This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Religious freedom under threat from courts, professor warns

Religious freedom under threat from courts, professor warns - Comments

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 1 by drumdaddy

Why does she wear the letter 't' on her necklace? If she were devout she would have an miniature bloody torture victim hanging from her neck, not the easily misconstrued letter 't'.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 20:47:32 UTC | #911460

Lightnin's Avatar Comment 2 by Lightnin

In 2009 the archbishop of York, John Sentamu, wrote: "Asking someone to leave their belief in God at the door of their workplace is akin to asking them to remove their skin colour before coming in to the office: faith in God is not an add-on or optional extra."

No. No. No. It is like asking some to leave their political or philosophical beliefs at the door. How do theists (and some non-theists) not get this, your religion may be a very important part of who you are, but it is ultimately just a intellectual/moral position like vegetarianism or conservatism.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 20:59:39 UTC | #911462

Steven Mading's Avatar Comment 3 by Steven Mading

It's disgusting how the article treats the registrar refusing to conduct civil partnerships and the stewardess not being allowed to wear a cross as being similar situations. They're not even close. Wearing a cross won't stop someone from doing their job. The registrar was actually refusing to do her job. An equivalent would have been if the stewardess had said, "oh look, there's a gay couple seated in row 16, so I won't serve them or respond to their call buttons."

Buy trying to pretend they're examples of the same thing, the author is downplaying what the registrar did.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:09:05 UTC | #911466

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 4 by Steve Zara

This is anything but an attack on religious freedom. People are free to believe what they like, free to worship whatever gods they want to, and free to wear whatever religious symbols or garments they like. They are free to pray, to chant, to sing, to gather for ceremonies, to baptise children, to celebrate religious events and festivals, even to preach to others about their beliefs.

The only thing that is being challenged here is the privilege of religious beliefs to be beyond rules, regulations and laws. That is all. Without that challenge religious beliefs result in unfairness, with some being allowed to ignore rules that apply to others.

Challenging privilege is not attacking freedom, it's enhancing freedom. It prevents privilege for some resulting in selective lack of freedoms for others. It ensures equality for all, including believers of different faiths.

Just to give one example: if Christian landlords and landladies use religion as a basis to refuse accommodation to same-sex couples, that will restrict the rights of Christian same-sex couples. Whose version of Christianity do we back in law? The only fair response is "neither". The law pushes aside religious concerns in order to ensure equality and fairness for all.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:12:26 UTC | #911468

.'s Avatar Comment 5 by .

"There has been a clear trend for courts in Europe and North America to prioritise equality and non-discrimination above religion, placing the right to religious freedom in danger."

I think that should have read:

"There has been a clear trend for courts in Europe and North America to prioritise equality and non-discrimination above religion, banishing to history the religious privilige to discriminate and oppress."

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:15:51 UTC | #911471

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 6 by Red Dog

Comment 3 by Steven Mading :

It's disgusting how the article treats the registrar refusing to conduct civil partnerships and the stewardess not being allowed to wear a cross as being similar situations. They're not even close. Wearing a cross won't stop someone from doing their job. The registrar was actually refusing to do her job. An equivalent would have been if the stewardess had said, "oh look, there's a gay couple seated in row 16, so I won't serve them or respond to their call buttons."

Buy trying to pretend they're examples of the same thing, the author is downplaying what the registrar did.

I agree. Its similar to cases in the US where pharmacists refuse to dispense morning after pills or other prescriptions that they claim interfere with their religious beliefs. If you take a job you are required to fulfill all the requirements of all your customers. If your religion interferes then you need to find a different job.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:17:33 UTC | #911472

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 7 by strangebrew

From the OP...

"There has been a clear trend for courts in Europe and North America to prioritise equality and non-discrimination above religion, placing the right to religious freedom in danger."

That says it all...BAAAWWAHHAAAA!

Xians are told to stop being bigoted hateful and ignorant toerags ...and they is all sad and pouty. Cos not being able to discriminate and allowing equality makes the bhabi jeebus howl!

Fucking retarded dingbats the lot of them!

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:18:55 UTC | #911474

Mrkimbo's Avatar Comment 8 by Mrkimbo

"Christianity, which has given so much to our country..." Yeah right. Mental slavery, child indoctrination, vicious intolerance and mass murder.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:21:17 UTC | #911475

.'s Avatar Comment 9 by .

It makes you wonder what the BA employee would do in an aircraft emergency - would she instruct passengers on the emergency drill or would she get down on her knees and pray "Jeebus save us"?

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:23:24 UTC | #911477

GodZilla's Avatar Comment 10 by GodZilla

A year later, Lord Carey of Clifton said: "Christianity, which has given so much to our country..."

Yeah, like the dark ages, inquisitions, witch hunts, pedophilia, slavery, pogroms, internal religious wars, Henry VIII, stifling of scientific knowledge and freedom of expression...and now it is the Muslims turn to give. Good Luck Great Britain.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:23:56 UTC | #911478

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 11 by Red Dog

At first I thought that the cross thing was a bit over the top but in the original article BA makes clear that this is the same policy they have for all jewelry worn by uniformed employees, it must be under the clothes. Its also interesting to read her justification for wearing the cross:

"I am fairly disappointed but I'm looking forward to the next stage because the cross is important and the truth will be revealed... It is important to wear it to express my faith so that other people will know that Jesus loves them."

