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Religious Discrimination Inquiry to be held

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A Christian MP, Gary Streeter, is arranging for an inquiry to be held over the autumn looking at discrimination against Christians in the UK. The inquiry comes amidst increasing concern over the erosion of religious freedom in the UK and will examine how the law currently affects believers.

Gary Streeter MP said that the panel would invite submissions from legal professionals, businesses, individuals and social policy groups from faith and non-faith backgrounds. They will be asked to evaluate hate crime and equality legislation in the light of the need to protect freedom of belief. The inquiry will be open to the public.

"The outcome of our inquiry might be that the law needs to be nudged back in certain areas and we won't shy away from saying so," he said.

General Synod

The issue was raised at the General Synod, the Church of England’s national assembly, this weekend. Dr Philip Giddings, chairman of the Church of England’s public affairs council, warned that employers too often failed to respect religious rights. He said:

 “Some employers have interpreted the law in ways which seem to assume that reasonable and respectful expressions of faith are, almost by definition, offensive. This is a cause of great concern”.

Dr Giddings later told reporters that the Church wanted ministers to bring in new laws to protect religious freedoms.

“When the government is making regulations or drafting legislation we would like to see these drafts and regulations take proper cognisance of the points we are making,” he said.

Christian Legal Centre

The Christian Legal Centre has been at the forefront of efforts to highlight injustice and discrimination against Christians, and has represented a range of clients including Eunice and Owen Johns, a couple from Derby who were not approved as foster parents because of their Christian beliefs on sexual morality, van driver Colin Atkinson, who temporarily faced disciplinary action for having a palm cross in his van and Dr Richard Scott, currently under investigation for sharing his faith with a patient.

The European Court of Human Rights recently requested that the British Government state whether they believe that the rights of Christians have been infringed in recent cases where individuals have been penalised for expressing their faith in the workplace.

The request came because legal action is being taken by four Christians who argue that their rights have been infringed. They are: Gary McFarlane, a counsellor who was sacked by a counselling service for saying that he would not give sex therapy to homosexual couples; Shirley Chaplin, a nurse who was banned from working on hospital wards for wearing a cross around her neck; Nadia Eweida, a British Airways employee who was prevented from wearing a cross; and Lillian Ladele, who was disciplined by Islington council for refusing to conduct civil partnership ceremonies for homosexual couples.

The Christian Legal Centre is representing both Shirley Chaplin and Gary McFarlane.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

“We welcome this inquiry and we hope that issues that have been buried in the darkness will come to light. We have many cases where Christians have lost their jobs or been sidelined because of their faith. Some of these cases have received exposure yet they remain the tip of the ice-berg and many more have suffered in silence. The law needs to be strengthened to protect religious belief in this nation against the encroachment of equality laws.”

Sources

The Guardian

Daily Telegraph

 

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