Christians launch landmark human rights case

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Campaigners will submit papers to the European Court of Human Rights in a final attempt to overturn rulings they say have restricted religious freedom for Christians and effectively persecuted those wanting to publicly practise their religion.


The move comes in the case of three Christians whose cases have become testing grounds over the restrictions which can be put on public displays of faith.

Their appeal to the Grand Chamber of the court will open the way for a final ruling on what limits can be put on such displays, including wearing a cross and talking about belief in the workplace.

Shirley Chaplin, Gary McFarlane and Lillian Ladele all had their cases rejected at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg earlier this year.

In the case of Mrs Chaplin, an Exeter nurse who was forbidden to wear a cross at work, the Strasbourg judges ruled that her right to express her faith could be overridden on “health and safety” grounds.

Mr McFarlane, a former Relate counsellor, and marriage registrar Miss Ladele – who both resisted tasks they saw as condoning homosexuality, which they believe is against the Bible’s teaching – lost their cases.

Written By: John Bingham
continue to source article at telegraph.co.uk

37 COMMENTS

  1. Any religious belief that has no supporting evidence is voluntarily adopted (unless the believer is delusional). Therefore the believer’s freedom to proclaim voluntarily-adopted beliefs shouldn’t prevail over the non-believer’s right to make rational statements. For example, McFarlane’s antigay statements are based on unsupported, and therefore voluntarily-adopted, religious beliefs. If they cause him to encroach on the human right of gay people not to be vilified for their sexuality, then McFarlane’s right to free speech should give way.

  2. Why stop at homosexuality? In the cases of McFarlane and Ladele, their bible gives them right to refuse interfaith and non faith people as well.

    2 Corinthians 6:14-15: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" (KJV) 
    

    And if your really dig deep into the bible, I’m sure they can find biblical grounds to refuse everyone. I would like the judge to point all the biblical rules they have broken and question the validity of their faith.

    I don’t even know where Miss Ladele gets off even thinking she has the biblical right to raise her voice?

    1 Timothy 2:11-15
    Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing.

    I guess it’s how you interpret it

    • In reply to #4 by aquilacane:

      2 Corinthians 6:14-15: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communi…

      “Yoked” means being a slave to, a yoke being something that connects oxen or horses together by the neck, and was used in early English translations due to the fact everyone then knew what a yoke was. KJV is not very reliable in it’s translations, due to the fact that the words used are massively out of date and needs its own translation.
      The bible encourages people to only have God as a master, not money, other people or things.
      I think the point of that passage is that if you yoke yourself to a non-believer, you will likely end up being a non-believer too.

      I am one of many Christians who don’t think Christians or churches should be allowed to discriminate – and those who discriminated deserved to lose their jobs (it’s stupid to sin because you don’t like someone else’s particular sin).
      As far as health and safety regs go in health care, I believe all jewelry is banned, as it can be a hazard, therefore the nurse wasn’t being discriminated for her beliefs.
      When someone is treated poorly or fired solely because of their beliefs (rather than their actions), then they should be protected, regardless of what those beliefs are. If your actions were wrong, then you should receive the same punishment anyone else would get for the same actions.

  3. Christians launch landmark human rights case

    There are some fallacies that are so common you can forecast them. I have a sneaky feeling this is the standard “if we want to be mean to gay people you should let us” issue. Yes, even though the Bible is a very big book, that’s pretty much the only point on which Christians are ever in the news for finding themselves at loggerheads with society. This is odd, considering how many other Christians are part of the consensus of that society.

    religion is being treated as a “thought crime” by government and courts

    Don’t all the examples they cite boil down to what Christians did? (As I read on, it turns out to sometimes not be that, but see below for why that makes scant difference.)

    Campaigners will submit papers to the European Court of Human Rights in a final attempt to overturn rulings they say have restricted religious freedom for Christians and effectively persecuted those wanting to publicly practise their religion

    Christians genuinely are persecuted in this world, but Europe is the last place you should look for that. Indeed, every state religion in Europe is Christian.

    In the case of Mrs Chaplin, an Exeter nurse who was forbidden to wear a cross at work, the Strasbourg judges ruled that her right to express her faith could be overridden on “health and safety” grounds

    Why would a Christian even want to do something that’s unsafe?

    [McFarlane & Ladele] resisted tasks they saw as condoning homosexuality

    I was right about 2 of the 3.

    Her lawyers will argue this time that her case could have “huge implications” regarding whether other workers, such as teachers or social workers, will be forced to promote gay marriage after it becomes law.

    We as a society have largely agreed gay people deserve the same rights straight people do. If telling people who don’t agree with that where to get off also counts as treating people unfairly, then what is fair? Will we grant homophobes respect, only to have people who hate them – which is a lot more than just gay people – play the same “I want to be mean” card? That this is clearly too ridiculous to happen shows that homophobic Christians, who are to the 2010s what racist Christians were to the 1960s, are fighting an unwinnable battle.