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:29:41 UTC | #911479

obijuanmartinez's Avatar Comment 12 by obijuanmartinez

"There has been a clear trend for courts in Europe and North America to prioritise equality and non-discrimination above religion, placing the right to religious freedom in danger."

Priceless! A revealing statement indeed - Holy subtext, Batman!

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:36:55 UTC | #911482

.'s Avatar Comment 13 by .

Comment 11 by Red Dog :

"... It is important to wear it to express my faith so that other people will know that Jesus loves them."

That demonstrates that she has an agenda which is at odds with her employer's agenda - BA want her to provide good customer service, she wants to proselytise BA's passengers and get paid for it...

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:38:32 UTC | #911483

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 14 by Peter Grant

Just became a fan of BA.com

If I ever fly anywhere it will definitely be with them.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:39:04 UTC | #911484

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 15 by Cartomancer

I find it difficult to believe that a serious academic could write something so unbearably simplistic and ahistorical.

Yes, of course the freedom to do whatever you like in the name of religion is being clamped down on by the courts. That has always been the case. It says in Leviticus that you shall not suffer a witch to live, but everyone is perfectly happy for the law to prevent vigillante witch hunting however earnestly and deeply held the faith of the witch hunters is. It also says that you should put gay people to death, and there are plenty who would like to do just that, but we don't allow a religious exemption from the murder laws there.

All of this is entirely uncontroversial. Take it to those extremes and people get it. Of course we don't allow those Aztec sanguinary priests to kidnap and sacrifice children. But when it comes down to things like equality law somehow people get lost, and the principle is ignored. Somehow your desire to be a homophobic jerk in the name of your religion, or your desire to flout an employer's dress code in the name of your religion, is considered a valid and legitimate reason to break the law of the land and do harm to others. Somehow when it comes to those sorts of things religious people do get a free pass to break the law.

So what's the rule? Where's the line? If refusing to do your job for those horrid gays is okay but murdering them isn't then what about a bit of light-hearted physical assault? Or verbal bullying? All of those are illegal, but then again so is refusing to serve people. Though, of course, your cherished and deeply held religious belief says you have to kill them. Not letting you kill them breaches your fundamental faith position. How dare the courts decide for you how you are to interpret the words of Leviticus - It shouldn't be for the courts to decide what is and is not core part of your religious belief!

We've had these discussions in Europe before. Except back then we had them with swords and handguns and bloodshed and power struggle, and we called them the Wars of Religion. And in the end some jolly sensible people realised that allowing partisan religious belief a part in lawmaking and allowing some religions to dictate favourable terms to the lawmakers was a jolly bad idea. That's where modern secularism and enlightenment liberalism first came from. And, eventually, we stopped killing the catholics and the jews, stopped the witch hunts and moved on, cherishing this hard-learned lesson in how to run a country without heaping major inequalities on large numbers of your citizens.

And I, for one, don't want to go back.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:42:03 UTC | #911486

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 16 by Schrodinger's Cat

"There has been a clear trend for courts in Europe and North America to prioritise equality and non-discrimination above religion, placing the right to religious freedom in danger."

The real problem is that people want to have their cake and eat it. They want 'equality' all the time, and all their 'religious rights' all the time.....even when the religious beliefs are in themslves a belief in personal specialness and thus non-equality relative to others. After all......what is a religious belief if not a belief that one is not like all those others who don't believe.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:46:39 UTC | #911490

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 17 by rod-the-farmer

If they had complained that she wore a CHAIN with the cross, that would be one thing, as it would naturally fall below the neckline of her clothing. But she deliberately chose to wear the cross on a loop, thus making it visible to anyone who happened to look at her. This is provocation, nothing else.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:47:11 UTC | #911491

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 18 by Mr DArcy

I wonder what would be professor Trigg's view if an airline steward/ess wore a different religious symbol around his/ her neck. Maybe one like that common one in India the swastika?

I'm sure he would be up in arms then! It didn't stop most of the SS guards in the death camps from being Christians of course!

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:47:48 UTC | #911492

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 19 by Neodarwinian

"There has been a clear trend for courts in Europe and North America to prioritize equality and non-discrimination above religion, placing the right to religious freedom in danger."

Aside from misspelling " prioritize " ( my correction ) this is a common religious disconnect from reality. What else are the courts supposed to do? Allow these theocrats to squash equality and nondiscrimination in favor of delusion?

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:53:32 UTC | #911496

.'s Avatar Comment 20 by .

Comment 19 by Neodarwinian :

Aside from misspelling " prioritize " ( my correction ) this is a common religious disconnect from reality. What else are the courts supposed to do? Allow these theocrats to squash equality and nondiscrimination in favor of delusion?

Aside from misspelling " favour " ( my correction ) I agree with you. ;)

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:57:55 UTC | #911498

Linda Ward's Avatar Comment 21 by Linda Ward

The true colours of religiosity manifests when the front line workers, clerics, declare that the ideologies of superstition should always take precedence over EQUALITY! Goodness, how horrid are these people?

