From Graeme Wilson and
Sir, - We write as clergy
and lay leaders of different beliefs and faiths working in the
interfaith arena, in response to your brief news item "Druids
turned down by Inter Faith Network" (7 December).
Modern Britain is an
immensely diverse nation of belief and new religious philosophies.
The Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom (IFNUK) has been
paid for over years by the British taxpayer in millions of pounds -
at a time of economic hardship for ordinary British people.
Therefore, the rejection by the IFNUK of the lawfully recognised
faith charity the Druid Network raises serious concerns about
possible religious discrimination under the Equality Act 2010,
which have been discussed in an expert legal statement published by
the leading human-rights law firm Bindmans LLP (see www.religiousfreedom.org.uk/legal).
In particular, this
activates questions related to Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010
concerning the Public Sector Equality Duty of government and public
bodies to consider issues of religious discrimination and exclusion
that may arise when they decide to give the money of British
taxpayers as public funding to interfaith and other groups.
Our esteemed and greatly
loved Anglican friend the Revd Peter Owen-Jones (the presenter of
Around the World in 80 Faiths) chaired a meeting in
Parliament, representing 24 faiths, during the recent national
Inter Faith Week, to highlight the solidarity of Christians and
members of other world religions against the injustice of such
discrimination against the Druid and other minority
As people of faith, we know
that Jesus Christ had no hesitation in talking to despised and
excluded religious groups, such as the Samaritans (John 4.7-9),
while St Paul happily entered into dialogue with pagans in the
Athenian Areopagus (Acts 17.22-28).
It, therefore, appears
wholly contrary to scripture and the Christian gospel that the
Church of England hierarchy should have manufactured an official
2009 policy document to denigrate and exclude from equal dialogue
"New Religious Movements and Alternative Spiritualities" (go to
and click on the right on "NRM Policy Document"), without any
biblical foundation whatsoever, but rather in breach of the
Christian injunction to love one's neighbour as oneself.
Christianity was at one time
a persecuted cult, as were all the so-called "mainstream"
religions. The God of Israel calls his people to remember not to
exclude the alien or mistreat the stranger; "for you were strangers
in the land of Egypt" (Leviticus 19.34).
Graeme Wilson, Chair of
Religions Working Together; Muhammad Al-Hussaini, Secretary of
Scriptural Reasoning; Kevin Snyman, Chaplain of Occupy Faith UK;
Tracey Coleman, Chief Executive of Camden Faith Communities
Partnership; Rory Fenton, Dialogue Officer of the British Humanist
Association; Phil Ryder, Chair of the Druid Network
Religious Freedom UK
146 Queen Victoria Street
London EC4V 4BY