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Eric Pickles challenged to back up “Christian country” claims

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Christian Concern has asked Eric Pickles to give evidence against his own Government Department after his recent comment that Britain is a “Christian nation”.

Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, issued the challenge yesterday (7 APRIL) live on Radio 4’s PM Programme and is also sending the Communities Secretary a letter.

On Sunday (6 APRIL) Mr Pickles was widely reported as saying that militant atheists should “get over it” and accept that Britain is a Christian country.

Challenging Mr Pickles

But Mr Pickles’ Government department refused to allow a Christian Concern colloquium at the QEII Conference Centre in London (a venue run by Mr Pickles’ department) in May 2012.

Andrea has therefore asked Mr Pickles to back up his comments by testifying against his own department.

She said: “We’ve heard the Prime Minister and now the Communities Secretary defend Britain’s Christian heritage. But if their comments are going to be more than just hollow soundbites, somebody needs to back up these words with action. Mr Pickles now has that opportunity by giving evidence against his own department. He should intervene to stop the centre from pursuing costs against us, and ensure that the centre is open to us in the future.”

Marriage Conference 

Christian Concern had booked the QEII conference centre for a colloquium on the subject of marriage. But at 4pm the day before the colloquium, the QEII Conference Centre cancelled the booking with the Centre’s Chief Executive saying it was “inappropriate” for such an event to be held at a Government venue.

"You are responsible"

The case is now in the Central London County Court with Christian Concern and Andrea Williams as claimants and Eric Pickles and the QEII Conference Centre as defendants.  The department is already estimating costs of £50,000, which they will claim against Andrea and Christian Concern if they win.

This kind of threat has a profound chilling impact on any person or organisation wishing to challenge the closing down of freedom of speech and expression.

Andrea says in her letter: “The British public has the right to know whether the expression of Christian belief and values on the subject of marriage (and other issues) is ‘inappropriate’ to be heard at a venue run by your Department…

“You are the Minister responsible and should answer for the policy of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.”

You can read the full copy of Andrea's letter to Eric Pickles by clicking here >