Submission from the Old Baptist Church,
With reference to the examination of Lord Avebury's
Religious Offences Bill.
Would you kindly pass the following comments
to the Committee examining this Bill.
I write as the minister of the Old Baptist Chapel,
Chippenham to express the deep disquiet felt by many professing
Christian people about two of the proposals especially put forward
in the Bill.
Firstly, to remove the offence of blasphemy from
the statute book
Surely, in this day, when tolerance is the apparent
watchword of our legislators, to give "open season"
to those who would maliciously wish to attack the Christian faith
in this way is perverse. We would expect the same level of protection
for our faith as any other faith.
Secondly, to abolish the offence of causing a
disturbance in a religious assembly
This again is a perverse suggestion. It gives
open license to any one who might object to a particular religious
viewpoint to disturb a service at will, and there would be no
way of redress. We would expect that all religious faiths should
have this protection as a civil liberty under the Human Rights
It would seem that to enact these two clauses
without proper protection for religious services could lead to
a serious curtailment of our freedom of worship.
We feel deeply concerned about the way in which
the freedoms fought for at such great cost by our forefathers
are being discarded in such a cavalier fashion, with little thought
as to the long term consequences for our civil and religious liberty.
1 July 2002