hate crime catholic herald divinity of jesus
Freedom of Religion

The British Government has made it crystal clear that proclaiming the divinity of Christ is not a hate crime

The Catholic Herald has been banging on about this now for a whole week. Apparently, Lord Pearson of Rannoch (Ukip) asked Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Conservative) to confirm “that a Christian who says that Jesus is the only son of the one true God cannot be arrested for hate crime or any other offence, however much it may offend a Muslim or anyone of any other religion”.

Baroness Vere responded: “My Lords, I am not going to comment on that last question from the noble Lord.”

This then snowballed (/avalanched) into an issue of religious liberty which circled the world (/Twittersphere): Theresa May’s Government intends to make it illegal to proclaim the gospel – that is, if it doesn’t already constitute a ‘hate crime’. The Catholic Herald was told the day they published it that it was all nonsense on stilts, not least because there is a myriad of reasons why a minister might give such a response. In this case, might it be that the Noble Baroness did not understand the question? Did she even hear it correctly? Might perhaps a degree of religious illiteracy have caused a ‘rabbit-in-headlights’ moment? After all, government ministers aren’t interrogated on fundamental matters of doctrine every day of the week.

And note that Lord Pearson didn’t stop his question at ‘hate crime’, but extended it to embrace “any other offence”. Well, it is entirely possible (and utterly reasonable) to find yourself under arrest if you’re bellowing the divinity of Christ down a residential street at 3.00am.

But one junior minister in the House of Lords does not constitute ‘The British Government’, so the Catholic Herald appears to be concerned with a little hyperbolic click-bait. Further, it is not in any case the job of a government minister to determine the fundamental precepts of any religion: why would Lord Pearson attempt to entrap Baroness Vere into a dogmatic declaration of what might constitute blasphemy? And why should she rise to the bait?

If she understood it.

If she heard it.

The Prime Minister (who might feasibly be equated with ‘The British Government’) has been unequivocal on the liberty of Christians to proclaim their faith. In her Shrove Tuesday speech to Christian leaders at No10 last year, she said:

I also believe it is right that we should celebrate the role of Christianity in our country. 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. We must continue to ensure that people feel able to speak about their faith, and that absolutely includes their faith in Christ.

In her Easter message to the nation, she reiterated:

We must continue to ensure that people feel able to speak about their faith, and that absolutely includes their faith in Christ.

And since that faith in Christ includes the belief “that Jesus is the only son of the one true God”; and since freedom of speech includes the right to “offend a Muslim or anyone of any other religion” with the reality of this theological belief, it follows that the British Government has actually made it crystal clear that proclaiming the divinity of Christ is not a hate crime.

As of yesterday, the Catholic Herald was still tweeting this silliness out. One wonders why they are intent on stoking an utterly insignificant spat between a Ukip peer and a junior minister instead of believing the unequivocal word of the Prime Minister on this? Perhaps now that Baroness Vere has kindly confirmed what was conjectured a week ago (ie lack of understanding / difficulty in hearing), the Catholic Herald might desist with its disinformation, or (better still) just delete the silliness and issue a correction.

  • Eels

    Well, it is entirely possible (and utterly reasonable) to find yourself under arrest if you’re bellowing the divinity of Christ down a residential street at 3.00am. Thank you, that made me laugh and also recall that my old Vicar, a sensible chap, not usually prone to flights of fancy, heard a prompt one mid night to literally pick up the big wooden cross used in the church over Easter and walk the streets. After a brief internal dialogue he did so, went to bed feeling foolish and heard no more about it. Some years later he heard the testimony of a healed but once very broken man, who one early Easter morning cried in suicidal athiestic desperation ” God if you exist show me a sign! ” only to look out of the window to see a fellow walking the middle of the road with a huge cross on his shoulder.

    • David

      That’s incredible but then the workings of God often are.

  • Albert

    “I couldn’t hear/understand the question.”

    What does that mean? Surely only one of those two words would do. But if she couldn’t hear/understand the question, why did she not ask for it to be repeated, or wait so long to explain what happened? Why does the House of Lords tolerate noise preventing some members from being heard?

    I’m not suggesting she’s done anything wrong. But I think the whole cock-up just shows how sensitive people are in this area. Are they sensitive for a reason? In such a situation, the question of the freedom of speech is one the Government ought to be speaking out on.

  • Boxfordblogger2012

    Adrian, you might also have provided a link to your last post in which you quoted a speech by the Prince of Wales referring to “freedom of expression” as well as “freedom of religion”. In the light of the cases in which street preachers charged with ‘hate crimes’ have been represented by Christian Legal Centre, perhaps it is Chief Constables to whom the message should be addressed – with the request that they provide training in the law to their rank and file officers. As Sedley LJ memorably said in his judgment in the Redmond-Bate case back in 1999, “Free speech includes not only the inoffensive but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative provided it does not tend to provoke violence. Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.” (Redmond-Bate v DPP [1999] EWHC Admin 733)

    • Albert

      Well said, especially when it is only some people’s offence that is protected.

    • Arden Forester

      It isn’t the Divinity of Christ that is the problem for the powers-that-be. It is holding to the Truth that He is the ONLY way to the Father. That is what bothers them. It is perfectly OK for those professing the Faith to be mocked and derided. We expect that and Jesus told us it would happen. I believe in free speech. What is wrong is when governments try to arrest people for preaching, as in Canada where pulpits are monitored. That is wrong.

    • Dodgy Geezer

      ,,,”Free speech includes not only the inoffensive but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and the provocative provided it does not tend to provoke violence.,,,

      If I disagree with anything you say, i will punch you in the mouth. Therefore, if you say anything that causes me to do this, you are provoking violence…

      • John

        Exactly. If a footballer provokes an opponent to violent retaliation, it is the opponent who lashes out who gets the red card.

