United Kingdom after a local tribunal rejected a Christian magistrate’s request to be exempt from cases involving the adoption of children with same-sex parents.
"Christians are losing out in a new hierarchy of rights," said the Evangelical Alliance
UK, an umbrella group representing over one million evangelical Christians in the country.
The Evangelical Alliance reacted to a decision by the city of Sheffield’s Employment Tribunal, which rejected Christian magistrate Andrew McClintock’s claim that his right to religious liberty "was violated" by “requiring” him “to oversee cases” involving placement of children with same-sex adopters.
The 63-year-old McClintock, who the tribunal accepted had an "unblemished" record as Justice of the Peace in Sheffield since 1988, will consequently be unable to serve on the Family Panel, which deals with cases including adoptions by hetero and homosexual couples, the Evangelical Alliance told BosNewsLife.
The Alliance said it was concerned that the case "was not based on refusal to obey the law," but on the need for the law to make “reasonable accommodation in cases involving matters of religious conscience."
The tribunal reportedly rejected McClintock’s claim of religious conscience as personal opinion, which they said "needed to be set aside in public office positions." The Evangelical Alliance’s Head of Public Affairs, Don Horrocks, told BosNewsLife that the ruling seemed part of a worrying trend in the UK.
"Following other recent controversial developments within the human rights industry, it appears that a hierarchy of rights is emerging, with religion and belief deemed bottom of the pile and subservient – especially to sexual orientation rights," Horrocks said.
"This illiberal trend to enforce the privatization of faith and to tolerate everything apart from religious belief needs to be arrested, before we wake up to find that as a consequence Christian contribution has been increasingly withdrawn from the public square," he added.
Horrocks said Christian registrars, adoption agencies and other religiously motivated voluntary workers are already disappearing from the public scene. "The impact for society may be significant, given the substantial levels of voluntary and community work undertaken by religious groups," he explained.
Horrocks said that while other rights can "freely manifest themselves" in the public arena, there was "evidence of a political agenda to restrict and privatize religious liberty in a way that undermines the protection enshrined by article nine of the European Convention on Human Rights."
The law of the land, he said "is supposed to reflect a commitment to diversity as well as equality. So why can it not accommodate freedom of religious conscience in a commonsense way?" (With reports from the UK).