UN calls for disestablishment of the Church of England
But this is the United Nations we’re talking about here, and the report does none of the above. Instead it lauds and praises the morally-bankrupt Labour government ‘for the balanced approaches in responding to difficult situations with regard to freedom of religion or belief and tackling the contentious issues involved’. And the report fights the corner of just about every religion and non-religion except that which is established by law.
The Times has a superficial summary, but rather more of its conclusions and recommendations are farcical, naïve, or insulting to the intelligence.
The ‘Special Rapporteur’ (how can Cranmer become one of these?) considers that ‘Catholic staff is (sic) underrepresented in the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the prison service and other criminal justice agencies’. This despite the fact that Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Jedi Knights are all officially classified as Protestant in order to inflate the number of Roman Catholics who must be employed to fulfil the quota, yet there is no mention of this injustice at all.
On the UK’s counter-terrorism measures, the ‘Special Rapporteur’ is concerned to note ‘the abuse of counter-terrorism laws which are largely perceived to target the Muslim population in the United Kingdom’, and warns that Muslims in particular face screening, searches, interrogation and arrest.
Well, God forbid that anyone should think professing Muslims were behind the atrocities of September 11th or July 7th, or that certain adherents to Islam are perpetuating a concept of jihad which seeks to terrorise and eliminate the kuffar.
On religious education and collective worship in schools, there should be ‘respect for and acceptance of pluralism and diversity in the field of religion or belief as well as the right not to receive religious instruction inconsistent with his or her conviction’. It is kind of the UN to inform us of this, but it is already the case that parents have the right to withdraw their children from both RE and the daily act of collective worship. This has been the case since 1944. Yet a body professing to be the ‘Avisory Council of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief’ (now Cranmer should be on this) has prepared the ‘Toledo Guiding Principles on teaching about religions and beliefs in public schools’ which is supposed to be the definitive guide to approaching religion in schools.
Cranmer shall not make this his bedtime reading, though he may dip into it after a few glasses of red this evening.
Concerning the issue of balancing competing rights, the ‘Special Rapporteur’ is delighted by New Labour’s anti-discrimination legislation, which ‘seems to be quite balanced’ because there are ‘specific exemptions or transitional provisions for organizations relating to religion and belief’.
Really? Does a year’s notice to conform or be closed down constitute ‘balanced’? Or is it merely ‘quite balanced’? Or is it rather that it ‘seems’ to be quite balanced. Well, tell that to the Roman Catholic adoption agencies who are closing their doors rather than being forced by statute to place vulnerable children with homosexual couples. There is no consideration on a ‘case by case basis’ as the report states, but the blanket application of a soviet policy irrespective of ‘particular circumstances and implications’.
And then the ‘Special Rapporteur’ turns her attention to the blasphemy law, which she finds to be ‘discriminatory because it favours Christianity alone’. She agrees with the Assembly of the Council of Europe which recommended in its resolution 1805 (2007) that the Committee of Ministers ensure that national law and practice in Council of Europe member States be ‘reviewed in order to decriminalize blasphemy as an insult to a religion’. She would, however, like to remind the UK that there is a ‘useful alternative’, which is the anti-discrimination legislation already mentioned.
She clearly has no understanding of the meaning of the term, no appreciation of the history of the Established Church, and no concept of the law as it relates to man’s relationship with God.
She does, however, have an appreciation of Labour’s ‘Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006’ which ‘closes the partial protection gap for people subjected to hatred because of their religion’, thus guarding racial groups from being targeted because of their religion. She thinks it quite excellent that ‘non-religious believers’ are included in the definition of ‘religious hatred’, and praises the Government for prohibiting ‘hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief’.
The ‘Special Rapporteur’ then emphasises ‘that it is not the Government’s role to look for the “true voices of Islam” or of any other religion or belief. Since religions or communities of belief are not homogenous entities it seems advisable to acknowledge and take into account the diversity of voices. The Special Rapporteur reiterates that the contents of a religion or belief should be defined by the worshippers themselves.’
This being the case, how can the Government or the courts possibly define or determine 'religious hatred'?
The whole report makes entertaining reading, not so much because of the observations on the state of religion in the UK but because of the official recommendations they elicit. The report flies in the face of the 2001 census in which 72% identified themselves as Christian (whether by culture or practice), since the ‘Special Rapporteur’ (is there an ordinary one?) claims that two-thirds of British people now do not admit to any religious adherence. What is the source of this?
In her attack upon the blasphemy laws, her objection to the privileges of the Church of England, and her assertion that its status does not reflect ‘the religious demography of the country and the rising proportion of other Christian denominations’, she is effectively calling for the Church’s disestablishment.
Quite what business it is of the UN to interfere with the historic culture and Christian traditions of the UK is unknown. But it is noteworthy that the ‘Special Rapporteur’, the report’s author, is one Asma Jahangir, who counts herself a very special Muslim indeed.