        In our legal system, the offender is the one who does the winding up. We have legislated for intolerance by punishing those who try others’ patience, not those who snap.

    • John

      “…Provided it does not tend to provoke violence”. Yes, well…. but what about when one particularly tolerant community, celebrated by all as the religion of peace, have a sudden and inexplicable lapse, and take offence very quickly this time, and react most uncharacteristically with – oh I don’t know – a pipe bomb or something? Would the fault with the messenger or the audience?

  • Arden Forester

    I think there is a bit of disingenuous silliness all round here. The government’s line is that Christians are free to believe and express their belief. However, that is defined broadly. When such belief is said aloud to be in “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” then the murmuring starts. We are told “well, OK, but……” and our cards are marked. Similar marking occurs with the sacraments, especially Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders.

    With regard to Islam, the government is still sticking to the line that Islam is “a religion of peace” and that ISIS and other similar organisations “have nothing to do with Islam”. Even Justin Welby has now found this to be questionable. The truth is the vast majority of Muslims want to live peaceful lives but the religion is only about peace for those who adhere within it. Transgressors and perceived apostates get short shrift. No question crosses official UK minds about Muhammed’s morality, whether with regard to his marriages or his warfaring. The treatment of the Meccans, Jews and other tribes in the area at the time can be described as anything but peaceful. Certainly copious amounts of blood was shed.

    https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2017-11-30/debates/10C0FC75-0026-402E-8429-F288605D8937/OnlineHateSpeech#contribution-B01F5F48-7F47-456A-898A-01B7B3AC48A3

  • Anton

    The criteria for hate speech are all about what the ‘victim’ perceives. Only if there is an explicitly stated exception for the gospel can we be sure of the accuracy of assertions that preaching the gospel is legal. There is no such exception. Yet we also have ‘free speech’. The problem is that we have contradictory laws (it is worth checking how). In that case everything is up to the discretion of the police, the CPS and the courts. I have no confidence in their discretion. Ask any street preacher. I reckon that if a street preacher had dared to publicly preach the gospel in a heavily Muslim area and survived, he would have been arrested. Like the Catholic Herald, I remain concerned.

  • ardenjm

    Whatever next? Silencing people for saying that the Catholic Church is the one true Church?
    Forbidding people on pain of death from celebrating Mass?
    Discriminating against people for not being of the “right religion”?

    Oh.
    Hang on…

    • Anton

      Can’t think where Elizabeth got that idea from!

    • Whatever next? Silencing people for saying that the Catholic Church is the one true Church?
      Forbidding people on pain of death from celebrating Mass?

      For hundreds of years, people were done to death for doing the opposite.

      Discriminating against people for not being of the “right religion”?

      Still going on in Mexico.

  • One cannot believe the unequivocal word of the Prime Minister, she unlike the Catholic Church doesn’t practice what she preaches, therefore one has to test the waters.

  • Chris Bell

    Where is Welby?? Where is leadership? How has it come to pass that the actual divinity of Christ is matter of political conjecture rather than an absolute issued by ‘our’ church. Yes, Our Church. I say it again…. our bloody church. Or rather no church at all!! Welby, his acolytes, banging on and on about ‘inclusion’ whilst the fundamentals of his sacred position and faith are IGNORED. These are not Christians at all……..f-ck ups of the first water. Better now that they embraced islam openly for indeed they represent its 5th column.
    Call them out boys and girls!!

    • John Campbell

      What a great question! Where is Welby? Indeed where is he?

      I can no longer contain my anger at this blatant denial of Christ. I can no longer contain my contempt for the man who holds the great office of leader of the Anglican Communion and who doesn’t have the balls to call the simplicity of the gospel, but contaminates it with alien human works like inclusion and safe spaces to which he gives priority. I can no longer hide my despair at a man whose theological understanding is so bereft of inspiration and wonder that he treats the scriptures as just another viewpoint in a list of alternative viewpoints.

      What can we do? Please God, what can we do? I know, Sir, we must pray, that is what You tell us to do. But every week, if not every day, prayers are said in the Canterbury diocese for “Justin, our bishop”. We, the humble pew fodder are ready to shoulder pitchforks and take to the streets. We have had enough. In our own feeble ways, we love You and adore You and want to champion Your cause. We are tired of Your being so misrepresented, misquoted and compromised by the wickedness that is now rampant in much of the ordained clergy. Surely it’s time for the priesthood of believers to proclaim the gospel, to heal the broken hearted, to set the captives free, (not on our own strength or wisdom Sir, but in Yours alone.)?

      There is only one voice able to put the government on notice, when questions such as Lord Rannock’s are asked. It is the voice of the leader of the established church who should stand and thunder out the answer, again and again and again. And the more the unbelieving politicians and the media sneer and challenge his right to say such things, the more he should grow in stature and repeat himself. God will honour such a man. This man, while it is still a man, should thunder in the pulpit, thunder on the airwaves, thunder in the House of Lords, and thunder in the corridors of 10 Downing Street – fearless and confident in His Lord.

      What a privilege! Let the current holder rise to the challenge my God, in Your strength and to Your glory. Amen.

      • len

        If only Welby had the courage of those who gave their lives for Christ regardless of the cost, and those who are still doing so today.

      • IanCad

        A Scotsman, when his dander’s up, is a man to be respected. Well said John.

