Bishops support law to protect all faith groups

 In a submission to the House of Lords Select Committee on Religious Offences, the Archbishop of Cardiff, Peter Smith, has backed the Church of England's support for a new law against incitement to religious hatred. The Catholic Bishops Conference has declared its support for a new law which will protect all faith groups. In his submission Archbishop Peter Smith says: "Establishing good relations between ethnic and religious minorities and majority communities is a formidable challenge. In this context effective legislation relating to "religious offences" is needed to protect individuals and to promote community cohesion." The Archbishop also cites the Second Vatican Council's declaration of 1965 on other faiths, which stated: "There is no basis either in theory or in practice for any discrimination between individual and individual or between people and people arising either from human dignity or from the rights which flow from it. "Therefore the Church reproves, as foreign from the mind of Christ, any discrimination against people or any harassment of them on the basis of their, race, colour, condition in life or religion." The Archbishop further suggests that: "In a free society considerable space must be given to vigorous debate, disagreement, criticism and humour directed even at our most cherished personal, political and religious beliefs. But (this) should not extend to the freedom to incite racial or religious hatred." The Archbishop closes by indicating that the offence of "incitement to religious hatred" should only become available: "When language used is explicitly hostile to religious faith in a way that went beyond the conversations of mainstream political debate, art or humour... "..The notion of "incitement" requires an intention in the mind of the wrongdoer that this hatred is stirred up or a reasonable awareness on his or her part that this is the likely consequence..." source: CCS

Share this story