The Christian Institute

News Release

Christians say religious hate crime will backfire to scupper religious freedoms

As the House of Lords prepares to vote on the Home Secretary’s new religious hate crime offence, a Christian charity publishes a report which raises grave concerns about the new law.

The Christian Institute fears that the new offence could harm rather than protect religious people. It urges peers to vote against the proposals in the key vote next Monday, 10th December.

Whilst the Government clearly has good motives, the Institute opposes the new offence of incitement to religious hatred because:

  • It will harm freedom of speech. It has the potential to criminalise religious debate. That is why journalists, Liberty, religious groups, and gay rights campaigners oppose it.
  • The Attorney General and judges should not be required to adjudicate on people’s beliefs.
  • Secular groups could use the law to attack religious groups.
  • Some cults are litigious. The new offence will enable them to silence their critics.
  • Protection already exists for all people regardless of religion. It is already a criminal offence to incite any crime against another person, whether or not religion is the cause.
  • Religious discrimination in employment is about to be outlawed in separate legislation under the EU Employment Directive.
    1. The Bill already introduces tougher sentences through the new religiously aggravated offences. These offences are very powerful but uncontroversial.
    2. Speaking today, Colin Hart, Director of the Institute said:

      “We have no doubt that there are individuals who seek to stir up religious hatred, physically attack religious people and cause criminal damage to places of worship. Our point is that the existing law is going to be very powerfully strengthened by the new religiously aggravated offences. This aspect of the Anti-terrorism Bill is widely supported.

      But a new crime of inciting religious hatred will hurt those it is intended to protect. It would be counter-productive and have dangerous implications for civil liberties.”


      Copies of the new report are available on the web at

      For further information contact: Colin Hart on 0191 281 5664

      Note for Editors: The Christian Institute is a charity which seeks to promote the Christian faith in the UK and give a Christian perspective on moral and ethical issues.