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European court rules on religious freedom cases

By on Tuesday, 15 January 2013

British Airways employee Nadia Eweida celebrates winning her case in London (Photo: PA)

British Airways employee Nadia Eweida celebrates winning her case in London (Photo: PA)

The European Court of Human Rights has today given its judgment in the cases of four Britons who alleged they suffered discrimination as a result of their Christian faith.

Only one of the four was successful in their claims.

Nadia Eweida, a worker for British Airways, and Shirley Chaplin, an NHS nurse, both complained when their employers ordered them to cover up crosses worn around their necks.

Ms Eweida was initially told by BA that crosses were prohibited as they undermined the professional presentation of staff – despite hijabs, turbans and skull caps being acceptable. BA subsequently changed their policy, and today she has won her case for discrimination.

Ms Chaplin, along with Lillian Ladele and Gary McFarlane, lost their appeals before a panel of seven judges.

Ms Ladele was a marriage registrar for Islington Borough Council who asked not to perform same-sex civil partnerships when these were introduced. She requested to do other work instead, but was told this was against the council’s equality and diversity policy. Mr McFarlane, a relationship counsellor for Relate, did not want to participate in sex therapy with homosexual couples. Both cited Christian teaching in defence of their objections.

All four are Christians who claim that their actions are aspects of their faith which are protected under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This defends the right to “manifest religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance”, subject to proportionate limitations, “prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others”.

The three who lost their appeals are believed to be considering a final appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court, where their cases could be heard before seventeen judges.

John Duddington, editor of the Christian Law Review, said: “I expected this. The decision of the UK courts that a Christian could be prevented from wearing a cross at work was plainly wrong and thank goodness that the European Court of Human Rights has seen sense here. However, the courts have a very poor record of upholding the rights of Christians when other rights are involved, such as those of homosexuals, and so the other decisions, although very disappointing, come as no surprise.

“All is not lost. however. The UK Government is looking at the whole area of human rights and now is the time for Christians – and those of other faiths – to make a strong case for the reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs to be protected in law.”

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/KSAARIUG6RZZR6PAT3PQUVJ2DI Nick

    He is allowed to post them because they are true. They’re allowed because they give you bigots a wake up call.

  • JabbaPapa

    What a joke.

  • JabbaPapa

    Homosexuals currently suffer no form of material discrimination whatsoever in the Laws of the United Kingdom.

    You are being hysterically irrational.

  • JabbaPapa

    Religiophobe.

  • TreenonPoet

    In reply to JabbaPapa‘s post ending ”…the shape of the World.”:-

    You illustrate my point in your assertion about the shape of the world. The Bible contains many verses consistent with its model of the surface of the Earth being a flat disc (and the sky being a dome), and none that contradict this model – even in the New Testament which was written at a time when it was known that the Earth was roughly ball-shaped. This is a fact – a fact about the Bible in all its versions – and yet, like a 2+2=5ist, or an Earth-is-less-than-10000-years-old-ist, or a homosexuality-is-a-choice-ist, or a geocentrist, you deny fact. I think you would go so far as to argue that ‘black’ means ‘white’ if it was necessary to sustain your religious faith. Some theologians do this. One piece I read which tried to show that there is a soul that survives death stated, in effect, that death was life (though in so many words that one might not notice).

    When the Bible says that the creator spread out the Earth, it does not mean that the creator rolled the Earth into a ball. Religious ‘logic’ works backwards from the object of faith. For example 1. The Bible is true, 2. the Earth is a roughly spherical, and 3. the Bible says that the creator spread out the Earth, so 4. ‘spread out’ must mean something like ‘formed into a ball’ in that context. Religious logic is not proper logic. Proper logic relies on words having consistent meaning.
     

  • TreenonPoet

     Please see my unnested reply.

  • JabbaPapa

    You do have these intense love affairs with your strawmen, don’t you …

    It is a FACT that the Bible never describes the shape of the World.

    Your 2+2=5 strawman is similarly ridiculous, as has already been pointed out to you 4 or 5 times now.

    I think you would go so far as to argue that ‘black’ means ‘white’ if it was necessary to sustain your religious faith.

    Then the processes that govern your thinking are flawed.

  • TreenonPoet

    You do have these intense love affairs with your strawmen, don’t you …
    It is a FACT that the Bible never describes the shape of the World.

