The Law and Human Rights












There can be no claim by the religious to exemption from laws which apply to everyone else on grounds of “religious conscience”. The right to hold religious moral views is not in dispute but there can be no right to impose them on others.

Religious organisations should not have unchallenged stewardship of public services or projects which are there to serve all equally.

The religious cannot have the right to discriminate against minority groups in a way which is incompatible with the law. If a religious organisation wishes to benefit from tax-free charity status, and to provide a service in the public sphere, it should not be allowed to discriminate against gay people who must have equal rights of access to adoption agencies and accommodation and should be free to choose from the same socially recognised definitions of life-partnerships as everyone else.

Religious ideas must compete in the intellectual market place with all others and should be free to do so but they can have no privileged platform from which to do this.

There should be no laws specifically to protected religion from criticism or satire.

If some minority cult routinely sought to cut off the earlobes of its children the state would surely send round the social workers yet because of notions of “religious freedom” we have tiptoed politely away from the issue of non-therapeutic circumcision for which there can be no consent given. Should the individual as an adult choose to follow the religious traditions of his parents and have his genitals altered he should be free to do so then.

Secularism has no problem with the wearing of religious symbols at work though we are puzzled by the need for this public manifestation of belief. Can God not see your cross under your shirt? However there can be no exemptions on religious grounds from rules and regulations set by employers on dress code or health and safety.

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