Christian Archives

Government Religious Hatred Bill?

Updates from the Christian Institute

7th September 2005

Dear Supporter,

Our recent meetings on the Incitement to Religious Hatred proposals were extremely well attended. Some 2,400 Christians came along across the four venues in London, Cardiff, Gateshead and Liverpool.

A recording of the Liverpool meeting is now available on The Christian Institute website (
www.christian.org.uk).

Listen to Daniel Scot and hear how he was caught under a 'religious vilification' law in Australia. Hear also from others, including legal expert Neil Addison, about the UK Government's plan for an Incitement to Religious Hatred offence.

In the coming weeks we will be putting more material on our website to help churches organise their own meetings on this topic.

Yours in Christ,

Colin Hart
Director
The Christian Institute


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14th September 2005

Dear Supporter,

(1) Religious Hatred Bill: Meetings Pack

The incitement to religious hatred offence, proposed by the Government for England and Wales, is the most serious threat The Christian Institute has seen to religious liberty in Britain. It is vital that Christians hear about this issue and receive good guidance on how to pray and act.

Therefore for the first time, The Christian Institute has published talks (together with other resources) so that Christians can hold their own meetings about this issue. Go to our website to find out more:
www.christian.org.uk

We would particularly encourage church leaders to hold meetings for your church and other Christians in your area. The Christian Institute cannot help to arrange, administer or advertise the meetings that you organise. But we are confident that using the materials provided on our website many ministers and churches will be able to run high quality meetings throughout the country.

(2) New building

Last month we were able to sign the contract for our new purpose-built headquarters in Newcastle upon Tyne. I am very pleased to be able to tell you that contracts have been exchanged and that building work is to begin next month. We anticipate moving to our new premises in July 2006.

We continue to thank God for all our supporters who have given so generously to our building appeal.

The Trustees estimate a total cost of £1.2 million. A large proportion of this has already been given. There is a shortfall of £400,000 which can be covered by a mortgage, which has been agreed in principle.

However, we intend to renew our building appeal in the next month and are praying that the full total can be raised without recourse to the mortgage.

Thank you for all your support. Please continue to pray against the Religious Hatred Bill.

Yours sincerely,

Humphrey Dobson
Deputy Director (Policy and Staffing)
The Christian Institute

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8th October 2005

Dear Supporter,


Euthanasia:

On Monday (10 October) the House of Lords will consider a report which recommends changing the law to allow euthanasia. There are many pro-life groups who are doing good work to oppose these plans.

Please pray that:
* There will be clear speeches against euthanasia.
* Politicians and the Government will not support the Bill.


Religious Hatred:

On Tuesday (11 October) the Lords will debate the Second Reading of the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill. This Bill introduces an 'incitement to religious hatred' offence. The Christian Institute is holding a series of public meetings highlighting the dangers of such a law. We understand that the Lawyers Christian Fellowship and many other groups have organised a peaceful demonstration on Tuesday from 1pm till 4pm outside Parliament [link may no longer work!]:
http://www.lawcf.org/lawreformdetail.php?ID=131

Please pray that:
* There will be effective speeches against this Bill.
* The Government will have a back down and drop the plans.
* The meetings organised by The Christian Institute, and other meetings arranged to highlight the dangers of this law, will go smoothly.
* The demonstration outside Parliament will be well organised and effective.
* The opposition parties will be united in their stand against the Bill, particularly as the Conservative leadership contest may cause some to be distracted from this issue.

Give thanks for the unified and concerted opposition by Christians against these proposals.


Audio on our website:

The Christian Institute has recently created an archive of audio recordings which can be listened to from our website. These include audio recordings about the Religious Hatred Bill and many theological topics, such as "The Ten Commandments for Today". This archive will be progressively added to in the future [link may no longer work!]:
http://www.christian.org.uk/downloads/audio/archive.htm


Yours in Christ,

Colin Hart
Director
The Christian Institute


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12th October 2005

Dear Supporter,

Yesterday (Tuesday) the House of Lords debated the Second Reading of the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill.

