Thinking Anglicans

Christian Legal Centre throws down the gauntlet

Shirley Chaplin, Gary McFarlane and Lillian Ladele are to appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights against the rejection of their claims by the Fourth Section.

For previous reports on these cases, see here, and for subsequent commentary, go here, and follow the links back to earlier articles.

News of the appeal was reported by the Telegraph in Christians launch landmark human rights case.

…Papers in the three cases are to be submitted this week that will claim British courts are applying double standards towards Christians for “political” reasons, and that human rights rules have been used to effectively outlaw beliefs which have been held for millennia while affording special recognition to minority opinions on anything from fox hunting to climate change.
Meanwhile “self-evidently absurd” health and safety rules are being used as a “ruse” to prevent Christians wearing crosses while outward expressions of other faiths are welcomed, they say.
An overzealous and one-sided interpretation of rules has brought human rights law itself into disrepute and exposed the British judiciary itself to “ridicule”, they argue.
The open attack on the judiciary and escalation of rhetoric is a high-risk strategy supporters believe is necessary to “draw a line in the sand”…

Now there are press releases from Christian Concern and the Christian Institute.

…In a written submission to the chamber, it has been argued that the margin of appreciation has been applied in these cases so as to render the protections under Article 9 meaningless, and that UK courts were effectively outlawing Christian beliefs through a one-sided application of human rights law in favour of minority groups.
“The United Kingdom has an overall good record on human rights; in recent years this has come into sharp contrast due to a number of decisions made against Christians,” the submission says.
“Christian views on the upbringing of children by two parents have not been recognised as a religious view at all; whilst views on global warming, fox hunting, and even the BBC as a public broadcaster have been recognised.”
In Gary and Lillian’s case, the ECHR ruled that an infringement upon their religious freedom was necessary in order to protect the freedom of others, whilst in Shirley’s case it said that a similar interference was justified on the grounds of “health and safety”.

The submission argues that Gary “was dismissed for his ‘thoughts’ and ‘religious beliefs’ on a wholly theoretical basis”. Whilst “self-evidently absurd” health and safety rules were being used as a “ruse” to stop Christians from wearing the cross at work, whilst those of other faiths were free to manifest their beliefs.
Meanwhile, lawyers in Lillian’s case have argued that the ruling will have “huge implications” for the freedom of teachers and social workers to practice traditional beliefs on marriage and sexual ethics should same-sex ‘marriage’ be introduced.

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Gary and Shirley, said: “We are throwing down the gauntlet to David Cameron to decide once and for all whether he is in favour of religious freedom or not.
“These are cases where the only victims were the Christians trying to live out their faith in the workplace but who were driven out for doing so.
“As the pleadings in Gary McFarlane’s case make clear, Christians are now being punished for ‘thought crimes’.”

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Erika BakerPaul PowersCraig NelsonRichard AshbyInterested Observer Recent comment authors
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Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

How is the Christian Legal Centre financed?

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

And will the government take Eweida to the Grand Chamber so we get the whole set?

MarkBrunson
Guest

The Tea Party goes to Europe!

Have fun with what we in the U. S. have made the mistake of tolerating too long.

american piskie
Guest
american piskie

The most recent accounts (2012)of the charitable arm (Faith Truth & Hope : registered number 1121897) have been submitted to the Charity Commission but are not yet available on line. The 2011 income is mainly “grants and donations”, but not broken down. The accounts of the (campaigning) non-charitable not-for-profit company CCFON Ltd can be purchased; I doubt if they are more revealing. You can find out a bit about the company by googling duedil ccfon.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

I am ashamed to be a Christian.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

Macfarlane told his line-manager and clinical supervisor one thing, and went ahead and did the opposite. Also, his anti-gay views would debar him from being registered as a counsellor of any stripe, with the BACP. I am sorry to have to say this, but surely it is germane,that Miss Ladele herself does not practice this, as she chose to have her child without benefit of matrimony ? As for Chaplin, nothing at all may dangle from the necks of nurses and doctors, in these days of killer infections. Even long sleeves and sitting on edge of beds is banned. I… Read more »

Peter Ould
Guest

Ladele’s case has some merits (the law changed after she became a registrar, her colleagues were happy to accommodate her beliefs and were doing so and it was only a new employee who complained despite the fact he wasn’t affected), McFarlane’s is a nonsense and Chaplin’s is very shaky given the health and safety implications.

I would like the CLC to drop the other two and concentrate on Ladele on the issue of “accommodation of religious beliefs”.

Charles
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Charles

“I am ashamed to be a Christian.”

