Submission from Harston Baptist Church
I understand that the Select Committee is considering:
(a) whether or not religious offences, in
particular blasphemy, should be amended or abolished; and
(b) whether a new offence of incitement
to religious hatred should be created, and if so, how the offence
should be defined.
I am the minister of a rural Baptist church
with a congregation of some 50 adults and I am writing on their
behalf as well as my own. I would make the following points:
1. Despite the claims of others, the majority
of people in this country regard themselves as "Christian".
It is only right therefore that the law against blasphemy which
has protected against vilification of our God should be kept.
2. There is no way in which committed Christian
ministers are going to stop proclaiming in their public services
and elsewhere the clear teachings of the Bible; for example that
Jesus is the only way to God, that homosexuality is an offence
against God, that withcraft is wrong, and other essential Christian
It has been shown in the past that these issues
can be dealt with, whilst nevertheless showing tolerance and acceptance
of those people who do not agree with us. It is a central tenet
of Baptist teaching that we should be tolerant of those of other
and no faith. In a country that believes in freedom of speech
we should be allowed to continue with our peacable proclamation
of what we consider to be the truth.
We would maintain that no change in the law
is necessary; the actions of extremists can be adequately dealt
with under existing legislation. We fear, however, that if the
law is changed there will be an increase in violent confrontations
instigated by extremists who have shown previously that they are
willing to invade and violently disrupt peaceful Christian gatherings.
Eric Seager (Rev) Minister
of Harston Baptist Church
6 July 2002