at the staff meeting, I insisted this shift in policy, which has implications on our RE and PSHE curriculum, must be fully submitted to the entire governing body and a letter sent out to the parents, before it can be implemented in school.
    Although neither gentlemen were pleased with me, they have halted the school’s LGBT promotional plans for the foreseeable future.

    1. Oh, well done. What an example!

    2. How many gender-challenging or potentially LGB children do you reckon you have got in this Wiltshire junior school, Jan ?

      I do wonder where they are all coming from these days, especially the boys who insist they are really girls.

      1. Family breakdown, media encouragement. It’s a national spiritual malaise IMHO.

        1. Fashion.

          Unless boys have changed a lot, some of them are probably just messing around, and should not be taken seriously at all.

            • Stephen
            • Stephen on 16 March 2018 at 13:30
              Author

            No, we must take it seriously, because young lives can be ruined by the hormonal treatments they give them to stop the onset of puberty. It’s wickedness. Yes, guys, spiritual and in high places.

            • Rocks
            • Rox G on 16 March 2018 at 17:15

            I agree with Stephen about the drastic treatments of course, but I think the naughty ones (I said “some of them”) will stop messing about long before that becomes a possibility.

            I was thinking more of those who one day decide en masse to borrow a girlfriend’s skirt and wear it to school. OK, give them the right to do that, if girls can wear trousers and they feel strongly that this is unfair, but don’t read too much into it.

            One hot summer in the early 1990s at a comprehensive school some 60 miles from London, some girls took it into their heads that it was unfair that boys should be allowed to take their shirts off when playing football in the playground, and they demanded the right to be topless at playtime too. There was no fashionably ideology to go with this : it was just an ingenious way of embarrassing the school authorities and waiting to see what they would come up with as a solution.

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