No sinister cabal plots in smoke-filled rooms to destroy Christianity. There is, however, a desire amongst progressives to privatise Christianity. They wish to restrict it to the level of a personal eccentricity, harmless as long as it doesn’t intrude into the public square.
It is increasingly difficult for a Christian to state what the Bible says and what the church has believed for 2,000 years, and maintain a role in public life in today’s Britain.
Today, Tuesday 22 January 2019, a Christian magistrate is appealing against the decision to remove him from his post after expressing a biblical view of the family.
After an exemplary 20-year record on the bench, Richard Page found himself disciplined by a Cabinet minister, Michael Gove, and the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Thomas.
Big guns to bring against a Kent magistrate. Page’s offence? Expressing a Bible-based view of family life.
During a closed-door consultation with two colleagues in a routine adoption case in July 2014 Page, a hitherto respected member of the family court, expressed a view considered beyond the pale by progressives. Having reviewed the evidence, Page decided that his legal duty to act in the best interests of the child meant he could not place the child with a same-sex couple.
His colleagues made a formal complaint, claiming he had applied his Christian beliefs in his decision-making. Page was reprimanded in 2014 after it was judged that he had been influenced in the case by his religious beliefs as a Christian. He was also instructed to undergo equality training.
Page later said: ‘I hold the view that it is in the best interest of the child to have both a mother and a father, and I believe this to be a lawful and reasonable position for a family court judge to hold.
‘It could be that an adoption by a same-sex couple or a single person is in the best interest of the child, but a report would need to satisfy me of that.
‘I believe this is a reasonable and fair position, and not one of discrimination.’
Expressing this position, upheld by millions throughout the UK, was considered so outrageous that it led to a formal investigation by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office’s disciplinary panel. They recommended to the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor that Page should be removed from office for serious misconduct.
Page was removed from the magistracy on 29 February 2016 for bringing the judiciary into disrepute. A few days later he was suspended from his role as a non-executive director at Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust.
On the other side of the debate, in a speech in May 2018, Lord Justice Munby, then President of the Family Division, said that he welcomed and applauded single-parent, unmarried, three-parent, and polygamous households; the demise of the typical nuclear family was, by implication, not a matter of concern.
No action has been taken against Lord Munby.
The decision to remove Page from the magistracy was upheld by the Employment Tribunal on February 2018. He asked for leave to appeal.
In allowing his appeal to proceed Her Honour Judge Katherine Tucker said judges are permitted to hold even ‘intolerant’ views that should be respected – but that there may be limits as to how they can be expressed so as not to impugn the impartiality of the courts.
Responding to the decision, Page commented: ‘It is vital that we maintain the true independence and impartiality of the judiciary and that ordinary people like me are not excluded from it.’
Consistently, Christians are being frozen out of public life. This has happened in nursing, in counselling, in teaching, and amongst registrars. Equality legislation initially enacted to protect minority groups is now being used to marginalise the Christian minority.
Page’s appeal will be heard at the Employment Appeal Tribunal in Central London today.