Hearings on a discrimination suit filed by four British Christians against their government began September 4 in the European Court of Human Rights. The Christians say that they have lost their jobs because they would not comply with demands that they violate their Christian faith.
Their complaints range from a woman who was fired because she wore a cross on a necklace to work, to a registrar who lost her job because she refused to conduct same-sex cvil partnerships. These people have been the object of ridicule for filing these claims. But they have persisted, even in the face of predictions that they will ultimately lose the case. This article from The Telegraph gives more details:
By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent
9:00PM GMT 10 Mar 2012
In a highly significant move, ministers will fight a case at the European Court of Human Rights in which two British women will seek to establish their right to display the cross.
It is the first time that the Government has been forced to state whether it backs the right of Christians to wear the symbol at work.
A document seen by The Sunday Telegraph discloses that ministers will argue that because it is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith, employers can ban the wearing of the cross and sack workers who insist on doing so.
The Government’s position received an angry response last night from prominent figures including Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.
He accused ministers and the courts of “dictating” to Christians and said it was another example of Christianity becoming sidelined in official life. (Read more here.)
It appears that Britain has crossed the line into active legal discrimination against people of faith. This lawsuit and the attitude of intolerance toward Christians that caused it should be harbingers for the rest of us.
Violent persecution of a group of people doesn’t spring fully grown from nowhere. It grows from smaller things and lays down roots of acceptance in our minds and hearts in an incremental, almost invisible fashion.
Christians in much of the world are subjected to the brutality of violent discrimination that often approaches genocide. We haven’t gotten to violent persecution here in the West. But I believe we are moving in that direction.
Much of Western society today hovers somewhere between openly accepted verbal harassment of their Christian majorities and active legal discrimination against them. Majority populations have been subjected to active discrimination and violent persecution by a minority which has control of the governing apparatus of the country before. South Africa is one recent example.
Here in America, people of faith in general and Christians in particular have been subjected to a barrage of lawsuits seeking to wipe all mention of faith out of our public life. These lawsuits force us to chisel God’s name off our monuments, take down religious symbols from our parks and public facilities and ban all mention of the Almighty at public events such as football games. Most recently, there has been a move to do away with the National Day of Prayer and to expunge “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.The HHS Mandate and lawsuits trying to force religious ministries to refer women for abortions have broadened these attacks from a debate about monuments, public prayers and slogans. They are now attacking the Church itself.
Meanwhile, verbal agitation aimed at silencing individual citizens becomes more strident and widespread. Private conversations between two people in line at a grocery store can be hijacked by the Christian-basher standing behind them who rudely interjects his (it seems almost always to be a “him.”) version of the usual atheist canards attacking their faith. The sense of entitlement these people seem to feel to harass, insult and bully Christians is truly mind-boggling. Christians often find themselves falling silent about their faith simply because they get worn out by the constant hassle and circular arguments these people force on them.
This is harassment. The names that Christians are called and the way that Christianity is attacked in some of the media has become so extreme that it can fairly be called hate speech. This is not benign. It is Christian baiting and it’s time we called it that.
We are in a plunge downward here in America. Yesterday’s outrageous insults against Christians become today’s accepted beliefs. The line between an aggressive secularism and active legal discrimination was crossed with the HHS Mandate.
In Britain, this has evidently reached the point that individual Christians face loss of their jobs for something so small as wearing a cross on a necklace. Other Christians lose their jobs if they refuse to participate in activities that violate their faith.
It isn’t such a big step in a violent world from social bullying and legal discrimination to violent persecution. In fact, the legal apparatus, if it becomes draconian enough, actually supports and protects the persecutors.
I hope that the European Court of Human Rights rules in favor of these four Christian petitioners. But even if it does, to paraphrase a line from an old Star Trek episode, the war is still forced upon us. A positive ruling in the four Christians’ favor would not turn back the tide of Christian-baiting and the constant push for more discriminatory laws against people of faith.
If the court rules against these Christians, the matter becomes even more urgent. A negative ruling will open the door for what almost certainly will be oppressive laws that force Christians to chose on a daily basis between Jesus and their jobs and eventually, their freedom.
I quoted Vijay Ooman, of Nigeria in an earlier post. What he said is worth a second read:
When we hear and read of how a Christian nation, founded by those who left Europe because of the persecution they faced, has today abandoned that call, its not only sad but pathetic.
Can any of the western countries ever be called as a Christian nation any more? It is no different than a child denying his own parents and telling the world ‘ I dont know who they are”…
It is time the Churches in the west turned back to profess and be the witnesses they once were..
Based on the letters I get, I think a lot of Christians around the world are watching us here in America as we fight for our basic freedom of religion. American Christians need to start standing up for Jesus in their daily lives. If this misuse of the law to force us to violate our faith continues, we need to be prepared to practice non-violent civil disobedience. After all, don’t we sing in our churches that we are “soldiers of the cross?”