Charity and advocacy organisation Barnabas Fund has launched a campaign to reclaim the ‘heritage of freedom of religion in the UK’ and seek a new Act of Parliament.
The campaign aims to guarantee seven ‘fundamental’ aspects of freedom of religion. In a statement, Barnabas said these had developed in the UK over the last five centuries but are now under threat. Building on the fundamental freedoms laid out in Magna Carta, the organisation claims the original affirmation that ‘the English Church shall be free’ needs to be reinstated.
The freedoms springing from this are freedom: to read the Bible in public (achieved 1537); to interpret the Bible without government interference (achieved 1559); of worship (achieved 1689); to preach and try to convince others of the truth of your beliefs (achieved 1812); to build churches and other places of worship (achieved 1812); from being required to affirm a particular worldview or set of beliefs in order to hold a public sector job or stand for election, or work in professions such as teaching and law, or study at university (achieved by the repeal of various Test Acts between 1719 and 1888).
The Barnabas campaign will include a petition calling for a new law specifically guaranteeing all seven aspects of freedom of religion, which over the centuries have emerged in the UK.
The statement added: ‘We will also be organising similar petitions in Australia and New Zealand, but this campaign will be more than just petitions. We shall be calling on Christians to engage in numerous ways to reclaim the freedoms our forefathers endured hardship, persecution and even death to achieve’.