Religion, law and the constitution

Balancing beliefs in Britain

Dr Tobias Lock

Dr Tobias Lock

“On the whole, the rule of law works reasonably well. Decisions are not made on the basis of personal preferences. However, there are situations in which certain minorities are in disadvantage because of the way the system works. Our system is very much based on Christian principles and works for the benefit of people with a Christian background.”

The Right Reverend Christine Hardman

“I think that the bottom line is that people who exercise power have to fully understand the tremendous burden on them to exercise it not for the benefit of themselves, or their own groupings, but to maximise the quality of life for people in society. They have to absolutely act for the benefit of others.”

Lady Brenda Hale

Lady Brenda Hale

“Unless and until Parliament so says, it is an individual judgment, whether or not you feel morally obliged to vote. I myself think that one should feel morally obliged to vote. Part of it is that you can’t complain if you are not prepared to do the one thing you can do to try to influence matters.”

Professor Imre Leader

“There is a problem with the kind of people who go into politics that is different from 30 years ago, when there were a lot of people doing it for the good of the country. Now these people are few and far between, the general calibre of MPs has gone down a lot in the last 30 years.”

Faisal Khan

Faisal Khan

“I think education has nothing to do with religion. We should keep them separate. You can teach children at home, after school, but in schools you have to learn a mix of other cultures.”

Thomas Haines

Thomas Haines

“It doesn’t bother me what religious people believe, and I can take on board what they think. However, if there were not people like me who are neutral we would be at loggerheads. I can take bits of everyone, but I am not bound by any faith.”

Joanna Griffiths

Joanna Griffiths

“If you have all children together in one place and you talk about all religions, that would enhance cohesion, understanding and a much better relationship amongst people of all faiths.”

Michael Kennedy QC

Michael Kennedy QC

“Establishment has got so many consequences, for the monarchy, succession, everything you can think of. Disestablishment would only work if enough people understood what it involved and also saw the sense in getting rid of it or altering it all. “

Gurd Kandola

“My view has always been to get exposure as much as possible to diverse communities and cultures as I feel this helps one grow and develop a balanced outlook.”

Professor Steven Jones

“The separation of the judiciary from the political system in important. The judiciary is drawn from a narrow part of British society and is more conservative than the population as a whole, but I think that that is true in most counties. It is better than it was. “

Father Ian Paton

“I was born and Anglican and brought up by a not particularly devout family. I came to my own practice as an adult and was ordained. It fulfilled all of my religious needs and allowed me to express myself.”

Father William Pearsall

“If it ever comes to a written constituent the whole question of the relationship between church and state, and indeed the monarch will be brought into question. It is a house of cards, or dominoes, if you say, we don’t need the monarchy, then you don’t have the head of the Church and you have disestablishment.”

Dr David Perfect

Dr David Perfect

“Generally speaking, I am happy with the legal framework. There are obviously laws with regard to equality issues, which I would like strengthened, but I think that’s probably more in terms of the way the law is interpreted or implemented… rather than the legislation itself. “

David Pollock

David Pollock

“Human rights are almost the essence of Humanism. It unreservedly embraces the idea of human rights. This is the only life we have and humanists feel that the best approach to life is to make it good for everyone and human rights are an important part of that. “

Keith Porteous Wood

Keith Porteous Wood

“My philosophical outlook is based on my life experiences as a human being and science and my concern for human rights and for the environment and for the golden rule – treat others as you’d have them treat you – a sentiment that has a long history, much longer than Christianity.”

Lucy Powell MP

“I think that when we discuss how to reform the House of Lords, we must also think of how to keep some of the experts, because I think the expertise that they can bring is very important.”

Aled Griffiths

Aled Griffiths

“Leaders must be held accountable by human beings. I cannot really comment on accountability by God, but as a Christian, I have a moral responsibility to engage in politics. I think the disillusion about Politics in the UK is extremely worrying. I worry that people have lost interest in politics.”

