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Restricting your freedom to witness

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Did you hear that today the UK Government has consultation proposals to restrict freedom to witness    Government publish consultation on biggest ever shake-up to discrimination law.Proposals would restrict freedom to preach and damage freedom of conscience in relation to homosexuality and transsexuality. 

 The Discrimination Law Review The Government have published their Discrimination Law Review (DLR) which proposes the biggest ever shake-up to UK discrimination law. It proposes to take every single piece of existing legislation relating to discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and age, and put them all into a “Single Equality Act” which will be overseen and enforced by a new body called the Commission for Equality and Human Rights. In many ways it is good news that the Government are seeking to simplify and tidy up what has become very complex legislation. The aim of getting rid of unjustified discrimination is an admirable one – the Bible sets the standard for all legal codes outlawing discrimination: Jesus described the two greatest laws (commandments) as   “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40)Jesus went on to explain that “your neighbour” is any other human: whatever their sex, race, religion or other characteristic. If everyone in society were to follow this teaching, there would be no unjustified discrimination.  The consultation is 190 pages long and is itself very complicated. It can be found at the link given below. Although there are many positive proposals, there also elements of considerable concern to Christians who want to be able to speak freely about the Bible’s teaching. The main concerns are: The Government are proposing to make it illegal to harass someone on the grounds of their religion or belief. However, the definition of harassment is extremely broad, and substantially depends on the perception of the person who makes an allegation of harassment and not the intention of the person accused of harassment. So, a Christian that went to a largely Muslim area to hand out tracts which said that Islam was a false religion, could be sued if a particular Muslim felt that the tract had either ‘violated their dignity’ or put them in an ‘offensive environment’. The Government have also brought back one of the most controversial proposals that they previously tried to bring in via the Sexual Orientation Regulations only a few months ago. They are proposing that it should be made illegal to harass someone on the grounds of their sexual orientation. Again, the problem is the really broad definition of harassment. This proposal would mean that although a Church is free under the SORs to gently refuse membership of the church to an unrepentant practising homosexual, that person, if they felt that they had been put in a ‘humiliating environment’ could sue the Church. Similarly, a homosexual could sue a church if they heard a sermon about sexual morality that included condemnation of homosexual practices. The Government are also consulting on whether there should be a duty on public authorities to promote sexual orientation equality. This will mean that local authorities and other bodies will take active steps to ensure that all sorts of organisations do not discriminate based on homosexual practices. The danger is that this will be taken too far and will mean that Government funding is removed from Christian projects or that support is given to projects promoting homosexuality.   The Government are further consulting on whether there should be a duty on public authorities to promote religion or belief equality. There is a similar danger here that the sort of politically correct decisions (like local councils banning Christmas cards) that increasingly make the headlines, will be multiplied, with public funding being focused on promoting ‘minority’ religions like Islam and Hinduism.  Another part of the consultation paper seeks views on whether Churches should be able to treat people differently because they have had gender reassignment. If the Government subsequently decided not to allow churches to do so, then a church would not be able to object to a male member of the congregation, who had a sex change (taking on the appearance of a woman), from attending a women’s retreat weekend. The Government are further proposing that the law should protect transsexual people from practices that require them to disclose the fact that their actual sex differs from their physical appearance. So, for example, the Government would allow a man that has had a sex change operation, to be able to keep it secret that he has had that operation. These are just some of the main provisions of the DLR that are of concern to Christians.   LinkThe Discrimination Law Review consultation http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/communities/frameworkforfairnessconsultation

Thanks for this link from our friends at http://ngbc.wordpress.com . What UK does today, Ireland…?

Praise band warm up?

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VELCRO OR TEFLON?

Church: a place where the most ill-assorted make friends?

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Do people stick or do they slide off when they visit your church? Are you velcro or teflon? Here are some Blogs Worth Watching that seem to us to encapsulate that Velcro thang….

  • Mark D. Roberts
  • Joe McKeever
  • Church Marketing Stinks
  • Real Live Preacher
  • Purgatorio
  • GalliBlog
  • Gifted for Leadership
  • Preaching Today
  • Andy Rowell
  • Reclaiming the Mission
  • A Place for the God Hungry
  • Vintage Faith
  • Even the Prime Minister has to stand naked

    Centre PIcture from: Expulsion from Paradise, by Michael Sandle, on display at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2007

    I guess you’ve seen this in the news last week. It certainly says something about public perception of the UK’s involvement in a deeply unpopular war. Read the rest of this entry »

    Is the Bible indecent?

     
    Follow on from “Bible as Pornography” post below from “http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/theo_hobson/2007/05/is_the_bible_indecent.html
    Let me tell you about my three-year-old son’s bookshelf. It contains the sort of titles you’d expect, on the whole. There are many tales of talking animals. There are many counting books and ABCs. There are many stories in which children have little adventures before enjoying a tea-party or getting tucked up in bed. It’s all pretty safe, tame, appropriate.

    Some stories, to be sure, are full of violent possibility – for example, the one that he demands to hear two or three times per evening, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. But the author of this adventure story refrains from allowing a single member of the family to be mauled to death. Likewise the eponymous monster of The Gruffalo turns out to be a harmless buffoon. There is one book that relates the deaths of various children, but this is softened by the poetry of Belloc and the art of Quentin Blake.

    However there is one book on the shelf, by Kenneth Taylor, that takes the considerable liberty of introducing my boy to the very adult themes of murder, slavery, adultery and ethnic cleansing. It is called A Child’s First Bible. Read the rest of this entry »

    What do you think?

    Okay, I’m really trying to get some work done here, but things just keep getting in my way. A billboard with a picture of the likeness of Jesus Christ and the tagline “Jesus affirmed a gay couple” with the scripture reference Matthew 8:5-13 fell victim to vandals in Indianopolis [see photo above]. Another sign was hit, too, but has been repaired.

    So what does Mathew 8:5-13 have to say?

    5When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6”Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.”

    7Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.”

    8The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

    10When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

    13Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.

    Now… I’m no Bible scholar. I leave that stuff to the big kids at BaylyBlog, Boar’s Head Tavern, David Holford, Michael Spencer, Necessary Therapy, and Sigmund, Carl and Alfred. But seriously, folks, does anyone really take this passage as an endorsement of same-sex relationships? Anybody want to lay some Greek on this boy for some clarification?

    Rev. Andy Hunt of Body of Christ Community Church is quoted in the article saying that vandalism is always a wrong response. Andy said:

    It ignites passions whenever someone brings a lie against the god you worship, but we can’t go down to their level.

    Good call. While I’m not in favour of what I believe is a gross misrepresentation of God’s Word, I’m not in favor of vandalism as a method to get my point across. What do you think?