Religious Liberty in Europe – Another Threat.

A new European Directive is speedily moving through the various stages of the European Parliament. This proposed Anti-Discrimination Directive bans discrimination and harassment on the grounds of disability, age, sexual orientation and religion or belief for:

  • social protection (including social security and healthcare);
  • social advantages;
  • education;
  • access to and the supply of goods and services available to the public, including housing.

 

So Christians should welcome this then?

Well that may be the first reaction of anyone supporting religious liberty. However, as Christian Concern For Our Nation (CCFN) note, experience of similar legislation in the guise of the 2000 Employment Discrimination Directive gives cause for concern. One result of that particular Directive was the successful prosecution of an English Bishop, by a homosexual after not being given a position as a youth minister, and in another case a British Christian charity was successfully sued for refusing to promote an atheist support worker.

Now clearly this legislation is unlikely to be all bad, but it seems that much of it could be and so I would urge Pastors and Bible students to take some time to check out this directive and Contact their MEP.

 

One major issue highlighted by CCFN is the apparent lack of a fair balance of rights for all citizens

CCFN note, ”There are many unanswered questions as to the compatibility of the proposed Directive for religious organisations and individuals with the ECHR, the EU Charter of Fundamental Human Rights and the Declaration on Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, UN Resolution 36/55. The religious freedom of its citizens is the hallmark of a democratic society and a core value for modern human rights law.”

 

Timetable

There have been a number of amendments put forward by the various Committees and individual MEPs to this proposed Directive. These amendments will be considered by the Libe Committee on the 17th February 2009 and voted upon. European Parliamentary parties may then put down further amendments but not individual MEPs. MEPs are expected to vote on the Directive in the European Parliament plenary session on the 23 March 2009. After that the Directive will then be considered by the Council of Ministers (possibly in April 2009) and unless there is a national veto, the Directive will become an official European Directive.

We do not know what the final Directive will say. However there are a number of amendments already proposed from a Committee which may make the Directive even worse than the present draft.

 

I have kept this short in the hope that it will be read and acted on, if anyone wants any more information please visit http://www.ccfon.org/view.php?id=683 , or let me know by way of comment.

 

Please do write to your MEP

 

MEP link for UK:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/members/public/geoSearch/zoneList.do?country= GB&language=EN

MEP link by country:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/members.do?language=EN

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