Britain 'sleepwalking into losing religious freedoms' says Christian leader

Nola Leach, chief executive of CARE.CARE

The chief executive of CARE has warned that Britain is in danger of "sleepwalking into losing religious freedoms".

In a speech entitled "Can society be Christian?", Nola Leach told listeners at the Out of the Silent Church conference in Dundee: "Only 50 years ago liberals supported an 'alternative culture', but today they abhor any alternative to their credo. Once a dominant force in Western culture, religion is demoted to at best an irrelevance and at worse an offence against the prevailing culture."

She said that "A philosophy of human rights is emerging without the need for a religious, let alone Christian foundation", adding: "What is clear is that a hierarchy of rights is emerging where religious freedom is trumped again and again."

In a reference to the Government's legitimisation of same-sex marriage and the increasing calls for legalising assisted dying, she said: "There is a direct challenge to God's design for marriage and sexuality and there is an assault on the sanctity of life from beginning to end of life."

She said it was vitally important that Christians spoke up for their beliefs, arguing: "As Jesus is the way, the truth and the life we have a great responsibility, we dare not be silent about this message that the world needs to know.

"It is not about winning - It is about living the truth so others can see it and when they see it they desire it. Even if the laws of the land are against us and all we stand for, we still have the authority to preach the gospel."

Ms Leach continued: "We need to fight for our religious freedoms. This is a central plank for the spread of the gospel. We cannot sleepwalk into a situation where religious freedoms are lost."

Citing Paul's letter to the Romans, she said that while the government was "ordained by God to do us good", "there is of course the question - what if it does not seek the common good? Well then, as His church, we step into the shoes of the prophets by fulfilling a prophetic role in society - proclaiming God's justice and righteousness.

"With faith and trust in the Lord, he will empower us to live as Christians in a hostile environment."

She said that Christians should "Ssudy God's word and learn from those such as Daniel, to know that the Lord will protect us as we live out our faith with integrity".