      • Chris Bell

        “Blatant Denial”. And it is. If the church be called to be a representative of God on earth then this is no church at all. What we are witnessing is an organisation once sacrosanct and clear but which is now the home of antichrist. Barren and forlorn, the stained glass of its windows blown in, the mystery of Christ ………….gone. The Eastern Orthodox is the last redoubt of this Holy Mystery. And so scornful is it of its western sister. And so should we be.
        However, ….. and it is a big ‘however’. God is not fooled. But more, much more is it, that this is according to His Plan. For in these indulgencies of the so-called modern mind a mighty Truth is being played out. Silent in its operation, invisible to the eye that cannot see, deaf to the ear that cannot hear……………..it is a winnowing. We are called to move past this abomination of a ‘church’ and retreat into our Heart. In silent prayer that Silence will be heard, yet but be more Known in our Unknowing. Our great saints of old are present even now………..Julian of Norwich, St. John Duns Scotus, St John Chrysostom….et al.
        So do not feel despair but rather be humbly proud of the Grace of God so evident in our distress. It is in our brokenness that we are saved. Have no doubt. For if we entertain doubt we are as this false Archbishop and his minions. And this Archbishop will never thunder…………he is a weak and confused servant.

  • May claims that Britain has ‘a very strong tradition’ of freedom of speech. In the past, perhaps, but freedom of speech is now only granted to those who take their inspiration from the Establishment’s list of approved lies. In the words of Renaud Camus:

    Dans les sociétés édifiées entièrement sur le faux, comme la nôtre, toute la valetaille courtisane n’a qu’une seule fonction, une seule passion, une seule jouissance, un seul moyen d’avancement: traquer le moindre mot de travers, par où pourrait sourdre une décharge de vérité. / The fawning flunkies of societies built entirely on lies, like ours, have only one function, one passion, one pleasure, one means of advancement: hunting down the slightest word out of place in case it allows the truth to burst out.’

    In a country with free speech, Alison Chabloz would not be facing imprisonment for uploading to YouTube songs critical of Jewry.

  • An “Established Church” with a Constitution committed to preserving the “Protestant Faith”, and a Minister of the Government refuses in the House of Lords to answer a direct question about our liberty to proclaim Jesus Christ as the only son of the one true God?

    • Dolphinfish

      As I said the other day, Jack. The Church of England was not established for Christian ends, it was established to take religion out of the public square.

      • Anton

        It was certainly established for political ends, but it never entered Henry VIII’s head that religion would be a man’s private matter henceforth.

      • pobjoy

        The origin of the CoE is complex, but it was a compromise that eventually established freedom of religion, that was unknown theretofore. No-one was forced to attend Confessions or Masses, used to buttress corrupt authoritarian governments. Religion continued in the public square; though British weather and their availability made local halls better venues.

        • Dolphinfish

          They were certainly forced to attend protestant services.

          • pobjoy

            The populace was for a time forced to attend allegedly Protestant services, yes, but this did not last long. It could not, as it was contrary to theological Protestantism, that insists on personal choice. The important point is that the word ‘Catholic’ was possible only through coercion. Those who value democracy need to keep that in mind.

          • 1688 is the date to look at: the Glorious Revolution. People were for the first time officially allowed to attend a place of worship of their choice. Yes, there was still discrimination against both Dissenters and Romanists, but it is worth remembering that just a few years earlier in France the Edicts of Nantes had been evoked and Protestants there were being subjected to the most extreme persecution,

  • pobjoy

    By the Bible, Jesus is not the only son of the one true God. Why? Because, the Bible says, all of humanity is made up of sons and daughters of God. But, by the Bible, Jesus is the only Son of God, i.e.manifestation of God; ‘God with us’, ‘the everlasting Father’. The ‘exact expression’ of God’s ‘underlying character’ according to the author of Hebrews (1:3).This is important because the word ‘son’ implies divine divisibiilty, and some sort of unspecified generative relatlionship, that debases and/or demotes Jesus; and this has political implications that even in the recent past have given short shrift to democracy. Parliament should be very careful of its dealings, and in their detail.

  • Dolphinfish

    Since all this “hate speech” garbage is predicted on the subjective reaction of the supposed victim, can we not send the filth around to the Guardian and start getting their “talent” arrested for putting US in fear? Doesn’t matter if we actually ARE in fear. Nobody who invokes this Orwellian legislation really has any fear of the nasty traditionalists; that wasn’t its purpose. It’s just a handy tool to shut the mouths of people who don’t see things your way. So let’s use it for OUR ends. I’d pay real money to see Polly Toynbee and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the back of a black Mariah – sorry, Mariah of colour – and if Jonathan Freedland is with them, jackpot. Of course, this is all just satire. Really, Mr Thought-Policeman.

  • David

    There is a problem with the laws of this country.
    Yes freedom of speech is being defended by the courts. But the police do not seem to recognise that freedom anymore. This needs correcting.
    Secondly, Hate Speech is a problem since hateful speech is defined as being hateful, and therefore illegal, if it is perceived as being so by the listener, who thus self-defines himself as a victim. This removes law from the realms of fact to mere perception. This is clearly bad law by any definition except those Cultural Marxists that wish to attack the reasonable exercise of free speech. The Hate Laws are contradicting freedom of speech and must be rescinded if liberty is to continue.

    • Arden Forester

      Well said!

    • Dolphinfish

      The police don’t recognize free speech anymore because the legislation gives them more power, that’s all. Put food in front of a dog, he’ll eat it. You shouldn’t read anything more into their actions.

    • Manfarang

      “Nothing in this Part(Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 Section 29J) shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system. Subjective descriptions of a person’s actions or behaviour, however abhorrent, crass or objectionable, may not be considered an attempt to spread hate unless the motive is clearly defined as such.”

