Submission from Christian Voice |
This submission is in response to the challenge
from Lord Avebury expressed in his "Religious Offences Bill"
which has in its provisions the abolition of the Common Law offence
of blasphemy, and the introduction of religious hatred laws. As
a result, the House of Lords has set up a "Select Committee
on Religious Offences." The Committee is inviting short submissions,
to consider two main issues:
1. Should existing religious offences (notably
blasphemy) be amended or abolished?
2. Should a new offence of incitement to
religious hatred be created and, if so, how should the offence
In short, our answers to these questions are:
1. No! We do not agree that the blessed
name of our God and Redeemer should be publicly blasphemed, our
church services should be disrupted by militant anti-Christian
agitators, or that any amendment is either logically possible
or necessary, and
2. No! We do not believe the "religious
hatred" provisions thrown out of the Terrorism Bill by Parliament
are a proper substitute, or will do any good at all.
From Lord Avebury's Religious Offences Bill
2002: "Clause (1) The following offences are hereby abolished:
(a) blasphemy and blasphemous libel;" Blasphemy is not primarily
an offence against a human person, a race or a religious group,
nor even against a church or "the Christian religion",
as some have falsely said. Blasphemy is an offence against Almighty
God Himself. Only in a reference to "the formularies of the
Church of England as by law established" does the current
law protect the Church of England as such. However, making too
much of this reference is a red herring. Those who would abolish
the law against blasphemy do not care about the CofE, they want
to insult Almighty God.
Blasphemy is a public act of defiance against
Almighty God. A nation which permits blasphemy has as a corporate
body scorned the King of kings and Lord of lords. If the Committee
decides not to keep the law against blasphemy it will be saying,
"We do not want the United Kingdom to enjoy the blessing
of God, if such exists. We are not God-fearing folk. We care nothing
for God or his blessing."
The law against blasphemous libel was last invoked
in the Gay News trial in 1977. Lord Avebury has correctly said:
"the character of the offence . . . is one of strict liability
and without an element of intent." The Gay News trial centred
on a poem which described a homosexual fantasy about the Lord
Jesus, and alleged a homosexual relationship between the Lord
Jesus and John the Apostle. It was not the Church of England that
was attacked, it was the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Without the blasphemy laws, it would be impossible
to prevent the publication of a repeat of the poem that appeared
in "Gay News". Even now it circulates on the internet.
Militant homosexuals want to have public readings of the poem.
The ITC Code also recognises that broadcasters are desperate to
introduce blasphemy on air, and are only held in check by the
current blasphemy laws.
Clause (1)(b) of the Avebury Bill abolishes
"any distinct offence of disturbing a religious service or
religious devotions" and Clause (1)(c) abolishes "any
religious offence of striking a person in a church or churchyard."
These laws protect Christians and others at worship and keep religious
premises as havens of spiritual tranquillity. In their absence,
the field would be open for those who hate the position of those
churches who hold that certain actions, and lifestyles, are inherently
evil. We list in our submission examples of such disruption by
the anti-Christian bigots of paganism and humanism.
The pressure for abolition of the blasphemy
laws does not come from those of other religions, it comes from
secularists and others those who have no time for God or who hate
Although this is not specifically on the agenda,
it is certain to be raised. If the blasphemy laws were extended
to include other faiths, this nation would be declaring an equality
in faiths denied by all except the New Age. Muslims deny Jesus
as the Son of God. Christians, they say, follow nothing. How could
a blasphemy law encompass both Christianity and Islam?
We oppose substituting "racial or religious
hatred" for "racial hatred" in Part 3 of the Public
Order Act 1986. A similar thing has not brought peace in Northern
Ireland. As a church service is conducted in a "public place
of worship", lawyers exist who would love to argue that the
previously lawful criticism of Islam, or witchcraft, or atheism
or sin in general, should now be held as inciting religious hatred.
It would be ironic and illogical if in the Queen's realm homosexuals
were allowed by abolition of the blasphemy laws to wreck a church
service, but ministers were by religious hatred laws not allowed
to preach against them.
We finally point out that the United Kingdom
has a Christian Constitution. We are aware that raising such a
point is unfashionable at this irreligious hour, but perhaps the
Committee will share our respect for the institutions which have
served this land so well over more than one thousand years.
In an unbroken tradition from King Edgar, during
Her Coronation on 2 June 1953, and before she was anointed and
crowned, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth was asked by the Archbishop:
"Will you to the utmost of your power maintain
the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? And the
Queen replied: "All this I solemnly promise to do."
Next the Moderator of the General Assembly of
the Church of Scotland presented the Bible to the Queen. Between
them, the Archbishop and Moderator said to her:
"Our gracious Queen: to keep your majesty
ever mindful of the Law and the Gospel of God as the Rule for
the whole life and government of Christian Princes, we present
you with this book, the most valuable thing that this world affords.
Here is Wisdom; This is the royal Law; these are the lively oracles
The Archbishop told Her Majesty when she was
given the orb:
"Receive this Orb set under the Cross, and
remember that the whole world is subject to the Power and Empire
of Christ our Redeemer."
The Christian Constitution of the United Kingdom
could not be clearer; Her Majesty's Government derive their authority
solely from Christ our Redeemer. They may govern only according
to the justice of God, and must legislate according to the sense
of the Laws found in the most valuable book in the world. Repealing
laws against blasphemy based on the Laws of God, to allow God
to be mocked, Christ to be vilified and services of worship to
be turned into a bear-garden, and to obstruct the preaching of
the Gospel, are all unconstitutional.
Blasphemy in British law is primarily an offence
against Almighty God and/or the Lord Jesus Christ, from whom our
Queen and her officers derive their authority. At her coronation,
Her Majesty the Queen promised "to Maintain the Laws of God
and the True Profession of the Gospel." Whilst the Christian
Constitution of the United Kingdom remains, and long may it do
so, no attempt to abolish the blasphemy law, neither any move
to extend it to encompass other religions can constitutionally
be allowed to succeed. The Select Committee should reject the
notion of abolishing the law against blasphemy.
Equating "religious hatred", which
can never be well-enough defined, with racial hatred, is fraught
with danger and unintended consequences, and should be opposed.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy
God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh
His Name in vain. Exod 20:7 & Deut 5:11.
For there is one God, and one mediator between
God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for
all, to be testified in due time. 1 Tim. 2:5-6.
8 July 2002