Bishop of Gloucester asks Government what consultation takes place with religious communities to inform asylum decision making

On 9th April 2019 the Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, received written answers to two questions about asylum decisions and consultation with religious communities:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester:

(i) (HL14943) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what processes they operate for monitoring and reviewing decisions on asylum claims.

(ii) (HL14942 ) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what consultation they have undertaken with religious communities to inform decision-making processes for asylum claims.

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government about freedom of religion in China

On 4th April 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a question he had tabled on religious freedom in China. The exchanges, and the follow-up questions from other Members, are below:

China: Religious Freedom

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their current assessment of freedom of religion in China.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con): My Lords, there are several recognised religions in China, with tens of millions of practising Christians, Muslims and Buddhists, among others. However, we are deeply concerned about developing restrictions on freedom of religion or belief in China, including reports that authorities are tightening control over how certain religions are practised. At the United Nations Human Rights Council last month, I raised directly our concerns about restrictions on freedom of religion or belief in China, including on Muslims and Christians in Xinjiang.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his reply. There are deeply worrying reports coming out of China, not least about persecuting the Christian churches there—an ancient Christian church there was founded in the 7th century. Will he comment particularly on the developing situation concerning Uighur Muslims and the development of the network of re-education camps in Xinjiang province? What representations have Her Majesty’s Government made and what are they planning to do?

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Bishop of Worcester says we need to debate religious freedoms

On 28th March 2019 Baroness Ludford asked the Government, “in the light of developments including the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 26 February Œuvre d’assistance aux bêtes d’abattoirs v Ministre de l’Agriculture et de l’Alimentation (C–497/17) that meat prepared according to the rules of religious slaughter cannot be classed as organic, what plans they have to encourage a wider debate about the space for practice in accordance with religious rights that respects human rights and equalities laws”.

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Church Commissioner Questions: historic buildings, Christian persecution overseas, promoting marriage

On 17th January 2019 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered questions from MPs on historic church buildings, Christian persecution overseas, and the promotion of marriage. A full transcript follows:

Church Commissioners
The right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—

Protection of Historic Church Buildings

Alex Burghart (Brentwood and Ongar) (Con): What steps the Church of England is taking to ensure that historic church buildings are protected. [908606]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Dame Caroline Spelman): The Church of England continues to suffer thefts of metal and other items of historical and architectural interest from its churches. The Archbishop’s Council conducted an inquiry into this, and the trend appears to be gradually moving from east to west and from south to north. I encourage my hon. Friend to look at the Church of England [Churchcare] website for ways of protecting his churches more successfully. Continue reading “Church Commissioner Questions: historic buildings, Christian persecution overseas, promoting marriage”

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 St Albans asks Government about crimes against minorities in Myanmar

On 12th June 2018 Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of recent reports of the Burmese military attacking Christians in Kachin, and other ethnic minorities in Burma; what representations they have made to the government of Burma about these reports; and what consideration they have given to the case for referring the government of Burma to the International Criminal Court.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the reported atrocities against the Rohingya have been described as crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide. What assessment have Her Majesty’s Government made as to whether the human rights violations in Kachin and Shan states meet the criteria of at least crimes against humanity and war crimes? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government about crimes against minorities in Myanmar”

Bishop of Coventry asks Government about plans for promoting freedom of religion and belief

On 18th April 2018 Lord Suri asked Her Majesty’s Government “what director level staffing changes, if any, they intend to make in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to provide greater capacity for that department to co-ordinate, oversee and deliver policy to advance freedom of religion and belief.” The Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, asked a follow-up question: 

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, following on from that question, the Minister will be aware of the gathering at Lambeth Palace at the moment convened by my most reverend friend the Archbishop of Canterbury, which is bringing together parliamentarians and religious leaders from across the Commonwealth to help them work on good local practice. Would not the sort of director-level appointment mentioned in the Question ​to increase capacity help Her Majesty’s Government to partner with such initiatives to take them on to the next stage and provide co-ordination across the Commonwealth? Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry asks Government about plans for promoting freedom of religion and belief”