The Daily Telegraph today carries as its lead story the claim by the Bishop of Winchester, on Radio 4, that the courts discriminate against Christians and that there is a lack of religious literacy among judges. The Human Rights Act, he claims, privleges the rights of minorities over the faith of Christians.
This strikes me as complete and utter nonsense. I have not seen any evidence that judges have suddenly become ignorant of religion or indeed evidence that they were previously inclined to privilege scripture over the clear intent of Acts of Parliament. Judges apply the law. The Human Rights Act provides greater scope for interpretation than is usually provided by other statute law, but it is nonetheless the law as passed by Parliament. The Bishop repeats the claim that certain minorities are being protected at the expense of Christians who wish to abide by the scriptures. One might think Christians would wish to ensure that minorities are not discriminated against and that everyone is treated as equal before the law. I realise that the Bishop thinks that Christians – or rather certain Christians – now fall in the category of such a minority, but what evidence is there for that? The only examples given are where people, claiming Christian beliefs, discriminate against others, not in a private but in a public capacity. On the logic of the Bishop’s argument, people of religion, including religious extremists, should be permitted to discriminate publicly against minorities. Not, in my view, a very Christian approach.