The Christian Institute

News Release

Church Schools forced to employ atheists and practising homosexuals

On the day the House of Lords publishes its report on the new Equal Treatment Directive The Christian Institute voiced its concerns that the directive will damage religious liberties. Charities, religious groups and Church schools will all be affected.

The Lords report covers four initiatives from the EU, including the new Equal Treatment Directive which is entirely separate from the Directive on Race. The report admits that Church schools and religious organisations will be hit by the Equal Treatment Directive. The Institute argues that matters are far worse than the report admits.

Contrary to what the Foreign Secretary promised two years ago (12 November 1997 col 914) church schools and religious organisations will have to open up their staff posts to atheists and practising homosexuals according to new legal advice from John Bowers QC and Mark L R Mullins. This legal advice was not available to the Lords Committee.

The UK Government has already indicated its approval of the draft directive and is expected to endorse the final version this summer. Speaking today, Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said:

“The Directive will have wide ranging implications for religious bodies. Church schools will be forced to employ atheists or practising homosexuals as teachers. Only the posts of religious education teachers are likely to be reserved for Christians.

Whilst Churches will be allowed to require ministers to hold to the teachings of the Church, the same will not be true of all the other posts such as Vicar’s secretaries or vergers. Churches will be forced to employ staff who reject their basic beliefs.

Christian organisations who carry out social work such as the Salvation Army or the Shaftesbury Society will be forced to employ unbelieving staff. Hospices will be forced to employ doctors who believe in euthanasia. Other similar charities will be affected.

This is a major attack on religious liberties and the freedom of association. The only people who will gain anything by this directive are litigious minorities. We want the UK Government to change its mind and stop supporting this dangerous directive which will profoundly damage religious liberties.”

Notes for Editors:

The opinion from John Bowers QC and Mark LR Mullins is available from the Institute. The Directive “Establishing a General Framework for Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation” is made under Article 13 of the Amsterdam Treaty. Tony Blair reversed the British veto of Article 13 when he came to power in 1997.