Bishop of St Albans asks about upholding human rights

StAlbans051218On 10th December 2018, Baroness Berridge tabled an Oral Question ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the publication produced by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, Commentary on the State of Freedom of Religion or Belief; and what steps they are taking to mark International Human Rights Day.’ The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:

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Bishop of Coventry asks Government about Asia Bibi, religious freedom in Pakistan, and asylum on religious persecution grounds

On 3rd December 2018 the Bishop of Coventry received written answers to five questions he had tabled to Government on Asia Bibi, religious freedom in Pakistan and applications for asylum from Pakistan on grounds of religious persecution:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the state of freedom of religion or belief in Pakistan.

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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to (1) support religious pluralism, and (2) promote freedom of religion or belief, in Pakistan. Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry asks Government about Asia Bibi, religious freedom in Pakistan, and asylum on religious persecution grounds”

Bishop of St Albans asks if Government will pressure Pakistan on blasphemy laws after Asia Bibi case

On 20th November 2018 Lord Alton asked the Government ‘what response they have made to requests to assist in the (1) safe passage and resettlement of, and (2) granting of asylum to Asia Bibi and her family.’ The Bishop of St Albans asked a follow up question:

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Archbishop speaks on freedom of expression, religious intolerance and prejudice in the UK

On 17th October 2018 the House of Lords debated a motion from Communities Minister Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, “That this House takes note of the challenges posed by religious intolerance and prejudice in the United Kingdom.” The Archbishop of Canerbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, spoke in the debate. A transcript is below, with excerpts from the speeches of others in the debate:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, and others who have made this useful and important debate possible. Like the noble Lord, Lord Hain, I agree with much of what the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, said. I agree also with the passionate and clear setting out by the noble Lord, Lord Hain, of the threats and incidents that have occurred in recent years. However, I want to focus more on religious intolerance and prejudice. If I have one concern, it is how we bring together religious tolerance, and stand against the kind of things the noble Lord, Lord Hain, spoke about, while maintaining freedom of speech.
In his book, The Home We Build Together, the noble Lord, Lord Sacks, wrote:
“Society is not a house or a hotel. It should be a home”.
The rising tide of anti-Semitism, with which I am deeply familiar through work with the Chief Rabbi, and Islamophobia, which we in the Church are deeply familiar with through working with Muslim leaders across the country, are just two illustrations of the narrowing of those who feel truly at home in the UK today. This terrible, storm-ridden climate is affecting people across a whole range of religious traditions.

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Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill – Bishop of Newcastle raises freedom of religion and expression

On Tuesday 9th October 2018 the House of Lords debated the Government’s Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill. The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, spoke in the debate to seek assurances on freedom of thought and expression: 

The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, first I too want to say how much I am looking forward to the maiden speeches of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Garnier, and the noble Lord, Lord Tyrie. The noble ​Lord, Lord Tyrie, will be well acquainted with these Benches, having worked closely with my most reverend brother the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which the noble Lord so ably chaired.

In opening this debate, the Minister spoke powerfully and movingly about the terrible consequences of terror, the effect on people’s lives, the suffering that is lifelong for people. It is in this context that I broadly welcome the Bill. I certainly recognise the difficulty of drafting and steering this kind of legislation. It is to walk something of a tightrope, as described by the noble Lord, Lord Marks. The current national security situation is complex, as is seen so sharply in our news headlines this morning. At Second Reading, I would like us to stay alert to that tightrope we walk, to proportionality and, perhaps especially, to the danger of unintended consequences. Continue reading “Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill – Bishop of Newcastle raises freedom of religion and expression”

Bishop of Coventry on importance of education and public information to help quell violence in Nigeria

On 28th June 2018 Lord Alton of Liverpool led a debate in the House of Lords, “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the continuing violence between communities and armed groups in Nigeria”. The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I join with others in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for securing a debate on the serious situation that threatens the very stability of Nigeria. With the noble Lord I deplore the violence and, with other noble Lords and indeed the victims themselves, some of whom have been in contact with many of us this week, I call on Her Majesty’s Government to use their influence on the Nigerian Government to ensure the security of their people and to bring the violence to an end. Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry on importance of education and public information to help quell violence in Nigeria”

Church Commissioner questions: religious freedom, schools, recycling, thefts from churches

On 26th April 2018, questions were put in the House of Commons to Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, representing the Church Commissioners. Dame Caroline was asked by MPs about freedom of religion in the Commonwealth, recycling, rural schools, out of school education settings and thefts from churches. A full transcript is below.

The right hon Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked— Continue reading “Church Commissioner questions: religious freedom, schools, recycling, thefts from churches”

Bishop of Coventry asks Government about religious freedom in Sri Lanka

Coventry171123 bOn 26th March, the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd  Christopher Cocksworth, received answers to two questions on freedom of religion and belief in Sri Lanka:

The Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to safeguard religious pluralism and to defend and promote freedom of religion or belief in Sri Lanka. Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry asks Government about religious freedom in Sri Lanka”

Bishop of Coventry receives response to written questions about freedom of religion and belief

Coventry171122On 5th March, the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, received answers to two written questions on Freedom of Religion and Belief:

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Bishop of Winchester raises attacks on Christians in Sudan

winchester171116On the 22nd February 2018 Baroness Cox asked Her Majesty’s Government “what is their assessment of the situation in Sudan, with particular reference to violations of human rights and access to those in need of humanitarian aid”. The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, asked a follow-up question about the arrest of Christian leaders and the demolition of churches and schools.

The Lord Bishop of Winchester:  My Lords, since 2011 there have been reports that the Government in Sudan have arrested Christian leaders, demolished churches and prevented church properties from being registered. My Anglican colleagues from the Sudan advised me that church schools are able to open only four days a week, because the Government require that schools are closed on Fridays and Saturdays—of course, Sunday is a holy day for Christians. How much more can the Government ensure that the rights of religious minorities are respected in Sudan?

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