There were a very large number of excellent speeches against the Bill from all political parties. For every one peer who supported the Bill, four opposed it.

Many peers with great legal expertise totally dismantled the Government's case with great precision.

Baroness O'Cathain, Baroness Cox, Lord Clashfern, The Bishop of Southwell and the Bishop of Winchester opposed the Bill, as did the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey who gave a very strong speech.

* We give thanks to God that a strong case was put and continue to pray that the Bill will be defeated.

* Do pray also for Christian Institute as we work on this issue. Pray for particularly wisdom.

* Do pray about the Equality Bill which also has serious implications for religious freedom. We are concerned that the Bill may the ban the provision of Bibles in public places, including in hospitals. Do pray for Christian Institute staff and other Christian organisations as they raise their concerns about the Equality Bill with Government officials.

Thank you for your support.

We must continue to pray and act by meeting MPs and, when the time comes, write letters to Peers also.

Yours in Christ,


Colin Hart
Director, The Christian Institute

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21st October 2005

There has been a very important development in the campaign to oppose the Government's religious hatred offence. There is to be a vote in the House of Lords on Tuesday 25 October. This should be made a matter of earnest prayer.

Yesterday Lord Hunt (for the Conservatives) and Lord Lester QC (for the Liberal Democrats) tabled a cross-party amendment to the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill.

We would rather not have the Bill at all, but the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats said yesterday that if they simply threw out the Bill, or passed wrecking amendments, the Government would carry out its threat to use the Parliament Acts to force the legislation through the Lords. Faced with this threat, the two opposition parties, along with Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop, and Lord Plant of Highfield, a prominent Labour Peer, have tabled a compromise amendment. Their initiative seeks to protect free speech and religious liberties, whilst at the same time allowing the Government to fulfil its manifesto commitment.

For most campaigns on Christian issues it is a back bench politician who takes the initiative. On this occasion the two main opposition parties want to take the lead in a major way. This means that the potential numbers on our side in any vote are considerably greater than is usually the case. To my mind a key factor in all this is the hard work of Christians up and down the country who have been making contact with their MPs. A level of Christian lobbying is currently going on which, in my experience, is unprecedented. This has undoubtedly triggered a great interest from front bench politicians.


The main points of the compromise amendment

The amendment significantly narrows the scope of the proposed incitement to religious hatred offence in three ways:

(1) It provides a robust defence for free speech and evangelism (Clause 29J). The wording states:
'Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system.'

(2) The loosely worded phrase 'likely to stir up religious hatred' has been removed. It must now be proved that a person intended to stir up religious hatred.

(3) Only 'threatening' conduct would now be covered by the offence. The words 'abusive' and 'insulting' have been removed.

The full text of the amendment can be found at:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldbills/015/amend/am015-e.htm

Our position

We are urging Peers to vote for the amendment. It removes the most obvious problems with the wording of the religious hatred offence. The amendment is the only one with support of both main opposition parties.

Any religious hatred offence involves a risk to religious liberties. That is why we continue to oppose the Bill and pray that still somehow it will be dropped. It is right and proper to pray for this, whilst at the same time using the practical opportunities which present themselves.


Prayer points

The two opposition parties have decided to hold the first vote at very short notice. Whilst there is no time before Tuesday to step up our letter writing campaign, there is plenty of time to pray!

We thank God for the strong opposition to the religious hatred offence and for the intervention of the two main opposition parties.

Please pray:
* that freedom to preach the Gospel will be safeguarded
* that the House of Lords will accept the amendment on Tuesday by a large majority or better still that the Government will drop the Bill
* that the issues will be well debated and fairly reported in the media
* for Government Ministers that they would be strongly challenged about the effect of their Bill and shamed into changing their mind
* that those involved in the Parliamentary debates may be given wisdom and resolution
* for The Christian Institute as we deal with many issues at this time, particularly the Equality Bill which also has implications for religious liberties.

