Tuesday, January 15, 2013


www.guardian.co.uk Secular groups have welcomed a Strasbourg court ruling that religious freedoms do not trump other human rights as a victory against discrimination. Keith Porteous Wood, the executive director of the National Secular Society, described the court's decision that a British Airways check-in worker should have been allowed to wear a cross at work was only a "limited" right that needed to be balanced against other interests. 
Three other UK Christians, who appealed to the European court of human rights (ECHR) claiming that their religious liberties had been infringed, lost their challenges. Nadia Eweida, the BA check-in worker, won her appeal but Lilian Ladele, a local authority registrar who also lives in London, Shirley Chaplin, a nurse from Exeter, and Gary McFarlane, a Bristol marriage counsellor, all had their claims dismissed. Porteous Wood said the ECHR rulings confirmed there was no need to change UK equality law because it had been found to be "fully compatible" with the European convention on human rights.

John O'Doherty of the Rainbow Project, a gay and lesbian organisation, said: "Religious belief cannot be used as a smokescreen for discrimination, and all service providers must recognise that they may not pick and choose which members of the public are worthy of accessing services. "While we had always supported Nadia Eweida's right to wear her cross, as a symbol of her faith, in the workplace, we were adamant that the McFarlane and Ladele claims of discrimination must fall." 
But the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Dr John Sentamu, insisted that courts should not have any power to prevent individuals wearing religious symbols. "'Christians and those of other faiths should be free to wear the symbols of their own religion without discrimination," he said. "Christians are not obliged to wear a cross but should be free to show their love for and trust in Jesus Christ in this way if they so wish. Shami Chakrabarti, from the human rights group Liberty, said: "[This] judgment is an excellent result for equal treatment, religious freedom and common sense.

In its judgment the European Court of Human Rights said that manifesting religion is a "fundamental right". "[This is because] a healthy democratic society needs to tolerate and sustain pluralism and diversity; but also because of the value to an individual who has made religion a central tenet of his or her life to be able to communicate that belief to others." Defending the right of Christians and believers of other faiths of wearing the symbols of their own religion without discrimination, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said: "The Equality Act 2010 encourages employers to embrace diversity - including people of faith. "Whether people can wear a cross or pray with someone should not be something about which courts and tribunals have to rule." Rather than having a religion, we need to develop spirituality. As we are spiritual souls our true happiness lies in attune with God and not discriminate the faith of others.

Communal conflicts make some people feel that the world would be better off without religion. But the plight of a godless modern world is poignantly caught by Martin Luther King Jr. in his comment several decades ago, "We have guided missiles and misguided men". While science and technology have helped us to control the external world to some extent, control of the inner world is sadly lacking, as can be seen from the alarming increase in depression, hypertension and other mental health disorders as also in addictions, criminality, violence, suicides and homicides. It is genuine spirituality alone that can provide the inner strength and fulfillment that can lead to lasting morality and real character in the individual. ... When people harmonize themselves with the essential principles of their respective religion, they learn to live harmoniously.

Śrīpad Chaitanya Charan das :
“The Spiritual Scientist” - Vol 4 Issue 15 
“Seek Spiritual Unity Amidst Religious Diversity” 

Published by dasavatara das - "Vedic Views on World News"

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