The UK’s religious hatred bill sees a compromise.

By October 24, 2005

United Kingdom (MNN)–There’s been what appears to be a compromise on the United Kingdom’s controversial religious hatred bill.

An amendment shifts the burden of proof and forces the accuser to prove intent. In other words, the accuser has to prove someone ridiculing religion intends to stir up religious hatred, and that there was threat implied, rather than simply offensive.

Another bill clarifies that the law should not restrict discussion, criticism of expressions of hostility, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or beliefs.

Government officials insist that the law is meant as protection to religious groups not currently covered by race hate laws. However, the issue then moves to free speech.

Controlling free speech can open the door for other restrictions. It’s a slippery slope say human rights watchdog groups. As restrictions on freedom increase, rights begin to vanish.

When asked whether they could enact such a bill, Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton says there’s already precedent. “We have seen laws like this passed in Victoria state in Australia. There’s a law along similar lines in Canada having to do with talking against homosexuality. So, the short answer is ‘yes’ they can, if they can get enough votes in the Parliament.”

Nettleton says protests were ongoing this week while Parliament took the bill into consideration. Mission agencies are concerned too.

The course of action, Nettleton says, is obvious. “Pray that Christians within the government there, and Christians within the society in the UK will speak out very forcefully against this.”

He adds, “We can also pray for revival in that country. Pray that there will just be a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”

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