Opinion Former Article

BHA responds to Prime Minister's Easter message

In her Easter message, Prime Minister Theresa May has commented that domestically, ‘We must continue to ensure that people feel able to speak about their faith, and that absolutely includes their faith in Christ.’

Responding to the comments, British Humanist Association Chief Executive Andrew Copson said, ‘Theresa May is absolutely right that people should be free to speak about their religious beliefs. But if her comments are construed as suggesting that this is not currently the case, then this would be a mistake. A third of our state schools are Christian, every other state school must hold daily Christian worship, and bishops continue to sit as of right in the House of Lords. And so Christianity remains in a hugely privileged position in the UK today, not marginalised from the public sphere. It is this privilege that we must be tackling.’

Theresa May also commented, ‘We must be mindful of Christians and religious minorities around the world who do not enjoy these same freedoms, but who practise their religion in secret and often in fear. And we must do more to stand up for the freedom of people of all religions to practice their beliefs openly and in peace and safety. So this Easter, whatever our faith, let us come together as a nation confident in our values, and united in our commitment to fulfil the obligations that we have to one another.’

Mr Copson continued, ‘Again Mrs May is right to speak up for the need to ensure freedom of religion around the world. But whenever one does this, it is vital not to forget the freedom of the non-religious to also openly hold and live out their beliefs. In many parts of the world it is effectively impossible to be openly non-religious, with blasphemy and apostasy punishable by death. Just this week we have seen humanist activist Mashal Khan shot and beaten to death by a group of fellow students at his University in Pakistan. It is essential that his plight and the plight of others like him are not excluded from our efforts.’

Notes

For further comment or information please contact BHA Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson on richy@humanism.org.uk or 0781 55 89 636.

Read Theresa May’s Easter message: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/easter-2017-theresa-mays-message

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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