Judges biased against Christians say churchmen
In an unprecedented move, senior Church figures are forcing a showdown with the judiciary over an allegation that some of the country’s most senior judges are prejudiced against Christianity.
Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury (1991 – 2002) and other church leaders will urge the Master of the Rolls and other senior judges to stand down from future Court of Appeal hearings involving cases of religious discrimination because of the judges’ perceived bias against Christianity.
Senior churchmen do not think Christians have any chance of a fair ruling if the latest significant hearing is heard in front of those judges who, they argue, have already shown a lack of understanding of Christian beliefs.
Critics are particularly alarmed by a ruling by Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, on behalf of the Court of Appeal, that Lillian Ladele, a registrar who refused to conduct civil partnerships ceremonies – because they were against her Christian beliefs – broke the law.
The Court of Appeal decided in December that the right to express a strong Christian faith must take second place to the rights of homosexuals under Labour's equality laws, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Also, Lord Carey and others will this week support a formal application by The Christian Legal Centre acting for Gary McFarlane, a Christian relationship counsellor, that a specialist panel of five judges with a proven understanding of religious issues and headed by Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, should be established to hear his case and future cases involving religious rights.
Mr McFarlane, 48, from Bristol, who is represented by The Christian Legal Centre, is appealing against an employment tribunal ruling that supported his sacking for refusing to give sex therapy to homosexual couples.
The hearing is due to be heard by the Court of Appeal, but it has not yet been decided which judges will hear the case.
In recent time, a number of Christians have found themselves out of their jobs on account of their religious beliefs. The Christian Legal Centre has acted on numerous occasions defending Christians caught up by Labour’s ‘equality’ and other laws.
Nurse Shirley Chaplin, 54, refused to remove her cross and was prevented by the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust from working with patients. She described the decision as a ‘very poor day’ for Christians in the workplace.
Duke Amachree, a Christian homelessness officer with Wandsworth council, who advised a client to put her faith in God, was promptly suspended, marched off the premises and then sacked.
In a string of other cases, Christians have been prevented from serving on adoption panels or as marriage registrars because their religious beliefs mean they cannot sanction civil partnerships or homosexual adoption.
It is understood that Lord Carey will use his statement to accuse the Court of Appeal of making a series of ‘disturbing’ judgements and being responsible for some ‘dangerous’ reasoning which could, if taken to extremes, lead to Christians being banned from the workplace.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury believes that court rulings on the wearing of religious crucifixes show a lack of understanding of Christian beliefs – he argues most wear crosses as a sign of their fidelity to Jesus.
In the long term, Lord Carey and others believe that there is a need to appoint a panel of judges – of all religious faiths – to hear sensitive religious rights cases.
It is reported that in his statement, Lord Carey may specifically highlight the case of Miss Ladele to try to prove his point, saying the ruling is tantamount to accusing Christianity of begin ‘discriminatory’ and to accusing Christians of being ‘bigots’.
In his ruling, Lord Neuberger said that it was a legitimate aim of Islington council in north London, Miss Ladele's employers, to have a policy ‘requiring all its employers to act in a way which does not discriminate against others’.
Melanie Phillips, a columnist and author writing for the Daily Mail and The Spectator, wrote:
‘Christianity is under relentless attack from secular British institutions, as a result of which the freedom of Christians to practise their religion is being lost.’
‘Such employment difficulties reflect a wider institutional animus against Christianity. Teachers bend over backwards to promote other religions at its expense. The BBC and the artistic world miss no opportunity to trash it or hold it up to ridicule, while the political class and intelligentsia take an axe to its moral precepts on issues such as euthanasia, sex outside marriage and abortion.’
‘No wonder Lord Carey and his colleagues have been galvanised into militant action. For under the guise of promoting ‘tolerance’ and ‘liberal’ social attitudes, anti-discrimination law is deeply intolerant and illiberal.
‘That’s because it has nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with ideology. It is innately on the side of minorities on the basis that they are by definition vulnerable to the majority. So in the hands of the judiciary, it has turned into a fearsome weapon against Britain's mainstream attitudes and faith.
‘The result is that Christianity is now in danger of being turned into a despised and marginalised creed practised only by consenting adults in private.
‘Christians are already being forced into renouncing their religious beliefs if they want to remain in certain jobs.
‘This is simply intolerable in a liberal society where freedom of religious conscience is a bedrock value.’
Andrea Minichiello Williams, Director of CCFON and The Christian Legal Centre, said:
‘Recent decisions of the courts have illuminated insensitivity to the interests and needs of the Christian community and represent disturbing judgments.
‘The effect of these decisions is to undermine the religious liberties that have existed in the United Kingdom for centuries. These decisions affect the fundamental freedoms of every UK citizen and this is now a critical election issue.
‘It is vital that the major parties address this matter and give it the central platform it deserves.’
Church leaders head for showdown with top judges over bias against Christians (Telegraph)
It well worth reading what Melanie Phillips has written. (For those outside of the UK who might not know the lady she is a columnist with The Spectator (magazine) and the Daily Mail (national daily newspaper: but her writing is not published in the Scottish edition). She is a Jew but she writes in resolute and robust defence of the Christian faith. She has what you might call a prophetic voice on all the main issues affecting life in the UK and abroad. Read her piece about former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey written under the headline -
Thank God for the one man who has the courage to stand up to our ruling elite's assault on Christianity (Daily Mail).
Christian Concern for our Nation, 13/04/2010