Christopher Hart on the Religious Hatred Bill:
Enter new Labour with shining morning face,
like some eager perfectibilian schoolboy, believing that with a few
waves of its legislative wand it can banish cultural frictions and
religious disagreements from the earth. Under the proposed Racial and
Religious Hatred Bill, before the Lords this week, anyone found guilty
of being “insulting or abusive” about any religion could
face a prison sentence of up to seven years.
If the bill is passed then the kind of things I have written
at the start of this article — to my mind, perfectly reasonable,
evidentiary and legitimately discomforting things — could well
land me in Wormwood Scrubs. It is astonishing that any modern
democratic government should be even considering such a law.
The moment that this ridiculous, dangerous and damaging bill comes into force I’ll be on the look out for any statement from any preacher about unbelievers going to hell, and bringing an action against them for inciting hatred against my spiritual beliefs – which happen to be those of an athiest.