Court ruling makes Christian employees 'second class'

The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) is "deeply concerned" by court rulings today on four cases involving the religious freedoms of Christians in the UK.

The European Court for Human Rights found that British Airways check-in worker Nadia Eweida had been discriminated against by her employers after being prevented from wearing the cross.

However, three other Christians lost their legal challenges, including nurse Shirley Chaplin, who was removed from ward duties for refusing to take off a cross necklace she had worn to work for 30 years.

Registrar Lillian Ladele was disciplined by Islington Council for refusing to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, and relationships counsellor Gary McFarlane was sacked for gross misconduct by the charity Relate after he said he would not be able to provide sex therapy to same-sex couples.

The ECLJ said the judgements gave a "free licence to discriminate [against] Christians" at work.

ECLJ director Gregor Puppinck criticised the court's conclusion that the dismissal of employees was proportionate to the need of employers to enforce equality and diversity policies.

He said the refusal of employers to accommodate the religious beliefs of employees amounted to an "ideological sanction" and the "imposition of postmodern ideology over individual consciences and beliefs".

Mr Puppinck concluded by warning that the judgements reflected a "society based on a consensus of amorality where there is no room for those who continue to have a moral judgement of conscience".