If the Lords accept the amendment, the Bill goes back to the Commons and MPs must decide whether to accept the Lords' amendment or re-instate the Bill as originally drafted. This will mean future votes in Parliament with the potential for the Bill to 'ping-pong' between the two Houses. So it is vitally important that, as well as praying, Christians continue to contact their MPs.

Yours in Christ,

Colin Hart
Director
The Christian Institute

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26th October 2005

The Government has suffered a massive defeat in the House of Lords over its religious hatred plans. Peers have voted to introduce safeguards to the Bill.

The Lords voted by 260 to 111 yesterday evening in favour of a cross-party amendment. Under the amendment: nobody can be found guilty of the new religious hatred law unless it is proved they intended to stir up hatred; only threatening words would be banned by the Bill, not those which are only abusive or insulting; there would be a specific part of the Bill saying the law should not restrict evangelism, discussion, criticism of expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or beliefs.

We would rather not have the Bill at all. But, due to the political situation involving the Government's threat to use the Parliament Act, this amendment is the best thing on offer. This Lords vote is a good result.

There will be a crucial vote in the Commons probably within three weeks' time.

The amendment could yet be removed in the Commons, but the Lords' majority of 149 is highly impressive and it will put huge pressure on the Government. I believe this large Lords vote is due, in no small part, to the high level of Christian pressure on the political parties. There has also been increased media interest in this issue. God has answered our prayers.

When the Bill goes back to the Commons MPs could either accept the Lords' amendment or insist on the Government's plans by re-instating the original wording of the Bill. It is not a foregone conclusion that the Government will win in the Commons. Even if it does win, it is important that the majority is as small as possible. From a constitutional point of view this will make it much harder for the Government to force its will on the Lords using the Parliament Acts. So, every MP's vote counts. It is, therefore, vital that you contact your MP and strongly urge him or her to support the Lords' amendment.

Tips for contacting your MP, plus other helpful information, is available on our website:
http://www.christian.org.uk/meetingspacks/incitement/resources.htm

Please also remember in your prayers the Equality Bill which is currently going through Parliament. Proposals in this Bill would outlaw 'religious harassment'. These proposals, like the religious hatred Bill, have great potential to meddle with religious freedom.

We can be thankful to God that Peers in House of Lords have voted in such large numbers to introduce safeguards to the Religious Hatred Bill. This is a good result, but the fight is not over yet. We must pray and work to see MPs accept the Lords' amendments. Please contact your MP.

Yours in Christ,

Colin Hart
Director
The Christian Institute

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9th November 2005

Dear Supporter,

Religious Harassment

We are expecting a crucial vote today (9 November) in the House of Lords on the Equality Bill. Lord Lester of Herne Hill, supported by Lady O'Cathain, will move an amendment to delete the religious harassment provisions from the Bill.

The Equality Bill makes it illegal for a public or state body to 'harass' an individual on the grounds of their religion or belief. Pressure groups could use the threat of complaints under this law to ban prison chaplains talking to prisoners about the Christian faith, or to cut funding to Christian welfare charities because they say grace before meals. By removing the religious harassment law, the amendment will protect free speech and religious liberty.

Sexual orientation provisions

The Lords will also debate Lord Alli's amendment that would ban discrimination or harassment on the grounds of 'sexual orientation' in providing goods or services. We are opposed to this amendment in principle. It would force, for example, a Christian bed and breakfast to offer a double bed to a homosexual couple; and it could require a church hall to be let out to gay rights activists. The sexual orientation provisions could even mandate the equal promotion of homosexuality and heterosexuality in state schools.