  • ecclesiaman

    I welcome the Catholic Herald’s campaign. Obfuscation is the rule of the day and the Herald, not unreasonably, requests clarity. Like others contributors below say, the comments of TM are quite unreliable. Perception is the word that the police have to go by, and they do so in some cases with gross carelessness. Unfortunately some street/ preachers are not sufficiently streetwise in their preaching. I support their freedom of speech but wish some were aware of the scripture, “He that winneth souls is wise”.
    The law is the real culprit and we need a “Precedent” to be established in case law to guide the uninformed who need to know better. How many clerics and ministers would be able to uphold such a law were it on the statute book? It looks unofficially that the prophet of Islam is being given preferential treatment.

  • Chefofsinners

    Jesus is the only Son of the one true God.

    Anyone care to arrest me?

    • Anton

      Try it in Bradford, brother.

    • len

      Jesus is the only Son of the one true God.
      That makes at least two of us.

      • Anton

        Jesus of Nazareth alone is one in divinity with his father, God the creator of all things, and he is the only sure way to the creator.

        We are recreating the creed…

        • len

          I think we need to Anton.

          • Anton

            There is one God who created everything, including the human race, so he has rights over us. He made us clean but we fell into sin. He tells us to acknowledge and be sorry for our sins, which are shown up by the righteous laws He gave to Israel. Out of love He sent his only son – one in divinity with him – as a man like us except sinless, Jesus Christ of Israel. All who believe in him shall be helped not to sin by his Holy Spirit, and be forgiven and have eternal life after Christ returns to deliver judgement against sin and put the world aright from it. For Christ came back to life after letting himself be put to death as a sacrifice for sin; and many who saw him dead then alive have died for their witness.

    • Pounce

      If the bBC had its way, you would have your head shaved, and made to attend Koran classes in which to show you the error of your ways. That said plod would have no problem arresting you, due to a complaint made by the Cof E

    • Manfarang

      Or feed you to the lions.

    • Lucius

      It’s only a matter of time given the present course of social developments.

    • Now go and say that in a public space such as outside a London shopping centre, I dare you.

  • IanCad

    So, our protectors have assured us proclamation and proselytization of our faith is not a hate crime.
    All well and good but our masters are a reflection of our national character and I would suggest it is sadly lacking in fortitude, consistency and principle. Subject to change according to conditions and perceived needs, rights mean very little unless carved in stone. We need a document that we can all read and hold dear to our hearts. In that regard I wonder if we could politely ask that nice Mr. Trump if he would be so kind as to send over to us – tout suite – the US First Amendment.
    As it is always unwise to have merely one remedy, I humbly suggest we take further action on our own behalf and lobby our representatives to draft a new bill making plain that we have (where retreat is an option) no right not to be offended. Together these two simple steps will grant us, and future generations, enduring happiness in the pursuit of heated discourse on all matters.

    • Manfarang

      Better maybe to adopt a fully codified written constitution.

      • Anton

        How very continental.

        • Manfarang

          Freedom of speech is one of the Irish Constitution’s most majestic guarantees. The guarantee, however, is not one of absolute majesty. This is so because Article 40.6.1.i of the Irish Constitution provides that the State guarantees liberty for the rights of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions, …

          • Anton

            See another comment about how Stalin’s Soviet Union guaranteed it too.

          • Manfarang

            Russians are in fact a very conservative lot. During Stalin’s time many continued to follow the Orthodox faith.

          • Jonathan

            How can people be so light about the vile Soviet regime. Over 20 million Christians were martyred. 99% of churches were closed. All church property was confiscated. Christians were ridiculed, sent to mental institutions or labour camps, stopped from employment, had children taken away, refused all rights to expression, many were imprisoned, many were tortured, leaders were mostly executed, school so called education and public indoctrination and virulent anti Christian propaganda was normal. All in the self proclaimed name of militant atheism.

      • Lucius

        A Constitution is a codified expression of the values and beliefs of the people, it is not a cure for a culture in chaos. The U.S. Constitution heavily influenced the Mexican Constitution of 1917, yet Mexico is still Mexico the the U.S. is the U.S. In short, culture and social values trump written law. Written law only optimizes positive socio-cultural norms, rarely can it create them.

        • Manfarang

          Nevertheless many Commonwealth countries were clearly influenced by the British constitution when they came to write their constitutions.

          • Lucius

            True, but they were also influenced, more importantly, by British culture. Therein lies the difference between an United States (British cultural origins) and Mexico (Spanish cultural origins).

  • Jack really doesn’t buy the “explanation” that she didn’t hear the question. How lame! This question no longer has a direct answer. The answer nowadays is: “It all depends.”

    • Lucius

      I suspect if Sarah Mullally were asked if Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the only bridge to the Father, she would also give an “it all depends” style response.

      • Royinsouthwest

        I am sure she would be far more robust than you give her credit for. She would probably say something along the lines of:

        “Of course He is. For Christians he is the only way to God. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus etc. follow other ways to God, as do atheists and agnostics who follow their own conscience.”

    • Chefofsinners

      Likewise. It is a pathetic excuse. What you do if you can’t hear is ask for the question to be repeated, not say that you aren’t going to answer it.
      And what of the role of the Speaker in all this? If Lord Pearson is routinely made inaudible then the Speaker is failing in his/her duty. It is intolerable that our democracy should be thwarted and debate stifled in this way.

      And another thing. Why is Lord Farage of Thanet not sitting in the Lords? He has had a greater impact on British politics than any Prime Minister since Blair. But we know why, of course. It is because the establishment always acts to protect itself.

      • Maalaistollo

        (a) Maybe Lord Pearson is routinely made inaudible because he represents UKIP, so even in the Mother of Parliaments there must be some restriction of the freedom of expression.
        (b) I would be very disappointed if Nigel Farage were to accept a peerage or indeed any other ‘honour’ as that would signify capitulation to the thoroughly corrupted system he is trying to change.

