UK may tell overseas outposts to drop God

The Foreign Office may tell two of Britain’s overseas territories to cut references to Christianity from their constitutions.

The elimination of Christianity from the documents is being urged by a committee of MPs that looks at foreign affairs issues.

The Foreign Office says the suggestion is being “carefully considered”.

But the Bishop of Winchester says the idea is about “advancing a secularising agenda” and Tory MP Ann Widdecombe says “it is proof positive that this Government is anti-Christian.”

The Foreign Affairs Committee objects to the redrafted constitutions for the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean and a group of islands in the South Atlantic.

An updated constitution for the Cayman Islands was finalised in February.

It states that the territory is a “God-fearing country based on traditional Christian values, tolerant of other religions and beliefs”.

The document adds that it is “a country in which religion finds its expression in moral living and social justice”.

The territory of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha islands in the South Atlantic has a constitution stating that the islands wish to respect “Christian and family values”.

But the UK Government has suggested that it drop references to Christian values from its constitution.

The territory’s governor, Andrew Gurr, told The Mail on Sunday: “The alterations to the constitution were being debated and, when it came to the reference to Christianity, the Foreign Office man said we might want to think about taking it out because the climate in the UK was now multi-faith.

“I interpreted this to mean that we might be offending people of other religions if we left it in. It was felt that while the UK may well be multi-faith, Christianity is the dominant religion on the island so we kept it in.”

The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt, has written to the committee and to Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

He said the proposal was “unnecessary” and appeared to be more about “advancing a secularising agenda” than protecting people from discrimination.

Tory MP Ann Widdecombe said: “As far as I am concerned, it is proof positive that this Government is anti-Christian.

“It is up to places like these to make their own decisions. There is no compelling reason for the Government to go down to this level of detail.”

In May it was revealed that the Foreign Office is trying to work out whether Christmas merits a special greeting for embassy officials, after David Miliband missed it last year but remembered Ramadan.

In June newspapers reported that Foreign Office officials had been told to push ‘gay rights’ when representing the UK abroad.

According to a Foreign Office guide, officials should make sure “LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] aspects are included in local activities promoting British cultural life”.

They are also to use funding “to support civil society work for LGBT rights”.

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