UK Equality Commissioner states that freedom of religion and conscience restricted to church buildings

Sir Trevor Phillips, the Head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission has stated categorically that freedom of religion and freedom of conscience is restricted to within the confines of church buildings if they conflict with secular law:

Sir Tevor said that “the law stops at the door of the temple as far as I am concerned”, explaining that it was only inside a church or religious institution that believers could apply their own rules.”

The Government’s Equality Commissioner condemned Christians for insisting that they follow the teachings of Christ and their consciences of wanting to impose ‘sharia law’ on  the UK.

The Tablet reports:

‘Britain’s equality commissioner has said making an exemption in laws for Christian-run institutions is the equivalent of allowing Muslims to adopt sharia law. Citing the case of those Catholic adoption agencies that wished only to work with heterosexual couples, Sir Trevor Phillips…said equality laws had to apply across the board.

“You can’t say because we decide we’re different then we need a different set of laws. To me there’s nothing different in principle with a Catholic adoption agency or Methodist adoption agency saying the rules in our community are different and therefore the law shouldn’t apply to us. Why not say sharia law can’t be applied to different parts of the country?”

Dr Philip Giddings, chairman of the Church of England’s public affairs council, rejected Mr Phillips’s analysis. “It is a strange comparison,” he said.

Catholic adoption agencies were providing a voluntary service and which families and local authorities did not have to choose to use.

“It seems to me that the state is going a step too far to insist that certain kinds of adoption agencies and service providers cannot be allowed to make their offer like everybody else,” he said. “That does look awfully like discrimination against religious bodies.”

Protect the Pope comment: The Equality Commissioner, like the Obama administration, is attempting to re-define freedom of religion as freedom to worship. It’s a verbal slight of hand that seeks to strip away our basic human rights as religious believers in public life and wider society. Basically he’s saying we’re free to practice our faith within our church buildings but nowhere else in society.

Trevor Phillips has already removed our right to practice the moral teachings of the faith within our own homes, because, for example, if we run a bed and breakfast we have to allow homosexuals to sleep together in rooms in our houses, or else be taken to court and fined.

Trevor Phillips, and his like, have removed the rights of parents to bring their children up in the faith, because if our children, as young as 13, want contraception or abortion the State will provide it without parental knowledge or consent.

Trevor Phillips trivializes Catholic moral teaching on sexuality and parenthood by saying that  we just ‘decided we’re different’ and that we need a different set of laws’.  Catholics didn’t decide we’re different when parliament changed the law, we remained steadfast in upholding the moral law of 2,000 years.

Trevor Phillips is also hypocritical by saying Christian demands to follow their teachings and consciences are equivalent to wanting to impose sharia law.  Sharia law is being exercised in the UK, creating a parallel legal system with the support of the liberal establishment in this country as an expression of ‘diversity’. Here’s the BBC’s support for sharia law in the UK:


13 comments to UK Equality Commissioner states that freedom of religion and conscience restricted to church buildings

  • Michael

    Let us remind ourselves that the right to freedom of conscience can be claimed only for consciences which are prescriptive: they dictate what a person must and must not do.

    Aside from a claim to a reasonable margin of appreciation to allow a person the freedom to make mistakes in his search for truth, the right to freedom of conscience cannot be claimed for a conscience which is merely permissive, including a conscience which allows a person to change his beliefs according to convenience and fancy. It therefore cannot be claimed for a secularist or atheist.

    Trevor Phillips is an atheist, and it should be impressed on him that Christians have the right and the duty to impose their morality upon him according to the natural law so that he acts justly. This man is unfit to serve in any official role and should get out of public life.

    • CathChap

      Can you explain more please. I don’t understand. Surely freedom of conscience is Universal. Everyone is entitled to it. Otherwise it is not a right it is a privilege.

      • Michael

        Suppose your conscience tells you that you are free to choose to do an act or not do it, but the law of the land says you must (or must not) do it.

        In that case, you must obey the law. You have no conscientious objection to it.

        Now suppose your conscience commands or forbids an act.

        In that case you must not obey any law to the contrary, and you have grounds for conscientious objection.