Prayer points

* Please pray for Lady O'Cathain as she speaks in support of Lord Lester's amendment removing the religious harassment provisions from the Bill.
* Pray that there would be a clear debate with the issues properly aired.
* Pray that the vote on the religious harassment amendment will be won.
* Pray that the amendment by Lord Alli to include sexual orientation will be defeated. If the amendment is passed, please pray that the Government would give substantial protections for religious liberty and schools.
* Please pray for wisdom for Institute staff as they work on these issues.

Blasphemy

Finally, an amendment to the Religious Hatred Bill that would have abolished the offence of blasphemy was defeated in the House of Lords last night by 153 votes to 113. We give thanks to God for this result and for Lady O'Cathain who spoke powerfully in support of the blasphemy law. As Lady O'Cathain said in her speech, the blasphemy law, along with the Coronation Oath, is part of Britain's Christian heritage and cannot be considered apart from our constitutional settlement as a whole.

Thank you for all your support and prayers.

Yours sincerely,

Humphrey Dobson
Deputy Director (Policy and Staffing)
The Christian Institute

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10th November 2005

Dear Supporter,

Equality Bill

We give thanks to God that last night the House of Lords resoundingly rejected the Government's planned religious harassment law. Peers voted by 216 to 126 for Lord Lester and Lady O'Cathain's amendment deleting religious harassment from the Bill.

Under the Government's plans it would be illegal for a public or state body to 'harass' an individual on the grounds of their religion or belief. Peers from all parties warned the religious harassment law could be used to restrict freedom of speech and religious liberty. Many expressed fears that the law would encourage politically correct officials to stop public expressions of Christianity, such as evangelism or carol services - leading to more cases such as those we have seen in our newspapers in recent days.

The Equality Bill now goes to the House of Commons.


A battle for another day

As expected, earlier in the day the Government accepted Lord Alli's amendment on 'sexual orientation'. The amendment (passed without a vote) obliges the Government to bring forward regulations at some point in the future to ban 'homophobic' discrimination in providing goods or services. We are opposed to this new law in principle and are saddened that it is supported by all three main political parties at Westminster.

Nevertheless, several Peers spoke of the need to include comprehensive protections for churches and religious bodies, to prevent, for example, churches being forced to rent out their halls to 'gay rights' activists.

We also fear that such a law could even mandate the equal promotion of homosexuality and heterosexuality in schools. The Government has promised broad consultation before the regulations are introduced to Parliament. This is a battle for another day.


Prayer points

* Give thanks to God for yesterday's defeat of the religious harassment law.
* Give thanks to God for Lady O'Cathain for all her work to defend our religious freedom.
* Give thanks to God that many Peers spoke out in defence of religious liberty in the debate on religious harassment.
* Please pray that many MPs would now be made aware of the problems with the religious harassment law, as the Bill proceeds to the Commons.
* Please pray that the Government would be persuaded of the need to give substantial protections for religious liberty and schools in its future sexual orientation regulations.
* Please pray for wisdom for Institute staff as they continue to work on these issues.


The victory on religious harassment is a fantastic result. Thank you for all your prayers about this issue. Thank you also to the many people who wrote letters to Peers. Those letters helped to persuade Peers that this was an important issue of concern to real people.


Yours sincerely,

Humphrey Dobson
Deputy Director (Policy and Staffing)
The Christian Institute

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November 19, 2005

Subject: News on the Equality Bill, Family Law (Scotland) Bill and Jerry
Springer the Opera

Equality Bill
--------------

On Monday (21 November), MPs will be debating the Equality Bill for the
first time this session. Earlier this month, the House of Lords voted to
strip out the 'religious harassment' provisions in the Bill. This is the
part of the Bill that is the greatest threat to religious liberty. For
information about the Lords' vote visit [link may no longer work!]:
http://www.christian.org.uk/equalitybill/lordsvote9nov05/intro.htm

Please pray that there will be clear speeches by MPs in defence of
religious liberty and particularly that there will be strong opposition to
any attempt by the Government to reinstate the harassment provisions in
the Bill.

