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Christian Magistrate to go to Court of Appeal over “Privatisation of Faith”

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Issued on behalf of Christian Concern For Our Nation/Andrew McClintock, JP

Press Release

For Immediate Release

October 31, 2007

Christian Magistrate to go to Court of Appeal over “Privatisation of Faith”

A CHRISTIAN magistrate is to ask the Court of Appeal to rule on how far people with deeply held religious convictions can rely on the law of the land to uphold their rights and conscience against a growing secularist agenda.

Andrew McClintock, 63, and a magistrate for 18 years on the South Yorkshire Bench, became the first judge in the land to take the Lord Chancellor to court in January. He claimed he was forced to resign from the Court's Family Panel after court managers failed to make reasonable accommodation of his religious and philosophical beliefs on same sex adoption cases in which he might be asked to officiate.

Mr McClintock had told them he could not make an order for a child to be raised by two same-sex parents as there was scientific evidence to suggest this was not in their best interests, and, as a Christian, he felt making such a decision would go against his conscience. He asked court staff to screen his cases so that other magistrates could preside over such cases. When court managers refused, he was forced to resign.

In January, a Sheffield Employment Tribunal refused to accept the Court had acted unreasonably and his appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (a division of the High Court) was quashed today.

Now Mr McClintock has instructed his Barrister, Paul Diamond, to file papers for a hearing in the Court of Appeal as he believes the increasing secularist framework of the law is forcing people whose deep personal faith motivates them into acts of public service into the sidelines. He believes layer upon layer of Government legislation is “privatising faith” in what was formerly known as a “Christian country”.

He said: “I am deeply disappointed with the Appeal’s decision. For 18 years my Christian beliefs have been well known to both my fellow magistrates and to Court officials and it was no surprise to them that when the Civil Partnerships Act enabled same-sex couples to adopt and become foster carers, I was simply seeking some form of recusal from cases where I would be forced to act contrary to my conscience.

“The Lord Chancellor’s office is advertising for new magistrates from all sections of the community, but unless they are prepared to take into account the legitimate conscience needs of magistrates from Christian backgrounds (and others), they could well see not only a huge drop in recruitment but resignations from serving magistrates.”

Andrea Minichiello Williams of Christian Concern For Our Nation, which has been supporting Mr McClintock through his legal action said: “There is a prevailing secularist agenda which is pushing faith to the sidelines and quashing freedom of speech. In effect, Christians are being asked to leave their deeply held convictions and views at home and become someone else when they arrive at work or offer themselves for public service.


Andrew McClintock is appealing to the Court of Appeal in order that this very important issue is taken very seriously at the highest levels.

Mr McClintock’s appeal is likely to be heard in the New Year.

ENDS

For further information:

Andrew McClintock 0114 258 3707, 077263 72454; Paul Eddy (Media advisor) 0115 922 2041, 07932 019 430; Andrea Minichiello Williams (CCFON) 0771 259 1164.

Editor’s Notes:

Mr McClintock’s hearing at the Employment Appeal Tribunal was made on the legal grounds that he was prevented from acting in the best interests of the child in accordance with the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Children's Act, and a failure by Court Managers to accommodate religious belief.

Mr McClintock claims the earlier Tribunal failed to consider expert evidence provided by Professor Dean Byrd, President of the Thrasher Research Fund, and Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of Utah School of medicine and vice president and standing psychologist to the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), the foremost research body in the USA on the subject matter of medical and social study of homosexuality. Professor Byrd told the court that there was substantial evidence to support Mr McClintock's conviction that ordering a child to be raised by a same-sex couple was not in their 'best interests'.

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