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Equality Commission questions Christian ‘integration’

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Trevor Phillips, the head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), has commented on religious discrimination in the UK.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Phillips singled out evangelical Christians for criticism. He said: “I think the most likely victim of actual religious discrimination in British society is a Muslim but the person who is most likely to feel slighted because of their religion is an evangelical Christian.”

He went on to say that he felt that Christians were choosing to fight over the issue of sexual orientation and seeking to gain political power: “I think for a lot of Christian activists, they want to have a fight and they choose sexual orientation as the ground to fight it on. I think that whole argument isn't about the rights of Christians. It's about politics. It's about a group of people who really want to have weight and influence and they've chosen that particular ground.”

Mr Phillips, himself of Guyanese descent, felt that the ‘old time religion’ of Afro-Caribbean immigrant communities in the UK was incompatible with modern British society and would prevent integration.

In contrast, he stated that Muslims are doing all they can to integrate. He said: “Muslim communities in this country are doing their damnedest to try to come to terms with their neighbours to try to integrate and they're doing their best to try to develop an idea of Islam that is compatible with living in a modern liberal democracy.”

Mr Phillips also claimed that his job was to ‘defend the believer’ in the face of hostility from those who scorned religious belief.

Response

Commentators have noticed that Mr Phillips claim that "the most likely victim of actual religious discrimination in British society is a Muslim but the person who is most likely to feel slighted because of their religion is an evangelical Christian" appears to be directly contradited by his own report, released this week, which actually reveals that a considerably higher proportion of Muslims than members of other religions believe that they have been discriminated against because of their faith. 

His suggestion that Muslims are better integrated than Christians, in a historically Christian country, has drawn a sharp response.

Canon Chris Sugden, from Anglican Mainstream, said that:

“Most Christians hold that active homosexual behaviour is incompatible with Christian teaching. That arises directly from the settled beliefs and convictions which go back to the teachings of the Bible and the early church, not, as Mr Phillips alleges, from any desire for political influence. Some Christians have lost their jobs and livelihoods for stating this teaching; many are being intimidated into silence. They are being denied their right to exercise their freedom of conscience.”

Commenting in the Daily Express, Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said:

“I look forward to reading the report in full. From The Sunday Telegraph report Trevor Philips appears to be living in a different Great Britain from me. His equalities agenda has led to the imposition of a new political orthodoxy which cannot tolerate any dissenting views. It has led to the coercion of behaviour and thought. If you disagree you are punished. 

“In one of our cases the Equality Commission intervened and said that mainstream Christian views on sexual ethics could ‘infect’ a child. His equalities agenda has led to segregation not integration; fear not friendship; isolation not community.

“There is a chill and a fear in the air; the people of Great Britain no longer know what they can do or say. This is a far cry from when our laws emanated from Christian precepts which respect the innate dignity of every human being and allow for difference of opinion and freedom of conscience.

“As we dismantle our Christian heritage so we erode the great in Great Britain. It is time for this new political agenda to stop.”

Equality and Human Rights Commission

According to its own website, the EHRC “is well equipped to take legal action on behalf of individuals, especially where there are strategic opportunities to push the boundaries of the law.”

The EHRC works very closely with Stonewall, the homosexual rights lobby group. It has far-reaching powers to enforce equality duties but the ideology which it has promoted has left it open to criticism.

The EHRC recently caused outrage by commissioning a report which recommended that children should be asked if they are homosexual from the age of 11 and that records should be kept of those unsure about or ‘questioning’ their sexuality.

The report was conducted in an effort to encourage teachers, nurses and youth workers to start monitoring the development of young people’s sexual identity.

The report suggested that it is both “practically and ethically” possible to interview children as young as 11 about their sexual orientation, if necessary without parental consent. Some youngsters, the report says, may use categories such as ‘questioning’, ‘queer’, ‘pansexual’, ‘genderqueer’, ‘asexual’, ‘pan-romantic’ and even ‘trisexual’.

EHRC Litigation History

Mr Phillips claimed in his interview that his job was to “defend the believer.”

The EHRC has intervened in several cases relating to the clash between Christian belief and homosexual rights. On every single case the EHRC has intervened strongly against religious belief.

The EHRC intervened in Catholic Care (Leeds) v Charity Commission and persuaded the High Court to rule that Catholic Care (Leeds) could not continue to place children for adoption with married couples only. The charity had been placing children with adoptive parents for more than 100 years. Catholic Care was among a dozen Catholic agencies in England and Wales forced to change their policy towards homosexual people by the equality laws passed in 2007. The others have either closed or cut their links with the Church.

The EHRC also intervened in 2011 against devout Christian guesthouse owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who restricted double rooms in their guesthouse (which was also their home) to married couples only. They were sued by civil partners Martyn Hall and Stephen Preddy who were turned down for a double room. The case was funded and supported by the EHRC. The judge ruled against the Bulls and ordered them to pay compensation. The Bulls now face financial ruin.

The EHRC also intervened in Johns v Derby City Council in 2011 and argued that the Council should be able to prevent devout Christians Eunice and Owen Johns from becoming foster parents because their Christian moral views on sexual ethics might ‘infect’ a child. The Johns lost their case and remain unable to foster children, despite having successfully fostered 15 children in the past. The EHRC later issued a public apology to the Johns after the comment was brought into the open.

The EHRC opposed the “Waddington amendment” which was debated on 9 July 2009 in the House of Lords. The Waddington Amendment protected free speech in the Public Order Act 1986. Had the amendment been removed, freedom of speech in the area of religious conscience would have been curtailed.

Sources

Daily Telegraph

Daily Mail

Daily Mirror

Other Stories

Christian Concern: Budget cuts for the EHRC

Christian Concern: Equality Commission wants teachers to ask children if they are homosexual

Christian Concern: Response to Consultation on EHRC

 

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