For more information about the Equality Bill visit [link may no longer work!]:
http://www.christian.org.uk/equalitybill/briefing_july2005.htm


Family Law (Scotland) Bill
---------------------------

MSPs will soon vote on changes to the Scottish divorce law. The Scottish
Executive wants to make no-fault divorce quicker and easier. A Committee
of MSPs has already voted to water down the Executive's plans.

The same Committee also firmly rejected an attempt at an outright ban on
smacking. Members of the Committee said it was unnecessary and not what
parents wanted. Several cited letters received from constituents as a
reason for opposing a ban. The smacking issue is not likely to be
revisited in this Bill.

For more information about the Family Law (Scotland) Bill visit:
http://www.christianscotland.org/home.htm


Jerry Springer The Opera
-------------------------

We are aware that the blasphemous musical, Jerry Springer The Opera, is
embarking on a national theatre tour. We are currently preparing our
response to this issue.

In the meantime, some supporters have told us that their local Sainsbury's
supermarkets are promoting and selling the DVD of the Springer opera. We
are astonished that a national chain such as Sainsbury's is selling such
an anti-Christian product in the lead up to Christmas. When the opera was
broadcast on BBC2 in January, it brought 55,000 complaints from Christians
and others because of its extreme language content and its systematic
mockery of the Christian faith.

If you are aware that your local Sainsbury's supermarket is selling and
actively promoting the DVD of the opera, please contact us at:
info@christian.org.uk

Digital images of the promotional displays would also be helpful. Please
send any digital photos to:
photos@christian.org.uk

We are also concerned that Sainsbury's supermarkets may also be selling
DVDs of the film, Nine Songs. Newspapers have called it "The most sexually
explicit film in the history of mainstream British cinema." It contains
scenes of real sex. As far as we are aware, it may be the most
pornographic film to be given an 18 certificate in the UK. We understand
that in Australia the film censors would not give it an 18 certificate. We
do not think it is appropriate for a store used by millions of families,
often with young children, to be putting such products on its shelves.

If you discover either of these products in your local Sainsbury's
supermarket, please complain directly to the store manager. Use polite and
measured words, but be firm.

Yours in Christ,

Colin Hart
Director
The Christian Institute

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November 23, 2005

Subject: Government backs down over religious harassment


Following its comprehensive defeat in the House of Lords, the Government
has agreed to drop the religious harassment law from the Equality Bill. We
give thanks to God for this wonderful answer to our prayers.

You will recall that on 9 November Peers voted by 216 to 126 for Lord
Lester and Lady O'Cathain's cross-party amendment deleting religious
harassment from the Bill. In response the Government told the House of
Commons on 21 November that it will not seek to reinstate the harassment
clause. Instead it will be referred to the discrimination law review for
further scrutiny.

The Government had planned to make it illegal for a public body or a
landlord to 'harass' an individual on the grounds of their religion or
belief. But in fact we already have a perfectly good law which protects
everyone: the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

Religious harassment raises many of the same concerns about free speech as
the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill. Many Peers expressed fears that the
law would encourage politically correct officials to stop public
expressions of Christianity, such as evangelism, carol services, or Bibles
by hospital bedsides - as we have seen in our newspapers repeatedly in
recent months.

Lord Lyell of Markyate, former Attorney General, said: 'Under this Bill,
John Wesley would have been prevented from preaching in most open-air
areas', pointing out that it applies to council-owned land. Lady O'Cathain
warned: 'We cannot ignore the plight of the Christian hospice that could
be sued for saying grace, or the prison chaplain who is told he cannot
initiate conversations about God with inmates...'

The victory on religious harassment is a fantastic result. Thank you for
all your prayers about this issue.

The discrimination law review is to produce a Green Paper in late Spring
2006 to consult on its wide-ranging deliberations. The consultation will
include the issue of religious harassment. We must continue to be vigilant
and also give thanks to God for the victory he has given.


