Bishop of St Albans asks Government about guidance to police on street preachers

StAlbans051218On 3rd April 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, received written answers to two questions on street preachers.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what guidance they provide to police officers on dealing with incidents involving street preachers.

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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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Bishop of Chelmsford asks about Free Speech in Universities

Chelmsford 251115On the 27th June 2016, Lord Leigh of Hurley asked the Government “what steps they are taking to counter anti-Semitism on university campuses in the United Kingdom.” The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, asked a supplementary question: Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford asks about Free Speech in Universities”

Queen’s Speech: Bishop of Southwark on extremism, freedom of speech and British values

On 24th May 2016 the Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, spoke in the third day of debate on the Queen’s Speech. He addressed the Government’s proposals for tackling extremism, British values and prison reform, and remarked on the need for unifying language and behaviour in political debate.

Southwark

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: I will make a number of points which I hope will be of value to your Lordships’ House and respond appropriately to Her Majesty’s gracious Speech. It is clear to me that Ministers in this Government understand freedom, as did their predecessors, as freedom in security. We have heard in the Queen’s Speech that we may expect legislation,

“to prevent radicalisation, tackle extremism in all its forms, and promote … integration”.

This may be necessary, but I have concerns about our ready desire to legislate solutions to problems where other avenues present themselves. The recent lowering tone and content in public discourse is an example. It diminishes sympathy and challenges what constitutes legitimate and proper boundaries for political debate. I agree with the Chief Rabbi that:

“There has been nothing more disheartening … than the suggestion that this is more about politics than about substance”.

I am bound to observe, for example, that there were lapses of judgment during the recent mayoral election in London.

We need a politics of generosity that transcends such divisiveness, a narrative that does not engender fear, and I applaud indications within major political parties that recognise this. Continue reading “Queen’s Speech: Bishop of Southwark on extremism, freedom of speech and British values”