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20,000-signature Petition to be handed to Queen, Prime Minister and House of Lords on Tuesday 7 July over Gagging of Free Speech on Biblical view of Sexual conduct

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Press Release

For Immediate Release

6 July 2009

20,000-signature Petition to be handed to Queen, Prime Minister and House of Lords on Tuesday 7 July over Gagging of Free Speech on Biblical view of Sexual conduct

A PETITION signed by 20,000 Christians across the UK will be handed in on Tuesday 7 July to Buckingham Palace, No 10 Downing Street and the House of Lords. Petitioners believe Government plans, contained in Clause 61 of the Coroners and Justice Bill to be voted on this week in the House of Lords will effectively gag Christians from openly explaining what they believe the Bible has said about sexual conduct for more than 2,000 years. The petition also draws attention to the plans of a small group of Peers who are trying to legalise assistance with suicide by tabling amendments to the same Bill.

Christian Concern for our Nation, sister organisation to the Christian Legal Centre, which has represented many Christians in high profile cases where employers have denied Christians the right of freedom of speech on moral issues, co-ordinated the Petition, signed by 20,000 individuals, to draw attention to what they describe as the “devastating consequences” to Christian witness if the Coroners and Justice Bill goes through Parliament as it stands.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, barrister and founder of CCFON and the CLC, will deliver a copy of the Petition to Buckingham Palace at 12.30pm, and then at 1.30pm she will deliver the Petition to 10 Downing Street, where she will be joined by Pastor Ade Omooba, Duke Amachree, Lauren Prieb and Kimberley Caines. Mrs Williams believes the vast majority of Christians and church leaders are still unaware of the impact the Bill could have, as the Government has hidden a clause that would remove the Free Speech Clause deep within a Bill that most would believe to be about administrative matters.

One of her co-supporters of the Petition is Duke Amachree, a homelessness prevention officer with Wandsworth Council, who was dismissed from his work today (July 6th) for encouraging a homeless woman with an incurable medical condition to look to God for help, after doctors told her they’d given up hope.

Duke Amachree, aged 53, who has worked for the local authority for almost 18 years was suspended on 28 January 2009 for discussing his faith with a client, and was told in an investigatory interview on 17 March that he should not raise the issue of religion at work. Not only was Mr Amachree told it was inappropriate to ‘ever talk about God’, he was also told that he may not even say ‘God bless’. Mr Amachree’s employers told him that ‘God had to be kept out of the workplace’.

Andrea Minichiello Williams said: “The case of Duke Amachree shows how intolerant secularisation is creeping into every area of public life and employment. Common sense no longer prevails and public servants such as Duke Amachree are suffering and losing their jobs as a result. Clause 61 is alarming in that not only would it officially ‘gag’ Christians, preventing them from talking about their faith when it comes to what the Bible says about family life and relationships, but if they do, it would also be a criminal offence.”

“We hope the Government, which is trying to remove the free speech clause by the back door, when it was defeated by elected Peers on this issue only last year, will recognise that if they proceed with their plans, there will be an election coming up soon and Christians will vote in response to the way this Government has consistently marginalised and hindered freedom of speech for every citizen in this country.”

“Assistance with suicide is something that should remain an offence, so that vulnerable people are properly protected.”

For more information about the Bill and how it would affect Christian witness, visit www.ccfon.org

ENDS.

For further information/interview:

Andrea Minichiello Williams:  07712 591164

Picture Note:

Photographers and journalists with the usual security clearance are welcome to attend the handing over of the Petition at 10 Downing Street 1.30pm on July 7.

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