Wednesday, May 28, 2008

UK: Christian Non-profit Forbidden to Hire only Believers

Ruling says only the court can define the Christian organization's beliefs

-- From "UK Christian Charity May not Retain All-Christian Hiring Policy" by Hilary White posted on LifeSiteNews 5/26/08

READING, UK - Backed by the vociferously anti-Christian British Humanist Association (BHA), an Employment Tribunal has ruled that a Christian learning disabled charity may not maintain its policy of hiring exclusively practising Christians. The employment tribunal judged that the charity, Prospects, may not implement a policy of hiring only believing Christians on its staff on the grounds that it receives public funding and has hired non-Christians in the past. Further, the Tribunal ruled that a religious organisation was not qualified to judge what constitutes a "religious ethos" for purposes of hiring policies.

The Tribunal in Abergele, North West Wales this weekend ruled that only a court, not the organisation itself, may make an objective assessment of what constitutes its "religious ethos".

. . . The British Humanist Association called the decision a "landmark" that will broadly affect the right of Christian charities in the UK. Under current British law, religious organisations may maintain a religious hiring policy, but only if they can show that a particular religious belief is a "genuine occupational requirement".

Hanne Stinson, BHA Chief Executive, said, "A clear message has been sent out by this decision: that blanket discrimination in employment policies and practices on grounds of religion or belief is simply unacceptable, and that an instruction to discriminate against someone on the basis of that person's religion or belief will be unlawful."

. . . Governments in the UK and abroad are increasingly hostile to Christian organisations that attempt to maintain their religious identity. A very recent similar case in Canada ended when a Christian charity abandoned its employee code of conduct after a Human Rights Tribunal judged that it discriminated unfairly against people involved in the homosexual "lifestyle". Ontario-based Christian Horizons was fined $23,000 as punishment for attempting to maintain a Christian code of conduct for employees.

In a statement similar to that of the BHA, Barbara Hall, the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission opined, "This decision is important because it sets out that when faith-based and other organizations move beyond serving the interests of their particular community to serving the general public, the rights of others, including employees, must be respected."

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