Opinion Former Article

BHA briefing on Bishops in the Lords following POWER2010 poll

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has today published an up-to-date briefing on 'Religious Representatives in the House of Lords' to coincide with a large-scale public action and poll on the issue, which found a large majority of people are opposed to having Bishops sit in the House of Lords as of right.

In partnership with a number of organisations including the BHA, the democracy reform organisation POWER2010 initiated an action where members of the public wrote to the Bishops in the Lords, to ask them to join the debate on reform of the second chamber. To date, over 50,000 people have contacted the Bishops via the POWER2010 website.

The ICM poll which accompanied the action found that 74% of people think it is "wrong" for Bishops to be given an automatic seat in the Lords, and that 48% said that it was not important for Church of England Bishops to have a role in the Lords. The poll questioned over 1000 people from different backgrounds.

Andrew Copson, BHA Chief Executive, commented, 'It is evident that the majority of people in the UK do not support the automatic right of Bishops to sit in the legislature of our country. By publishing our own briefing today, we hope to further that debate as part of the wider issue of how we move towards a more democratic constitution, fit for our modern society.'

'The UK is the only democratic country to give seats in its legislature to religious representatives as of right. It is undemocratic and represents a level of privilege for one denomination of one religion which is inappropriate and unacceptable in our plural society.'

The BHA's new briefing 'Religious Representatives in the House of Lords' provides a background to the issue, and sets out the arguments made for retaining Bishops, those made for increasing and diversifying religious representation, and the arguments against Bishops and against increased and more diverse religious representation as of right. It also provides information on the wider context of secularism and disestablishment, and sets out what can be done about the present situation.

Notes

Read 'Religious Representatives in the House of Lords'.

Read more about the BHA's work on Bishops in the Lords.

Read more on the POWER2010 action.

Read more about POWER2010.

For further information or comment please contact Andrew Copson, please contact Andrew Copson on 07534 248596.

To see the full set of polling results contact Amanda Hughes (Power 2010), on 020 7806 6239 or 07795 410527.

The British Humanist Association represents and supports the non-religious. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.

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