    British courts are applying double standards towards Christians

    Every single one of these cases involved a Christian challenging the application to them of rules intended to be universal. By definition, the courts cannot be the appliers of double standards, whereas their challengers must be. (Unless the charge is that, say, Muslims are allowed more homophobia than Christians are, which might actually be true.)

    human rights rules have been used to effectively outlaw beliefs which have been held for millennia

    Firstly, it’s (in)actions that are being restricted, not beliefs. If you aren’t responsible for marrying people, or you are but you marry people even if you wish you weren’t doing it, no advocates of gay marriage can complain about your conduct. Secondly, if that’s literally the only “quality” the beliefs have, they should go.

    while affording special recognition to minority opinions on anything from fox hunting to climate change

    There aren’t laws saying you have to have a small carbon footprint unless you trust a book saying climate change is a hoax.

    Meanwhile “self-evidently absurd” health and safety rules are being used as a “ruse” to prevent Christians wearing crosses while outward expressions of other faiths are welcomed

    No necklaces are allowed, religious or otherwise. That this is important for the health and safety of medics et al is well-understood by people who don’t have an agenda to want to wear some necklace or another. And by the way, neither crucifix-wearing nor homophobia are necessary in modern Christianity.

    An overzealous and one-sided interpretation of rules has brought human rights law itself into disrepute

    So why are you applying to the human rights people?

    the lower chamber of the Strasbourg court ruled in favour of Nadia Eweida, a BA check-in clerk who was told the small cross she wore contravened the airline’s uniform policy — which has since been changed

    Wait, I’m confused: is the enemy legislation or company policy? In either case, if a court gets you the outcome you want, then the law is your friend.

    McFarlane was sacked after saying that he might struggle to conduct sex therapy sessions with same-sex couples, though he never actually refused to do so. “He was dismissed for his ‘thoughts’ and ‘religious beliefs’ on a wholly theoretical basis,”

    We’re taking a lot on their word.

    The United Kingdom has an overall good record on human rights

    Why then would you oppose the practising of gay rights in the UK?

    Christian views on the upbringing of children by two parents have not been recognised as a religious view at all

    We have sociological knowledge of what are good ways to rear children and what aren’t, and that’s why, for example, we no longer cane children or send them up chimneys. Pray tell, what Christian views on this should be granted especial credence for their religiosity (as opposed to their being good for children)? Remember, once you cross from beliefs to action, as you invariably will with beliefs about what’s worthwhile to do, your beliefs are a source of externalities, which may override your rights.

    We are throwing down the gauntlet to David Cameron to decide once and for all whether he is in favour of religious freedom or not.

    He’s a Christian, but not the kind of Christian who sees his religious freedom as including the freedom to take away other people’s freedoms.

    These are cases where the only victims were the Christians

    The same could be said of arresting someone for conspiracy to commit actions that are also illegal when committed. It was only a matter of time. If you let someone who is unhappy about marrying gay people marry people for a living, what do you think is going to happen if you don’t nip that one in the bud?

    • In reply to #6 by Virgin Mary:

      Oh god. This is going to go horribly wrong for secularism.

      Why would you think that? They’re losing the majority of these cases. That they have the right to appeal is something to be celebrated, and actually indicative of a society where people get equal treatment. As long as they don’t win their appeals of course.

      • In reply to #8 by Sjoerd Westenborg:

        Why would you think that? They’re losing the majority of these cases. That they have the right to appeal is something to be celebrated, and actually indicative of a society where people get equal treatment. As long as they don’t win their appeals of course.

        This is the European Court for Human Rights we’re talking about here. An establishment famed for its cowardice. I fear, I really do.

    • What? This is the final chance for 3 cases that lost multiple times already, how can you predict “horribly wrong”? Seems like the bigots have the up hill struggle. This is Europe not the US.

      In reply to #6 by Virgin Mary:

      Oh god. This is going to go horribly wrong for secularism.

      • In reply to #10 by alaskansee:

        What? This is the final chance for 3 cases that lost multiple times already, how can you predict “horribly wrong”? Seems like the bigots have the up hill struggle. This is Europe not the US.

        If there’s one establishment which makes rulings based on its own agenda then it is the European Court of Human Rights. They may have lost thus far but I would never ever put it past the Chamber to overturn decisions based on popularity. If these Christians are shown to have enough support then it wouldn’t surprise me one little bit if the judges ruled in their favour.

  4. I notice the poor old Christians are now claiming that they are the victims of “thought crimes” ! That’s rich coming from them ! No doubt they will wheel out Lord Carey to lead the charge !

