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Encouraging news about the SORs: time to rally and sign petitions

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22nd December 2006

Summary of information –


We appeal to every Christian leader to make this known to their constituencies and for every Christian to act and pass on this information

  1. It has been announced that there will be an hour long SOR debate in the House of Lords (Tuesday 9th January 2007) to consider Lord Morrow’s motion to annul the Northern Ireland SORs. This is the first (and possibly only) opportunity for Peers to have an open debate about the SORs, and, because it currently looks unlikely that the House of Commons will have a full debate themselves, it is the best opportunity for the flaws with the Regulations to be discussed.

  2. To coincide with the debate in the Lords (which is due to begin at around 7:30pm) there will be a PETITION presented to the Queen during the afternoon on the 9th January. PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION AND ENCOURAGE ALL THOSE YOU KNOW TO SIGN IT. The petition is available at www.christianconcernforournation.co.uk/sorpetition.php.

  3. Also set to coincide with the debate in the Lords will be a RALLY held outside the Westminster Parliament from 5:30-8pm (we pray there will be a simultaneous one held outside Stormont in Northern Ireland). We will be meeting in Old Palace Yard, opposite the St Stephen’s entrance. Please bring a torch.

    THIS MAY BE THE ONLY OPPORTUNITY TO PUBLICLY DEMONSTRATE THE STRENGTH OF CHRISTIAN FEELING ABOUT THE NORTHERN IRELAND SORs. ALMOST EXACTLY A YEAR AGO THOUSANDS OF CHRISTIANS MADE THE EFFORT TO TRAVEL FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO STAND OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT, UNITED IN PRAYER AND ACTION AGAINST THE RELIGIOUS HATRED BILL. HOURS LATER THE BILL WAS DEFEATED BY 1 SINGLE VOTE. NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS REPORTED ON THE SOLIDARITY AND COMMITMENT OF SUCH A LARGE GROUP OF CHRISTIANS SINGING AND PRAYING TOGETHER.


    THIS NEW RALLY IS THE OPPORTUNITY TO STAND UP FOR THE FREEDOM TO LIVE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE.

    Please put the late afternoon/ early evening of 9th January in your diaries and encourage all Christians to attend this important event.


  4. In further excellent news, a High Court judge in Northern Ireland gave permission to the Christian Institute to bring judicial review proceedings challenging the legitimacy of the Northern Ireland SORs. On Thursday 21ST December the judge decided not to suspend the Northern Ireland SORs whilst the legal challenge is being heard. The full case will take place in the new year.

  5. In another development, Ruth Kelly’s department invited representatives from the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship to meet with them today to “clarify what the Regulations are not intended to cover”. In the meeting, the Civil Servants stated that no firm decisions had been made about the content of the Regulations. This means that the continued constructive input of Christians to the political process – explaining the reality of the dangers of the Regulations should they come into force without adequate exemptions, is still of great value.

    The Civil Servants also wanted to emphasise that the Regulations would not require Christian ministers to bless same-sex partnerships. However, they were not prepared to firmly agree with the statement that ‘these Regulations are not intended to prevent faith schools promoting marriage without having to promote civil partnerships’ and it is of concern that they indicated that it was unlikely there would be any exemptions protecting individuals on the grounds of conscience. On the other hand, it was positive that the Civil Servants were able to confirm that there was no intention to outlaw harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation in the England, Wales and Scotland Regulations, even though the Northern Ireland Regulations have done this.


  6. It seems that there is also some good news from the House of Commons. Although the prayer for annulment that was laid does not automatically lead to a debate and vote on the issues, it has led to the constituting of a ‘delegated legislation committee’ who will look into the matter. The committee will be selected on the 10th January and will have a representative mix of Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem MPs (the majority will be Labour). The Committee itself is likely to meet during the week of the 15th January.

  7. Please sign an online petition to the prime minister calling for the SORs to be withdrawn, at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/NISexOrient/

We want to thank everyone for continuing to pray and act on this crucial issue. The response to our and others calls to make views known to politicians has been astounding. MP after MP has received bags of letters as well as e-mails and phone calls from concerned constituents and the awareness of the significance of the SORs has increased dramatically. It is heartening that so many Christians are taking the responsibility for making the importance of Gospel freedom known to our political leaders.

Only a few months ago when we went into the House of Commons in July, few MPs had any knowledge of this law which threatens to make it illegal to follow the Bible’s teaching. Now, many of the fundamental flaws to the Regulations have been exposed, and there are few politicians who do not share at least some of the concerns that have been expressed by Christians.

The measured and balanced manner in which Christians have outlined the dangers of the legislation is also commendable as we continue to seek to make it clear that this is not a ‘Christian v Gay’ issue in any sense, it is a matter of freedom to follow the Gospel, based on a desire that the truth of the Bible should be taught and shared and adhered to for the benefit of everyone in society and for God’s glory.

Please continue to pray and act.


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