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Christians to take 'Conscience' Issue to Parliament - claiming that relying on the Courts to interpret 'bad law' is "futile"

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Issued by Christian Concern/the Christian Legal Centre

Press Release

For Immediate Release

10 March 2011

Christians to take ‘Conscience’ Issue to Parliament - claiming that relying on the Courts to interpret ‘bad law’ is “futile”

RELYING on the Courts to ensure that Christians can live, work and take part in the Big Society with a clear conscience has been described as “futile” by the Human Rights Barrister who has represented most of the Christians who have claimed ‘discrimination’ by employers or the state as a result of living according to their traditional Christian beliefs in the public square.

Barrister Paul Diamond, who recently represented Owen and Eunice Johns of Derby, the Christian foster carers who have not had their fostering application approved, and who currently cannot provide a loving home to a five to eight year old because they may ‘infect’ the children with their traditional Christian beliefs on sex and marriage, has advised the couple NOT to appeal the decision.  He told them: “In my opinion, it would be futile - a waste of resources.  The Courts are so set against religious freedom for Christians that an appeal is likely to only make matters worse.”

Instead, Mr Diamond and the Johns are seeking a Political intervention into the issue which, they believe, will be necessary in order for the Coalition Government’s Big Society Project to succeed.

Today, Mr Diamond and the Johns, through the campaign group Christian Concern, are launching an Equalities and Conscience Petition. It reads:

Recent Equalities legislation and its interpretation in the courts has led to several individuals who hold to mainstream Christian teaching being barred from different areas of public life and employment, running counter to our country’s long heritage of Freedom of Conscience, and creating a serious obstacle to the Christian community's full and active involvement in the Big Society initiative.

We call on the Prime Minister to act decisively to address this situation, securing the change necessary to ensure that the law provides a basis for widespread involvement in serving society whilst properly upholding the dignity of every individual, including those who seek to live with integrity to Christian conscience and teaching.”

The Johns and Mr Diamond are seeking wide support across the Christian community and members of the public, and will be lobbying MPs and members of the House of Lords to seek a review of the Equality Act.

Mr Diamond says that the current problem for Christians using the Courts to uphold their Human Rights is that: “In recent years, there has been a combination of bad laws, and, a number of poor judicial appointments by the previous Government.  Where there are excellent Judges they are restricted by bad laws. Unfortunately, there are also Judges making law based on personal predilections. Parliament must remedy this situation as a matter of urgency.”

He says that the ideals of the Equality Acts and the Sexual Orientation Regulations have much to commend them in so far as all civilised people would not accept overt discrimination against any person based on irrelevant considerations as to their sexual orientation or faith.  However: “The laws are bad. They are poorly drafted leaving too much discretion to the Courts; they are contradictory in so far as one cannot have a society without substantive values. Finally and most importantly these laws are political laws seeking a political objective.

Mr Diamond, and the Johns, believe that the laws are “currently being used to eradicate Judeo Christian morality and usher in secular values”. 

The Barrister said: “The secular movement is but a variant of the Utopian ambitions that have inspired man from the beginning of time.  However, the end game of such programmes is always the same.  To repeatedly promote a failed ideology is base ignorance or at its worst criminal.  Coerced morality or coerced immorality (depending on one’s perspective) is not the hallmark of a free society.

In all too many instances, the attempt by Christians to seek justice in the courts is a barren experience; almost as if a special animosity is reserved for adherents of this faith.”

In recent years, Mr Diamond says he has argued cases that he would have thought of as unthinkable back in 1997.  He explained: “In the British Airways Cross case, our national flag carrier permitted the wearing of the hijab, the Sikh turban and the Siska Hindu ponytail, but banned the wearing of a small Cross around the neck, the size of a sixpence.  The court held that there was no discrimination against Christians because a Muslim would have received the same treatment and been similarly dismissed for wearing a Cross. Astonishingly, the Appeal Court in the case required evidence to back the claim that the Cross was a symbol that Christians wore as part of their faith. Further, the courts have made the evidential requirement for this so complex it is likely never to be satisfied.

In another case, an employee was disciplined for expressing an unacceptable view; namely his support for marriage in a private conversation with a fellow employee as this discriminated against people living together.  In another, a nurse made the serious violation of asking a patient if she wanted prayer.  Churches have had noise abatement notices served on them for singing hymns too loudly on a Sunday morning.  I could go on about the countless other cases where no permissible accommodation of conscience is permitted for Christian marriage, registrars or bed and breakfast owners. This liberal tyranny must be rejected by the British people.”

He added: “The law is now prejudiced, irrational and partial; it punishes individuals for ‘thought crime’ and the State endorses an inverse morality.  Many British people despair of the law enforcement agencies and have (rightly) little confidence that they will achieve justice in the courts.  There is no reason in law or otherwise why sexual orientation rights should prevail over religious rights.  There is something deeply wrong with the ethical and legal compass of Britain.”

Mr Diamond and the Johns, through Christian Concern, are calling for political action. 

Mr Diamond said: “The British people have reversed silly laws in the past; the time is ripe for a review of the Equality laws.  It is time for the Big Society to become a reality and to re-strengthen the communitarian institutions such as the Church and other such bodies that can build this.  Finally, the absurd ‘human rights’ agenda needs to be re-visited including the Human Rights Act.”

For details of the petition, visit www.christianconcern.com

ENDS.

For further information/interview:

Paul Diamond:  07979 837714

The Johns – via Andrea Minichiello Williams:  07712 591164

Editor’s Note:

A ‘first person’ piece by Paul Diamond can be found at www.christianconcern.com

 


 

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