How would you describe your Identity or beliefs in terms of religion?
I would regard myself as a Christian, and if I had to choose further, I would say I am Church of England. I believe that Jesus is our Saviour… I believe in the standard Christian doctrine really.
What were your reasons for adopting/retaining this position?
My parents were both CofE members, and I went to church since I was a baby, then Sunday school, and then made adult decisions myself probably when I was 13. But yes, both my parents are Christian.
Is GB an equal and tolerant society, especially in relation to religion and belief?
Yes, I think we probably are an equal and tolerant society on the whole […] but I feel we should also welcome other religions as well. I am very happy to have other religions around, but I would probably say that we are reasonably equal and tolerant.
By comparison with other countries, I think we have done quite well, you get a lot of Christian intolerance in Chinese and middle-East countries, and Christianity may be persecuted. Certainly we don’t do that… So, I would never persecute anyone who is Muslim or Buddhist or anything like that.
By comparison with other European countries, I think we are reasonably on a par… obviously we had the whole thing with Jews in Germany, but that is fortunately past now… Yes, I think we are probably on a par with European countries, I would say.
Any challenges to living in accordance with your faith? If so, are they social, political or legal in nature?
It is incredibly easy to live as an Anglican in England. I think there are challenges [such as the case…] potentially it could get difficult in the future, but I think for me personally, not difficult at all.
Has Anglicanism influenced Human Rights?
I think the CofE is very good in terms of human rights. I don’t know a huge amount about it, there is always improvement to make… I would like to think that we set an example, but I am not completely sure we do it all the time… It was a difficult question.
Our main aim at the moment is to try to get same sex marriage in the Church of England, which we currently don’t have. Same sex marriage should be for everyone, regardless of their religion or belief. That comes loosely under the theme of human rights.
This campaign is difficult. Getting same sex marriage within the Church of England will take time. It is not going to be achieved overnight. If we get it within ten years, we’ll have done pretty well… We’ll get there… The Church has to move with the times, and more and more Christian leaders are coming out in support of same sex marriage… It will happen eventually, but it is a question of time.
How do you feel about faith schools?
I think faith schools are generally speaking good. To a certain extent, parents have the right to have their children educated according to their beliefs, but at the same time children cannot be ignorant about some issues, they need to have knowledge about some matters, including sexual education, as well as education on other religions… When I was in school I was never given any type of relationship education, I didn’t know if my sexuality was normal or not… if we include it in the education system, the child will know that is normal…
Should religious businesses be granted exemptions from discrimination law?
It is a difficult question. One part of me says that one person should run his business as he wants and this kind of thing, but at the same time, it is discriminatory, and if he didn’t want to accept somebody of another race, that would be labelled as racial abuse, quite rightly. So, why should that be different with sexuality? It may not be so obvious as a different race… So, although I am kind of in the middle, when I have to decide, actually if you are running a business, you cannot discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation and therefore, I concur with the decision of the court in the B&B case.
Do public bodies respect Human Rights?
I think human rights are generally respected by the Government and other public bodies in Britain.
Do public bodies get the balance right in intervening in the lives of citizens?
I think it varies from case to case… At times, they could have done a bit more, than just saying ‘this is the law and this is how it is’, but other times it takes more investigation… It is difficult to say what stance public authorities should take in relation to freedom of religion and belief. It is really a difficult question.
When should public authorities intervene in religious expression?
I think public authorities must interfere when there is a physical or mental damage to others. Public authorities should step in.
Is living in a democracy a positive thing?
I am very happy to live in a democratic system.
No, there is no preferable system to democracy.
Do you believe that you have a duty to vote?
Yes, I feel I have a duty to vote… I feel quite strongly about voting and I would feel even without my faith… I don’t think we have any right to stand up, if you weren’t bothered to vote. It is a duty as both a citizen and a Christian.
I don’t know if a compulsory voting system would be ideal. Part of me is inclined to say ‘yes’ (70%), but some people don’t understand the system and it would be too harsh on them. So, 30% no… I am a bit torn here.
Does it concern you that the House of Lords is unelected?
The House of Lords is probably an old boys’ club. I think if the House of Lords were elected, it would probably look very different.
How do you feel about bishops in the House of Lords?
I don’t know about the presence of the Church of England bishops in Parliament. Sometimes the CofE bishops want something very different from what I want. For instance, with same sex marriage. So, in situations like that I wish they were not there… but in other situations it is probably good to have them there, but as a group in general I don’t think they represent the religion I believe in… It is a hit and miss situation… Sometimes they do a good job, sometimes they are screwed up.
I would also like to see representatives of other religious bodies.
How do you regard devolution in Wales and Scotland?
I am pleased Scotland has a devolved model, but I wouldn’t want Scotland to go completely independent. I think we are better together rather than splitting up. Again, for similar reasons to our EU membership.
What responsibilities come with power in your faith and understanding?
I think we all have a certain amount of responsibility… responsibility to recycle, to be more eco-friendly, to welcome each other into places… I don’t want to use the word tolerance… to make an effort to welcome others, regardless of our backgrounds, and I feel we have that responsibility to others, whether or not we have powers.
Do our leaders reflect society as a whole?
I think our leaders are not sufficiently representative. They come across as an old boys’ club. In the Church of England women still have to improve their position, and it feels like that in politics. You don’t have many people who have been brought up in a council estate reaching Politics, or Oxford or Cambridge. I don’t think that our Parliament is really representative of the general population.
Christians should give a voice to people who otherwise wouldn’t have a voice.
Is the Rule of Law applied equally? Do some groups experience either preferential or prejudicial treatment?
I would feel confident in the courts. I trust the judiciary and I would feel they would treat me fairly.
Are our judiciary sufficiently independent?
I think judges are sufficiently independent… but I am not sure… however, as I trust them, I assume they must be independent.
Have you campaigned on any issue?
I haven’t written to my MP or demonstrated, because I have mainly worked within the Church… I have written to the Archbishop of York about CASE… In Changing Attitudes we write to the House of Bishops, to bring about changes’
We don’t just work internally within the CofE, as I am also part of a LGTB Christian social group in Hull and we get involved in secular stuff.
Through Changing Attitudes, back in Hull, we have had the support of an officer with an expertise in dealing with hate crime… I am often in contact with her, if we do any event that we think it might attract other Christians, but more hostile…
Have public authorities been good at meeting your religious needs?
In the school system I didn’t need any sort of religious assistance above and beyond the usual curriculum.
Do you believe that you have a duty to speak for the vulnerable?
My religion requires that I speak on behalf of the weak and the vulnerable… Anyone who is discriminated against by Christians, or by anybody else for that matter… and who doesn’t have the confidence or a voice for himself is the weak and the vulnerable.
Is the Rule of Law applied equally? Do some groups experience preferential or prejudicial treatment?
Not everyone is on an equal footing in British society… I think that is my impression, but I couldn’t justify why… Some people may receive a preferential treatment, for instance, because of their race, and this happens because the law is enforced by humans, and humans have some prejudices, such as racial prejudices.
How do you feel about the increase in police powers over the last 15 years?
Difficult question about the police… at times the police may need more powers, but on other occasions it can go the wrong way… I don’t know really. Again I am 50/50 about the police… at times they may need more powers, but on other occasions they need to calm down…
Is there anything else which you would like to add on this theme of freedom, religion and belief in Great Britain?
Lucy has been in full time work since she was 18, including roles at ITV in advertising & scheduling. She has served as chair of Changing Attitude and on the General Synod. She is a natural extrovert with a great love of spaniels.