Page 2, 31st January 2003

31st January 2003
Page 2
Page 2, 31st January 2003 — Employment directive 'will undermine' the Church

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Employment directive 'will undermine' the Church


('Al l ICH aschools, charities and organisations could be sued if they refuse to employ atheists or sack staff who become Satanists under proposed government regulations.

The laws, based on a European Union directive which must be implemented this year, ban discrimination in the workplace on grounds of religion, belief or sexual Orientation.

But according to the Christian Institute, the laws will restrict the freedom of the churches to employ staff who are in sympathy with their values. All religious organisations will instead need to have a strong case to insist that any new recruits share their beliefs.

The laws could prevent Church groups from refusing, for example, to employ sexually-active gays and lesbians, cohabitees or people in adulterous relationships on the grounds that their lifestyles are contrary to Catholic teaching.

The Christian Institute, an Anglican think-tank, claims the rules would be akin to forcing the vegetarian society to employ a meat-eater or preventing the RSPCA from taking action against a worker who was found to have shares in the fur trade.

Colin Hart, the director, said: "The draft regulations try to squeeze churches and other religious organisations into a secular mould, They seek to control the way in which Churches are run and define what is acceptable Christian belief. If the Labour Party could not discipline a researcher who was found to be making donations to the Conservative Party, it would be madness. Yet this sort of crazy legislation is being forced on to religious groups.

"No religious organisations can maintain its ethos if it is forced to employ staff who profoundly disagree with the whole basis of the organisation. That is why the Labour Party only employs card-carrying party members. It is hypocritical for the Government to stop religious organisations from acting in a similar way."

Education: Page 10

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