        • CathChap

          Thanks. I understand that. But having a conscience that commands or forbids an act isn’t something that is exclusive to Christians. A jewish conscience might forbid the eating of pork or an atheist conscince might forbid taking part in a genocidal war. Or a vegetarian conscience might forbid the eating of meat.

          • Michael

            A Jew’s conscience will forbid the eating of pork because he affirms the existence of God who has given the Law through Moses, and that the Law of Moses forbids jews to eat pork.

            However, an atheist’s conscience cannot forbid taking part in a genocidal war, because an atheist’s conscience forbids nothing.

            By definition, only the law of a Supreme Being can extinguish a conflicting law of a political sovereign on earth.

    • Josh

      Well as soon as God enters no.10 Downing Street, passes law through the Parliament and enforces that Act with the approval of Parliament, then yes; God will be able to impose his religous laws on our legal system. Until then, if you want fundamentalist rule, go to the Vatican or some other country where the laws are purely based on the interpretation of out-dated religous texts that have been so edited over the last 500 years that it would be impossible to truly establish what they require.

  • CathChap

    “Sharia law is being exercised in the UK,creating a parallel legal system with the support of the liberal establishment in this country as an expression of ‘diversity’”

    correct. But don’t conflate the liberal establishment with secularists. They are two distinct groups of people.

  • Freedom of religion and freedom of conscience is restricted to within the confines of church buildings if they conflict with secular law? So, if the State were to pass a law tomorrow declaring that some people are rats [moderated to remove mention of a specific people] and should be burned alive in ovens, no one should be able to oppose such a law publically in accord with their conscience and their religious beliefs?

    Has Sir Trevor Phillips undergone a mental-health exam recently?

  • My reference to a certain group of people was actually a reference to the Third Reich and its sick notion of a “Final Solution.” I wasn’t being disrespectful to the Jewish people whom I love. I was making the point that governments can – and have – enacted unjust laws and that people have the right to oppose such laws.

  • Mike2

    I recently came across an atheist teacher of RE who declared in the staffroom that anybody who uses the Nazis in argument had lost it. He never gave a reason for this declaration but he probably couldn’t cope with the moral implications of the consequences of Nazism – as so well put for example, by Paul. And if anybody tries to avoid those consequences by declaring that Nazi Germany was not a democracy they can be reminded that the Nazi Government was carrying out a State of Emergency passed by the democratically-elected Reichstag and in total accord with the German Constitution. But the consequences of arguing that religious people must totally obey laws they consider unjust is precisely to argue that Christians in Nazi Germany had no right to stand out against the anti-Semitic laws of Nazi Germany. And, I suppose, that if our government suddenly introduced laws to burn witches Sir Trevor Phillips would be among the first to declare that he could not go along with it. But people whose actions are determined solely by whatever is currently the law of the land must abide by those laws whatever they are.

  • ms catholic state

    Phillips is trying to force Christianity out of the public square and impose his false doctrine of secularism upon us. This is a Christian country….and we must act to preserve it. The Bishops must counteract Phillips’ statement by calling all Christian politicians to act according to their Christian consciences at all time. They must serve Christ and not the false religion of Secularism which denies God and His authority.

    Also it is time to ban Islamic immigration….otherwise we are going to have Sharia. So let’s stop brushing this under the carpet. In my opinion people like Phillips would rather have Sharia than Christian law.

  • Well said Mike2. Sir Phillips should reflect very carefully on Pope John Paul II’s teaching in Evangelium Vitae:

    “The doctrine on the necessary conformity of civil law with the moral law is in continuity with the whole tradition of the Church. This is clear once more from John XXIII’s Encyclical: “Authority is a postulate of the moral order and derives from God. Consequently, laws and decrees enacted in contravention of the moral order, and hence of the divine will, can have no binding force in conscience…; indeed, the passing of such laws undermines the very nature of authority and results in shameful abuse”. This is the clear teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas, who writes that “human law is law inasmuch as it is in conformity with right reason and thus derives from the eternal law. But when a law is contrary to reason, it is called an unjust law; but in this case it ceases to be a law and becomes instead an act of violence”. And again: “Every law made by man can be called a law insofar as it derives from the natural law. But if it is somehow opposed to the natural law, then it is not really a law but rather a corruption of the law”.

