Legislator 101: If You Pass a Bad Law, Fix It.

If a law is being interpreted in ways you did not intend and doing harm, then its a bad law and you need to change it. 

That’s legislator 101. 

According to Sir Alan Beith, former deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats and chair of the Commons Justice Select Committee, Britain has some bad laws floating around concerning religion. So far as I know, he doesn’t address whether or not British lawmakers intend to change these laws. 

He says that “Christians feel that they are being forced to hide their religion because of ‘silly’ interpretations of equality laws.” He refers to cases this year in which “two street preachers have been arrested, schools teachers have been reprimanded, Councilors forced to resign, Universities told to take down Christian symbols, Girl Guides forced to reject God, many Christians persecuted because of equalities obsession and along with all this, Christians can’t object to same sex marriage for being called homophobic or bigot.” 

Tim Pearson of The Way said, “Many Christians are treading on egg shells in their work place or in the wider society, worried that they may step over the mark by doing or saying the wrong thing.” 

Sir Beith says that all these problems are due to “completely false interpretations” of the law. 

Well, Sir Beith, that’s fine. 

What are your lawmakers going to do about it?

When laws are so poorly written that they lead to “false interpretations” that cause huge number of law-abiding citizens to “tread on eggshells” for fear of losing their jobs, being arrested or otherwise persecuted simply for, say, wearing a crucifix or saying that they oppose gay marriage, then maybe the law itself is a piece of junk. 

Legislator 101 says that when you pass a law this bad, you repeal it. If, for some reason, you don’t think it’s wise to repeal it, you re-write it, and repeal large portions of it in the re-writing. What you don’t do is sit around clucking like a hen about those nasty folks out there who are interpreting it incorrectly. 

If you write a law that puts large portions of your law-abiding citizenry in fear of their government, then it’s on you to fix the thing. Blaming other folks for misinterpreting your law and washing your hands of the whole thing is not allowed. 

Britain is the land where people can lose their jobs for wearing a crucifix, preachers are arrested for preaching against gay marriage and the government breaks into newspaper offices and smashes things up. 

It sounds to me like some of their laws need re-writing. 

From The Way:

A senior member of the Liberal Party has said that “Christians feel that they are being forced to hide their religion because of “silly” interpretations of equality laws”.

Sir Alan Beith, the former deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats and chair of the Commons Justice Select Committee, has likened the misunderstandings to those surrounding health and safety regulation, where the rules can be overzealously applied for the wrong reasons.

Referring to recent high profile cases, some of which have gone to the EU courts, involving people being told not to wear religious symbols in the workplace, Sir Alan said that many Christians feel that they have to keep their faith “under wraps”.


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  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    Uh, Rebecca, I don’t think the vast majority of British legislators think there is anything wrong with the way the laws are being applied at all. Sir Alan (never Sir Beith, the title goes with the personal name) is a classic case of a man whose career is over, given a title in place of the ministerial jobs he will never now have (a British parliamentarian with a knighthood is either a has-been or a never-was; even Winston Churchill only got his after he stopped being Prime Minister), and taking unpopular positions because he has nothing to lose. He once was in the running for party leader, but that was fifteen years and two leaders ago; and even so, the Lib Dems are only the third party and count for comparatively little. You will never hear a successful, rising Labour or Tory member talk that way. The average British politician, hearing of the raid on The Guardian (almost the only newspaper in Britain that really investigated politicians, sometimes gave them black noses, and even sent a prominent one to jail within recent memory), would probably have been chortling with glee. As for Christianity, they have been trying to get rid of the inconvenient thing for a century or more – of course, they would never admit that’s what they’re doing, but the facts speak for themselves. many Christians feel that they have to keep their faith “under wraps? Welcome to planet Earth, Sir Alan; that has been the case for at least twenty-five years. I paid dearly for not understanding that in college; and I will never forget how – in that same college – a woman who was without a doubt the most courageous person I ever met actually looked around herself to make sure that nobody was close, before telling me that, yes, she was a Christian too.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank for the information Fabio. So … British lawmakers LIKE the fact that they have passed what are essentially Jim Crow laws for Christians in Britain?

      • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

        Listen to the crickets. That’ll give you the answer.

  • Bill S

    In a secular society, there is no privilege afforded to something that was contained in a letter from Paul of Tsarsus to a group of people in Greece in the first century. If what was said in a public place can be considered to be hate speech, the fact that these same words were contained in that first century letter is irrelevant.

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      If Britain were a secular society, it would have no state churches. What it is is an extraordinary mixture of desperate ignorance, hypocrisy, decent instincts (we have seen those at work in the extraordinary explosion of cheerful volunteer work during the Olympics) surviving God knows how, power thirst disguised by the most appalling sanctimony (Tony Blair), and a national and Christian coating. But YOUR hate speech would not be welcomed here either: it would force too many Britons to see their own faces in the mirror.

    • TheodoreSeeber

      Secular societies are tyrannies.