CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education

Religious Liberty
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We believe strongly in the freedom for all religious groups to proclaim their beliefs in the public square. However, in recent years we have seen the Christian voice being marginalised with many concerning restrictions on Christian freedom of speech. CARE campaigns in Westminster and the devolved Parliaments to safeguard Christian civil liberties.

Christian freedom, we believe, is not merely liberty to believe what we wish, but also liberty to live our lives according to our faith, meet with other Christians and share the good news. When religious freedom is threatened it becomes more challenging for Christians to do these things.

Join us in working for freedom for all to manifest their faith, and for Christians to be at liberty to live out their lives according to their faith – without fear of recrimination.

Topic primer

The right to freedom of religion or belief is a fundamental human right protected by international, regional, and domestic law provisions. It is a human right that goes beyond recognising human beings as political and economic entities. Indeed, religion and belief set up moral foundations for our everyday lives and prescribe certain behaviours. Religion further affirms that there is a higher authority than the Government and so sets up moral limitations to its work.

Religious liberty is beneficial for all communities. Indeed, the public service and contribution of religious groups to their communities has been remarkable for many years. Nonetheless, the place for religion and the manifestation of religious belief in the public square is increasingly circumscribed and in a way that is causing increasing concern. This has an adverse effect not only on those who wish to enjoy their religious liberty, but also those who benefit from services provided by religious groups (predominately on a voluntary basis). Hence, the right to freedom of religion or belief must be protected not only because it is a fundamental human right, but also because of the positive impact of the right to freedom of religion or belief on communities.

There are nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. These include; age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. In theory all the protected characteristics should be treated as equally important and all rights protected, but in practice these different rights often push in diametrically opposing directions. This is particularly problematic if one protected characteristic repeatedly clashes with and quashes another protected characteristic.

Religious opinion is becoming more marginalised in the public sphere and there are stronger pressures to conform. These pressures stem primarily from equality laws, measures to address extremism, and hate crime laws. The pressures are twofold: firstly, on employees to facilitate in the course of employment that which is contrary to faith. Secondly, there are also pressures on service providers to facilitate activity which is contrary to faith in service provision.

Christian freedom, we believe, is not merely liberty to believe what we wish, but also liberty to live our lives according to our faith, meet with other Christians and share the good news. When religious freedom is threatened it becomes more challenging for Christians to do these things. CARE continues to fight for everyone, regardless of faith, to enjoy religious liberty in our nation, and we continue to advocate for the right to freedom of speech for all – an essential foundation of any free and democratic society.

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What is CARE doing?

Find out more about our work on religious liberty, and upcoming challenges.

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Paul Coleman
The whole pur­pose of equal­ity law is to pro­tect people from being dis­crim­in­ated against, not to com­pel indi­vidu­als to pro­mote ideas with which they disagree.
Paul Coleman Executive Director, ADF International

Resources

Here are some resources to help you dig deeper on the issue of religious freedom

Beyond Belief: Defending religious liberty through the British Bill of Rights

Bey­ond Belief: Defend­ing reli­gious liberty through the Brit­ish Bill of Rights

by ResPublica

This report, which CARE produced with independent think tank ResPublica in 2016, reflects on the thesis that in a free and plural society, rights should protect difference and ensure equity between those of different dispositions.

download
Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians In Europe

Obser­vat­ory on Intol­er­ance and Dis­crim­in­a­tion Against Chris­ti­ans In Europe

2019 Report

The Observatory’s task is to analyse the situation for Christians in Europe.The report highlights how Christians experience blatant discrimination through hate crimes, such as bias-motivated offences against Christians and attacks on places of worship.

download

Cause history

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The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) protected freedom of conscience in their new guidelines

The GPhC launched its new guidelines which, despite previous suggestions to the contrary, affirmed a pharmacist’s freedom of conscience.

In practice: Guidance on religion, personal values and beliefs
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The Commission on Countering Extremism was established

The Government established the Commission to review the 2015 Counter-Extremism Strategy and propose a definition of extremism.

Counter-Extremism Strategy
4 July 2018 Official portrait of Lord Ahmed crop 1

Prime Minister appoints a Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief

Prime Minister appointed a Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, “to promote the UK’s firm stance on religious tolerance abroad, helping to tackle religious discrimination in countries where minority faith groups face persecution.” Despite the fact their mandate does not extend to domestic issues, it is a positive sign of the Government’s willingness to promote and protect the right to freedom of religion or belief.

Lord Ahmad appointed as PM’s Special Envoy to promote religious freedom
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The Joint Committee on Human Rights published its report on enforcing human rights

The report recommended the Government consider introducing a legal test to ensure claims of conscience and faith are reasonably accommodated within the wider human rights framework.

Enforcing human rights
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Christians in the UK Today Inquiry 

A cross-party group of 20 Parliamentarians established an ad-hoc inquiry into the situation of Christians in the UK today. The inquiry conducted several witness hearings and a public consultation to explore the experiences of Christians living in accordance with their religious beliefs in the UK.

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Supreme Court Judgment in the Landmark Ashers’ Bakery Case

The Supreme Court found in favour of the bakery recognising that the bakery did not discriminate against the person ordering the cake but relied on their right not to be compelled to produce messages that are contrary to their beliefs.

Supreme Court Judgement
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The Government announced the Prevent review

After calls from several actors and the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Government announced that it would review the Prevent strategy and conduct a public consultation to hear from affected communities. This gives an opportunity to ensure that any issues can be addressed, especially where the Prevent strategy curtails human rights.

Prevent strategy on radicalisation faces independent review
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Court of Appeal Judgment in R (on the application of Salman Butt) v Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Court of Appeal confirmed the analysis of Ouseley J in that the Prevent strategy’s duty guidance does not apply to non-violent extremism where there is no risk of people being drawn to terrorism.

Court Judgement
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The Commission on Countering Extremism published its report on ‘Challenging Hateful Extremism’

The Commission on Countering Extremism published its report criticising the Government’s strategy on countering extremism and called upon the Government to amend it. The report further proposes a new approach to focus on ‘hateful extremism’, a new concept not yet defined or fully understood.

Challenging Hateful Extremism

News and updates

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New funding for places of worship in Scotland to help improve security

Places of worship in Scotland will soon be able to bid for funding from the Scottish Government to improve their security.

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Council of Europe passes resolution protecting religious freedom in the workplace

On Wednesday the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed a resolution on the protection of freedom of religion and belief (FoRB) in the workplace.

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Students Setting Up Free Speech Societies as Concerns About University Censorship Grows

Students are setting up free speech societies amidst a developing backlash against censorship on university campuses.

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Together we can make a difference shaping our culture and society. Here are three things you can do right now…

Pray.

Join us in praying for religious freedom in the UK and around the world.

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Write.

Write to your MP and ask them to speak out for the rights of Christians and all faiths to practice their faith freely.

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Discuss.

Read more about what CARE is arguing for in the public square

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