        • Manfarang

          Farage is going to take a pension from the EU Parliament.

          • Royinsouthwest

            People usually get a pension from their workplace -surprising as the idea may be to some.

            Furthermore, Britain has always been a net contributor to EU funds it is good that some of our citizens, with the possible exception of the Kinnocks, should get some money back from the EU.

          • Manfarang

            Do the Westminster Sinn Féin MPs draw their pensions too?

          • Royinsouthwest

            Perhaps they would have to take up their seats first, like Farage and other UKIP members took up theirs in the EU parliament.

          • Manfarang

            The UKIP MEPs did about as much as the Sinn Féin MPs.

          • Maalaistollo

            He’s entitled to dirt money for the job he has to do there. I don’t think they pay for protective clothing.

          • DespiteBrexit

            Simply our money recycled with a massive haircut.

          • Manfarang

            Some haircut. How much is the “divorce” bill going to be?

  • Maalaistollo

    Surely we should always credit those in authority with meaning what they say about these matters, but if anyone would feel more secure if their rights were clearly spelt out in law, here’s a precedent – an extract from the 1936 Constitution of the USSR, drafted with the help of one J Stalin:

    ‘ARTICLE 124. In order to ensure to citizens freedom of conscience, the church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the state, and the school from the church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of anti-religious propaganda is recognized for all citizens.

    ARTICLE 125. In conformity with the interests of the working people, and in order to strengthen the socialist system, the citizens of the U.S.S.R. are guaranteed by law :

    a) freedom of speech;

    b) freedom of the press;

    c) freedom of assembly, including the holding of mass meetings;

    d) freedom of street processions and demonstrations; These civil rights are ensured by placing at the disposal of the working people and their organizations printing presses, stocks of paper, public buildings, the streets, communications facilities and other material requisites for the exercise of these rights.’

    Now, that’s not bad, is it?

    • len

      So Christians in ‘the free West’ are now worse off then under Stalin?
      I believe it was so under Saddam Hussein as well?

      • Lucius

        Not sure if that was Maal’s point. I see the posting as showing that laws on the books count for nothing when social norms dictate otherwise. It reminds me of a quote from the American President Theodore Roosevelt, when he stated, and I paraphrase: the Roman Republic fell not because of the ambitions of Caesar and Augustus, it fell because Roman citizens ceased being Roman. All the laws were the same, but the people had changed, so the laws counted for nothing.

        • Maalaistollo

          Exactly. It has been suggested elsewhere that the repeated arrest of street preachers here, only for them eventually to be released without charge, is the Police’s way of intimidating them: ‘The process is the punishment.’

          • Manfarang

            And stopping them becoming involved in a brawl

          • Maalaistollo

            Yes, but who starts the brawls? Why aren’t they the ones arrested?

          • len

            The system would break down if the right people got arrested?

          • Manfarang

            Three members of a self-styled “Muslim Patrol” vigilante group were jailed for harassing, intimidating and assaulting people on the streets of east London while claiming they were enforcing sharia law.

          • Maalaistollo

            But were they ‘preaching’?

          • Manfarang

            Earnestly advocating.

          • Anton

            I think Manfarang misunderstood who you meant by “they” here…

          • Manfarang

            The brawlers.

  • CliveM

    So how many have been arrested for simply proclaiming the divinity of Christ or that salvation is only through him?

    That’s right, none. Let’s get a grip and not indulge in over dramatics.

    • Chefofsinners

      Unfortunately the word of the current Prime Minister is not as trustworthy as we might hope. Added to which, experience shows that Prime Ministers can change very quickly. And then there is the fact that the police regularly arrest street preachers based on allegations made by passers-by, particularly those of a different religion, or an LGBT persuasion.
      Lord Pearson’s question remains unanswered.

      • Royinsouthwest

        Are you absolutely sure that the word of the current Prime Minister cannot be trusted? After all, did Tony Blair or David Cameron ever give us the slightest reason to doubt the honesty of prime ministers?

        • Chefofsinners

          Go easy on the irony. Poor Carl will go into ‘does not compute’ mode and shut down again.

          • Carl is a master of post-ironic sarcastic irony.

          • carl jacobs

            Been playing around with the post-modern language generator again, I see.

          • “Irony is wasted on the stupid.”
            (Oscar Wilde)

        • There’s nothing wrong with giving up all your principles for political reward. It is the basis of our democratic system.

      • CliveM

        I can see circumstances were people going out to stand outside a mosque and shouting out that Mohamed is a false prophet and the only way to God is through Christ maybe arrested for breach of peace. But I don’t see it happening to a person who preaches this and posts it online, or in an article in the press or outside their own Church on a board.

        • Anton

          Pragmatically, there is no reason in the New Testament for a Christian to say such things in public about Muhammad, because secular people won’t care about a spat between monotheistic religions, and Muslims are not going to be brought closer to Christ by public statements of that sort. For the sake of freedom of speech it is important that we be able to say it if we wish, though. And I am less sanguine than you about it not happening. Not in the next 2 or 3 years, maybe, but in 10 or 20…

          • CliveM

            Well time will prove one of us right. Sadly unless we get our act together as an extended body, I’m not sure people will care enough about what we say to ban anything we say in 20 years!

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        Indeed. The Prime Minister speaks slytherin…

        • Sarky

          Shouldnt that be parceltongue??

          • Chefofsinners

            My favourite delivery company.

    • carl jacobs

      You are correct, of course. This isn’t about whether people will be arrested. It’s about the willingness of the Gov’t to say certain things out loud. What won’t be said today can be a good indicator of what can’t be said tomorrow.

