Humanists call for EHRC Chair Trevor Phillips to apologise, following ‘sectarian and divisive’ statements
The Chair of Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Trevor Phillips has been called on to apologise by the British Humanist Association (BHA), after he made heavily biased remarks in favour of religious people and against the non-religious in an interview. The BHA has described Mr Phillips’ comments as ‘divisive and sectarian’.
With no reference whatever to the EHRC’s duties, which legally apply equally to the non-religious, Trevor Phillips stated: ‘Our business is defending the believer. The law we're here to implement recognises that religious identity is an essential part of this society. It's an essential element of being a fulfilled human being.’
He also made a number of acerbic comments about those who are critical of religious beliefs – an important right of free speech, which it is also the purpose of his commission to defend – and suggested that they wanted ‘to drive religion underground’, with no supporting evidence.
Trevor Phillips has something of an ambiguous position on free speech in relation to religion. For example he did say in response to the Dutch cartoons of Muhammed
"One point of Britishness is that people can say what they like about the way we should live, however absurd, however unpopular it is."He has also spoken on the need for free speech to 'allow people to offend each other.'Which is definitely at odds with his current pronouncements.
I see no evidence that any secular body wants to drive religion underground. Personally I am passionate about exactly the opposite; religion should be visible, exposed and made to justify its claims. It is religion that hides in the shadows of obfuscation, theodicy and equivocation, not humanism and rational thought.