Why do we need a new version of the abolished blasphemy laws?

The Blasphemy Law was abolished in 2008, but has re-emerged in a new and radically
augmented guise. Today, individuals are not charged with blasphemy, but with causing
'religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress' under the Public Order Act. The growth in accusations of 'hate crime' threatens freedom of speech because they destroy the possibility and practice of open, sociable and critical discussion of religion. One of the great triumphs of liberalism has been to separate the discovery of factual truth from the assertion of religious doctrine. We do not need these ridiculous and backward laws in an advanced society, it is a step back to the dark ages.

Why is this idea important?

The Blasphemy Law was abolished in 2008, but has re-emerged in a new and radically
augmented guise. Today, individuals are not charged with blasphemy, but with causing
'religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress' under the Public Order Act. The growth in accusations of 'hate crime' threatens freedom of speech because they destroy the possibility and practice of open, sociable and critical discussion of religion. One of the great triumphs of liberalism has been to separate the discovery of factual truth from the assertion of religious doctrine. We do not need these ridiculous and backward laws in an advanced society, it is a step back to the dark ages.

Relax Employment Law for Religious Organisations

Any organisation has the right to expect its employees to believe in what it's doing. If you're interviewing to join Microsoft, you can't expect much success if you state at interview that Windows is rubbish and you're Apple 'til you die. Indeed political organisations have the right to discriminate, employment-wise, against supporters of some other party. This is reasonable.

However; with some exceptions, religious organisations (mosques, temples, churches, charities) may not discriminate in favour of those who practice the relevant religion. This has resulted in some charities closing and others losing the very faith-based ethos which made it "work" in the first place. A Christian charity, which does hugely valued work among adults with learning difficulties, recently lost a long and expensive legal process after attempting to dismiss two people who had renounced their Christian faith (this despite their having joined the organisation with full understanding of the need for Christian faith in their roles).

There are a few roles for which an organisation can legally claim a Genuine Occupational Requirement that the postholder has the same personal faith as the organisation. But there may be other positions which cannot presently attract such a Genuine Occupational Requirement despite being key to the organisation.

While I accept it's hard for a secular society to officially "understand" religious faith, I would ask that, concerning employment,  religious charities have the freedom to discriminate on religious grounds, in the same way that political parties enjoy the freedom to discriminate on the basis of political conviction.

I am a Christian. This proposal is intended to provide greater freedom for all faith-based organisations. Indeed, it might also help self-consciously atheist or humanist organisations. Thanks for reading.

 

 

Why is this idea important?

Any organisation has the right to expect its employees to believe in what it's doing. If you're interviewing to join Microsoft, you can't expect much success if you state at interview that Windows is rubbish and you're Apple 'til you die. Indeed political organisations have the right to discriminate, employment-wise, against supporters of some other party. This is reasonable.

However; with some exceptions, religious organisations (mosques, temples, churches, charities) may not discriminate in favour of those who practice the relevant religion. This has resulted in some charities closing and others losing the very faith-based ethos which made it "work" in the first place. A Christian charity, which does hugely valued work among adults with learning difficulties, recently lost a long and expensive legal process after attempting to dismiss two people who had renounced their Christian faith (this despite their having joined the organisation with full understanding of the need for Christian faith in their roles).

There are a few roles for which an organisation can legally claim a Genuine Occupational Requirement that the postholder has the same personal faith as the organisation. But there may be other positions which cannot presently attract such a Genuine Occupational Requirement despite being key to the organisation.

While I accept it's hard for a secular society to officially "understand" religious faith, I would ask that, concerning employment,  religious charities have the freedom to discriminate on religious grounds, in the same way that political parties enjoy the freedom to discriminate on the basis of political conviction.

I am a Christian. This proposal is intended to provide greater freedom for all faith-based organisations. Indeed, it might also help self-consciously atheist or humanist organisations. Thanks for reading.