Methodist church backs religious hatred bill
In the face of opposition from a number of conservative Christian groups, the Methodist Church has publicly backed Government proposals to outlaw actions which incite religious hatred.
The measures, contained in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill currently before Parliament, would make it a criminal offence to incite hatred against any individual or group because of their religious beliefs.
The bill is however being actively opposed by conservative Christians.
An unusual alliance including Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson, as well as comedians, writers, religious groups and representatives of the National Secular Society, met at the House of Commons last week, to highlight their campaign against elements of bill.
Conservative groups including the Barnabas Fund, the Evangelical Alliance, and the Lawyers Christian Fellowship, have signalled their opposition on the grounds it might prevent them from evangelising.
The Bishop of Manchester has however already pledged the backing of the bench of bishops in the House of Lords to the Governmentís proposals.