Monday, October 19, 2009

British MPs Want Christian References Removed From Constitutions of Territories

Sunday's London Mail reports on efforts by the Foreign Affairs Committee of Britain's Parliament to have references to Christianity removed from the Preambles of the Constitutions of two British territories. Beginning in 1999, the British Foreign Office initiated efforts to have territories under British sovereignty update their Constitutions. However, when Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee saw the redrafts from two territories, it raised objections. On the Cayman Islands draft, the Committee wrote in a letter to the Commonwealth Office:
we consider it inappropriate that both the preamble and the main text contain specific reference to the Christian religion and "Christian values". This gives the impression, even if it is a misleading one, that Christians will be granted more favourable treatment under the Constitution than people of other faiths or of none. Second, we regret the absence of explicit mention of sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for discrimination in clause 16.
In examining the draft of the proposed Constitution from St. Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, the Committee objected to a reference to "Christian and family values" in the Preamble. However in a letter, the Commonwealth Office said that other provisions in the document assure protections against religious discrimination. Meanwhile church leaders in Britain criticized Parliament for its concern with "spurious political correctness."