Tuesday 4 September 2012

The long awaited hearing at the European Court of Human Rights in which appeals are being made by Christians who have been discriminated against because of their religious beliefs, has opened.

The principal appellants are two ladies who were forbidden to wear a Cross whilst at their place of employment. When other spurious reasons for banning were exposed, it was inevitable that health and safety reasons became the excuse in one case, whilst company policy in the other.

There might have been some sympathy with the decision if the same criteria was applied to other faiths, but this is not so, I would not criticise a woman for wearing the clothing required under Islamic faith, but could that not be a health and safety issue as much as wearing a Cross? Would that also not offend company policy? But which employer would rush to ban that? Much of this case opposition is being conducted under the orders of Lynne Featherstone, the (Liberal Democrat) Home Office Minister, unbelievably promoted to this Office, who has previously been forthright in her disdain for religion.

Whilst it is commonly accepted that David Cameron cannot be relied upon to mean what he says, it would be interesting to know why he has allowed this case to proceed, after stating in Parliament he supported the women’s right to wear the Cross.

In one of the most insulting and offensive remarks one can imagine, which is stating a great deal in the case of lawyers, James Eadie has suggested that if Christians are not prepared to leave their faith at home they can always get another job. I challenge him to say that to members of the Islamic faith.

It is incomprehensible to defend the actions of public bodies which suspend or dismiss employees for refusing to perform actions which are so clearly against the teaching of heir faith, when other employees are willing to perform those duties instead. Provision is often sympathetically given to those people who find touching certain foods against their beliefs. Is that any different to a person who finds giving advice on sexual behaviour against their beliefs?

Or does the Human Rights Act not apply to Christians? Indeed, one might well contend that the Human Rights act provides a vehicle for those opposed to Christianity to drive their attack on our faith. For example, one man, just one man, complained that a Devon Council had prayers said before Council meetings and this upset him. Whilst this made him look quite pathetic, why were the wishes of the other members not respected as it had been agreed to have prayers said? If he had been forced to be present whilst prayers were said that might have been a reason, but he could easily have sat out whilst they were made. Men were once made of sterner stuff.

We have the case of a woman who wanted time off work to attend Church on Sunday and was refused, whilst a member of another faith was allowed such a privilege. We have the Equality and Diversity Act in Britain which is the most unequal piece of legislation in practice.

All Christians should follow these cases with interest and pray for those seeking justice in the face of such bitter opposition from this woman at the Home Office and the secular lobby which is making an aggressive attack on Christianity and Christian morality. The Cross is the supreme symbol of the Christian faith and we should be able to wear it with pride, remembering the words of our Lord that we ‘should take up the Cross’.

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