Colin Hart
Director
THE CHRISTIAN INSTITUTE


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December 5, 2005

Dear Supporter,

PLEASE WRITE TO CHARLES KENNEDY MP

The Third Reading of the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill in the House of Lords has been provisionally set for Monday 19 December.

As you will know, in October Peers supported a significant cross-party amendment to the Bill which provides a protection for free speech and evangelism, and which narrows the scope of the offence. However, the Government is trying to get the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to back down. They are trying to force them to do a deal before 19 December.

We would rather not have the incitement to religious hatred offence at all, but given the political situation involving the Government's threat to invoke the Parliament Acts, we supported the Lords amendment. It is vital that this is not abandoned in exchange for a weak compromise.

Please write to the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Charles Kennedy. Say how much you care about this issue and ask the Lib Dems not to back down on opposing the religious hatred offence.

Do forward this email to friends who will be sympathetic to our concerns. You could also print off this email and distribute it to people at your church.

It is vital that we continue to pray about this issue. Prayer points and tips for writing are included below.

Thank you for your support.

Yours in Christ,

Colin Hart
Director
THE CHRISTIAN INSTITUTE

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December 8, 2005

Dear Supporter,

RELIGIOUS HATRED: PLEASE WRITE TO DAVID CAMERON MP

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats supported the amendment passed by the House of Lords to introduce substantial safeguards into the Governmentís religious hatred proposals.

The Government is trying to get the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to back down. It is trying to force them to 'do a deal' before 19 December when the Third Reading of the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill is due to take place in the House of Lords.

It is vital that the Lords amendment is not abandoned in exchange for a weak compromise.

I have previously asked you to write to the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Charles Kennedy.

Now that David Cameron has been elected as Conservative leader, can I urge you to write to him?

Say how much you care about this issue and ask the Conservatives not to back down on opposing the religious hatred offence.

Do forward this email to friends who will be sympathetic to our concerns. You could also print off this email and distribute it to people at your church.

It is vital that we continue to pray about this issue. Prayer points and tips for writing are included below.

Thank you for your support.

Yours in Christ,

Colin Hart
Director
THE CHRISTIAN INSTITUTE


TIPS FOR WRITING TO DAVID CAMERON

Address: David Cameron MP, The Leader of the Opposition, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

* Be brief and polite, but firm.
* Use your own words.
* Urge him not to back down on the Religious Hatred Bill.


In addition, use one or two of the following points:


* Say that as a Christian, you oppose hatred, but the Bill is very loosely worded and could catch ordinary religious debate.
* Say you oppose the creation of any religious hatred law because it will cause problems for religious freedom and free speech.
* Say that whatever the Government's intention its proposed law would stir up religious and atheistic believers to use it against each other, causing divisive controversy.
* Say that even if prosecutions against ordinary religious debate are unsuccessful, the threat of prosecution may cause many to keep quiet. This is a more subtle, but equally dangerous, threat to freedom of speech.
* Say an incitement to religious hatred offence is not necessary. It is already a criminal offence to incite a crime against any other person, whether or not religion is the cause. And the 'religiously aggravated' offences (passed in 2001) can also be used.
* The Lords amendment minimises the scope for problems under the new religious hatred law. More concessions will lead to more problems.

If you have not already done so, please also write to Charles Kennedy MP, The Leader of the Liberal Democrats, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA


Prayer points:

* Pray that the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats will stand firm.
* Pray that Government ministers will realise in their conscience that what they are doing is wrong.
* Pray that the Government would be forced to drop its plans.
* Pray for The Christian Institute - that we would use our time and resources wisely as so many issues demand our attention.

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December 10, 2005

Please pray on the Religious Hatred Bill
-------------------------------------------

Dear Supporter,

I sent you an email on Thursday asking you to write to the new Conservative Party leader, David Cameron MP, about the Religious Hatred Bill.