    I never claimed that the Bible describes the shape of the world, so it is you who is raising strawmen. A possible reason why the Bible does not describe the shape of the world is that the writers thought that everyone can see that the Earth is flat – it went without saying. The very omission of a statement that the Earth is ball-shaped from the book of ‘truth’ is very telling. Not only does it omit the fact, but it makes many statements that are contrary to the fact, yet consistent with a flat Earth. So, in effect, the Bible says that the Earth is flat, though without actually using those words. All you are doing in evading this point is reinforcing my point about how the most ridiculous claims (of which “2+2=5″ is a fictional representation) are supported by believers.

    Your 2+2=5 strawman is similarly ridiculous, as has already been pointed out to you 4 or 5 times now.

    All I have seen are repeated false accusations that 2+2=5 is a strawman. I have not said anywhere that anyone in real life is claiming that 2+2=5. I am using it, as in the cartoon that I described when I first mentioned it, as a generic representation of a ridiculous claim – one that everybody recognises as ridiculous. Given the latest scientific knowledge, it is just as ridiculous to claim, for instance, that the Sun orbits the Earth. I gave an example of someone who has written a book putting forward arguments in favour of geocentrism bases on Bible verses. I have read such verses myself. Your response (”The reality is that there is not a single statement in the Bible describing the shape of the World”) is a typical evasion because the shape of the world is not the same thing as its movement with respect to the Sun.

    I think I have fully demonstrated the unreliability of the Bible as a source of evidence (and there are plenty of other reasons to doubt it too). What Sweetjae claims as evidence for the existence of God is not admissible.

  • JabbaPapa

    The very omission of a statement that the Earth is ball-shaped from the book of ‘truth’ is very telling

    No it bloody well isn’t !!!

    It is a completely ridiculous strawman argument.

    The Bible is a collection of religious texts — NOT a science manual.

    This is like saying “the very omission of a statement that all matter exerts a gravitational pull on all other matter from The Communist Manifesto is very telling”.

    as a generic representation of a ridiculous claim

    = as a strawman

    If you prefer — your statement that “The very omission of a statement that the Earth is ball-shaped from the book of ‘truth’ is very telling” is a strawman of the 2+2=5 variety, given that you have put two pieces of information together and come up with a completely false interpretation of what this might mean.

    That you then accuse Theology of such 2+2=5 nonsense that you are committing YOURSELF simultaneously demonstrates and illustrates the complete vacuity of your accusation.

  • TreenonPoet

     Did I write that the Bible is a science manual? No. It is you who is again raising a strawman. The book is often referred to as if that constitutes evidence for what the book claims (hence my reference to ‘truth’ with inverted commas), perhaps accompanied by the incestuous ‘justification’ that it is inspired by God. Of course the Bible is not a science manual, but it contains many claims of a scientific nature. Do you ignore Jesus’s claims about the power of prayer because such powers can be scientifically tested?

    You might suggest that the Bible is consistent with a flat Earth and dome sky because that is what the intended readers of the Bible understood. That is no excuse for misleading. The relevant verses could have been expressed in such a way as to avoid cosmological implications. And since God presumably knew that the knowledge that the Earth was roughly spherical would soon be widespread, why invite scepticism from the enlightened?

    When everything points to the conclusion that Bible is basically fiction, it is a denial of education (in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights) to withold this information, or teach the opposite, in schools. If the four applicants in the ECHR cases had not been miseducated, it might have lightened the heavy workload that the court is suffering from.

  • JabbaPapa

    Straw, straw, and more straw.

  • Nick

    Straw man! Aha is that your stock in trade response to things you either don’t like or can’t answer!!

  • Nick

    Still growing? I think not, your churches are emptying – fast!

  • Nick

    Aha, more straw men!

  • Nick

    Where is the religiophobic bigotry as I don’t see any? You forget the courts of law side with the rights of gay people against the discriminations of the church EVERY SINGLE TIME.

  • Nick

    I note you’re incapable of commenting on the fact there are plenty of Christians and Christian faiths in favour of equal marriage!

  • Nick

    They are not allowed to get married – that’s discrimination!

  • Nick

    Given there’s no God, that’s far better than being a prejudiced, bigoted, homophobe!

  • JabbaPapa

    When everything points to the conclusion that Bible is basically fiction

    This is a very ignorant and prejudiced assertion.

  • JabbaPapa

    ???

    No, it is a description of arguments purporting to represent that “theology is like 2+2=5″.

    Such arguments are so irrational that they must be utterly rejected by reasonable people.

  • JabbaPapa

    The churches in our diocese are filling up very nicely, thank you, with increasing numbers of faithful Catholics attending as the years go by.