Dominic Grieve QC MP

“I don’t think that the way in which politics is debated in the House of Commons can be seen to have any religious underpinning. Of course religion suffuses culture and we are culturally a Christian country, interpreted through Anglicanism, but it is not what underpins debate.”

Lucy Gorman

“I feel quite strongly about voting and I would feel even without my faith… I don’t think we have any right to stand up, if you weren’t bothered to vote. It is a duty as both a citizen and a Christian.”

Baroness Kathleen Richardson

“I personally don’t see the need to bring faith into it on a constitutional basis. I think faith is only part of what leads our ethical or moral judgments and leads people into different judgments anyway. So, I can’t see why it should be protected.”

Reverend David Robertson

Reverend David Robertson

” I think that an independent judiciary must be there in order to ensure that laws are coherent, but the point of the judiciary is just to interpret the law, not to make it.”

Ashley Mortimer

Ashley Mortimer

“I believe that there is a divine spirit in the universe and that it permeates the rest of the universe and that it touches and communicates with all other living things it in.”

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

“I do worry about the hijacking of certain civic occasions for political ends. For example, Holocaust Memorial is a civic occasion and stands above party political divisions on matters relating to contemporary politics, whenever you politicise a civic occasion you begin to kill it.”

Lillie Flynn

“I was always under the impression that we’re stronger together. How can we unite and stop all the hate when we’re drifting away from everyone else and closing our doors?”

Roque Santa Cruz

“Everybody needs to live without fear and given the circumstances, we all know that extremism is a plague that need to be controlled, and we all are involved in that. I don’t think that it’s possible to limit a religion, even one with a worrying history behind it, restrictions might only make things worse. “

Ian Scott

Ian Scott

“I don’t have any issues identifying as humanist. I’ve never experienced any social backlash, other than from people who think that you identify as humanist to avoid identifying as feminist.”

Dr Hilary Firestone

“It is a very good way of life and it introduces principles of discipline. You can’t always have what you want when you want it. It is a good lifestyle to live by, it give you rules. It’s ethical, moral and it suits me.”

Rabbi Reuven Silverman

Rabbi Reuven Silverman

“The religious landscape in Britain has changed so much that calling it a Christian country… and I don’t mean exclusively in sociological terms but also in legal terms, doesn’t really reflect reality and therefore I would argue for a change. “

Lucy Skilbeck

“Instinctively I think I am bound by the Rule of Law and in general the Rule of Law provides a mechanism by which society can function peaceably. That said, I think there are countries where I’d say that the Rule of Law is immoral and unethical and counter to human rights and religious freedoms.”

Professor David Feldman

“I’ve never felt in any way disadvantaged on religious grounds by any institution I have dealt with. I’ve found that in the very best of them, they haven’t even been concerned about it, they haven’t even asked.”

The Most Reverend Peter Smith

The Most Reverend Peter Smith

“I think that the Parliamentary system which was developed since Magna Carta, is probably the best way of governing, it’s not perfect but better than other ways. We’ve learnt to be tolerant, respectful and create a just society. “

Carole Emmerson

“I think religious and ideological freedom must be limited when they cause or have the potential to cause harm to other people… physical or emotional harm… I think that violence in the name of religion is unacceptable.”

Alison Steadman

Alison Steadman

“It is very important to not put yourself in an isolated box, you have to reach out and see that decisions have repercussions right down the line to the poorest person begging in the street. “

Father Paul Stonham

Father Paul Stonham

How would you describe your religious identity and beliefs? My religious identity? I’m a Roman Catholic, that’s about it. What made you adopt or retain this position? My mother is basically a non-practising Catholic, my father had been brought up as a Presbyterian but...
Sir Gareth Edwards CBE

Sir Gareth Edwards CBE

“I think that you are better to have a mixture and benefit from other people’s views. You have to be able to understand and compromise. One of the most difficult things for human beings is to understand each other.”