The BHA has today questioned the coalition government’s focus on protecting the interests of religious people in their summary response to comments on their Programme for Government. The response covers the wide range of policy areas originally set out in the programme including Justice, Education, Schools and Transport.
The response is riddled with references to religion and religious people; particularly Christianity. For example, the Foreign Affairs section speaks of instances where Christians are persecuted, with very little reference to those who are persecuted for other beliefs. The Equalities section speaks of “perceived restrictions to Christians expressing their beliefs” and the Communities and Local Government section speaks of “Christians and followers of other religions.” There appears to be no recognition by government of the contribution of people of no religion and a questionable focus on the interests of religious lobby groups.
BHA Campaigns Officer, Pepper Harow, stated, ‘It is very surprising in the context of our diverse society that the government has chosen to focus on Christianity in this important response. With falling church attendance and survey after survey showing that religion is not important in people’s lives, it is difficult to see why the response should be directed in this way.
‘We will be meeting with Ministers and working with government departments in the coming months to make sure that the millions of non-religious people in the UK are not sidelined in government policy. We have already been successful in opening the debate with government on issues such as faith schools and will continue to raise these issues at all levels. We want the government to listen to people of all backgrounds and not bow to the pressure of well funded, unrepresentative religious lobby groups. ’
For more information or comment, please contact Pepper Harow on 020 7462 4992
The BHA is the national charity representing the interests of the large and growing population of ethically concerned non-religious people living in the UK. It exists to support and represent people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs and to promote Humanism. Founded in 1896, we have 20,000 members and supporters, 90 affiliated local groups and a network of around 300 trained celebrants conducted funerals and other non-religious ceremonies attended by around 250,000 people each year.