Not surprising, if you support government efforts to push Christian ideas and practices out of the public square.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Erica.
It’s not clear where their money comes from but in ‘the church at war’ there is speculation that it is rich fundamentalists from California.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

“Ladele’s case has some merits” Ladele’s case is self-contradictory. Her argument is that she disapproves of marriages, and what are to her pseudo-marriages, that are not enacted according to her religious beliefs. Which would be all fine and dandy, were it not for the minor problem that she was employed to dispense secular, state weddings from which all religion is expunged, and had been doing so quite happily. She can’t have it both ways. If she believes that marriages must be according to “God’s Law”, then she was enabling fornication, as the marriages she dispensed are not valid. Even if… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“It’s not clear where their money comes from but in ‘the church at war’ there is speculation that it is rich fundamentalists from California.”

They must have money to burn, because the CLC’s track record is appalling. They’ve lost pretty well every case they’ve backed (I suppose one might deem the ludicrous case with the BA checkin woman a score draw) and in some cases, notably the car crash that was Eunice Johns v Derby Council, they made themselves look absolutely ridiculous.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“It’s not clear where their money comes from but in ‘the church at war’ there is speculation that it is rich fundamentalists from California.”

I would not be surprised if this is bankrolled by rich, Tea Party, corporate, Americans. There was a group in Colorado Springs exporting it all over the US, so why not Europe? In their minds. And of course, we have the Koch brothers supporting the most heinous causes…

I’m so sorry and I can only recommend that people insist on transparency. We are fighting that battle now.

FD Blanchard
Guest
FD Blanchard

As someone who has been threatened more than once by Good Christian People, and has friends who’ve been beaten up more than once (some who have lost teeth to righteous Christian fists), these claims of oppression by Good Christian People who’ve always dominated everything and who now find themselves suddenly marginalized are the height of unmitigated gall.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“‘I am ashamed to be a Christian.’ Not surprising, if you support government efforts to push Christian ideas and practices out of the public square.” Posted by Charles

Au contraire, Charles, I believe LaurenceR is (like myself) ashamed of “Christian” efforts to push the ideas and practices of *Jesus* out of the public square.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

‘Religious Freedom’, as a concept, surely does not include the freedom to discriminate against the freedom of others.

Jonathan Jennings
Guest
Jonathan Jennings

Interested observer – not so. The marriages she has officiated at as a registrar are perfectly valid, and in the eyes of the church.

There is no mechanism by which the Church of England could independently recognise or refuse to recognise a legally valid marriage.

The worry is that the same sex legislation may well induce some to try and devise one …

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

Jonathan, the first line of the European Court judgement says “She holds the view that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life”. Note: “for life”. And yet she must have been remarrying people who had been previously divorced. Which is it?

Moreover, “the church” is a moveable feast, and it’s not clear which church she is a member of. The other people in the case are Pentecostalists of various stripes; are any of these cases emanating from people who are members of the CofE?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Charles,
The idea that setting yourself up as morally superior and that treating those you believe to be morally beneath you badly is a Christian requirement is absolutely astonishing.

Christians are right to be ashamed of it.

John Roch
Guest
John Roch

” If she believes that marriages must be according to “God’s Law”, then she was enabling fornication, as the marriages she dispensed are not valid. “

” Interested observer – not so. The marriages she has officiated at as a registrar are perfectly valid, and in the eyes of the church. “

I take the comment to mean ‘not valid in her eyes’.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

John,
but where would you draw the line? Would you also accept that registrars should choose whether to marry divorced people? Or that they should be allowed to refuse to marry previously not married single parents? Or people who had been in prison for something a Christian might disapprove of?

Or is it only same sex couples can be happily discriminated against on “Christian” grounds?
Why?

Jonathan Jennings
Guest
Jonathan Jennings

John and ii: thanks for helpful clarifications.

John Roch
Guest
John Roch

I think she’s completely wrong. Whether or not they are valid in her eyes is immaterial.

And it’s just my interpretation of the meaning of the last clause [as the marriages . . ] in the post by Interested Observer on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 at 7:19pm BST. The “if she believes” seems to govern all that follows.

Would Interested Observer like to comment?

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Erika Baker on Thursday, 25 April 2013 at 5:55pm BST,
Spot on observation!
Here in Colorado, the legislature considered and adopted civil unions for same-sex couples, which the governor happily signed. Opposition legislators made numerous efforts to exempt butchers, bakers, and candle-stick makers who had moral qualms about same-sex couples from the anti-discrimination laws. But! I guarantee you that these same legislators would have been appalled had Christian fundamentalists been discriminated against.

