Christians react to UK’s religious tolerance bill

By June 27, 2005

United Kingdom (MNN) — Last week the United Kingdom gave second reading approval to a bill that has many Christians nervous. It’s called the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, which passed with a 303-247 vote in Parliament.

Glenn Penner with Voice of the Martyrs, Canada says the only thing this bill will do is restrict freedom of speech. “Worse case scenario, Christians could not get involved in apologetics, or doing reasonable critiquing of other religious systems because that would be interpreted by the courts as vilification, or speaking against religious minorities.”

Penner fully expects this legislation to make it through committee and receive final approval. He says these kinds of laws are a bit ridiculous. “Christians have been involved in this for 2,000 years in apologetics. Certainly there are some people who go overboard and say stupid comments, but you don’t put together laws to deal with those few extreme elements, which almost no one listens to anyhow. You end up casting such a wide net, that you end up catching all sorts of well-intentioned people.”

Penner says the religious community isn’t the only group speaking out against the law. “The comedy community has come out and said this is an absolutely ridiculous law that is going to hinder freedom of speech, not just of religious groups, but of people right across the board.”

If the bill passes, the bottom line is bad news for missionaries. “As soon as they try to do some evangelism among Muslims, or they print literature. Voice of the Martyrs’ material, which talks about persecution in various countries, often on religious grounds, it could be easily classified as hate literature,” says Penner.

Pray that God would move in the hearts of government leaders in the U-K and the law would not be approved.

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