We are pleased to announce that this week’s ‘Parliamentarian of the Week’ is Charles Walker, Conservative MP for Broxbourne.
During Prime Minister’s Questions this week, Mr. Walker asked Theresa May the following question:
“When people make fun of Christianity in this country, it rightly turns the other cheek. When a young gymnast, Louis Smith, ?makes fun of another religion widely practised in this country, he is hounded on Twitter and by the media and suspended by his association. For goodness’ sake, this man received death threats, and we have all looked the other way. My question to the Prime Minister is this: what is going on in this country, because I no longer understand the rules?”
The Prime Minister responded by saying:
“I understand the level of concern that my hon. Friend has raised in relation to this matter. There is a balance that we need to find. We value freedom of expression and freedom of speech in this country—that is absolutely essential in underpinning our democracy—but we also value tolerance of others and tolerance in relation to religions. This is one of the issues we have looked at in the counter-extremism strategy that the Government have produced. Yes, it is right that people can have that freedom of expression, but that right has a responsibility too, which is the responsibility to recognise the importance of tolerance of others.”
Charles Walker was right to raise this issue. It is a question that ordinary people across the country are asking. It is certainly a question that many Christians ask. No religion should be immune from criticism, and there are times that criticism will turn into ridicule. I don’t see that as a downside to living in a free society – I see it as a positive. One of the great British characteristics is the ability not to take oneself too seriously.
Sadly, we don’t appear to be living in as free a society as we ought to be. Theresa May’s response proved that. I thought it was pretty pathetic. Whenever she talks about freedom, there is usually a “but” in the sentence. There shouldn’t be.
I’m pleased that Charles Walker raised this issues in the Commons. I wish more MPs would do so, too.