Select Committee on Religious Offences in England and Wales Written Evidence

Submission from Evangelicals Now Limited

  We understand that your Committee is taking submissions during July on matters which relate to religious publications. As a Christian monthly newspaper we felt that we ought to briefly let you know of our concerns.

  As Christians we believe that mankind is made in the image of God and therefore it is imperative upon us to show respect to all people, regardless of their religion or philosophy. However, at the same time, society can only be open and free as the government allows freedom of speech to all. Such freedom should be an inalienable right based upon the dignity which God has bestowed upon human beings. Therefore, the expression of religious ideas and freedom to contradict or argue with other religious positions must be maintained so long as such arguments are couched in reasonable and temperate language. Within such a framework, it ought to be possible to maintain both a law against blasphemy and freedom of expression.

  We encourage your Committee to explore ways of defining reasonable tolerance between groups of differing opinion. It needs to specify what is truly victimisation while at the same time rescuing society from the tyranny of those who would use the claim of "victimisation" to suppress the religious freedom of others. Britain has a fine heritage as an "open society", with its roots in a Christian understanding of the dignity of humanity. It is vital that this heritage be maintained.

  At the present time throughout the world, in such places as Nigeria, Sudan, Indonesia, China and Vietnam, Christians are persecuted more than any other religious group. We urge you not to allow a kind of liberal totalitarianism to diminish free speech via the back door.

23 July 2002

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