      • CliveM

        Well one can never be certain what’s down the line, however I think it’s a long way off happening. I think in a world where there is real persecution we should still be grateful for our real freedoms.

        • carl jacobs

          And you should be cautious of a Gov’t that doesn’t seem willing to defend them. Remember that Secularists do not value religious freedom. They value their image of a society that permits religious freedom. Those are not the same things. The former focuses on the believer. The latter focuses on the enlightenment of the lawgiver. To a Secularist, permissible religious freedom occurs in a building during a worship service. It is otherwise out of sight and out of mind. To bring religion into the public square is in their minds a serious violation.

          • CliveM

            Well we must ensure that we use the freedom we have, ensuring we don’t lose it by default.

          • bluedog

            The introduction of Same Sex Marriage can be identified as a major turning point in public morality. It’s a frequent topic on this blog as we know, but the dangers are there in the present assumption that a homosexual union is morally equal to a heterosexual union. Of course, this has never previously been the case, but it is now the law, and it’s a position rejected by virtually all major religions. How will the secular elite deal with the consequences of parent groups who utterly reject the law as it is being taught to their children? One can see the basis for a social rupture where those of faith are out-numbered by the secular elites and their supporters in the electorate. What might the elites do to institutionalise their values? An obvious step would be the licensing of religion under the aegis of a Commissioner of Religion, charged with ensuring the propagation of ‘British Values’. In any event, the day that a politician talks in terms of licensing religion is the day religious freedom becomes at serious risk.

          • Anton

            Some years ago I informed the Elders of the congregation I am in that if congregations are ever required to register with the authorities then if the Elders choose to comply they are to consider me as having resigned before the deadline and they are not to give my name. I would then seek an unregistered congregation.

          • Manfarang

            Why on earth would someone set up a register?
            Some years ago British people living in a foreign country could register at the embassy. The form had a section on religious affiliation. As do the census forms.

          • bluedog

            The census collects information about individuals and families, drawing on which government can make policy. Of course, all census information collected on individuals and families remains absolutely confidential and would never be used in a discriminatory fashion. But if government seeks information on associations and organisations, the little platoons, some of which may have religious aims, the best thing to do is to order that they register with a responsible authority, established by the government itself. Once information has been gathered, control can be exercised.

          • Anton

            If you want to know why a government would wish to set up a register of religious congregations, ask one of the many governments that do. It’s called control.

          • Manfarang

            Well the government is certainly seeking control- of mosques.

          • Anton

            That’s a political religion presenting a clear and present danger, so the government has legitimate interest. Gospel Christianity isn’t. (Disestablishment? Yes, by all means.)

    • Maalaistollo
  • Inspector General

    Useful tool, this hate crime. One would rather it wasn’t
    around, but it is, and we as Christians should start to make use of it. For
    example, the Catholic Adoption agencies would still be around if we could have
    put up an argument that WE HAVE RIGHTS AS CHRISTIANS TO BE CHRISTIANS!!!

    And anyone who stops us is committing a HATE CRIME!!!

    Get the idea, Chaps…

    • Anton

      Yes we do. The Crown Persecution Service doesn’t, though.

      • Inspector General

        If sexually muddled degenerates can force the Establishment’s hand then it should be easy for us. WE are the stuff the Establishment is made of…

    • Got it.
      We have to try to convince people that Christians are peaceful and loving – and if they don’t believe us, then kill the bastards.

      • len

        Is that irony, or perhaps sensing a new Papal edict?

        • Ooooo ….
          If one cannot learn from past mistakes, one might as well become a Protestant.

          • carl jacobs

            What?? Make a mistake?? The RCC?? Oh that’s right. Some things aren’t quite as infallible as they used to be.

          • len

            I think the magic chair the Pope sits in is losing some of its ‘infallibility factor’.

          • Anton

            The sedia gestatoria could never fly.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Is that the one where cardinals check out his genitalia?

          • len

            Quite possibly

          • *sigh*

            The Church is the People of God. People make errors. Therefore people of the church are not immune to making errors. Infallibility does not prevent the Church from making prudential errors. However, when it comes to definitive and confirmed teachings on faith and morals, the Church is infallible.

            Pope Saint John Paul II made many apologies …. he apologized to Jews, Galileo, women, people convicted by the Inquisition, Muslims killed by the Crusaders and almost everyone who had allegedly suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church over the years …. As Pope, he officially made public apologies for over 100 of these wrongdoings.

            Hope this helps.

          • ardenjm

            To say nothing of not knowing the distinction between an infallible teaching and an impeccable person.

          • carl jacobs

            You know that I know that. Nice attempted deflection, though.

          • Deflection? Only in your head.

          • carl jacobs

            No, you answered a question I didn’t ask. The questions are:

            1. What is the content of infallible Catholic teaching?

            2. How is it discerned?

            3. What prevents it from being changed over time?

            To which the answers are:

            1. It depends. What time is it?

            2. We’re not sure but it has something to do with Ouija Boards.

            3. Nothing whatsoever.

          • “double sigh*

            Actually, you never asked those question – you made a snide comment – and, besides, Jack has repeatedly answered them in the past. Your pride and arrogance prevents you listening and learning:

            Jack wll quote a recent comment from you: “I know what the RCC teaches. I know it better than 99% of the Catholics with whom I converse. My only “misrepresentation” is that I don’t accept your rationalizations. I won’t accept your categorizations. I won’t accept your arguments from definition.”

            Reflect on this: Docility is a great virtue, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, being related to the virtue of prudence. Specifically, it allows us to acquire knowledge through the teaching of another. Even the most learned people need to be docile, since no man is completely self-sufficient. We all stand in great need of being taught by others.

