Select Committee on Religious Offences in England and Wales Written Evidence

Submission from the Missionary Training Service

  As Coordinator of the Missionary Training Service which prepares courses for missionaries, I have dealt with people of other worldviews for many years. Last year I was glad that the proposal for making incitement to religious hatred a criminal offence did not become law as I was concerned that such a bill could have hampered free speech and missionary efforts.

  I often go to Speakers Corner and sometimes hear a Muslim trying to ridicule the Christian faith. For their part, some Christian preachers describe the atrocities committed by Muslims and the alleged immorality of their prophet Muhammad. Sometimes people's anger is stirred. However I would not want either the Muslims or the Christians to be arrested. Free speech gives an opportunity to expound and defend deeply held views and air actual facts. Thus I hope that you will not reintroduce any bill which could be used to inhibit this freedom.

  Of course where people actually encourage others to violence this should be stopped. However, there already are laws which outlaw this behaviour.

  In relation to the legislation on blasphemy, I believe that the current position which gives a high position to the Christian faith should continue. As blasphemy is first of all an offence against God, I believe that this legislation can help save this country from God's judgement.

24 June 2002

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