I am emailing you again to stress the need to pray that the Conservative Party, together with the Liberal Democrats, will not back a weak compromise on the Religious Hatred Bill.

If you have not yet written to David Cameron, please do so. Please use the tips I sent you in Thursday's email.

I would particularly urge you to pray about this important matter and get other Christians to pray also. It is likely that over the next week very important decisions will be made by the political parties.

Prayer points:

* Pray that the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats will stand firm.
* Pray that Government ministers will realise in their conscience that what they are doing is wrong.
* Pray that the Government would be forced to drop its plans.
* Pray for The Christian Institute - that we would use our time and resources wisely as so many issues demand our attention.

Jerry Springer The Opera
--------------------------

We are absolutely delighted that Sainsbury's has withdrawn from sale the DVD of Jerry Springer The Opera.

Woolworths says it has withdrawn the DVD from its stores because it has not been commercially popular. However, the DVD is available to buy from its website.

The DVD is also being sold by ASDA, Tesco and WHSmith. Can you imagine these stores selling a DVD of a racist hate show, or an anti-Muslim video? Yet it seems to be OK to sell a DVD of an anti-Christian hate show.

If you would like to object to these stores offensive decision to sell the DVD in the run up to Christmas, please see:
http://www.christian.org.uk/js_opera

Our website also provides more information about why this show is so deeply offensive and blasphemous.

Thank you.

Yours in Christ,

Colin Hart
Director
The Christian Institute

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December 15, 2005

Dear Supporter,

Religious Hatred Bill
---------------------
It was announced on Wednesday that Third Reading of the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill will NOT now take place on Monday 19 December.

This is an encouraging development.

For the time being the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have not backed down in the face of Government pressure trying to force them to 'do a deal'.

Thank you to those who prayed and to those who wrote to the Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaders about this. It seems that God has answered our prayers and that your letters have made a difference.

It is vital that the Lords amendments, passed in October by a massive majority, are not abandoned in exchange for a weak compromise.

There is also a constitutional issue that the Government wants to side-step the rules of Parliament to allow the premature re-opening of an issue that has already been decided by the Lords.

Instead, the Bill should progress in the normal way back to the House of Commons where MPs can vote on the House of Lords amendments.

I would urge you to continue praying about this important issue.

Prayer points:

* Pray that the Government would be forced to drop its plans.

* Pray that the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats will stand firm.

* Pray for Peers like Lady O'Cathain who have stood up so clearly on these issues.

* Pray that Government ministers will realise in their consciences that what they are doing is wrong.

* Pray for The Christian Institute - that we would use our time and resources wisely as so many issues demand our attention.

Family Law (Scotland) Bill
--------------------------
On Thursday 15 December the Scottish Parliament will hold its final debate on the Family Law (Scotland) Bill. The Executive will seek to overturn amendments by the Justice 1 committee that gave more time for reconciliation between divorcing couples. It will be very difficult for those MSPs seeking to oppose the Executive.

Prayer points:

* Pray for MSPs such as Fergus Ewing, Murdo Fraser, Brian Adam and others that they will clearly present their case for giving more time for reconciliation between divorcing couples.

* Pray that Executive Ministers may realise the damage which their proposals will do to families.

* Pray that MSPs would be emboldened to vote against the Executive's plans.

Yours in Christ,


Colin Hart
Director
THE CHRISTIAN INSTITUTE

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December 23, 2005

Couple quizzed by police for complaining about 'gay rights'

Dear Supporter,


A Christian couple have faced an eighty-minute police interrogation because they complained about gay rights to their local council. Wyre Borough Council in Lancashire sent the police around to see Joe and Helen Roberts to 'educate' them that their beliefs were wrong. The Council said the couple's complaints had "displayed potentially homophobic attitudes." Although the couple have broken no laws, they were given the impression that repeating their complaints could result in them being charged with an offence. The story is covered on the front page of today's Daily Mail.

