Misleading claims about discrimination against Christians

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Simon Barrow, co-director of the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, commenting on the 28 February 2011 High Court ruling in relation to a couple with strong anti-homosexuality views who claimed they were being discriminated against by Derby City Council because of their Christian beliefs, said:

"This is a clear and fair judgment which clarifies the law, refuses a misleading 'clash of rights' perspective, follows the Court of Appeal position, upholds equal rights for all irrespective of differing beliefs, and rejects exaggerated and inaccurate claims about discrimination against Christians as 'wrong as to the factual premises on which they are based and at best tendentious'."

"Counsel for Eunice and Owen Johns pursued and lost the same points as in the case of McFarlane v Relate Avon Ltd and Islington London Borough Council v Ladele, subsequently losing in the Court of Appeal over Ladele, also. This High Court judgment by Lord Justice Munby and Justice Beatson makes it plain that such claims are unsubstantiated.

"The argument of the socially conservative Christians who are pursuing these cases to seek to demonstrate 'discrimination' or 'persecution' against Christians in the UK appears to rest on two false premises. The first is that theirs is the only Christian view and should be backed up by law, irrespective of the dignity and rights of others. The second is that discriminatory actions justified on religious grounds should provide immunity from fulfilling legal requirements over equality and justice towards others in the public sphere. That cannot be right.

"It is wrong to call this judgment a 'landmark ruling', since it does not lay down any new principle but upholds and affirms the law, emphasising its case- and fact-sensitivity and refusing sweeping or hypothetical generalities.

"However, it does further confirm what we at Ekklesia have been arguing for many years - which is that the era of Christendom, when Christian institutions and beliefs might be given special privilege, regard and exemption denied to others, is now over. For many - including Christians who wish to recover the levelling core of the Gospel message - that is good news, not a threat."

More information here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/14234

The full judgement can be read here: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/375.html