‘Faith in the public square’
The General Synod of the Church of England (CofE) met in York to back the right of Christians to ‘manifest their faith in the public square’.
In a debate brought about by a General Synod member and cleric from the Peterborough Diocese, Rev. Stephen Trott, the three houses of bishops, clergy and laity sent out a bold message to government, UK and European courts.
The Synod voted by 263 to 25 to pass a motion that said: ‘This Synod expresses its conviction that it is the calling of Christians to order and govern our lives in accordance with the teaching of Holy Scripture.
‘It is our calling to manifest our faith in public life as well as in private, giving expression to our beliefs in the written and spoken word, and in practical acts of service to the local community and to the nation’.
The vote passed by the CofE will now be used by lawyers who will be appealing against British Court judgements against Shirley Chaplin and Gary McFarlane.
One case mentioned at Synod was that of nurse Caroline Petrie, who was discriminated against for offering to pray with a patient. She came to the platform as Synod listened to accounts of blatant religious discrimination against Christians.
Teacher Olive Jones, sacked on the spot after giving her testimony to a 15-year-old student too unwell to attend school, was also present.
Four British Christians are taking their cases of religious discrimination to the European Court of Human Rights on 4 September, and will be boosted by General Synod’s decision.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, a member of General Synod, was present for the debate. She said, ‘Our Parliament has moved away from Christian principles of law-making which have served our nation so well.
‘Modern law-making is based on human rights theory espousing principles of equality and diversity. But there is no common agreement as to the source of the rights. Moreover, in a secular society of every political hue it is the religious rights that are crushed. When man answers to man, only pain, anguish and despair follow’.
Mr Trott said, ‘The General Synod has a unique role in English society as a legislative body empowered to pass measures that are in effect Acts of Parliament.
‘It also has the authority to speak for members of the Church of England, and should not be afraid to do so, both for their sake and for the sake of religious liberty as a whole’.