RELIGION in MODERN SOCIETY – Human Rights

Trevor Phillips wades into debate on religion in modern society

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has made a wide-ranging intervention into the growing debate on the place of religion in modern society.

Trevor Phillips, Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission

Trevor Phillips, Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission  Photo: GRAHAM JEPSON
Jonathan Wynne Jones

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent

7:30AM BST 19 Jun 2011

POLITICAL CHRISTIANS

A string of high-profile legal cases involving Christians who feel discriminated against because of objections to homosexuality may be fuelled by evangelical activists who are seeking political influence – not helping their religion – he warned.

“I think the most likely victim of actual religious discrimination in British society is a Muslim but the person who is most likely to feel slighted because of their religion is an evangelical Christian,” he said.

Satan.”There are a lot of Christian activist voices who appear bent on stressing the kind of persecution that I don’t think really exists in this country. There are some Christian organisations who basically want to have a fight and therefore they’re constantly defining the ground in such a way that anyone who doesn’t agree wholly agree with them about everything is essentially a messenger from Satan.

“I think for a lot of Christian activists, they want to have a fight and they choose sexual orientation as the ground to fight it on. I think that whole argument isn’t about the rights of Christians. It’s about politics. It’s about a group of people who really want to have weight and influence and they’ve chosen that particular ground.

Personally I don’t know why they don’t choose ground that really is defending Christian values. I wish they’d choose gambling or human trafficking or something.”

OLD TIME RELIGION” HARMING INTEGRATION

in a highly provocative comment Mr Phillips said he believed Anglican and Catholic churches were seeing growing congregations from African and Carribean backgrounds with “old time” views which put them at odds with mainstream Britain.

“In the Christian and Muslim faiths migration has given some of the great faith institutions a massive shot in the arm,” he said.

“I come from that kind of community. We like our faith strong and pretty undiluted. If you come from an Afro-Caribbean Christian background the attitudes to homosexuality are unambiguous, they are undiluted, they are nasty and in some cases homicidal.

“I think there’s an awful lot of noise about the Church being persecuted but there is a more real issue that the conventional churches face that the people who are really driving their revival and success believe in an old time religion which in my view is incompatible with a modern, multi-ethnic, multicultural society.

“Muslim communities in this country are doing their damnedest to try to come to terms with their neighbours to try to integrate and they’re doing their best to try to develop an idea of Islam that is compatible with living in a modern liberal democracy.

“One of the aspects of that is essentially saying ‘whatever we feel about matter of sexuality we’re going to have to deal with the fact that most of our neighbours, most of our children’s friends, most of our work mates have a broader, more liberal view and we just have to live with that’.

“Integration is also about compromise and I think the reason you don’t hear a lot about that from Muslims is that they’re trying to find ways of being good Muslims in a way that is consistent with the society they’re living in.”

____________________________________________________________________

This posting is an excerpt taken from the article by Andrew Brown on Statements made by Trevor Philips, Chairperson on the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the U.K. The full article can be assessed on: 

Equality and Human Rights CommissionReligion or belief discrimination in Britain

In the two sections of the Report, that I have here selected, Trevor Philips clearly identifies the difference between religious faith (that belonging as of right to each individual)  and the requirements of the Law  – as it affects all people within the local community.          

In the first section ‘Political Christians’, Trevor Philips makes this point: “There are some Christian organisations who basically want to have a fight and therefore they’re constantly defining the ground in such a way that anyone who doesn’t agree wholly agree with them about everything is essentially a messenger from Satan.”

This certainly highlights the thinking of homophobic Christians, who really believe that homosexuality is ‘of the Devil’.

In the section on ‘Old-time Religion Harming Integration‘, Trevor has this to say”

“Muslim communities in this country are doing their damnedest to try to come to terms with their neighbours to try to integrate and they’re doing their best to try to develop an idea of Islam that is compatible with living in a modern liberal democracy.

“One of the aspects of that is essentially saying ‘whatever we feel about matter of sexuality we’re going to have to deal with the fact that most of our neighbours, most of our children’s friends, most of our work mates have a broader, more liberal view and we just have to live with that’.”

It seems to me that living in a multi-cultural society – as they certainly do in Britain – there is a need to integrate the practice of one’s faith with the reality of the need to ‘live with’ the faith of other religious communities – in a way that does not conflict with the common human rights of all, under the banner of ‘Equality under the Law

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch

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About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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