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Extremism in England and Wales: Call For Evidence

Respond by 11:45pm on 31st January 2019

Left to Right: Professor Zachary Calo, Professor Tom Lewis, Reverend Dr Helena Hall, Pastor Dr Brighton Kavaloh, Dr Sana Khan Khurshid Left to Right: Professor Zachary Calo, Professor Tom Lewis, Reverend Dr Helena Hall, Pastor Dr Brighton Kavaloh, Dr Sana Khan Khurshid

A Serpent-like Dove

Christ told us to be as “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16). In a world where, as Seventh Day Adventist Christians, we might increasingly feel besieged by rulings that seem to erode our religious freedoms, we might find it very difficult to exercise that balance of being serpent-like doves, so to speak.

It was therefore reassuring to witness a live example of a response to this commission, when a small group of us were fortunate enough to attend a one day conference at the Centre for Conflict, Rights and Justice at the Nottingham University Law School – a conference where Pastor Brighton Kavaloh, as one of the invited presenters, tactfully displayed just how to be wise, but harmless. The conference was held on Monday 11 December 2017 and was entitled “Law, Human Rights and Religion – Flashpoints”.

University of Notingham
Presenting to a room of about 30 academics with expertise in various areas of law, some of whom were from within, and others from without the UK, Pastor Kavaloh was one of 4 presenters who were tasked with speaking during the “hot potato” section of the day – Religion, Sexuality and Gender Identity. With each speaker given only 15 minutes to present their thoughts, then a question and answer section at the end, Pastor Kavaloh was the second speaker with the highly-anticipated presentation entitled, “Ceasefire – A Call to End Hostilities - Religious Rights v Sexual Minorities”.

Through an analysis of the Judaeo-Christian foundations of English common law, meticulous scrutiny of specific case law, analysis of the UK Human Rights Act (1998), and evidence of concerns from distinguished experts of the law regarding the dangers of considering one of equality as more important than another (e.g. sexual orientation rights against freedom of religion) Equality Act 2010, Pastor Kavaloh was able to prove that within the current climate, religious freedom is a right that is regarded as less valuable than sexual orientation rights. Pastor Kavaloh concluded by proposing the need to adopt the principle of reasonable accommodation for religious beliefs in UK law. This would be the most effective way to ensure that different groups’ rights and freedoms are balanced fairly, rather than the recent trend where courts have tended to be pernicious when interpreting equality legislation in relation to the manifestation of religious freedom.

Despite some of the audience and presenters having differing views to those of Pastor Kavaloh, the cordial response from various presenters and audience members too was evidence enough that there was mutual respect between all parties.

Furthermore, Pastor Kavaloh’s presentation was a powerful witness in an environment where some might have thought that views like those presented by Pastor Kavaloh might be ridiculed. Instead, the act of stepping out in faith not only showed that there are indeed others who have espoused the very same views as we do, but after some heard Pastor’s argument, they were keen to state how inspired they were.

Yes! It is still possible to be as wise as a serpent, and harmless as a dove – even in this day and age.

Alex Nsimbi

Brighton Kavaloh

Brighton G. Kavaloh is a retired Seventh-day Adventist ordained Minister of Religion. He is the Founder and Director of Advent Religio-Legal Perspective.

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