Wednesday, September 5, 2012

British Christians Take Religious Freedom Cases to European Union Court

Clockwise from top left, Lilian Ladele, Shirley Chaplin, Nadia Eweida, and Gary McFarlane, British citizens who lost their jobs for following their Christian beliefs, are bringing their cases to the European Union Court for Human Rights.

Four British Christians have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. All of them lost cases regarding job problems for what they say are their religious beliefs.

The four are British Airways check-in clerk Nadia Eweida, nurse Shirley Chaplin, relationship counsellor Gary McFarlane and registrar Lilian Ladele, the BBC reported Sept. 4

Eweida, the Telegraph newspaper explained, was suspended from her work as a check-in clerk at British Airways in 2006 for wearing a small cross around her neck. The airline eventually changed its policy but she is seeking compensation for the money lost during her time of unpaid leave.

Chaplin was moved from her job as a ward nurse to a desk job by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust Hospital for also wearing a cross.

McFarlane, a Bristol counsellor, was fired by the charity Relate for refusing to give relationship advice to homosexual couples.

Ladele, a marriage registrar for Islington Council in London, was disciplined after she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies.

Mrs Chaplin and Mr McFarlane are being supported in their cases by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC).

CLC Director, Andrea Minichiello Williams, accused the Government of "astonishing double-standards" in their handling of the case.

In particular, she hit out at David Cameron who has looked to churches to help get his 'Big Society' project off the ground and made public statements in support of Christians, whilst refusing to intervene in the four cases.

The Government's submission in relation to the four cases stated that "there was no interference with the applicants' right to manifest their religious beliefs" and that the applicants were "free to resign if they consider that the requirements of the employment are incompatible with their religious beliefs".

Ms Minichiello Williams said: "Gary and Shirley have received massive support from the British public who believe that the ‘equality agenda’ has led to injustice.

"Many believe it is unfair that hard-working public servants and employees are being discriminated against simply because of their faith. It is very clear at the moment that there is either a major problem in the way that the Equality Act was drafted, and/or the way in which the Courts, and employers, fail to balance the rights of various groups and beliefs. It is time for this to be redressed.

“The working of the British courts has led to deep injustice. If we are successful in Strasbourg I hope that the Equality Act and other diversity legislation will be overhauled, so that Christians are free to work and act in accordance with their beliefs and conscience.”

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