The EDL Has a Concern for Christianity, but Christian Concern Does Not Support the EDL

Yesterday (and in an update added earlier today) I noted Kevin Carroll’s use of a narrative of persecution against Christians in the UK when speaking at a recent anti-Islam conference in the USA organised by Pamela Geller. Extrapolating extravagantly from  an article in the Daily Express, Carroll, who is the deputy leader of the English Defence League, suggested that the lack of an automatic right to display a cross in British workplaces was due to Muslims, and that the UK government intends to use the police to enforce a general ban. I looked at the actual court cases here.

One group promoting the idea that the current legal situation amounts to the suppression of Christians’ religious freedom in the UK (without going as far as Carroll’s claims) is Christian Concern. Paul Diamond, who is “Standing Counsel” to Christian Concern’s associated Christian Legal Centre, has reportedly also made the connection to Islam. Last year, he spoke at a conference in the USA entitled “Constitution or Sharia” (Geller was also part of the original line-up for this, although for reasons I discussed here she did not attend); the American evangelist William Murray, writing on the Sharia Awareness Action Network website, summarized Diamond’s contribution:

Barrister Paul Diamond from the United Kingdom spoke of the Islamization of London and his struggle in the courts to represent Christians whose rights have been taken from them.  He presented the case of British Airlines which permits employees to wear Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and other religious clothing, but prohibits them from wearing any cross or other item identifying them as Christians. The courts actually upheld British Airlines’ right to discriminate against Christians. Diamond has founded Christian Concern in the United Kingdom to assist Christians who are persecuted as the United Kingdom becomes more Muslim oriented.

I recently had an email exchange with Diamond, in which he made clear that neither he personally nor Christian Concern support the EDL. However, he declined to respond to two specific issues. These were:

(1) Christian Concern’s view of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition’s support for the EDL, given that Christian Concern has made links with the Tennessee Freedom Coalition;

(2) A claim that there has been one instance of telephone contact between Christian Concern and the EDL. The claim was made by a former employee of a UKIP MEP, Gerard Batten, and has been published on a website run by what appear to be disaffected UKIP ex-members. This employee recently lost an employment tribunal against Batten, and Diamond, who represented him, has sent me the tribunal’s judgement. It is clear that the court was not impressed by the ex-employee’s reliability, and the blog where the claim was published also contains other accusations that are obviously excessive and actionable (hence no link from this site). However, Diamond made no specific clarification as to whether or not the phone call did in fact occur – and I have had no response to emails sent to Christian Concern and to its director, Andrea Minichiello Williams.

I should add that I do not take the view that having had contact with the EDL is necessarily significant or reprehensible: I can imagine various trivial or non-controversial reasons why one-off contact may have occurred. However, it seems to me that it is in the public interest to for the matter to be clarified.