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Pickles: faith benefits all

18 January 2013

THE Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles MP, has criticised "the intolerance and aggressive secularism" that have undermined "British liberties of freedom of religion".

In a speech organised by Policy Exchange and British Future, at the Institution of Civil Engineers on Tuesday, Mr Pickles said: "Faith provides a clear moral compass and a call to action that benefits society as a whole. At a time when Christians are under attack for their beliefs in different parts of the world, I am proud we have freedom of belief in Britain.

"But, in recent years, long-standing British liberties of freedom of religion have been undermined by the intolerance of aggres- sive secularism: taking people to task for wearing a cross or a ro- sary; beginning costly legal ac- tions against council prayers - as if they had nothing better to do.

"We're committed to the right of Christians and people of all beliefs to follow their faith openly, wear religious symbols, and pray in public. That's why I signed a Parliamentary Order last year to protect the freedom for communities to pray."

He said he was "delighted" that the European Court of Human Rights had upheld "the principle of wearing a religious symbol at work", and said government lawyers were "ploughing through" the judgment.

In a speech that focused on bringing communities together, he criticised "the loutish English Defence League (EDL)" and the cost of policing its "malevolent marches."

He said that policing and local-authority costs for just two EDL demonstrations in Luton were almost £2.6 million; and they had "dealt a devastating blow to business and shops on the high street".

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