The couple has had legal advice and they have been told that the actions of the police and the council appear to be a clear breach of Article 9 (freedom of religion) and Article 10 (freedom of speech) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Mr and Mrs Roberts have today lodged formal complaints with the police and the council. The couple want an apology or an explanation of what legal grounds justify such actions by the police and the council.

See our [
http://www.christian.org.uk/pressreleases/2005/december_23_2005.htm ] press release for more

Please pray:

  • That Mr and Mrs Roberts' formal complaint will be successful.
  • In a week where there has been a flood of pro-gay stories in the media, that this story would be widely and sympathetically reported.
  • That this story will cause the media to report objections to gay rights measures in a fair and balanced way.
  • That cases like this will be exposed.

News on Jerry Springer The Opera

We are delighted that Tescos and Woolworths have joined Sainsbury's in withdrawing DVDs of Jerry Springer the Opera from its shelves. We want Tescos and Woolworths to also withdraw the DVD from its website, like Sainsbury's has. WH Smith is still stocking this spitefully anti-Christian show in its stores and strongly defending its decision.

Click here to
download a leaflet explaining why the show is so bad and to find out how you can complain about stores that are selling the DVDs (this information will be updated throughout the day).


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January 19, 2006

The crucial vote by MPs on the Religious Hatred Bill will take place on Tuesday 31 January. This news was announced two hours ago.

The outcome will influence gospel freedom for generations to come. Every vote will count.

MPs will decide whether to accept the full safeguards introduced by the Lords or vote for a weaker amendment by the Government.

The Bill contains an 'incitement to religious hatred' offence which could outlaw criticism of other religions and threatens gospel freedom.

In October the House of Lords voted to amend the Bill to protect free speech and evangelism. We want MPs to accept this amendment in full without any changes.

We are sending more information in the post today urging our supporters to contact their MP again. The information should reach our supporters tomorrow. In the meantime, please pray about this important issue.

Prayer points:

  • That God would have mercy upon our nation and that gospel freedom will be preserved.
  • That somehow the Bill will not become law.
  • Against 'deals' being done by the political parties where the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill becomes part of a political 'trade off' for other issues.

Yours in Christ,

Colin Hart
Director
The Christian Institute

'12th October 2005

Yesterday (Tuesday) the House of Lords debated the Second Reading of the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill.

There were a very large number of excellent speeches against the Bill from all political parties. For every one peer who supported the Bill, four opposed it.

Many peers with great legal expertise totally dismantled the Government's case with great precision.

Baroness O'Cathain, Baroness Cox, Lord Clashfern, The Bishop of Southwell and the Bishop of Winchester opposed the Bill, as did the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey who gave a very strong speech.

* We give thanks to God that a strong case was put and continue to pray that the Bill will be defeated. '

Jerry Springer The Opera

We are aware that the blasphemous musical, Jerry Springer The Opera, is
embarking on a national theatre tour. We are currently preparing our
response to this issue.

In the meantime, some supporters have told us that their local Sainsbury's
supermarkets are promoting and selling the DVD of the Springer opera. We
are astonished that a national chain such as Sainsbury's is selling such
an anti-Christian product in the lead up to Christmas. When the opera was
broadcast on BBC2 in January, it brought 55,000 complaints from Christians
and others because of its extreme language content and its systematic
mockery of the Christian faith.

  • Lord Lyell of Markyate, former Attorney General, said: 'Under this Bill,
    John Wesley would have been prevented from preaching in most open-air
    areas', pointing out that it applies to council-owned land. Lady O'Cathain
    warned: 'We cannot ignore the plight of the Christian hospice that could
    be sued for saying grace, or the prison chaplain who is told he cannot
    initiate conversations about God with inmates...'

    The victory on religious harassment is a fantastic result. Thank you for
    all your prayers about this issue.

To read the successful outcome of the Roberts' complaint go to final report

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