Submission from the Missionary Training
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