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Benedictine sides with atheists in London debate

The Intelligence Squared website

A Benedictine monk has joined a panel of atheists arguing that Christians are not persecuted in Britain.

Dom Antony Sutch, former headmaster of Downside, is speaking against the motion “Stop Bashing Christians! Britain has become an anti-Christian country”.

He is joined by Matthew Parris, a Times columnist and former Tory MP, and Geoffrey Robertson, a lawyer who earlier this year published a legal case for arresting the Pope.

They will be debating against the former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, journalist Peter Hitchens and the Booker Prize-winning novelist Howard Jacobson.

The debate, organised by Intelligence Squared and scheduled for November 3, asks if we are seeing “not just the death of the Christian culture which until… recently defined our history and way of life, but a positively hateful animus towards it on the part of officialdom and the bien pensants”.

The debate frames the alleged concerns of Christians in terms of discrimination, saying: “If you’re a Sikh in Britain you don’t have to wear a motorcycle helmet. If you’re a Muslim woman at work, no one objects if you wrap your head in a scarf. But woe betide you if you dare assert your faith or customs as a Christian.”

Possible subjects of contention include the case of the British Airways employee who was reprimanded for wearing a crucifix to work in 2006.

The debate may allude to the controversy surrounding Catholic adoption agencies, which were forced either to close or separate from the Church after legislation made it illegal for them to refuse to assess same-sex couples as potential adopters.

The event also asks: “Do they [Christians] not protest too much?”