In what has been described as a “bad day for freedom of speech,” a Christian media organization has been prohibited from merely asking questions of the public about religious discrimination against them.
The ruling comes from the Court of Appeal in the United Kingdom and was confirmed by officials with Premier Christian Media, which was involved in the case.
In 2011, the organization had wanted to place ads on the radio stating: “Surveys have shown that over 60 percent of active Christians are being increasingly marginalized in the workplace. We are concerned to get the most accurate data to inform the public debate. We will then use this data to help a fairer society. Please visit CCPmagazines.co.uk and report your experiences.”
Broadcast regulators, called the Radio Advertising Clearance Center, claimed the ad “had a political objective” and banned it.
The court now has affirmed that censorship.
“We are saddened to report today’s Court of Appeal decision to uphold a ban on an advertisement which asked Christians to report their experiences of marginalization in the workplace, and see it is an attack on freedom of speech,” the company said.
CEO Peter Kerridge noted, “This is not only a bad day for freedom of speech for Christians, it is also a bad day for democracy in general, and a very bad day at the office for the Master of the Rolls” (a high-ranking judge in the U.K.).
In banning the ad, Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson found it was “directed to the political end of making a fairer society by reducing or eliminating the marginalization of Christians in the workplace.”
“This would suggest that any radio advertisement calling for data to inform public debate to help a fairer society would also be banned,” said Kerridge. “But we have to ask ourselves, did parliament really intend a blanket ban on radio adverts for surveys?”
Judge L.J. Elias, in a dissent, said any ad whose purpose was to facilitate debate was not directed toward a political end and concluded, “If an advertisement does not itself constitute a partial political message, why should it be banned?”
“The wording of the advert did not seek to achieve a political end, it had no political message and there was no attempt to influence the listener to a particular viewpoint, so there appears to be no good reason to ban it. The public interest cannot be best served by preventing people from gaining information and we believe that such a ban represents an attack on freedom of speech for everyone,” Kerridge said.
“Naturally we are disappointed with the judgment but will now consider further options which may be available to us with our legal representatives.”
The United Kingdom has been the scene of large numbers of attacks on Christians and Christianity in recent years, from a couple facing hunger because of a boycott on their Christian-faith-based bed-and-breakfast to warnings that a move toward recognizing “gay marriage” would lead to polygamy. There also has been discrimination against Christians who want to pray, or wear a cross necklace, and for Christians in public service who object to being required to perform same-sex “weddings.”
The discriminatory decisions have reached as high as the European Court of Human Rights, which issued an opinion that critics described as giving the amoral a license to discriminate against members of the faith.
In one case, a nurse, Shirley Chaplin, was removed from her job over her decision to wear a small crucifix on a chain around her neck. In another, counselor Gary McFarlane was fired for “gross misconduct” when he cited his Christian beliefs and expressed doubts to his superiors about his ability to provide so-called “sex therapy” to homosexual couples. In a third case, Lillian Ladele, a registrar for the London Borough of Islington, was fired for conscientiously refusing to officiate homosexual civil partnership ceremonies.
Layers of bureaucrats in the U.K. affirmed the punishment for the Christians.
Gregor Puppinck, director of the European Center for Law and Justice, which contributed documentation to the cases, said the results are deeply troubling.
“What is [unacceptable] is that [the decisions] found that the dismissal of the employees is proportionate to the need to enforce the employer’s ‘equality and diversity policies’ which [are] aimed at fighting against sexual, racial and religious discrimination,” he wrote. “How can one consider [it] proportionate to dismiss an employee when it would have been easy for the employer to accommodate him?”
Puppinck said Christians, consequently, face a major threat.
“The refusal by the employers to accommodate the applicants is merely an ideological sanction, meaning that, as a question of principle, there is no room in the staff for ‘intolerant Christians.’”
He said the combined ruling effectively endorses “the monopolistic imposition of the postmodern ideology over individual consciences and religious beliefs, whereas the [court] had the opposite possibility to show the way of a really pluralist and respectful approach of diversity.”
The court is giving “a free license to discriminate [against] Christians at work by submitting them to ‘obsessive political correctness,” he said.
The ruling is “a perfect example of the liberticidal trend of liberalism and relativism, where a society based on a consensus of amorality does not tolerate those who continue to have a moral judgment of conscience.”
In an amoral society, Puppinck explained, Christian who opposes abortion could even be considered criminal, while those who support it are thought to be mainstream.