In May 2019, Dr. Richard Scott faced an investigation by the NHS England (National Health Service) after several complaints were made about him offering prayer to patients, as he discussed this practice during a BBC Radio 4 interview. Dr. Scott faced an investigation to see if he was fit for practice, but the case has now been settled between Dr. Scott and the NHS, as reported on the news at the beginning of October. He has agreed to attend a course about professional boundaries and at the same time, with no admittance of wrongdoing.
The UK's already controversial Public Order Bill has received an amendment proposal that would criminalize supporting women seeking an abortion within a 150-meter "buffer zone" from an abortion clinic. Apart from the fact that this would open the way for authorities to repress Christian street preachers, this amendment means that prayer or any kind of help inside the "buffer zones" could lead to an up to two-year jail sentence. Laws like this already exist in Northern Ireland since March, and will also be a reality in Scotland in the near future.
A new report was submitted to the Scottish Government on the 4th of October that could criminalize efforts by parents to mentor their children according to their beliefs, with the possibility of losing parental custody. Prayers and private conversations could also be criminalized. The report considers "conversion practices" as "any treatment, practice or effort that aims to change, suppress, and/or eliminate a person's sexual orientation, expression of sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression.".
A Scottish politician, John Mason, has been disciplined by party leaders at Holyrood after he showed support for pro-life activism outside hospitals. He was sent a written warning and was accused of causing women “great distress” for his remarks on abortion and buffer zones outside clinics. The news was reported recently on the 15. September.
Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, has pronounced in favor of the legislation meant to limit pro-life activity around abortion clinics, which could lead to the creation of abortion clinic "buffer zones" across Scotland. The First Minister suggested that pro-life groups could protest in front of the Scottish parliament instead of gathering outside abortion clinics. A legal counsel for ADF UK, Mr. Igunnubole, warns that such laws do not possess a "reasonable excuse" to ignore basic tenets of the rule of law, such as Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly.
In the city of Leeds, members of society raised concerns, claiming that street preachers in the city center are using hate speech and homophobic language. The local council, together with the Police have now issued a new "code of conduct", in which they tell preachers that they respect their freedom of expression, but also recognise that it may be limited to "prevent disorder or crime".
Rev Dr. Bernard Randall is a Christian chaplain who was reported to a terrorist watchdog by the school he worked at, after giving a sermon addressing the new LGBT Guidelines and telling his pupils it was ok to make up their own minds, as long as they remain respectful towards other's opinions. He is now facing a high-profile Employment Tribunal hearing and has even been blacklisted as a safeguarding risk to children by the Church of England (CofE). Dr. Randall says he was interrogated and told that refusing to capitulate to the allegation and denying his beliefs made him a risk. The diocese safeguarding team concluded ‘the Church itself is a risk factor.’
On 21. August, "Grimsby Live" reported that the Willows Community Church in Grimsby had been tagged with slogans about sex and drugs that affected the community. Organizers of the Church repainted the walls within hours after the desecration took place. And the news outlet chose not to publish the pictures of the vandalistic act, due to the nature of the slogans. The police was notified and they will run an investigation.
During an interview with the Christian Institute, Dr. James Holt, Chair of the Freedom Declared Foundation, said that there is a lack of religious literacy among some elected officials in the UK. He noted that at the recent International Conference on Freedom of Religion and Belief in London, the issue seemed to be addressed mainly as a foreign policy issue and not a domestic concern. He considers that "much more needs to be done" to counter anti-religious hatred in the UK and secure religious freedom.
Rosa Lalor, who on the 24th of February of 2021 was fined for praying silently on the public street, and later decided to challenge the sanction, won her appeal. At the time, the police considered that she did not have a "reasonable excuse" to be outside, even though she explained that she was simply "walking and praying" and that daily exercise was allowed. She received a fine of £200 and was then detained in the police car. Rosa Lalor decided to challenge the fine, with the help of ADF UK and won the case in court.
A Christian mayoral candidate for Lewisham, Maureen Martin, has launched legal action after being sacked for her statement on Christian beliefs about marriage in her election manifesto. She was dismissed by her housing association employer L&Q for "gross misconduct" following three complaints of "hate speech" against her, as she expressed her belief that a marriage between a man and a woman was a "fundamental building block in society" and the "safest environment to raise a child".
The evangelical Christian preacher and member of the Free Speech Union, Hatun Tash, was arrested on the 26th of June, at Speakers’ Corner. It was her third arrest in two years. Apparently, she was dragged by a group of police officers, who took her to the police station, "strip-searched, interviewed, kept overnight in a cell and then released without charge". She was released the next day, interestingly, on the 150th anniversary of Speakers’ Corner.
A large church in Eckington, which has not been used for quite some time, was set on fire by unknown arsonists on the 3rd of June. Residents were told to leave their homes and two fire departments had to be called. Although this church may have been unused, its religious value was still present.
In a series of break-ins at the former South and Levern Church, more than £50,000 of damage was caused by unknown vandals. In the latest act of vandalism on the 27th of May, the organ was destroyed and radiators were torn off the walls. Although the church has been closed, it is still a sight that carries religious sentiment for many people.
The stained glass windows of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Ringmer were broken by youth with catapults and ball bearings on May 23rd. The police identified the culprits and confiscated their catapults. A police spokesperson said: “The youths will subsequently be coming into Lewes Police Station to account for their actions.”
After the windows of the St. David's Church in Newtown were broken the month before, someone returned to break them again on the 22nd of May. The church has not been used for many years but is a historic building and a religious symbol. Paul Williams, a local, said: "This is really sickening yet again. Whoever you are, stop it."
St Catherine’s Dominican Chapel, a Catholic chapel in Newry, was targeted by arsonists who set religious books and pamphlets on fire. Nobody was hurt, in the incident which happened on the 22nd of May, but the head priest had to put the fire out. A witness said they saw youths running from the scene and it was guessed that they were the arsonists.
The Kilmarnock South Parish Church in Ayrshire, was repeatedly targeted by vandals during May. Over several weeks, doors were smashed and glass was broken by a group of youth who were seen on CCTV. A spokesperson for The Well, an outreach group that organizes events at the church, said: "We are slowly trying to get the place up and running to serve the community but this is just soul destroying."
A cross and candlestick were stolen from the medieval church of St. Mary in Addington on the 10th of May. Reverend Debbie Forman said that the items have "little intrinsic value" but the church is "not the same without them." The church remained open and the hope was that the thief, who was not known, would return them.
On May 10th, vandals broke into the Rotherham Church and trashed the interior. They drank wine and left broken bottles everywhere as well as destroying the church-run nursery which is used to help single mothers with childcare. The incident forced the nursery to close for a week.