Thankfully the Good News is that at least in some jurisdictions common decency is considered the benchmark of a noble, moral society.

For too long the promoters of religions have existed above reproach and often the law, the gig is up as we have seen behind the curtain and the wizard is just an old man pulling puppet strings.

We will be free.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 21:58:36 UTC | #911499

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 22 by Red Dog

Comment 18 by Mr DArcy :

I wonder what would be professor Trigg's view if an airline steward/ess wore a different religious symbol around his/ her neck. Maybe one like that common one in India the swastika?

I'm sure he would be up in arms then! It didn't stop most of the SS guards in the death camps from being Christians of course!

I was thinking the same thing. Or even just the crescent moon and star of Islam or a star of David. Either one would likely receive customer complaints. Christians are so used to being the privilidged religion.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 22:05:17 UTC | #911501

Jumped Up Chimpanzee's Avatar Comment 23 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee

I can't believe these same few cases are still being raised in the papers as if they are new.

I suppose they think that if they keep repeating the same handful of cases, it will create the impression that they are far more widespread than they really are, and thereby justify this idea of persecution. It's not unusual from time to time for the media to seize upon some trendy issue and suddenly start highlighting every case to try and whip up a frenzy of public opinion, but on this topic they're really scraping the barrel.

And I really can't believe they're still telling the same outright lie about the British Airways worker. It was the necklace, not the crucifix on it, that contravened their dress codes. The fact that it has a crucifix on it was totally irrelevant to the employer and their rules.

If employees are allowed to bring the core aspects of their belief to work, maybe I'll start my own religion that says I must lie on a sun bed all day, with a ready supply of cold beers to hand.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 22:36:07 UTC | #911513

Just a thought...'s Avatar Comment 24 by Just a thought...

I always wondered about the whole "no graven image" thing regarding the wearing of the crucifix by xians.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 22:37:30 UTC | #911515

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 25 by strangebrew

Where else would the wearing of a torture implement around the neck on a chain be a matter for the courts to rule on... without them banning the piece as obscene jewellery...which given its real world function it plainly is...and sending the wearer to a mental institution to work out his or her torture issues with deep therapy?

This is not consensual BDSM this is a fucking snuff icon!

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 22:54:21 UTC | #911521

Philoctetes                                        's Avatar Comment 26 by Philoctetes

The key is it is a uniform. Uniform means "the same", if you add to a uniform you are out of uniform (except of course if it is a uniform addition like a chevron or a medal). Imagine if a fellow worker of this christian woman wanted to proclaim his/her beliefs to the world by wearing a silver swastika?

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 22:56:24 UTC | #911522

Raiko's Avatar Comment 27 by Raiko

Is everyone aware that flight attendants of British Airways are GENERALLY not allowed to wear visible jewelery with their uniforms? The lady was asking for special exemption from the rules. She could have worn it under her uniform like any other flight attendants who want to carry personal tokens with themselves at all times. Supposedly, she was even offered a job that allowed the open display of jewellery. However, she did not want to carry the jewellery for herself personally, nor agree to a compromise. Her idea was that she had a special right to put her special jewellery on display while others were not allowed to. That is far from okay or fair.

But then, the Roger Trigg does not want fair, anyway:

"There has been a clear trend for courts in Europe and North America to prioritise equality and non-discrimination above religion, placing the right to religious freedom in danger."

If you read this right you could paraphrase it as "I think religious people should be allowed to be discriminating and unfair." Those are the words of a very, very unpleasant person who we should strive to avoid.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 23:01:27 UTC | #911524

some asshole's Avatar Comment 28 by some asshole

I will quote the same thing so many others have:

There has been a clear trend for courts in Europe and North America to prioritise equality and non-discrimination above religion, placing the right to religious freedom in danger.

So, I guess the claim is that religion should take precedence over equality and non-discrimination. Do I have that right? I'm sure I do.

It has always been OK with these scumbags the known atheists could never win public office. It has always been OK with these scumbags that some states in the USA have written into their constitution that atheists cannot hold office. But tell them not to display a Bronze Age torture device that advertises their stupidity, and they crap themselves empty.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 23:13:51 UTC | #911529

hweseman's Avatar Comment 29 by hweseman

I was wondering whether it would be OK to wear guillotine jewelry, if this exists at all? I googled "guillotine jewelry", and lo and behold, here they are: http://www.cafepress.com/+guillotine+jewelry

Maybe we could adopt this as our atheist version of the crucifix and make a fuss if we are not allowed to wear it as flight attendants etc.

Bwahh, it would be so childish....

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 23:26:00 UTC | #911535

Raiko's Avatar Comment 30 by Raiko

Correction - I don't know whether she was a flight attendant, but whatever job she was in, it was part of the rules that jewellery was not acceptable with the uniform.

I find this quote from Nadia Eiwada very revealing:

"It is important to wear it to express my faith so that other people will know that Jesus loves them." 

It's not about her private happiness, a personal thing or self-expression - no, it's about pushing her religion onto others, nothing else.

Wed, 25 Jan 2012 23:30:01 UTC | #911536