FD Blanchard on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 at 9:51pm BST,
Also spot on! I am tired and annoyed at certain Christians who feel they are discriminated against because they can’t discriminate.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

FD Blanchard on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 at 9:51pm BST
Peter Gross on Thursday, 25 April 2013 at 9:08pm BST Also spot on! I am tired and annoyed at certain Christians who feel they are discriminated against because they can’t discriminate.

I, Cynthia, say – Make that 3. 2 from Colorado. Oh, and my partner and I plan to be at the Clerk’s office midnight May 1 to get our Civil Union license {that’s when it goes into effect). Finally, a measure of justice and decency, though not 100 percent, yet.

Our diocese supported the passing of Civil Unions. Nice!

Scot Peterson
Guest
Scot Peterson

Just so we don’t get stuck in an echo chamber, let’s recall that South Africa has an exemption for civil registrars, who object to same-sex civil marriage on grounds of conscience, and NY has extremely broad exemptions in its new law. How these things are done depend on history and political power (which may be a bad thing, but …)

Another one from Colorado here…

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

John, that was my point. The “If she believes” is rhetorical: I am sure that she does so believe. She is claiming that same-sex marriages offend her religious principles, that marriage is a man and a woman for life. She has already overcome those scruples, because she has officiated at marriages that few churches would perform, between people who have been divorced and whose former spouses are still alive. So her alleged principles are somewhat flexible. She has already officiated at marriages which are invalid by her own position, and whose result is fornication, again by her own position. Why… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Perhaps they are happy to loose their court cases since it helps to perpetuate the ‘persecution’ myth.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Peter Ould is right. The only one of these cases that has real merit is that of Ladele. The comments made by others here bear well in the arguments against her values, but belief only has to be reasonable, not rational. This case hangs on whether it was reasonable to make all Registrars become Civil Partnership Registrars. The English Courts took a deep breath and said it was, but there was no attempt to hide the Judge’s sense of exasperation that this might have been handled differently. Islington did try and accommodate Ms Ladele but there was a complaint (as… Read more »

Nat
Guest
Nat

While the US lags behind several other countries in recognizing same-sex marriage, Washington State joins the other states who have legalized it. The Episcopal Church is moving toward a liturgy for same-sex marriage, and numerous churches are already performing them. Trinity, Seattle, marched in the Pride parade last summer, in support of SSM, and our new rector plans “an even bigger turnout” this year to demonstrate the full inclusion of ALL persons in the Body of Christ.

I hear of no similar actions by the C of E. have there been any?

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Cynthia, Mazel Tov!
This has been a looong time coming.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Perhaps they are happy to loose their court cases since it helps to perpetuate the ‘persecution’ myth.”

Bingo.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Does the Ladele case have merit? She seems to be completely confused as to which bit of ‘Christian’ teaching she adheres to. Am I right in thinking that she has a child and is not married? I thought that fornication was a sin.

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

While the legislator may make exemptions if they wish to, to say they must do so by virtue of the ECHR is simply outrageous. This is the role of Parliament to decide.

Paul Powers
Guest
Paul Powers

I suspect that Ms. Ladele might very well agree that fornication is a sin. I’m not sure how that’s relevant to the question of whether she should be permitted to abstain from officiating at civil partnership ceremonies.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Paul Powers, at what point do Christian beliefs become mere homophobia? I would say at the point where someone with a strict traditional Christian ethics on sexual morality can bring herself to officiate at the weddings of every modern couple, single with children, divorced, but not at one of a gay couple. And the interesting thing is that Civil Partnerships are not even explicitly sexual relationships – the church accepted them precisely because there is no requirement for the couple to have a sexual relationship in order to register a CP. On what Christian grounds could anyone possibly refuse to… Read more »

Paul Powers
Guest
Paul Powers

Erica Baker: The comment to which I was responding didn’t deal whether with whether it was appropriate for her to raise a religious objection to officiating at civil partnership ceremonies when she had no qualms about officiating at the marriage of a divorced person, etc. It dealt with the issue of whether Ms. Ladele’s having a child out of wedlock (and thus having on at least one occasion committed fornication) somehow makes her objection any less valid than it would be if she had lived a life of perfect continence.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Paul Powers, but would you not say that someone who has no problems with living against the church’s official teaching that the only place for sex is marriage is not quite as concerned with Christian sexual morality as it seems when she objects to the supervision of a purely legal contract between two people that does not even explicitly include a sexual relationship? I don’t doubt that she is sincere in her accommodation of divorce and children out of wedlock but that she cannot cope with the idea of same sex relationships. But she cannot with any degree of credibility… Read more »