    Their Jesus would have the likes of me boiled for eternity in the fiery lake for not believing in him ! And they want the right to preach this stuff at work ! Well I have an 8 letter word to answer them. Begins with a ‘b’ and ends with an ‘s’, 4th letter ‘l’

    B – - l – - – s !

    • In reply to #12 by RDfan:

      From what I can tell, the Christian argument boils down to this: “the law is unfair to Christians because it treats us the same as it does everyone else.”

      Precisely, there is no “thought crime”. According to the law Christians can believe whatever ridiculous nonsense they like, entirely at their own risk.

  5. What are the rights desired?

    1. right to refuse service to homosexuals (and by extension the cursed race of Ham (black people)) (Ironically the complainant is black himself.)

    2. right to prosyletise at work.

    Surely the homosexual clients have a right to be served. Surely workers have a right to avoid sales pitches at work, even if in non-verbal form such as garish depictions of a crucified man for example. I would say the proper solution for someone with a phobia of serving segments of the public should find a job where he does not serve the public.

    The whole point of the oversize religious jewelry is to impose it on others. For her personal use she could wear it next to her heart under her clothes.

    I would say wearing a “f-ck Jesus” shirt to work should not be allowed either. You are supposed to be working, not having a religious debate.

    • In reply to #15 by Roedy:
      It doesn’t say what size the cross was or if it was in front of her top or behind it, Regardless of what the jewelry was, you can’t have any in health care, as it’s unsafe.
      It would be like saying a hospital is discriminating against married people because wedding rings, like all other jewelry, are banned for health reason, or discriminating against pagans, wiccans etc for not being allowed to wear their own special jewelry, or a superbowl winner for not being allowed to wear their championship ring.

  6. Consider a counselor for a government agency who refused to deal with clients if they were

    1. women
    2. Jewish
    3. black
    4. Muslim
    5. atheist
    6. over 70

    You would tell him. “You can’t do that. If you insist, you must find another job.”
    He has no no more right to pull this childish stunt with gays. He is trying to recruit the government it his little crusade to persecute gays, by giving it official legitimacy.

  7. Here is yet another way to look at the request to wear a large crucifix to work. If you read the bible, you will see it looks uncharitably on Jews, Muslims, atheists, gays and blacks (not to mention Philistines). You might even say Christianity is a hate group. It certainly is for gays. Christians have threatened my life over 3,200 times just because I was gay. If you allow this woman to wear the symbol of her hate group to intimidate the Jews, Muslims, atheists, gays and blacks in her office, then by extension a Nazi should similarly be allowed to wear a swastika to show his contempt for Jews, gays, blacks and gypsies and a Wahabi Muslim should be permitted to wear a green and gold sash embroidered with “death to all infidels” in Arabic.

  8. The ruling on crucifixes is the big one. Just think of the health risks if there’s a miracle and that little Jesus starts bleeding from those unsanitary wounds. If you aren’t a believer, is it possible you’d get saved against your will? Woah, what a lawsuit you’ve got against the hospital.

    There’s something about other outward signs of religion. All I can think of is maybe someone wearing a star of David necklace. But I think the little Jesus is the only one that people kiss and rub so much – tryng to raise him from the dead huh? ;)

  9. So what will they do when they lose this final appeal? Change their “beliefs”? Or get another job. There are plenty of religious organisations that are allowed not to employ gay people, why don’t they work there?

    • In reply to #19 by Aber ration:

      There are plenty of religious organisations that are allowed not to employ gay people, why don’t they work there?

      True, I suppose they are, for now, but why are they allowed to discriminate against gay people? What exactly is this “right” based on? Religious doctrine has no standing under the law.

  10. The bible treats homosexuality with the same seriousness as those who shave their temples. Has McFarlane and Ladele refused to counsel or marry people who habitually take clippers and razors to their heads?

  11. They think they have a god-given right to be bigots because the buy-bull says so. How true is Weinberg’s assertion: if you want good people to act wicked you need religion.

  12. I can’t imagine there being any good argument for restricting freedom of expression, at work or otherwise, but if someone is wearing jewellery against health/safety/dress standards, or babbling incessantly about their private beliefs or hobbies after being asked to stop, then employers (and fellow employees) should be equally free to tell the bleating bling-flaunter where to get off.

    In other words, no limits should be put on cross-wearing or proselytising specifically, but when those things contravene reasonable, generally-applied workplace policies the contravening employee should change their behaviour or find another job.

  13. I always applaud the christians attempt to invoke human rights. they may well get some extra rights about advertising dead people on their clothes but where their beliefs are in direct conflict with core human rights issues they can do nothing but shoot themselves in the foot

    the best they can hope for is a ruling on the size of cross you can wear if it doesn’t cause health and safety issues. the right to apply for a job then demand the job description is changed afterwards to suit the applicants bigotry will either be laughed out of court or at best ensure that their right to weare a cross will mark them out as unemployable

    • In reply to #27 by SaganTheCat:

      the best they can hope for is a ruling on the size of cross you can wear if it doesn’t cause health and safety issues.

      Hahaha! I totally have this image of some stern-faced supervisor breaking out a ruler to measure the sizes of these people’s crosses. Just like they used to measure skirt heights in Catholic school.

  14. This is such bullshit. Since when does not being allowed to wear jewelry and being required to fulfill your job requirements qualify as “persecution”. Are they being fed to lions, burned at the stake, or driven from their homes by the government and courts? No? Then they are not being persecuted. They may be offended that others don’t take their superstitions seriously and that their jobs actually require them to dress a certain way or treat others with respect and equality as part of their job-related duties, but that does not imply discrimination against their personal religion, and it certainly isn’t “persecution”. If they don’t want to fulfill their job requirements, then get another job. Otherwise….well, boo-friggety-hoo. Deal with it. I’m sick of these people wanting to get paid for NOT doing their jobs. I’m sick of them trying to legitimize their bigotry and hatred behind crosses and bibles.

  15. Meanwhile “self-evidently absurd” health and safety rules are being used as a “ruse” to prevent Christians wearing crosses while outward expressions of other faiths are welcomed

    Recent research has shown that rings and jewelry harbour bacteria. Here in Victoria BC Canada medical people in hospitals take them off to work. I presume the same would apply to large necklaces that swung out and touched patients.

    You are just asking for trouble by blatantly advertising religious affiliation. You are going to get patients, perhaps not fully compos mentis, getting upset – thinking they are getting the last rites or being pushed to convert to a wicked religion etc.

    The point of it is proselytising. The workplace is not an appropriate venue. And ill people too weak to tell you to shove it up some rude place are not the appropriate targets.

    I have found it extremely annoying to be attended by religious fanatics in hospital. My thinking was this was a state hospital and so they should have no right to impose their religion on defenceless people there. If you want such people, you should have to explicitly request them.

    • I am in complete agreement with you. It’s just a way for them to proselytize and appear pious. I’m a nurse in Washington state, and we are not allowed to wear rings or bracelets or nail polish because they interfere with hand hygiene and harbor bacteria. We aren’t allowed to wear dangling earrings or necklaces for safety reasons. We aren’t allowed to wear perfume or scented products because others may be allergic. We give up all of these personal things in order to provide a safe and clean environment for our patients, and no nurses that I’m aware of are complaining about it.
      In reply to #30 by Roedy:

      Meanwhile “self-evidently absurd” health and safety rules are being used as a “ruse” to prevent Christians wearing crosses while outward expressions of other faiths are welcomed

      Recent research has shown that rings and jewelry harbour bacteria. Here in Victoria BC Canada medical people in hospitals take them off to work. I presume the same would apply to large necklaces that swung out and touched patients.

      You are just asking for trouble by blatantly advertising religious affiliation. You are going to get patients, perhaps not fully compos mentis, getting upset – thinking they are getting the last rites or being pushed to convert to a wicked religion etc.

      The point of it is proselytising. The workplace is not an appropriate venue. And ill people too weak to tell you to shove it up some rude place are not the appropriate targets.

      I have found it extremely annoying to be attended by religious fanatics in hospital. My thinking was this was a state hospital and so they should have no right to impose their religion on defenceless people there. If you want such people, you should have to explicitly request them.

  16. As Dawkins points out, anyone seeking to avoid military service in wartime on the grounds that it was simply against his conscience, would have a hard time, but if he said he was acting on his religious beliefs, he’d sail through. For most of history, it’s been the faithful who have done the “persecuting”. Now the boot is sometimes – rightly – on the other foot, hark at them squeal!

  17. These cases include sense and nonsense. A legal officer unable to support the law of the land because of conscience, self-evidently cannot continue in a position that would lead to prejudicial judgements and the withdrawal of an individual’s rights guaranteed by law.

    The ban of wearing a crucifix on health and safety grounds, is on the face of it pretty ludicrous. I suppose there are environmental circumstances where an exposed piece of silver of any design might just be a problem, but focussing on such issues seems just petty. On the other hand, uniformed individuals are not allowed to add gratuitous extras, like unearned medals or a CND badge etc, because to do so would indicate non-sympathy with the core values of the organisation represented by the uniform (how about a bishop in full regalia displaying a satanic symbol?). And then there is the case where the symbol might be just plain provocative, Imagine a right wing Councillor or MP wearing a prominently displayed swastika into a meeting with a jewish constituent (or any liberal constituent for that matter).
    It has always struck me as a bit pathetic that individuals wish to publicly identify their ideologies on a routine daily basis, but OK we’re all different, but when a public display whilst on duty can send a message that the office holder is antagonistic to the “client” then a line should be indicated.

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