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.

Continue reading “Archbishop speaks on freedom of expression, religious intolerance and prejudice in the UK”

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”

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 Peterborough supports Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill

On 26th January 2018 Baroness O’Loan introduced her private member’s bill, the Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill [HL], for its Second Reading debate in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Revd Donald Allister, spoke in support of it: 

The Lord Bishop of Peterborough: My Lords, yesterday, the River Restaurant downstairs helped us to celebrate Burns Night all day. I thoroughly enjoyed the Scotch broth at lunchtime, but I resisted the main course as I was eating out in the evening. I even resisted the whisky bread-and-butter pudding. The main course which I resisted was vegetarian haggis, celebrating Robert Burns in a way that respected the consciences of those who do not want to eat meat. That is a very proper and good thing to do. There is no legal requirement to provide vegetarian haggis, but it was welcome to many and I think that I would have enjoyed it. Continue reading “Bishop of Peterborough supports Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill”

Bishop of Coventry leads debate on the rights of religious and ethnic minorities in post-conflict Iraq

On 11th January 2018 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, led a debate in the House of Lords on the question: “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their post-conflict strategy for protecting the rights of religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq.” His speech is reproduced in full below, as is that of the Government minister responding. All speeches by those taking part in the debate can be read here.

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, imagine what it was like, having been hounded out of one’s home when Daesh took control of Mosul, to be back there on Christmas Eve among 2,000 worshippers for the first celebration of the Mass in three and a half years. But then imagine the scene only hours afterwards— ​not only the church but also the city again almost entirely bereft of Christians because it is still not safe enough for them to return permanently.

What can be done to give Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen, Sabeans, Yarsanis, Shabaks and other vulnerable religious and ethnic communities in Iraq confidence that they have a future in their own land—and why is it vital for that land and that region that their confidence is regained? Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry leads debate on the rights of religious and ethnic minorities in post-conflict Iraq”

Bishop of Southwark asks about Israel – freedom of religion, Holy Land sites, church property

On 20th and 21st November the Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, received written answers to six questions on Israel – freedom of religion, Holy Land sites, church property and the Church Lands Bill before the Knesset:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark:

(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the Church Lands Bill which is being considered in the Israeli Knesset.

(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel regarding the Church Lands Bill which is being considered in the Israeli Knesset.

(iii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of freedom of religion or belief in Israel.

(iv) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of recent alleged breaches of the Status Quo of the Holy Land sites in Jerusalem.

(v) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel on the importance of respecting the Status Quo of the Holy Land sites in Jerusalem.

(vi) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Israel on the importance of protecting Church property in the Old City of Jerusalem, following the decision in July of the Jerusalem District Court in the Jaffa Gate case. Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark asks about Israel – freedom of religion, Holy Land sites, church property”