Hilary White

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European Court of Human Rights rules against Christians in conscience cases

Hilary White
Hilary White
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LONDON, January 16, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A group of British Christians have been told by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that they have no right to act on their beliefs. The case was brought by the UK’s Christian Institute on behalf of two employees who had suffered discipline at work for wearing crosses, and two others who could not in conscience participate in or endorse homosexual partnerships.

The court ruled in three out of the four cases that the severe sanctions and dismissal from employment did not constitute a violation of Article 9 (freedom of religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Only in the case of a British Airways employee sacked for wearing a small cross at work was the UK found guilty of a violation of her religious freedom. The court ruled that because members of other religions were accommodated by British Airways with their wishes to wear religious items, Christian symbols ought to be allowed as well.

The court treated all four cases as one, and said that while Christians should be allowed to wear religious symbols at work, they could not refuse to participate in homosexual civil partnership ceremonies or counsel homosexual couples as though they were in legitimate marriages.

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The court said it was “not disproportionate” to dismiss the three other employees on the grounds that the sanctions were proportionate to the enforcement of the employer’s “equality and diversity policies”.

Sophia Kuby of the European Dignity Watch NGO called the ruling a case of “obsessive political correctness trumping religious freedom.” These “equality and diversity” policies, she said, while claiming to be about safeguarding freedoms are having the opposite effect.

It is an “obvious paradox” that they are “creating new discrimination against Christians,” she said. The ruling has “marked a new step in the discrimination against Christians who act according to their consciences or wear a non-controversial sign of their faith.”

Two of the justices dissented and issued a minority ruling saying, “The state is obliged to respect the individual’s freedom of conscience.”

“Instead of practising the tolerance of the ‘dignity for all’ it preached, the Borough of Islington pursued the doctrinaire line, the road of obsessive political correctness,” said the dissenting ruling. “It effectively sought to force the applicant to act against her conscience of face the extreme penalty of dismissal – something which … cannot be deemed necessary in a democratic society.”

Kuby noted that the decision is particularly worrisome since in one case, the complainant had been sacked for merely bringing his concerns to his employers.


Gary McFarlane was a relationship counsellor with the therapy service Relate. In 2008, when he expressed his concern over the request that he be prepared to provide same-sex couples with psycho-sexual therapy. Although he had never asked to be exempt, he was dismissed for gross misconduct.

Another of the complainants was Lillian Ladele, a Christian former marriage registrar who had been pushed out of her job at a London Council. In the ruling, five of the judges rejected her claim, but two said that she had indeed suffered discrimination because of her Christian beliefs about marriage.

Ladele worked for 16 years as a civil marriage registrar for the Islington Council in London. In 2004, when the Labour government passed legislation creating homosexual civil unions, she made arrangements with co-workers to cover the cases she felt she could not, but the Council refused to accommodate her beliefs or offer any solution. Finally she was confronted with the blunt demand that she conduct a homosexual civil partnership ceremony herself, an act that her religious beliefs and conscience could not accept. That was when she took the case to the Employment Tribunal.

The Tribunal agreed that the Council had created an impossibly hostile work environment due exclusively to Ladele’s “orthodox Christian beliefs” and found that she had been discriminated against. The Council had refused to consider her for promotion, disciplined and threatened her with dismissal and accused her of gross misconduct. They were also found to have failed to redress allegations that she was “homophobic” and had labelled and treated her as “homophobic”.

Mike Judge, spokesman for The Christian Institute, which supported Ladele’s case, said, “What this case shows is that Christians with traditional beliefs about marriage are at risk of being left out in the cold.

“If the Government steamrollers ahead with its plans to redefine marriage, then hundreds of thousands of people could be thrown out of their jobs unless they agree to endorse gay marriage.”

Judge added that Ladele still had the option of pursuing the case further up the line to the Grand Chamber of the ECHR, but that she had not yet informed the Christian Institute of her decision.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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