  • JabbaPapa

    No — exactly the same ones. This member’s statements and strawmen are often very repetitive in nature.

  • TreenonPoet

     There may be a lot of truth in the stories of Sherlock Holmes written by Conan-Doyle, but the fact remains that they are basically fiction.

    The stories of Jesus may or may not be based on a person who really lived, but there are clues in the claims that he walked on water and that he died and came back to life that suggest to the educated person, but perhaps not to the miseducated person, that the stories are basically fiction. I have presented other arguments regarding the veracity of the Bible which can be analysed as they stand, so your assertion of prejudice is irrelevant.

  • TreenonPoet

     Misquote.

  • JabbaPapa
  • TreenonPoet
  • JabbaPapa

    Amateurish.

    He is simply engaging in one of the tritest commonplaces of literary analysis — and it just boils down to some pointless intellectual masturbation concerning the meaning of words.

    I am unsurprised that you have decided to just have one of your typical knee-jerk rejections of the scientific evidence that you keep ranting on about just as soon as any of it is presented to you.

  • TreenonPoet

    You did not link to scientific evidence; you linked to the usual compilation of fallacies. I agree that the page I linked to is of poor quality, yet in its intellectual poverty it still manages to bring up points that Ankerberg/Weldon seem to miss. For example, compare the existence of Baker Street (which is where Sherlock Holmes was said to have lodged) to the “Corroboration from Archeology” that Ankerberg/Weldon make so much of.

    I could not be bothered to appraise the Ankerberg/Weldon piece because it is irrelevant to my previous comments. I had already pointed out, as if it needed to be said, that facts in a book of fiction do not make it non-fiction, yet you link to the Ankerberg/Weldon piece!

  • Nick

    Still growing? Your prayer rooms are emptying more like.

  • Nick

    Is that your stock in trade answer for when you have no answer!!

  • Nick

    Aha I find that very hard to believe when all of the statistics prove otherwise.
    Numbers fall away every time your prejudiced and bigoted Archbishops aka O’Brien and Nicholls open their mouths and vent forth their hate.

  • Nick

    Err – you think he’s repetitive!!!
    You counted up how many times you’ve used the straw man phrase!!

  • Nick

    Gay people are not allowed to marry – that isn’t equal treatment.

  • JabbaPapa

    You did not link to scientific evidence

    I am not responsible for your refusal to acknowledge even the *existence* of any evidence that is put before you.

    The address 221b Baker Street does not exist, because the street numbers on that street do not go up to 221 or higher.

    The fact that such fictional characters as “Sherlock Holmes” have no material existence within material reality demonstrates nothing about anything other than itself.

    Similarly, if you like, water is wet.

    You are just tiresomely repeating your tedious strawman about the Bible being “fiction”, whereas in fact even the most cursory analysis that followed proper methodology would reveal it to belong to a very different sort of literature.

  • JabbaPapa

    I could not be bothered to appraise

    As I pointed out — knee-jerk a priori rejection of material evidence, even though you simultaneously make pretenses to demand such evidence.

    AKA hypocrisy.

  • JabbaPapa

    Aha I find that very hard to believe when all of the statistics prove otherwise

    You were probably never much good in science classes as a little boy, were you — reality is made of facts ; not statistics.

    What do you imagine that people are liable to make of yourself, every time you hit your keyboard and vent forth your hate ?

  • TreenonPoet

    JabbaPapa, you claim the Ankerberg/Weldon piece that you linked to is evidence that the Bible is not fiction. Before I go any further, would you agree with their assertion that the New Testament authors lack “demonstrable error or contradiction”?

  • TreenonPoet

     Please see my unnested reply.

  • Nick

    Well you’ve very well versed in ignorance and prejudice jabber jabber jabber – its your stock in trade.

  • Xzars

     The phrase ‘sex therapy’ is plenty. In sex therapy you listen to them talk about having sex, watch videos of them having sex. I can’t see that apealing to many streight guys, Christian or no.
     

  • Xzars

     And ‘Health and Safety’ is the new blanket term for discrimination.

  • TreenonPoet

     For your enlightenment,
    here is a link to an excellent article I have just read in the Washington Post that uses the terms ‘agnostic atheist’ and ‘gnostic atheist’ in exactly the way I use them, and discusses related misconceptions. I hope you will read the article and realise that, on this subject, it is JabbaPapa who is talking out of the place that you accused me of talking out of (in a deleted comment).