An Irish Westminster Declaration needed

At the beginning of this month, just before Gordon Brown called the UK General Election, some of Britain’s leading Christians came together to sign a Loudspeakerdocument called The Westminster Declaration.

The declaration is a defence of marriage, the right to life and freedom of conscience. It is another sign that Christians are waking up to the growing threats to what they believe. The two main signatories are the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, and Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien.

The declaration is based on a similar American document, the Manhattan Declaration, and some of its concerns directly intersect with the concerns of The Iona Institute, in particular the two dealing with marriage and freedom of conscience.

Since the declaration was launched on April 4, 34,000 people have signed it online. Without any doubt whatsoever there is a need for a similar document here that would be signed by Christians from across the spectrum. It would need at least one Catholic and one Church of Ireland bishop to sponsor it.

This is not in any way, shape or form beyond the bounds of possibility. If the will is there, it can and will be done.

The threat to what Christians in Ireland believe is growing daily. Last week we learnt that a doctor was investigated by the Medical Council for running his fertility treatment service in line with his Catholic convictions.

The Civil Partnership Bill makes no allowance whatever for freedom of conscience and religion.

The INTO wants Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act deleted meaning religious schools would be forced to employ people who would undermine their ethos.

Last weekend the Labour party at its annual conference voted unanimously in favour of a motion calling on national schools, including denominational ones, to abandon their admissions policies which, in the case of denominational schools, obviously favour children of their own faith.

An Irish version of the Westminster Declaration might help to galvanise Irish Christians and alert politicians that they are waking up to the growing threats to their beliefs, their institutions, their conscience and their way of life.