Prime Minister urged to support Christian cases
Christian Concern has launched a new campaign this Easter, urging Prime Minister David Cameron to back up his recent words of support for the Christian faith with some ‘solid action’.
Last week, the Prime Minister held a private ‘Easter Reception’ at Downing Street, where he told a gathering of senior church leaders that the nation needed Christian values and also that he supported a "fight back" against rising secularism.
Mr Cameron told attendees: "I think there's something of a fight-back going on, and we should welcome that. The values of the Bible, the values of Christianity are the values that we need."
However, critics have noted that this does not align with the recent Government submission to the European Court of Human Rights, which backs the rulings against four Christians in their freedom of belief and conscience cases that are currently before the European Court.
This includes the case of Shirley Chaplin, a Christian Legal Centre client, who was forced off the wards as a front line nurse because she did not want to remove the cross she had worn for almost 30 years.
It also includes Gary McFarlane, who lost his job as a relationships counsellor merely for saying on a staff training job that he ‘may’ have a conscientious objection to giving a homosexual couple direct sex therapy.
Now, Christian Concern, sister organisation to the Christian Legal Centre, has launched the ‘Not Ashamed of the Cross’ campaign, calling on the Prime Minister to revise the Government's statement to the European Court of Human Rights in order to align it with his recent public support of Christian values.
Nurse Shirley Chaplin has written to the Prime Minister this Easter, saying:
“Last summer, tens of thousands of people contacted you requesting that the Government defend basic, historic and sensible freedoms of belief and conscience in its submission to the European Court.
“However, the Government's submission stated that the wearing of a visible cross or Crucifix was ‘not a generally recognised form of practising the Christian faith’. It also claimed that, since I was free to practice my faith outside of work, and that I was free to resign my job, my freedom of religion had been sufficiently guaranteed! Surely this is no freedom at all.
"In light of your views, reported this week, I urge you Prime Minister not to wait until the cases are heard by the European Court, but to act decisively now, ensuring that revised submissions are made expressing the Government's support for the vital principles of freedom of belief and conscience that are at stake."
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, said:
"The Prime Minister's words of support for Christians last week will be seen as empty and hollow unless he takes action to support those Christians who have been heavily penalised for wanting to live out their faith in the public square.
"To say that wearing a cross is not a generally recognised form of practising the Christian faith and that Shirley's freedom of religion is not interfered with, when asked to remove it, because she was free to resign, is completely at odds with everything David Cameron has said this week.
“Why not simply change the Government's official position in Europe to help secure freedom for Christians now? We would encourage all of our supporters to act now by visiting the website and following the suggested action points. Thank you.”