Former Lord Chief Justice comments on anti-Christian laws
Britain’s former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, has stated that the country’s judiciary may have gone “too far” in curbing the rights of Christians to demonstrate their faith at work.
Lord Woolf has joined other high profile figures expressing their disappointment with the tide of anti-Christian law and judicial interpretation. Speaking on the BBC’s World This Weekend show he said it was “about time the tide turned”.
“We may have gone too far. If the law has gone too far in one direction, then the experience of the law is that it tends to move back”, he said.
“The law must be above any sectional interest even if it is an interest of a faith but at the same time it must be aware of the proper concerns of that faith.
“The law should be developed in ways that, wherever practicable, it allows that faith to be preserved and protected.”
Lord Woolf’s comments come after a senior Anglican bishop launched an impassioned defence of the rights of Christians in an increasingly secular society. The Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester, warned that the death of “religious literacy” among those who made and administered the law had created an imbalance in the way in which those with faith were treated compared to sexual minorities. Lord Woolf acknowledged that the Bishop of Winchester’s concerns had “a grounding in the facts”.
Recently Christian relationship counsellor Gary McFarlane lost his appeal against dismissal after he refused to give sex therapy to a homosexual couple, and nurse Shirley Chaplin lost a discrimination case after she was moved to a back office job because she wore a cross. Ms Margaret Forester is waiting to hear whether she will lose her job with the NHS as a mental health care professional after being disciplined for discussing the potential harms of abortion in a private conversation with colleagues.
In December 2010, Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, warned that there were attempts to “stealthily and subtly” brush aside the Christian faith in Britain. He expressed his concerns that Christian holidays are being re-branded as secular festivals because councils, politicians and businesses are “ashamed” of religion.
Lord Carey’s remarks came as he backed the “Not Ashamed” campaign, launched by Christian Concern to promote the rights of Christians to express their beliefs in public, particularly at work.
In March 2010, The Sunday Telegraph published a letter from a group of leading bishops expressing their concerns at “apparent discrimination” against Christians. In the letter, the bishops highlighted the disregard of Christian beliefs on marriage, conscience and worship, and communicated their alarm at the numerous cases of Christians being pushed out of their jobs.
In May 2009, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, said that British society is under threat from the rise of aggressive secularism and radical Islam. He stated that the church must speak out more to preserve the country’s Christian heritage and offer moral guidance to the public.