Views from the News
A school could be sued if its sex education classes do not treat homosexuality as morally equivalent to heterosexuality. A legal action could be taken if a school refuses to teach in citizenship classes that homosexuality should be ‘celebrated’ as part of ‘a diverse society’. Just the fear of such legal actions – whether or not they would succeed – is enough to make schools and education authorities back down to ‘gay rights’ demands.
A Christian conference centre which refused a double-bed to a homosexual couple could also be sued under the regulations due to discrimination. Even if the centre restricts such rooms to married couples only, and also refuses unmarried heterosexual couples, this will still leave the problem of civil partnerships. Either the centre will be said to be indirectly discriminating because homosexuals cannot marry, or there will be demands for it to treat civil partnerships exactly like marriages. Whichever is the case, the operators of the centre will face an action for discrimination under the regulations if they stick to their principles. This argument also applies to old people’s homes, hotels, guest houses and B&Bs run on a Christian basis.
A Christian wedding photographer could be sued if he refuses to take pictures of a civil partnership ceremony. Under the terms of the regulations he would be denying a service on grounds of sexual orientation. But to take pictures of a civil partnership would be to act against his religious beliefs. He would not be able to take advantage of exemptions which protect organised religion because his business is commercial in nature. He would be wide open to a financially crippling lawsuit.
Adoption agencies that refuse on principle to place children with homosexual couples will breach the discrimination provisions under the regulations. These agencies could be forced to close, particularly if an expensive legal action is mounted against them. This has already happened in Massachusetts in the United States, where at least one adoption agency that refused to put children in homes with gay couples has closed. In the UK the Roman Catholic Church, which runs several adoption agencies, fears its agencies face closure because of its refusal to place children with homosexual couples.
Stewardess banned from taking Bible
A second airline is embroiled in a religious row after a stewardess decided to take bmi to an employment tribunal because it refused to allow her to carry a Bible on flights to Saudi Arabia. The stewardess, who has not been named, claims she has been subject to discrimination because of her faith. She is understood to have deep religious convictions and carries her Bible with her. But BMI, which is the only British scheduled carrier to fly to the country after British Airways pulled out of the route said it was following Foreign Office advice.
The dispute erupted as BA sought to settle its own dispute with Nadia Eweida, a Heathrow check-in worker, who had been banned from wearing a cross on a necklace while on duty. A BMI spokesman said the airline was complying with Saudi law. The stewardess has been offered to switch to its short-haul routes, he added.
Source: Daily Telegraph
Faith schools which discriminate against potential pupils and staff should no longer be allowed state funding, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has said. The union is attempting to reopen the debate on the future of faith schools after plans were dropped to force faith schools to take 25% of new pupils from other or no faiths. ATL is calling for the level of school autonomy – over admissions and the curriculum – to depend on the school promoting community cohesion. It is also urging no extension of rights to be given to faith schools to refuse to employ staff on the basis of their religious belief.
Source: Ekklesia.co.uk 15.3.07
Exeter Christian Union fights back
Christian students at Exeter are preparing legal action against the University and Student Guild in a row over equal opportunities. The Christian Union, which has 350 members, claimed that it had been suspended from the official list of student societies on the campus because it did not allow non-Christians to join its executive committee. But, Jemma Percy, the Guild President, insisted that the organisation was still affiliated, though its Student Union bank account had been frozen and it had been barred from free use of Student Guild facilities.
Miss Percy said that the Guild had told the Union it would now be referred to as the Evangelical Christian Union and would regain its privileges only if it no longer required members to declare their ‘faith in Jesus Christ’ as their Saviour, Lord and God. She said that because of the requirement ‘participation in the society was not open to every student’
But in what will be seen as a fightback against ‘political correctness’ on campuses, the Union is demanding the right to act on it is religious beliefs under human rights law and it has consulted lawyers. ‘This is a fundamental issue of freedom of speech and of common sense’, said a spokesman. The stand by Christian students at Exeter follows similar clashes at other universities.
Source: Daily Telegraph
Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery Act
Zach Hunter is a 15-year-old American highschooler who by the age of 12 developed a passion to abolish slavery, just as William Wilberforce did 200 years ago. He launched the ‘Loose Change to Loosen Chains’ programme, raising thousands of dollars to rescue victims of modern-day slavery. He also wrote a book called Be the Change. Your Guide to Freeing Slaves and Changing The World, that forms an inspiration for many teenagers in America.
‘Most people don’t realize that slavery still exists. But there are actually 27 million slaves in the world today’, says Zach. ‘Slavery has so many forms, it can be anything from rolling cigarettes, to making bricks, to forced prostitution in brothels - many terrible situations’. Last year, Zach spoke to tens of thousands of people at concerts and other events, to get the word out. And that was no small feat, because he battled a serious anxiety disorder when he was younger, and had to overcome tremendous stage fright. Zach’s inspiration comes from Proverbs 31. 8- 9 NIV, ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy’.
Source: Joel News International, March 2007