Teresa May Goes François Fillon and Plays the Christian Christmas Card.
PM Defends Right to Speak of Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.
Much has been made, in the French media, about François Fillon’s (successful) efforts to moblise the Catholic, and more broadly, conservative religious vote behind his Presidential bid.
Where Filly flows, May meanders behind.
CHRISTIANS must be free to speak about their faith and Christmas without fear of repercussions, the Prime Minister has said.
Her comments come as a report from a think tank warns religious freedoms are being eroded after teachers, magistrates and other professionals have been disciplined and sacked for living according to their beliefs.
Reports the journal of record, the Sun.
Conservative MP Fiona Bruce, who sits on the Ecclesiastical Committee, warned that Christians have become “fearful” about mentioning their faith in public in case they encounter a backlash.
She told Prime Minister’s Questions: “Comments this week by the Equalities Commissioner not to be worried about talking about Christmas at work were important because many Christians are now worried, even fearful, about mentioning their faith in public.
“So would the Prime Minister join me in welcoming the recent Lawyers Christian Fellowship report Speak Up, which confirms that in our country today the legal rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech to speak about one’s faith responsibly, respectfully and without fear, are as strong today as ever?”
The Prime Minister fearlessly replied,
Theresa May, the daughter of a vicar, said religious tolerance is a fiercely guarded principle in Britain that must be respected.
She said: “You raise an important issue that matters to both you and me, and I think that the phrase that was used by the Lawyers Christian Fellowship was ‘the jealously guarded principle’ of that ability to speak freely, as you say respectfully and responsibly, about one’s religion.
“I’m happy to welcome the publication of this report and its findings.”
She added, we learn,
Of course we’re now into the season of Advent, and we have a very strong tradition in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech, and our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of.
I’m sure that we would all want to ensure that people at work do feel able to speak about their faith, and also feel quite able to speak freely about Christmas.”
Snipers comment (Left Foot Forward).
The report itself has to be read in this context. It offers Christians guidelines (which it makes clear are not legal advice) on how to talk about their religion so more people follow it or adopt its ideas.
As Speak Up‘s introduction says:
“As Christians, it’s our responsibility to share the good news …
We know what a difference the gospel has made to our lives, and we should be passionate about seeing as many people as possible know this transforming good news, as well. …
We should grab hold of this opportunity and tell our friends, families, neighbours and colleagues about the life-changing good news we have received.”
In the conclusion, Dr David Landrum, advocacy director for the Evangelical Alliance, writes:
“The lost need the gospel, so we need to be intentional about sharing it. We hope that this resource will inform followers of Christ about the freedoms we have to do this, and encourage confident and fruitful evangelism in every area of public life.“
The report has sections on ‘sharing the gospel at work’, ‘sharing the gospel in public’, and ‘sharing the gospel on social media’. It includes advice on where you can talk about people’s ‘sexual orientation’ and how far you can go.
The report doesn’t appear to call for any rule-bending, and does seem like a good faith (excuse the pun) attempt to inform people about their rights and the law. But it does so in order that they know how best to ‘share the gospel’ as part of a clear political agenda.
How political? A Dispatches investigation in 2008, In the Name of God, found Andrea Williams, then LCF public policy director, called the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill the work of the devil, supported banning abortion, considered homosexuality sinful and was a young earth creationist. Williams no-longer works for the LCF.
But both groups are committed to seeing their views shape public policy, with the help of friendly MPs like Fiona Bruce. How nice for the Prime Minister to give them a boost under the banner of the non-existent ‘Christmas wars’!
With less than 59 per cent of Brits identifying as Christian (most of them Anglican), and at least a quarter ticking ‘no religion’ on the census form, this is a strange move for a PM who wants a society that ‘works for everyone’.
My Advent Card:
Jack and Dinos Chapman: Fucking Hell.