July 1, 2011

Chief Rabbi warns of erosion of religious freedom

by Jan Harris

Over the past week Lord Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, has spoken out against the erosion of religious liberties, both in the UK and in the Netherlands.

Lord Sacks said that the Netherland’s decision to ban the slaughter of animals according to Jewish and Muslim dietary laws represents “a dark day in the country’s history”.

The religious practice of both Jews and Muslims requires an animal to be killed while it is fully conscious, but a bill to prevent animals being slaughtered without being stunned first passed by 116 votes to 30.

The upper chamber of the Dutch parliament will decide whether the bill passes into statute, later this year.

The European Jewish Congress is considering whether to take legal action against the proposed law, claiming that it goes against the right to freedom of religion, as laid out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Chief Rabbi has also spoken out against the erosion of religious liberties in the UK, claiming that the country’s equality laws could lead to a new ‘Mayflower’ exodus, similar to when the Pilgrim Fathers sailed to America in the 17th century to escape religious persecution.

UK equality legislation has led to Roman Catholic adoption agencies closing because of their unwillingness to place children with gay couples, and employees being dismissed for expressing religious views in the workplace.

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