            Aquinas teaches that there are two obstacles that lie in the path of acquiring the virtue of docility. One is laziness, the other is pride. Pride, however, is far more insidious than laziness. The lazy person has difficulty concealing his laziness, even from himself. The lazy person usually knows that he is lazy. The proud person, on the other hand, has contempt for those who know things that he does not know, and conceals his indocility (as well as his pride) from himself, and is able to misinterpret his vice as a virtue. Thus, the indocile person who is proud often thinks that by his stubborn refusal to allow others to “impose” their ideas on him, he is maintaining an “open mind” or holding to a “truth” he has “privately” arrived at through “personal judgement.

            “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

          • carl jacobs

            You are free to show me that Official Infallible List of Infallible Roman Catholic Teachings any time you like. Oh but you can’t. Because it doesn’t exist.

            As I have said before. I don’t accept your rationalizations for why once infallible teachings are no longer considered infallible. I don’t accept your rationalizations for how the RCC identifies infallible teaching. It’s all entirely too convenient.

          • Jack isn’t going to waste his time on you.

          • carl jacobs

            As you wish.

          • Well you know more than 99% of Catholics and have dismissed out of hand the Scriptural basis of the Church’s Apostle’s authority. What could Jack possibly teach you?.

          • Anton

            Because he’s run out of replies.

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            But his apology to Muslims for the Crusades was wrong: the Crusades happened as a response to hundreds of years of Muslim aggression, from out and out warfare to coastal raids on European ports and villages to capture slaves…calling time on an aggressor is nothing to apologise for.

          • He actually apologised for the actions of the Crusader attack on Constantinople in 1204, not the Crusades per se.

            “Some memories are especially painful, and some events of the distant past have left deep wounds in the minds and hearts of people to this day. I am thinking of the disastrous sack of the imperial city of Constantinople, which was for so long the bastion of Christianity in the East. It is tragic that the assailants, who had set out to secure free access for Christians to the Holy Land, turned against their own brothers in the faith. The fact that they were Latin Christians fills Catholics with deep regret. How can we fail to see here the mysterium iniquitatis at work in the human heart?”

          • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

            Ah, thanks for that, always happy to learn something.

          • Anton

            I had missed that. It’s not clear who there is to apologise to, but contrition for 1204 is a good thing for a Pope to express. Can you be certain, though, that that apology is what Mrs Proudie had in mind?

          • Expressing contrition is a better expression.

          • David

            As Mrs Proudie points out below, the crusades against the Middle East were a late attempt to ensure that Christian pilgrims could reach the Holy Land in safety, as well as resist centuries of Muslim violence against Christian lands, which included the taking of slaves. There was nothing to apologise for.

          • len

            Thought that read ‘President’ at first glance?
            Works just as well?

          • Or American ….

          • dannybhoy

            … And Lo – eth!
            Millions did..

          • And have been failing ever since to learn rom their errors.

          • dannybhoy

            No, Jack, true Christians revere the Good Book because it is an objective source that we can all refer to, learn from and even disagree over. It is the lodestone of our faith.

          • Cressida de Nova

            With a metaphorical gun to their heads.

          • Cressida de Nova

            God forbid !

      • Merchantman

        This cultural inheritance thing must be addictive.

      • Mrs Proudie of Barchester

        Ah yes, for this is the Barchester way…

  • carl jacobs

    And since that faith in Christ includes the belief “that Jesus is the only son of the one true God”

    Weak argument, Archbishop Cranmer. It is true that reactionary pre-modern fundamentalist types say things like this. However modernized version of Christianity do not hold to such exclusivities. And how fortunate the that CoE is increasingly lead by people with these very inclusive post-modern religious ideas. The established religion of the UK is quite comfortable with the idea of pluriform truth. So one would not be surprised to see the Gov’t act upon such established notions to the detriment of fundamentalism.

    Because as we all know. Fundamentalism is bad.

  • Royinsouthwest

    Government statements are like many advertisements. You know that somewhere among the small print there is the phrase “terms and conditions apply.”

  • Thank you for your tweet, Baroness Vere. I’ll waste no time reading it.

    • carl jacobs

      Admirably subtle.

  • Chefofsinners

    There he goes. Told you.
    Matron Mullally! Bring the defibrillator.

  • carl jacobs

    What stops the question from being answered at this moment? Wouldn’t one tweet put this whole issue to bed? Why did she take the time to tweet that she couldn’t hear but not tweet an answer to the question. For she has surely heard and understood the question by this point.

    • Her answer wouldn’t be covered by Parliamentary privilege and thus might be considered “hate speech”?

      • Manfarang

        Members enjoy Parliamentary privilege in all respects but must not use “unparliamentary” language.

    • Ray Sunshine

      For she has surely heard and understood the question by this point.
      Don’t rush her, the poor old dear. Let her take her time.

  • Anna055

    If it is often noisy when Lord Pearson UKIP (or anyone else) is speaking, then that doesn’t say much for the behaviour in the House of Lords.

    • Royinsouthwest

      They were when the place consisted of hereditary lords, CoE bishops and life peers. Then members tended not to speak, or at least not to say much, unless they were speaking on a subject in which they had some expertise. The ranks of the House of Lords did include people with a considerable degree of expertise in certain subjects, e.g. retired high court judges speaking about the law, former generals, admirals or air marshals speaking about the armed forces etc.

      Things started to change when politicians of different parties started to flood the place with their own place men and got worse when most of the hereditary peers were got rid of. The hereditary peers did not owe their positions to political patronage and could afford to use their own judgement rather than follow instructions from party whips.

      • Anton

        Yes, the day boys have taken over.

