Has political correctness gone too far? That’s the sentiment that will purportedly be embraced — at least to a degree — in a government report due out in the coming days from the British body responsible for enforcing non-discrimination laws.
The report from The Equality and Human Rights Commission will take aim at public entitles and private employers who sometimes “victimize Christians” to avoid offending individuals who embrace other worldviews, according to the Daily Mail.
The document follows incidents in which Christians have clashed with employers, among other entities, over their faith, with the text reportedly addressing specific incidents, including the hoopla last year after U.K. movie theaters refused to air an ad from the Church of England that encouraged people to pray.
The report reportedly pushes back against the theaters’ decision and indicates that legal action could follow, while also tackling other specific cases, according to the Daily Mail.
“There is no right in Britain not to be offended and, in our view, respect for people’s right to express beliefs with which others might disagree, is the mark of a democratic society,” the document reportedly reads. “We are concerned that a single supplier is effectively able to control a very large proportion of the market and effectively impose a blanket ban on advertising of a religious nature.”
The document will reportedly also offer support to a Christian staff member at British Airways who was suspended after refusing to remove a cross, and will also weigh in on a housing association that demoted a Christian man for sharing his views about gay marriage on social media.
The Daily Mail also reported that the document will chastise government bodies for removing “Christmas” from celebrations and documents such as greeting cards over fears that the word will be offensive to some.
“I want to put the record straight … you can send Christmas cards and have a Christmas party,” David Isaac, chief of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, wrote in the report.
Another part of the document purportedly reads, “Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right and it shouldn’t be suppressed through fear of offending. Lots of employers have now become really worried about doing anything discriminatory regarding their Muslim or Jewish staff.”
At the center of contention is the Equalities Act 2010, a law that protects minority groups. While some critics have said the law elevates the rights of minority groups such as gays and lesbians above others, the report rejected that sentiment.
Isacc said he doesn’t believe there is a competition or hierarchy of rights, as some Christian leaders contend, saying people cannot use their religion to deny commercial services, as was the case in a 2009 incident in which hotel owners refused to allow a gay couple to stay in a single room; the owners cited a ban on unmarried couples residing at their establishment.
Others, though, have argued that there is, indeed, a battle over individual rights, and that it has left many confused about what’s allowed or appropriate.
The report is slated to offer up a series of workplace guidelines for businesses to follow. Some critics won’t see it as a slam dunk for settling the debate over religious freedom, though there are certainly some intriguing elements at play, with Isaac asking that businesses be sensible when it comes to dealing with issues like religious-based requests for time off, according to the Sunday Express.
Read more about the report here.
(H/T: Daily Mail)
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