UK Govt. Drops “Religious Hatred” Law

The British government dropped plans to introduce laws banning religious hatred in order to save other crime related bills from being defeated in parliament.

The government came under fire from both opposition parties and numerous groups who opposed the law on free speech grounds.

House of Commons leader Peter Hain announced on Tuesday that the government was dropping the laws banning Incitement to Religious Hatred from the Serious Organized Crime and Police bill (SOCP) so that the rest of the bill would not be lost from the upcoming election on May 5.

The opposition Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties would have blocked the bill in the House of Lords if the hate laws had not been dropped.

The law, which had been introduced in July of last year, met immediate opposition from a wide-range of organizations, hailing from the left and right side of the political spectrum.

The law had divided Christians in Britain, with some Anglican and Catholic bishops, along with the Methodist Church among those supporting the law, according to Cybercast News Service. Other Christian groups, like Evangelical Alliance, an umbrella group representing more than one million evangelical Christians, opposed it.

Dr. Elizabeth Harris of the Methodist Church who favored the law said that the bill was not about truth claims or the equality of all religions but rather a way for people to feel free from religious hatred.

Don Horrocks, head of public affairs for the Evangelical Alliance opposed the measure was even though it was “well-intentioned,” because it restricted freedom of speech, even the “free proclamation of the gospel,” as reported by CNS.

The international director of the Barnabas Fund, a Christian group which helped coordinate lobbying efforts against the hate law said that the government should “think twice” before trying to reintroduce such measures.