Religious Authority & Abuse of Power - Parliamentary Debate

hoc abuse rr nchtAn extraordinary debate took place in the House of Commons on 18th November, on the subject of the abuse of Religious Power. In front of a full Committee Room 12, a panel of Religious leaders representing all traditions (except the Church of England) gathered to demand two things ....
The illustrious panel led by Baroness Cox were in complete agreement that Religious Rights MUST be subservient to Human rights and the second point, which found support from both panel members and also from members of the public and invited guests, was that Religious Establishments MUST be independently regulated.

The debate was extraordinary for many reasons but most noticeable was the complete absence of any representative of the Church of England. The Chair and co-ordinator of the debate, Natasha Phillips, as well as individual panel members had been working diligently to find anyone who would be willing to speak on behalf of the Church of England, all without success. Invitations and pleas had been sent to a large number of Anglican Clergy and they either politely declined or having agreed, withdrew as the date of the debate drew closer. Ranging from Peter Baldwin, who after having accepted, withdrew the day before the debate, to a a variety of Bishops and Archdeacons who initially expressed interest and availability, and then sadly were unable to participate.sks hmf abusedebate01  sml

The Panel which included our NCHTUK General Secretary, Shr Satish K Sharma presented reflective, compassionate and fully informed, passionate and positive speeches which covered individual cases of human rights abuses to global and historical abuse of Human Rights by Religious Institutions and Clergy.
The audience included many who were the targets of Clergy abuse as well as family members, religious and legal experts, students of Philosophy and lecturers and members of the InterFaith Community as well as members of the general public. Video recordings of the event are being processed and will be posted on this site as they become available but in the meantime here are a few pictures.. and audio recordings of the Panel speakers.



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  Chair Natasha Phillips, Barrister - "The Archbishop of Cantebury acknowledged the scale of the problem in October this year, noting that child abuse was rampant within the Church of England. Since 2001, the Catholic Church in England and Wales has defrocked 52 priests for sexual abuse, and in between 2003 and 2012, 465 sexual assault claims were made against clergy members, though the actual number of victims involved remains unknown."


bcc hmf abusedebate01  sml  Baroness Caroline Cox - "Finally, I hope we will all urge our political establishment to look beyond the powerful circle of self-appointed religious leaders and religious organisations, whose vocal lobbying has created a Britain with parallel quasi-legal systems, and segregated communities."




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  Danny Sullivan, Roman Catholic Church - " The way victimes and survivors were not listened to, not believed was a scandal.... I'm independent but I have no authority over any Bishop..."



The above two speakers then responded to Questions from the floor



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  David Greenwood, Switalskis - " The Catholic Church has refused to report abusing Priests to the Police and instead has moved them around within and between countries.  They have been strongly criticised on many fronts by the United Nations Committee for the Rights of the Child this year. The Church of England promised to apologise in July 2013, but no apology was actually issued.  The C of E has engaged with survivor groups and is listening, but has delayed and still refuses to accept survivors groups’ plans for improvement."




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  Sheikh Dr Muhammad Al Husseini - "

This culture of Bullying and unethical behaviour and sexual abuse starts with a culture of religiously motivated entitlement.. combined with a particular narrative of a psychopathic, charming charismatic highly persuasive manipulative religious demagogue type.."




The above two speakers then responded to Questions from the floor



 jb hmf abusedebate01  sml Bishop Jonathon Blake - "All religious organisations, however large or small, and all individual practitioners should have to be registered and pay a proportional contribution towards the regulatory body. You cannot rely on the fine sounding promises of religious organisations that are scrambling to adopt the right language and window dress their structures. The same predatory people, beliefs and practices remain in place."



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 Rabbi Jonathon Romain -"And in both cases – church cover-up or Haredi denial – lies a fear that if one particular person is exposed, then that will tarnish the rest of the group – whereas you and I know that colluding with a perpetrator – that’s what really tarnishes the group at large, while it also denies justice to the victim, which should have been the prime concern."



The above two speakers then responded to Questions from the floor




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  Pt Satish K Sharma - If I can paraphrase Goebbels "If you perpetrate abuse on a huge scale and keep repeating it, eventually people will come to accept it as NORMAL and no longer recognise it as ABUSE. Such abuse can only be maintained for such a time as the ABUSERS shield the people to the consequences of the abuse. It thus becomes vitally important for the BIG ABUSER to use all of its powers to repress dissent and enquiry, for dissent and enquiry are the mortal enemy of the BIG ABUSE.” Click here for the text of Satishji's speech.


  More information about the debate can be found by clicking here





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