Prime Minister David Cameron has today suggested that the law may be amended to enable religious believer’s carte blanche to manifest their beliefs, regardless of the individual needs and regulations of employers or their co-workers. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has reacted with concern, and seeks reassurance from the Government that the rights all individuals should be fairly upheld, without favour towards individuals purely on the basis of their religious beliefs.
The MP for Haltemprice and Howden, David Davis, asked the Prime Minister about the case of Nadia Eweida, a former British Airways worker who is taking a case of religious discrimination to the European Court of Justice. In March of this year, the BHA welcomed the Government’s decision to challenge the case, as it ‘upholds a confected and false narrative of Christian persecution’.
Mr Davis said to Mr Cameron that he ‘cannot believe the Government is supporting the suppression of religious freedom in the work place, so what are we going to do about this sad case?’
In response, the Prime Minister said that he believed the right to wear religious symbols at work as an ‘absolutely a vital religious freedom’, and continued that ‘What we’ll do is if it turns out that the law has the intention-as has come out in this case-then we will change the law and make it clear that people can wear religious emblems at work.’
Commenting on the response, BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal said ‘Everyone should have the right to express their religious and non-religious beliefs. However, there are understandable incidences where the manifestation of personal beliefs – such as the observation of certain rituals or the wearing articles of clothing – is unsafe or inappropriate for that role.
‘It is essential the facts of the case are understood. Ms Eweida did not lose her job for wearing a crucifix, and employer, British Airways, amended their uniform policy over five years ago, in February 2007. UK courts have repeatedly found no discrimination took place.’
Ms Dhaliwal continued, ‘As we have stated previously, Ms Eweida’s case is being inappropriately used by politicised Christian lobby groups to promote the idea that Christian’s face widespread persecution in the UK. We call on the Government to ensure that this case is challenged in the European Court of Human Rights, and that legislation is not introduced to allow the personal views and practices of religious believers take precedence over those of all others.’
For further comment or information contact Pavan Dhaliwal at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07738435059
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief