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Top judge compares secularists to 'Tudor tyrants'

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Militant secularists exhibit an attitude to freedom of speech and religion which is similar to that of tyrannical leaders in the Tudor times, one of Britain’s top judges has warned.

Sir Michael Tugendhat’s, who retired from the High Court last year, stated that “lawsuits involving religion were absolutely unknown” when he began his professional career, but that in the past 10 to 15 years “they had become increasingly frequent.”

The former judge, who has been involved in a number of high-profile cases, representing celebrities such as footballer John Terry, said that aggressive secularists were seeking to “limit” religious freedom and free speech to a “private sphere”, adding that freedom which could not be exercised in a public setting amounted to a form of “oppression."

High profile

The comments follow a series of high profile cases in recent years where Christians have been penalised for expressing and living out their beliefs in public discourse.

“Those who are hostile to belief in a superhuman being or to religious practices, I am afraid, sometimes exhibit an attitude to freedom of religion and freedom of speech which is as restrictive of that of Elizabeth I or Burghley,” he said.

“They seek to limit those freedoms to the private sphere, but that is a denial of the rights that these freedoms enshrine.


“The terrible story of the Tudor-Stuart religious divisions should be a reminder that freedom which is confined entirely to the privacy of a person’s home is a form of oppression.

He added: "The fact that states recognise human rights and natural rights and even the fact that they may enshrine them in their laws doesn’t mean they always respect them.”

Reasonable accommodation

Earlier this year, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published a report highlighting the scale and diversity of challenges faced by Christians in the UK.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe also voted overwhelmingly in favour of introducing a principle of reasonable accommodation of belief, stating that “measures should be taken to ensure the effective enjoyment of the protection of freedom of religion in Europe.” As a result, all 47 Member States will now be asked to consider adopting the principle in the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers.

“Growing censoriousness”

Last year, the Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Baroness Hale, also highlighted the challenges faced by Christians in the UK, mentioning some of the cases supported by the Christian Legal Centre. It was followed a few days later by an address by the President of the Supreme Court in which he raised concerns over the risk of a growing “censoriousness about what views people can publicly air.”

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