The erosion of free expression, through equality laws and political correctness

Telegraph
15.08.2009
By Andrew Alderson

Preacher threatened with arrest for reading out extracts from the Bible in public

A street preacher is at the centre of a row over freedom of speech after police threatened to arrest him for reading the Bible in public.

Lawyers acting for Miguel Hayworth, 29, have demanded an explanation over the alleged intimidation and abuse of power by three officers.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, the director of the Christian Legal Centre, has written to Peter Fahy, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, over the incident.

She claims that Mr Hayworth and his father, John, 55, were unlawfully and unfairly treated as they preached Christianity in the city at the end of July.

“They were clearly told that reading the Bible and preaching can be offensive and that they could be arrested,” she wrote.

“Furthermore, they were subjected to abuse and intimidation. They were told that they were being monitored and filmed,” she wrote.

Critics claimed that a Muslim preaching his religion in the street would not have been treated in such a way by police.

Mr Hayworth, a voluntary worker who is married with two children, has been a street preacher in the Manchester area for five years and he is often accompanied by his father.

He said that he and his father had decided to preach from 11am at St Ann’s Square in Manchester instead of their usual place on nearby Market Street.

He was reading passages from the Old and New Testaments while his father distributed leaflets containing the message of the gospel.

“At 2pm, I was approached on more than one occasion by several police officers who falsely accused me, stating that I was inciting hatred with homophobic and racial comments,” he said.

“One plain-clothed officer, who was with the other two uniformed officers, said: ‘It is against the law to preach and hand out tracts: preaching causes offence and handing out tracts is harassment and could result in an arrest.’”

Mr Hayworth said that at about 2.30pm a second officer confirmed that his colleague had accused the preacher of inciting religious and racial hatred and wanted to warn him that this was an arrestable offence.

The second officer, Mr Hayworth claimed, also warned him his actions were being videoed and recorded, and he stopped preaching.

Some passages in the Bible are regarded as homophobic. For example, sections read out by Mr Hayworth in St Ann’s Square included Romans Chapter 1 Verse 27, from the King James Bible, which says: “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly…”

He also read from 1 Corinthians Chapter 6, Verse 9: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.”

Mr Hayworth says he cannot understand how the racism complaint arose. Shortly after being confronted by the police, he stopped reading from the Bible.

He and his father later approached the Christian Legal Centre, which seeks to promote religious freedom and, particularly, to protect Christians and Christianity.

It is against the law to use offensive, threatening or abusive words or behaviour. It is also an offence to incite hatred on grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation.

However, in its letter to the police, the Christian Legal Centre said: “Freedom of religious and freedom of religious speech is specifically protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.”

The letter added: “This means that any restriction on the ‘right’ to evangelise will have to be justified by the Police by a ‘pressing social need’.

“In a free society, this is very difficult to do; and a few complaints by irate individuals will not suffice.”

The centre and Mr Diamond have represented a number of Christians in alleged religious discrimination cases.

Earlier this year The Sunday Telegraph revealed that Caroline Petrie, a nurse, has been suspended from her job for offering to pray for an elderly patient’s recovery from illness. She was later reinstated.

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Telegraph
22.08.2009
By Caroline Gammell

Christian primary school receptionist sues over religious discrimination

A school receptionist is suing her employers amid claims that they were “anti-Christian” by suspending her following a dispute over her faith, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Jennie Cain became embroiled in a row with Landscore Primary School, in Crediton, Devon, after her daughter, Jasmine, was allegedly reprimanded by one of its teachers for talking about Jesus, Heaven and God.

Following the incident, Mrs Cain, 38, wrote a private email to friends from her church asking for prayers for her daughter and the school, but it was passed on to the headmaster, Gary Read.

Mrs Cain was suspended from her job and subsequently investigated by an internal panel, which found her guilty of serious misconduct. She appealed the decision and lost but has since been allowed to return to work.

However, Mrs Cain has now lodged a complaint with Exeter employment tribunal and is suing the governors of the school, Mr Read and Devon County Council.

She alleges that she and her five-year-old daughter were discriminated against and harassed because of their religion and that the school was “anti-Christian”.

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Daily Mail
24.08.2009
By James Slack

Right-hand man, gentleman’s agreement and whiter than white: PC quangos ban common phrases to avoid causing offence

Right-hand man, gentleman’s agreement and whiter than white are the latest phrases to fall foul of the political correctness lobby.

Government quangos have issued fresh lists of phrases they are seeking to ban to avoid causing offence.

Staff at the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission have been advised to use ‘miserable day’ instead of ‘black day’. The Commission claims that certain words carry a ‘hierarchical valuation of skin colour’.

It also cautions that the term ethnic minority can imply ’something smaller and less important’ and should be used with care.

The examples of political correctness emerged in answer to a series of Freedom of Information requests.

Some institutions have urged workers to watch out for gender bias or sexism in language.

The National Gallery in London says the phrase gentleman’s agreement may be considered offensive to women and suggests using ‘unwritten agreement’ or ‘ agreement based on trust’ instead.

The phrase right-hand man is also considered taboo, with ’second in command’ thought more suitable. Advice issued by the South West Regional Development Agency says: ‘Terms such as black sheep of the family, black looks and black mark have no direct link to skin colour but potentially serve to reinforce a negative view of all things black.

‘Equally, certain terms imply a negative image of black by reinforcing the positive aspects of white.

‘For example, in the context of being above suspicion, the phrase whiter than white is often used. Purer than pure or cleaner than clean are alternatives which do not infer that anything other than white should be regarded with suspicion.’

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Most people assumed that this sort of PC madness went out in the 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher reined in the Left-wing councils, so it’s unbelievable that it’s rearing its head again.

‘This nonsense proves that quangos need to be culled. They’re unaccountable, undemocratic and wasteful.’

Full article

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