‘Great triumph’ protects our beliefs
Lyndon Bowring, Executive Chairman of CARE, comments on the causes close to the heart of the Christian community.
The idea of ‘human rights’ was birthed in Christianity, and in 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declared everyone’s rights: to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, and to work and receive an education. Thank God that these ideas have transformed so many lives.
Of course, declarations and laws can’t compel people to do right, and tragically millions are still in abject poverty, enslaved and oppressed. Worldwide, Christians suffer persecution, and in subtle ways the seeds of that same antagonism towards Christianity are growing across Europe.
In our country there have been a number of cases in recent years of Christians being taken to court – for example because of their views on same-sex marriage, or for offering to pray with people in their workplace. And there are instances of Christians and others being required to act against their consciences; for example, medical and nursing staff having to participate in abortions although this goes against their deeply held beliefs.
Is it right that Christians should be made to park their faith outside the door of their workplace? Colossians 3:17 says, “Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” This doesn’t mean it’s OK to evangelise or pray rather than attend to what we’re paid to do, but our faith will affect how we speak and act. In a free country we have the right not just to believe but also, using a legal term, to ‘manifest’ our faith.
The UK has left the European Union but we’re still part of the Council of Europe, a separate group of 47 states set up in 1949 to uphold human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. Four times each year its Parliamentary Assembly meets in Strasbourg. Recently, CARE worked there on this important issue, alongside European Christian MPs.
In January a resolution calling on member states to introduce laws prohibiting discrimination on grounds of religion or belief was passed. This was a great triumph. Even though Council of Europe resolutions aren’t binding and cannot change the law of member states, they can have significant political influence, including within our UK Assemblies and Parliaments, to protect these rights and make sure that Christians, and those of other faiths, won’t have to leave their religious identity at their workplace door.
Did you know - 80% of UK Christians believe that Christianity is not given equal respect with other faiths and worldviews? CARE believes strongly in the freedom for all religious groups to proclaim their beliefs in the public square. Visit care.org.uk to see how you can help make a difference.
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