04 November 2011
Parliamentary group to examine if Christians are marginalised
MPs and Peers from across the political spectrum will hear evidence on whether Christians are badly treated by the law and if they are being pushed out of society.
The Clearing the Ground inquiry is holding hearings in November to discover if the freedoms that Christians enjoy have been affected by changes to the law and the action of government and the courts.
More than 50 individuals and organisations have already made written submissions to the inquiry, and it is clear that there is a great deal of confusion about how the law affects religious belief and activity.
Many contributions suggested that it is becoming increasingly hard for Christians to live out their faith in their every day lives. The idea that secularism is best was blamed in part for this trend as well as equality and diversity legislation and practice.
Gary Streeter MP, chair of the inquiry, commented: "This is a very unwelcome development; the last thing we need is religious people joining the ranks of the self-designated victims that plague modern politics. If we look at America we see how religious and secular extremism has polarised society. We've got to avoid the culture wars that have come to define religious engagement in the US.
"What we want to do is expose the gap between perception and reality and help to blow away the fog and the fear that currently exists for many Christians. We want to dispel any myths that have grown up but also identify problems, and we're not going to shy away from calling for changes to the law if that is what is needed."
Gavin Shuker MP, who is serving on the inquiry, said: "Too often it seems like we're living in a world that doesn't understand religion, but it needs to. Hopefully this inquiry will help everyone understand religion a little bit better."
A range of Christian policy organisations and denominations will be giving evidence to the Clearing the Ground inquiry. The first session on 8 November will hear evidence from the Evangelical Alliance, Premier Christian Radio, the Lawyers Christian Fellowship and Maranatha Community.
Mr Streeter went on to say: "We cannot sit back and let the Christian values which we hold dear be eroded by often tiny minority groups clambering for their own rights at the expense of a common good. Religious liberty is the historical bedrock of all our other liberties; it is an affirmation that everyone in society should have their faith respected.
"A truly Christian vision for a truly free public square seeks to uphold people's right to express their views with civility, however contrary or uncomfortable, without fear of public humiliation or prosecution."
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Notes to Editors
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.