Religious freedoms, at least for Christians, took a blow in the United Kingdom not long ago. A recent article from BBC News declared, “British Airways Christian Employee Nadia Eweida Wins Case.” In 2006, Eweida was asked by her employer, British Airways, to remove a cross she wore around her neck. She refused, and her case was taken through various court systems until it was heard by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). (British Airways has since changed its policy, allowing people to wear “symbols of faith.”)
And while this may seem like a victory for UK Christians, the article goes on to reveal that it really isn’t. You see, the ECHR heard three other cases of employers forcing Christian employees to act against their beliefs—and the court ruled against the Christians.
The article explains the cases of each of the employees discriminated against:
The other cases involved nurse Shirley Chaplin, 57, whose employer also stopped her wearing necklaces with a cross, Gary McFarlane, 51, a marriage counsellor sacked after saying he might object to giving sex therapy advice to gay couples, and registrar Lillian Ladele who was disciplined after she refused to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies.
Chaplin, the other woman forced to remove a cross, had worn the cross to work for 30 years. She was transferred from her nursing position to a desk job. Why the discrepancy here? The article explains, “The court said the decision was necessary to protect the health and safety of nurses and patients.” Presumably, Chaplin has been in nursing for a long time, and for many years she’d worn the cross to work. Surely by this point, if the “health and safety” of those Chaplin was coming in contact with were truly threatened by her cross, the hospital would know. Unless the hospital has prohibited the wearing of all necklaces by nurses, this looks like a clear case of religious discrimination.
Even more disturbing is the case of Lillian Ladele, who was disciplined “after saying she did not want to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies. Her lawyers said the service could have been performed by other employees who were prepared to carry them out.” But what’s really happening here is that a Christian who holds to the biblical view of marriage is being forced to act against her beliefs by the courts.
This is, sadly, the inevitable direction of any country that has abandoned God’s Word as its authority. A member of the National Secular Society commented, “Religious people who feel elements of their job go against their conscience can always find employment that better matches their needs. That is true religious freedom.” However, I would submit that this secularist would not be saying that if he was the one who was being forced to act against his beliefs. He would demand the same freedoms these Christians were asking for. And what, for instance, would he have to say about physicians who refuse to perform abortions? Should all who honor the sanctity of human life be barred from practicing obstetrics and gynecology?
Not to mention, when the courts in the UK and other western countries are setting precedents that encourage discrimination against Christians and a loss of freedoms, finding employment where this isn’t happening will likely become much more difficult.
As I’ve said many times before, what is happening now in the UK is an example of what will happen in the United States if the culture continues to look to man’s word and not God’s as its ultimate authority. In fact, it is really beginning to happen in various ways. We’re already seeing the violation of religious liberty and the loss of freedom with the government health care mandate requiring even Christian-owned businesses to provide employees with insurance that covers abortifacients (i.e., drugs that induce abortion). For more information on how the U.S. government healthcare mandate is affecting Christian-owned businesses, see my blog post, “Hobby Lobby and Obamacare.”
I urge you to pray for America and the UK and to stand boldly on God’s Word as our authority in every area of our thinking.
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Note: AiG researcher Steve Golden assisted in the preparation of this blog.