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Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Secretary of State for Scotland, and the B.N.P.

The following is a copy of a (as yet unpublished!) letter that I sent to The Herald newspaper. As the article to which it refers was published in The Sunday Herald, it may be that publication is being delayed until this coming Sunday. However, not all of the letters that I submit are published - and, to date, I have not been offered even a monthly column!!!!! (Anyone who has influence in The Herald is welcome to put my name forward!!).

Dear Sir,

It is with some astonishment that I read that the plan of the Scottish Secretary, Jim Murphy, to counteract the threatened opposition by the BNP in his East Renfrewshire Westminster Constituency, is " ... to recruit Christian, Muslim and Jewish groups to fight what he described as the “abhorrent” far-right party." (The Sunday Herald, 17-01-10).

Is Mr Murphy prepared to stand up for the rights of these very groups whose support he is planning to solicit, against the further restrictions of the planned Equality Bill, now going through the House of Lords? The present law allows, e.g. churches and other Christian organisations, to refuse to employ persons who do not share their core beliefs, in particular those whose sexual conduct is contrary to the teachings of the Bible. This I should point out, includes adulterers and fornicators just as much as active homosexuals/lesbians.

However, the Government's Equality Bill is an attempt to erode such exemption so that it will apply only to those whose employment wholly, or mainly, involves the leading of worship, or the promotion/explanation of doctrine. Apart from the fact that even a full-time parish minister spends a considerable amount of time in areas such as pastoral work that are outwith the now-proposed exemption parameters, there are many churches who employ a deacon/deaconess; a youth worker; a church secretary; etc., whose terms of employment would certainly not fall within the terms of the 'new' exemption.

As if this is not bad enough, I am concerned that this will be just another push at the wedge that is rapidly marginalising Christianity in this country. If this is successful, the next potential move would be to have the narrower exemption apply to volunteers - Boys' Brigade and Girls' Brigade officers, Sunday School teachers, Youth Fellowship leaders, to name a few.

The track record of the present government, with regard to religious liberty, is not one of which they have any right to be proud. However, Mr Murphy will presumably seek assistance from anyone who might save his political skin, regardless of how he and his colleagues have treated them in the past! I hold no truck with the BNP; but the present Labour Party do nothing to give me confidence that, as far as Biblical Christianity (any other is a sham) is concerned, they would not be content to see its adherents suffer the level of persecution that is the lot of disciples of Jesus in more than fifty countries around the world.

Yours faithfully

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