      • Anna055

        Out of the feudal privilege frying pan into the immature politician fire. It would have been so much better to have replaced some of the Lords with genuine experts (nominated by expert bodies not by politicians of course…..).

    • SimonToo

      Too many expired MPs crowding into the Lords.

  • IrishNeanderthal

    “. . . however much it may offend a Muslim or anyone of any other religion”

    Or is it people of no religion, who are afraid of the reaction of Muslims or Others (various) who might be offended?

    It may be entertaining to some to watch the battle here, with Protestants saying things like “it all went pear-shaped with Constantine” and Catholics saying “it really started to go pear-shaped with Luther” (or, more locally, Henry VIII).

    We know Muslims say that “There is no God but Allah” but it seems that our great and good are riddled with those who take only the first part of that. For example, a notable practitioner of the music of Bach who slips in that he doesn’t believe what Bach set to music, as easily as our Muslim neighbours might say “Inshallah”.

    • Dreadnaught

      Never had you down for an Islamophile. Seeing that Muslims have politically cultivated the status of the worlds most victimised group its not the atheists that have assisted them but the Christians. Remember them – the Christians? used to be the predominant group in the Middle East/Holy Land not so long back: now they sell or let out their church premises to Muslims.

      • Manfarang

        Christianity has always been a minority religion in the Middle East. Remember the Three Wise men? Zoroastrian Magi.
        Ho ho ho. Merry Christmas.

        • Anton

          Gospel Christianity has always been a minority religion everywhere.

          • Manfarang

            The First Great Awakening.

        • IrishNeanderthal

          Thanks for your historical perspective. I have expanded on it to Dreadnaught (above).

          How this for a modern take on the Magi? The video is of a Venezuelan song, Mi Burrito Sabanero (the little donkey of Bethlehem), but the “iconography” looks Mexican. In particular, look between 1:57 and 2:05!

      • IrishNeanderthal

        Relax! I’m not an Islamophile. I was having a go at things like this (it happens to be from Queensland, Australia).

        Jesus unwelcome in schoolyard crackdown

        Manfarang has given us a more extensive historical perspective. The Christian religion only had a majority in the Levant and Egypt following Constantine until the Islamic conquest.

    • Jonathan

      Take it from me, nothing went pear-shaped with Constantine. And I’m Protestant.

  • seansaighdeoir

    Rightly or wrongly the impression I get from the piece is that fundamental rights are provided by the govt. and so hence we are ‘allowed’ to assert that Jesus Christ is the son of the one true God. This is so because Mrs May and her govt. say so.

    I would suggest that if rights are indeed provided by the govt. as this piece makes clear then this undermines not only the fundamental tenet of the piece but the whole idea of the right to express that Jesus is the son of the one true God.

    I would say that if rights are only provided by the govt. then they are not really rights at all.

    • SimonToo

      That is why I have reservations about human rights, which smack of concessions by the government to an otherwise complete obligation of obedience, as opposed to the liberties of the subject, on which the government trespasses at its peril. The fundamental liberty of the subject, of course, is to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to render unto God that which is God’s.

      • seansaighdeoir

        Yes the humans rights ‘concessions’ are a good example.

        The approach in the UK / EU is that we effectively have no rights other than what the govt. ‘allow’. Hence our ‘subjectivity’.

        In the US I believe the approach is that the universal rights of the individual are recognised and are written in to law to reflect that.

        Two very different ideas….

  • mjohnm

    Lord Pearson has missed the real point: Government makes laws but their interpretation and enforcement are matters for the police and CPS. Ministers might be able to say what was intended but cannot give the assurances sought.

    • carl jacobs

      So it’s actually the police and prosecutors then who make law? These legislators deal in words and intentions but can’t actually say what the laws they pass will do? The law is supposed to bind the police. The police should not bind the law.

      • No, politicians make the law; police react to what they think the law is, and judges interpret it. If politicians sense that judges aren’t interpreting the law correctly (ie as the politicians intended), they issue clarifying laws, to which the police react, and which the judges interpret…

        • Craig

          Which leaves the CPS where? Whilst there is a body making decisions on whether or not to enforce laws there is a mechanism for powers beyond Parliament or the cabinet to decide upon the effective implementation of those laws. A law that isn’t enforced may as well not exist whilst prosecution guidelines that decide to focus public assets towards the prosecution of a particular crime (or type of crime) over another suggests the possibility of extra-governmental social engineering.

          N.B. I’m not necessarily saying that this is currently happening, merely playing advocate in a discussion.

          There are, however, some recent examples of seemingly over-zealous police officers applying their own interpretation of public order and harassment offences in order to remove street preachers as they seem to believe (perhaps mistakenly) public Christian evangelization to be illegal.

          • Sarky

            Not illegal….just irritating.

          • Anton

            Nag the conscience do they?

          • Sarky

            Nope….put me off my greggs.

        • James M

          The perfect description of a paper chase. There is an E. M. Forster story on a similar theme.

      • Anton

        To some extent the judiciary make the law in a common law system. But mostly it is parliament. The job of the police is to enforce the law as best they can.

        • Chefofsinners

          And the job of the judiciary is to identify, so far as they are able, what Parliament intended at the point when the law was made.

          • Merchantman

            Deep state decides.

  • not a machine

    Me Luds had an interesting question, which defies most attempts to define, is the earth round perhaps finding more votes, however none of us know what God may illume for any of us at his feast table.

  • Even if the C Herald over -reacted I suspect in the present climate of creeping/galloping belief censorship pushing for clarification is a good thing. What goes unchallenged all too easily becomes the new orthodoxy.

  • Pearson’s question is pertinent. Plod does not appear to have heeded the PM. Perhaps the lady who did not hear should consider a hearing aid?