From time to time the news carries a flurry of stories about one group of people trying to impose their religious will on another group. Recently we have had the Al-Medinah faith school obliging non-Muslim women teachers to wear hijabs, a Jewish faith school blocking out evolution questions in GCSE science papers and the good news that the Scouts are finally to offer a non-religious joining pledge.
One of the most disturbing stories is very local. Officials from the NSPCC and Devon County Council are investigating the Twelve Tribes Christian group based near Honiton after allegations that the group punishes its children by beating them with a stick.
The simple power of the Human Rights movement rests on that statement “ALL human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. Teachers are free to chose how they dress responsibly in state funded schools, pupils in state funded schools are free to sit exactly the same examination papers as anyone else, young people without religious faith have the right to express their commitment to an idea with equal dignity to those of religious faith – and above all, children have the right to be freed from violent punishment.
The Human Rights movement has brought great advances to the human condition and its work must continue steadily into the future. It is beginning to turn its attention to the physical mutilation of children in the name of religious belief. Already genital mutilation of female children is outlawed in Britain, can it be long before male circumcision of children is outlawed too?
When Teresa May announces that a future Conservative Government will “scrap” the Human Rights Act we should all be very concerned indeed about what is planned to replace it.
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(from a press release)