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Unitarian and Free Christian Churches support a change in the law on assistance to die

“71% of those with faith support a change in the law, but the Unitarian and Free Christian Churches are the first denomination to take a positive stance on assisted dying”

On Saturday, the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches voted in favour of a motion supporting greater choice at the end of life. The motion called for legislation to provide the choice of assistance to die to those facing an intolerable existence because of a debilitating and/or incurable condition. While this motion supports a broader choice than that which Dignity in Dying is campaigning for, we are delighted to have the support of the Unitarian and Free Christian Churches in our campaign to legalise the choice of assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults.

Jo Cartwright, Press and Campaigns Manager at Dignity in Dying, said:

“Dignity in Dying commends the Unitarian Church for proactively addressing this increasingly important issue and reflecting the views of the majority of their congregation by taking a positive stance on assisted dying. There is a common misconception that assisted dying and the Christian faith are mutually exclusive, and this simply isn’t the case. The 2010 British Social Attitudes Survey found that 71% of those with faith support a change in the law, but the Unitarian and Free Christian Churches are the first denomination to take a positive stance on assisted dying.

“With an Assisted Dying Bill to be tabled in Parliament later in the spring, we look forward to working with the Unitarian and Free Christian Churches in making greater choice at the end of life a reality.”

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain MBE, Coordinator of Interfaith leaders for Dignity in Dying (IFDiD), said:

“This vote explodes the myth that it is only secularists who favour the right to opt for assisted dying. It can be a religious response too, and there are many people of faith who believe passionately in the value of life, but not in the value of suffering.”

***ENDS***


Notes to editor:

About the Unitarian Church:

Unitarians have a long history of promoting social and cultural reform. They were the first British denomination to admit women as ministers – more than 100 years ago. Last year (March 2012) the Unitarian chapel in Manchester became the first place of worship in the country to be licensed for the legal ceremony that creates a civil partnership between two people of the same sex. Unitarians were one of the first faith groups to openly support same-sex marriage .

The motion:

That this General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, recognising the worth and dignity of all people and their freedom to believe as their consciences dictate, believes that:

any individual who faces an intolerable existence because of a debilitating and/or incurable physical condition should have the right to seek support for the termination of their life in a painless and dignified manner and legislation should respect their choice and allow them compassionate assistance in achieving such a death without fear of prosecution of anyone involved.

BSA Survey on assisted dying and faith:

“The British Social Attitudes Survey 2010 found that 92% of non-religious and 71% of religious people support assisted dying. This relates to overall support of 82%.

InterFaith Leaders for Dignity in Dying:

InterFaith Leaders for Dignity in Dying (IFDiD) is an alliance of ministers from different faith groups coordinated by Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain. The group has formed to support a change in the law to allow the choice of assisted dying to terminally ill mentally competent adults. There will be an IFDiD seminar next month to discuss the theological argument in support of assisted dying.

About Dignity in Dying:

  • Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.
  • Dignity in Dying has over 25,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.

Media Contacts:

For all Dignity in Dying media enquiries, please contact Jo Cartwright on 020 7479 7737 / 07725433025 or at jo.cartwright@dignityindying.org.uk