Congress warns State Department of U.K.’s agenda to harass Christians

By Bob Unruh

(Photo by Joe Kovacs)
(Photo by Joe Kovacs)

Members of Congress have joined in a letter to the State Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom with their concerns over the United Kingdom’s developing agenda to harass Christians and suppress their faith.

The letter, from U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, and others, explains the government in the U.K. has implemented “Public Spaces Protections Orders.”

Those abrogate a long list of ordinary rights that citizens there are entitled to exercise, simply because they are Christian-based.

“PSPOs specifically target the activities of religious believers. For example, the city of Bournemouth has in force a PSPO that prohibits crossing oneself, reciting scripture, genuflecting, sprinkling holy water on the ground … in the censorship zone.”

The letter continues, “Enforcement of these laws creates a deeply concerning pattern of legal and state-sanctioned harassment of Christians and other pro-life Brits for not only voicing support for the sanctity of life and for offering resources for women considering abortion, but also for exercising their fundamental right to free speech, religious freedom and freedom of thought.”

The letter explains: “The prosecutions of Isabel Vaughan-Spruce for silently praying in public within the vicinity of a closed abortion facility, Adam Smith-Connor for privately praying for his own son lost to abortion, and Catholic priest Father Sean Gough for praying in a censorship zone and having a parked car within the censorship zone with a bumper sticker that read ‘unborn lives matter’ are just three specific examples of the British government’s violation of religious freedom. Both Ms. Vaughan-Spruce and Father Gough were criminally charged for silent prayer, while Mr. Smith-Connor was fined for praying in silence. All three were interrogated as to the content of their thoughts and prayers in the censorship zone.”

Isabel Vaughan-Spruce (Courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom U.K.)
Isabel Vaughan-Spruce (Courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom U.K.)

The letter continues, “Even more disturbing, Parliament is considering legislation that would implement these anti-religious-freedom censorship zones around abortion facilities across all of England and Wales, and recently rejected amendments to this legislation that would have clarified that silent prayer and consensual conversations cannot be construed as crimes. Arresting individuals for silent prayer is a gross, aggressive, and needlessly escalatory assault on one’s fundamental freedoms.”

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“As the United States and the United Kingdom share a special and uniquely close relationship, it is imperative that the U.S. speak boldly and clearly to its friend when the U.K. has failed to protect unalienable rights. A free people do not face legal persecution for exercising a natural right. We strongly condemn the actions of the municipalities and the potential legislation before Parliament to persecute Christians and other pro-life citizens for thought crimes.”

Also signing the letter were Reps. Jeff Duncan, Mary Miller, Randy Weber, Andrew Clyde, Ben Cline, Andy Ogles, and Glenn Grothman,

The Christian Institute said the letter was to Ambassador Rashad Hussain.

It said, “Last year, MPs gave their backing to the introduction of censorship zones around abortion clinics in England and Wales. An amendment to the Government’s Public Order Bill to outlaw the offering of prayer and advice to women outside of abortion clinics was accepted by 297 votes to 110. Under the proposals, anyone found guilty of breaching the rules could face six months in prison.”

Outrageously, the report said, “The nationwide proposals could also include private residences and even churches close to a clinic, meaning pro-life posters or adverts could not be displayed if they can be seen from the street.”

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