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.
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.
There is more to read from CARE's perspective
Find out more about our work on religious liberty, and upcoming challenges.find out more
Here are some resources to help you dig deeper on the issue of religious freedom
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
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
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
The Government established the Commission to review the 2015 Counter-Extremism Strategy and propose a definition of extremism.Counter-Extremism Strategy
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
The Scottish Government are planning to make amendments to its controversial Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, which caused a heated debate around freedom of speech.Keep reading
This week, Lisburn and Castlereagh Council passed a motion highlighting CARE NI's research on attacks on places of worship in Northern Ireland.Keep reading
There have been more than 600 attacks on places of worship in Northern Ireland in the last five years, prompting renewed calls for action to protect churches and other religious buildings.Keep reading
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