Persecution claims are undermined by religious privileges

first_img Charlie Klendjian, solicitor, Hatfield, Herts I’ve known for a while that my BBC licence fee is used for religious proselytising in the shape of ‘Thought for the day’, and now I fear my practising certificate fee awaits a similar fate (Andrea Minichiello Williams, ‘Equality law is victimising Christians’). Ms Williams believes Christians are religiously persecuted, but facts compel me to disagree. The head of the Church of England is our head of state; the Church of England is the only official state religion; 26 bishops sit as lawmakers in the House of Lords as a matter of constitutional right; and Christian schools have exemption from employment law in staff recruitment. If this is religious persecution of Christians, I shudder to think what Ms Williams considers religious privilege. She mentions the ‘victimisation’ case of McFarlane v Relate Avon Ltd, but she does not mention that the judge in that case, Lord Justice Laws, is a devout Christian and churchwarden. I urge your readers to read his excellent judgment, of which the following is a snippet: ‘The promulgation of law for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds cannot therefore be justified. ‘It is irrational, as preferring the subjective over the objective. But it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary… The precepts of any one religion – any belief system – cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other. ‘If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens; and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic.’ Secularism is not anti-religious; it is anti-religious privilege and it is anti-theocratic. Ms Williams is entitled to her opinion that religion and the law make loving bedfellows and she is free to explore that theory. I shall await her postcard from Riyadh or Tehran.last_img