Freedom of Religion
Freedom of religion has historically been a central British value. This includes allowing people to hold public office without requiring them to subscribe to certain beliefs. The 1719 repeal of the Schism Act allowed non Anglicans to become teachers, the 1778 Catholic Relief Act allowed Catholics to join the army, the 1828 repeal of the Test and Corporations Acts and 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act allowed non Anglicans to become local councillors and MPs. This was extended to Jews by the 1858 Jewish Relief Act and Atheists by the 1888 Oaths Act. Sadly, the historic core value of religious freedom is now under attack not just from Islamists but also from a new intolerant version of Liberalism. This seeks to impose its own ethical beliefs on wider society and exclude from public participation anyone who disagrees with them – which on occasion has included those holding historic Christian beliefs. However, genuine toleration means tolerating people you disagree with, not seeking to impose your views on them. That is the only basis a free society can exist on.
Dr Martin Parsons