    Now the first and most immediate application of this teaching concerns a human law which disregards the fundamental right and source of all other rights which is the right to life, a right belonging to every individual. Consequently, laws which legitimize the direct killing of innocent human beings through abortion or euthanasia are in complete opposition to the inviolable right to life proper to every individual; they thus deny the equality of everyone before the law. It might be objected that such is not the case in euthanasia, when it is requested with full awareness by the person involved. But any State which made such a request legitimate and authorized it to be carried out would be legalizing a case of suicide-murder, contrary to the fundamental principles of absolute respect for life and of the protection of every innocent life. In this way the State contributes to lessening respect for life and opens the door to ways of acting which are destructive of trust in relations between people. Laws which authorize and promote abortion and euthanasia are therefore radically opposed not only to the good of the individual but also to the common good; as such they are completely lacking in authentic juridical validity. Disregard for the right to life, precisely because it leads to the killing of the person whom society exists to serve, is what most directly conflicts with the possibility of achieving the common good. Consequently, a civil law authorizing abortion or euthanasia ceases by that very fact to be a true, morally binding civil law.

    Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. From the very beginnings of the Church, the apostolic preaching reminded Christians of their duty to obey legitimately constituted public authorities (cf. Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:13-14), but at the same time it firmly warned that “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). In the Old Testament, precisely in regard to threats against life, we find a significant example of resistance to the unjust command of those in authority. After Pharaoh ordered the killing of all newborn males, the Hebrew midwives refused. “They did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live” (Ex 1:17). But the ultimate reason for their action should be noted: “the midwives feared God” (ibid.). It is precisely from obedience to God-to whom alone is due that fear which is acknowledgment of his absolute sovereignty-that the strength and the courage to resist unjust human laws are born. It is the strength and the courage of those prepared even to be imprisoned or put to the sword, in the certainty that this is what makes for “the endurance and faith of the saints” (Rev 13:10).
    In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it”.

    A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are not infrequent. It is a fact that while in some parts of the world there continue to be campaigns to introduce laws favouring abortion, often supported by powerful international organizations, in other nations-particularly those which have already experienced the bitter fruits of such permissive legislation-there are growing signs of a rethinking in this matter. In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.

    The passing of unjust laws often raises difficult problems of conscience for morally upright people with regard to the issue of cooperation, since they have a right to demand not to be forced to take part in morally evil actions. Sometimes the choices which have to be made are difficult; they may require the sacrifice of prestigious professional positions or the relinquishing of reasonable hopes of career advancement. In other cases, it can happen that carrying out certain actions, which are provided for by legislation that overall is unjust, but which in themselves are indifferent, or even positive, can serve to protect human lives under threat. There may be reason to fear, however, that willingness to carry out such actions will not only cause scandal and weaken the necessary opposition to attacks on life, but will gradually lead to further capitulation to a mentality of permissiveness.

    In order to shed light on this difficult question, it is necessary to recall the general principles concerning cooperation in evil actions. Christians, like all people of good will, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. Such cooperation occurs when an action, either by its very nature or by the form it takes in a concrete situation, can be defined as a direct participation in an act against innocent human life or a sharing in the immoral intention of the person committing it. This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it. Each individual in fact has moral responsibility for the acts which he personally performs; no one can be exempted from this responsibility, and on the basis of it everyone will be judged by God himself (cf. Rom 2:6; 14:12).

    To refuse to take part in committing an injustice is not only a moral duty; it is also a basic human right. Were this not so, the human person would be forced to perform an action intrinsically incompatible with human dignity, and in this way human freedom itself, the authentic meaning and purpose of which are found in its orientation to the true and the good, would be radically compromised. What is at stake therefore is an essential right which, precisely as such, should be acknowledged and protected by civil law. In this sense, the opportunity to refuse to take part in the phases of consultation, preparation and execution of these acts against life should be guaranteed to physicians, health-care personnel, and directors of hospitals, clinics and convalescent facilities. Those who have recourse to conscientious objection must be protected not only from legal penalties but also from any negative effects on the legal, disciplinary, financial and professional plane.” (Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, Nos. 72-74).

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