But Williams charged that the commission is not upholding even this limited interpretation of religious freedom.
“What Mr. Phillips needs to do,” she said, “is to come spend a day at the Christian Legal Centre, run through the cases, and see the discrimination that there is out there.”
“In the Shirley Chaplin case, for instance – the nurse who was told to take off her cross after 38 years of wearing it in frontline nursing – exceptions were made for the Muslims, with the long flowing hijab and a big brooch.”
“Down in a South London council, Muslims are allowed to pray five times a day, but Christians are not permitted to display Christian calendars on their desks. These are our realities.”
She also pointed to the case of Eunice and Owen Johns, the elderly Pentecostal couple who were rejected as foster parents – despite their extensive experience – because they disapproved of homosexuality. “The Equality Commission intervened in that case. They intervened against the Christians,” Williams noted.
“They've intervened in a number of other high-profile cases. They have not, ever, intervened against Muslims. They've only ever intervened in the Christian cases to stand against the Christians. This is not equality. This is inequality.”
“There's a complete making-way for Islam, and yet Christianity is suppressed,” Williams observed.
“This notion of accommodating Shariah, of accepting it – and then, of saying that Catholic adoption agencies, which believe a child needs a married mother and father, should be closed – is devastating for society.”
Williams says Britain's aggressive pursuit of secularism was creating a “vacuum” that radical Muslims could seek to exploit. “Radical Islam has an agenda in this nation, and works hard,” she noted.
But many English Christians fail to stand up for biblical truth in this context. “In many ways, the Church has herself to blame for the state we're in. What we've got to do is find our voice. Otherwise, there will be increased oppression and suppression.”
Williams observed that Christianity has historically “survived much worse than attacks by Trevor Phillips.” But she acknowledges that things look “very bleak” at the moment.
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“We've currently got a government that's consulting on extending civil unions to religious premises,” she noted. “They said they would never do that.”
Williams and other English Christians want authentic religious freedom for themselves and others. But they understand the conflict with secularism is part of the cost of discipleship.
“Jesus suffered a false trial, was hated by the world, put on the cross,” she recalled. “But there was his resurrection, and the great hope that flows from that.”