6-September-2012 -- EWTNews Feature |

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Four English Christians take discrimination fight to European Court

Four Christians from England who claim they lost their jobs because of their beliefs took their cases to the European Court of Human Rights on Sept. 4.

The outcome of the legal appeals "will have implications for freedom of thought, conscience and religion across Europe," according to the Christian Legal Centre, which is representing two of the parties involved.

"At issue is the freedom of Christians to express their faith publicly and to live in line with historic, mainstream, biblical Christian teaching," the group said in a Sept. 4 statement.

The four Christians involved are: Gary McFarlane, an experienced relationship counselor who was sacked by Relate counseling service for saying he might not be comfortable in giving 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 in London for refusing to conduct civil partnership ceremonies for homosexual couples.

A panel of judges in the French city of Strasbourg, where the court is based, will now hear appeals from the four. The quartet believes both the English courts and the U.K.'s equality legislation, enacted by the former Labour Government led by Tony Blair, discriminates against their human rights.

Contrary to assurances given in the British Parliament by the present Prime Minister David Cameron, the U.K. government has decided to oppose the appeal by the Christian employees.

"The Government's double-standards in their handling of these four cases has been astonishing," said Andrea Minichiello Williams, an attorney and founder of the Christian Legal Centre.

"He (David Cameron) says one thing to the media and in parliament and yet shuns such statements at the most critical time," Williams charged.

In their official submission to the court, the U.K. government argues that freedom of religion is adequately protected under the law since Christians "are free to resign if they consider that the requirements of the employment are incompatible with their religious beliefs."

It is this "ability to resign and seek employment elsewhere," the government says, "that guarantees freedom of religion." "The working of the British courts has led to deep injustice," countered Williams.

"If we are successful in Strasbourg, I hope that the Equality Act and other diversity legislation will be overhauled, so that Christians are free to work and act in accordance with their beliefs and conscience."

A ruling in the case is not expected for several weeks.

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/World.php?id=6106#ixzz25hRxADV6

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