04 September 2012
Only atheists need apply
Evangelical Alliance statement on the profound consequences of the cases being heard this week at the ECHR
Dr David Landrum, advocacy director, Evangelical Alliance:
"The cases now before the European Court of Human Rights all serve to expose the legal inconsistencies in how religion is presently being treated in public life. The Ladele case is particularly important because it holds the potential to have profound consequences for how Christians can live out their faith. If people are to now be disbarred from certain jobs on the basis of their core beliefs then only atheists need apply. Clearly, the law and its interpretation are fundamentally flawed. If we are to avoid dividing our society through a proliferation of such court cases, we need to review the Equality Act, reform the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and get some unequivocal messages from our government that it's ok to be Christian in 21st century Britain.
"These cases show that equality is increasingly being used as a blunt instrument to force people into uniformity. In the name of equality, our present laws seem to be actively militating against diversity - and something will need to change. When it comes to understanding the role of faith in people's identities and activities, it is clear that there is widespread religious illiteracy in public life. It is also worth noting that there are political agendas at work which are deliberately and provocatively anti-religious.
"We urgently need a national debate on the future of equality legislation because it's clear that we now have a hierarchy of human rights, and freedom of religion sits at the bottom of it. This is unsustainable in a plural society. We need to know how far the law can go before it encroaches on people's basic freedoms such as freedom of conscience. The government should explore whether statutory guidance may be needed for reasonable accommodation between different and sometimes contradictory identities in society. We shouldn't need to legislate for common sense, but it seems that our current situation may demand it."
Tel: 07766 444 650
Notes to Editors
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.