We are happy to report that the Army have changed their response to the Religious and Racial Hatred Bill and we are happy that as a corps, little old Pill here, have been able to play our small part in that, however small. Here is the Army’s new statement, as of 5 October.
Racial & Religious Hatred Bill
Statement as at 5th October 2005
The Government is currently seeking to enact legislation to outlaw incitement to religious or racial hatred. The Salvation Army deplores any action intended or likely to incite hatred against persons on any grounds.
A number of Christian denominations and organisations, along with other faith bodies support the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill. However, several groups oppose it, arguing that it is an unnecessary addition to adequate existing legislation and that it will limit freedom of speech. The Salvation Army has dialogued with many and considered the various arguments in addition to carrying out its own research.
We are not persuaded that existing laws are adequate. Neither are we convinced that restrictions on the full and appropriate proclamation of the Gospel are either intended or inevitable consequences of the legislation.
We are concerned about the possible inadvertent creation of an environment in which the freedom to communicate the Gospel is challenged, and acknowledge that the present wording of the bill may in theory provide the potential for such abuse, albeit unlikely in practice.
We therefore support calls for amendments to the bill aimed at removing possible ambiguities, so as to preclude any undesirable consequences.
The Salvation Army is engaged in wide-ranging, ongoing discussions with Government departments concerning a variety of issues that could potentially impact greatly upon the Church. The Salvation Army wishes to continue to be at the centre of any debate concerning the right to proclaim the Gospel.
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.(1 Peter 3:15-16)