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European Court to Rule on Controversial Christian Freedom Cases

Contact: Andrea Minichiello Williams, +44-0-7712-591164; Andrew Marsh, +44-0-7919-354456; both with Christian Concern, media.centre@christianconcern.com

LONDON, Jan. 11, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- Judgment in the cases of four UK Christians will be handed down at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg at 09:00 GMT (04:00 EST) on Tuesday 15th January 2013.

The cases are being carefully watched across the world. Of particular interest will be the interpretation of how the very strong provision for 'freedom of thought, conscience and religion' under Article 9 translates into practical protections in diverse European societies.

The decision of the European Court will determine the direction of freedom of religion from Lisbon to Vladivostok; the rights of Christian employees in the workplace to 'reasonable accommodation' of their faith.

Two of the cases (Chaplin and Eweida) relate to the visible wearing of a cross. The other cases (McFarlane and Ladele) relate to protection of Christian conscience in the professional arena.

At a hearing in September 2012, the UK government contested all the cases in spite of public statements in support of freedom to wear the cross by the Prime Minister and other government ministers.

The Christian Legal Centre is directly supporting Gary McFarlane and Shirley Chaplin.

Nurse Shirley Chaplin had worn her confirmation cross on a small chain around her neck, without incident, throughout her nearly thirty years in front-line nursing. Then, as part of a new uniform policy, she was told to remove it although allowances were made for the religious dress of others.

Gary McFarlane, an experienced relationships counselor indicated that he might have a conscientious objection to providing sex therapy to a same-sex couple if the situation ever arose. He was dismissed for gross misconduct even though no-one had been denied a service, the scenario was only hypothetical and there were others who would have met any demand for the disputed service.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, Director of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

    "These are landmark cases and we have waited a long time to get to this point. At stake is not only the future shape of Christian involvement in community life but the protection of important personal freedoms in a diverse society."

More information: www.christianconcern.com/europeancases

Contact: Andrea Minichiello Williams: + 44 (0) 7712 591164
 / Andrew Marsh: + 44 (0) 7919 354456
/ media.centre@christianconcern.com