A stunning new report from the Council of Europe is calling for the rights of Christians to be upheld, asking the media to avoid stereotyping and governments to allow their meetings, buildings and literature.
The report was submitted by Moldovan Christian MP Valeriu Ghiletchi, who is on the Equality and Nondiscrimination committee.
“Intolerance and discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief affect minority religious groups in Europe as well as people belonging to majority religious groups,” the report says. “However, acts of hostility, violence and vandalism targeting Christians and their places of worship are insufficiently taken into consideration and condemned.”
The report cites a number of individual cases, including several handled by the U.K.’s Christian Institute.
They include the cases of Lillian Ladele, a registrar who was removed from her job because of her Christian beliefs on marriage, and of Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who were sued for allowing only heterosexual married couples to share a double bed in their bed-and-breakfast.
“This report is timely given the increasing official intolerance shown toward mainstream Christian beliefs and the people that hold them,” said Simon Calvert, deputy director of the institute.
“Northern Ireland is currently consulting on a conscience clause after a Christian-run bakery was sued for its commitment to biblical truth on marriage,” he said. “Reasonable accommodation of conscience is a protection long overdue, and I’m delighted that the Council of Europe has recognized this.
“I hope that politicians across Europe will now act to endorse this call to protect freedom of conscience,” said Calvert.
The council represents 47 countries across Europe. The vote to endorse the report was overwhelmingly in favor, 67-2, Christian Today reported.
The report calls for protections to prevent Christians from being penalized for their beliefs.
The report urges, as a solution, for members to “promote reasonable accommodation” and “uphold freedom of conscience in the workplace.”
Also needed is “respect” for the “rights of parents to provide their children with an education in conformity with their religious or philosophical convictions.”
The report cites the “acts of hostility, violence and vandalism” against Christians and their places of workshop that are “overlooked” by national authorities.
“Freedom of thought, conscience and religion is protected by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and considered as one of the foundations of a democratic and pluralist society,” the report says.
Therefore, “limitations” must be “restricted to those prescribed by law and necessary in a democratic society.”
It said member nations should promote “reasonable accommodation,” affirm freedom of conscience in the workplace, respect the right of parents to provide their children with an education conforming to their religion and “enable Christians to fully participate in public life.”
The report also says media should avoid stereotyping Christians, and governments need to allow Christians to meet and have worship space. Christians, the report says, also have the right to publish and use religious literature.