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Non-Christians have right to freedom from belief

We are increasingly told by some prominent Christians like Alf McCreary that Northern Ireland has become a cold place for them because Christianity is being marginalised.

Yet there is no point in crying foul when religious belief is rightly losing its privileged position in society.

Opinion polls indicate that the majority of people are ahead of the leading spokesmen in Church and State on matters such as abortion, gay marriage and integrated schools.

Many believers are in denial about this growing secularisation and pretend it isn't happening.

So they present themselves as wiser or more knowledgeable than the public at large - or even the professional experts, as Edwin Poots did over the health risks of gay blood and Alastair McDonnell now does about tests for fatal foetal abnormality.

Similarly, Alf McCreary (DebateNI, February 11) laments the lack of prayers before most council meetings and complains that it is just another example of Christianity being erased from society.

Yet he fails to realise that in a pluralist, liberal democracy others have rights, too, including freedom of belief and freedom from belief.

If Christians have the right not to put gay marriage messages on cakes, then, by the same reasoning, non-Christians have the right not to have Christian prayers foisted on them. Arguably, the latter have a greater case because the bakery isn't being forced to participate in a gay marriage ceremony, whereas the non-Christians are being compelled to partake in a ceremony of worship.

BRIAN McCLINTON

Director, Humanist Association of

Northern Ireland

Belfast Telegraph