September 4th, 2012
08:07 AM ET

Christians take discrimination cases to Europe's top court

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

Four British Christians urged Europe's top court Tuesday to rule that they faced discrimination because of their religious beliefs.

Two women accuse their employers of refusing to let them wear crosses openly at work.

Alongside them, a woman who declined to register gay civil partnerships and a man who did not want to give sex therapy to same-sex couples say they were unfairly dismissed from their jobs.

Gary McFarlane, the relationship counselor, said he was pleased with the way Tuesday's hearing went.

"Today, for the first time, I heard somebody talking about my rights," he said. "Surely I have some rights. I am a member of society. I have some beliefs."

He called it a "tragedy" that the case had gone all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.

He blamed "overzealous employers" who "would not consider reasonable accommodation" for his religious beliefs.

He never refused to treat a specific couple, raising his religious objections only in the abstract, said Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting him.

He and the other three Christians are fighting the British government, saying it failed to protect their rights.

The case could help to draw a clear boundary in cases where religious views contradict laws against discrimination. It will have implications across 47 countries on the continent. The court ruling will not be binding in Britain in the way that a Supreme Court ruling would be, but the country is legally obliged to take it into account.

The four - Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin, who wanted to wear crosses; registrar Lilian Ladele; and McFarlane, the relationship counselor - have lost every round of their battles through the British legal system.

They're now making their claims under European human rights law, focusing on guarantees of freedom of religion and freedom from discrimination at work.

Eweida, who works for British Airways, said she experienced discrimination from 2006 to 2007, when she started wearing the cross visibly and was transferred to another job. The airline has since changed its policy on uniforms to allow employees to wear religious or charity symbols.

But Chaplin, a nurse, ultimately lost her job after her employer changed its uniforms to include V-necks, which made her cross visible. Her manager asked her to remove it for fear it could lead to injury when she was working with patients, according to court papers.

She refused.

Both women lost their cases in British employment tribunals.

Eweida's tribunal ruled that wearing a cross was a personal choice, not a requirement of Christianity, while Chaplin's tribunal found there were legitimate health and safety reasons to bar her from wearing the symbol around her neck.

Chaplin said Tuesday that she didn't believe it.

"The council that runs risk assessment said they have no previous cases of injury from crucifixes," she said after the hearing concluded.

Ladele and McFarlane also lost employment tribunal battles, with the tribunals finding that their employers could require them to perform their jobs.

Their employers were entitled to refuse to accommodate religious views that contradicted British laws banning discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, the tribunals found.

All four Christians were denied hearings further up the British legal chain, pushing their cases to the European Court in Strasbourg.

Its rulings normally take months after a case is argued.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Britain • Christianity • Church and state • Europe • Religious liberty

soundoff (1,277 Responses)
  1. Torn, Torn, the Piper's Son

    Hey tom just got torn

    September 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Wow, going to a lot of trouble to attack Tom. He must really be destroying your faith or something.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, it's WOW, aka Brophy/Clownquestion.

      He's a little perturbed.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  2. garrisongold@msn.com

    Why not put it to a vote?

    September 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • snowboarder

      for what purpose?

      September 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • garrisongold@msn.com

      To find out how the majority of people feel about it? Majority rules. I guess it's at least as fair as minority rules. Besides it would get people more involved in issues such as this. I think only a very small minority of people in this country are aware of or would follow a story like this, but tell them can't do something and you need to step back and watch the fireworks.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Majority rules? No one can rule reality any more than anyone can "believe" something into reality.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  3. Hindu

    @Adam -

    "Baseball players wear hats. Some Jewish men wear hats. Is baseball a religion? That is the type of logic you're using."

    Baseball is not a religion because it has nothing to do with God - for it or against it - positively or negatively ... But Atheism does talk about God - in the negative sense - so your baseball analogy is dishonest at best ... Atheism is connected to God while baseball has nothing to do with it

    September 4, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Jake

      Hindu, atheism is not a religion because it is not a set of views. It has no object of worship. And by your definition of religion, literally 100% of people would be religious in some sense or another because we all have a view on god's existence.

      Perhaps this will make it more clear to you. The people you keep referring to who put up billboards, etc, happen to be atheists. However, there are other atheists who disagree with the views of those atheists. How is this possible? It is possible because atheism is not a collection of views, it is ONE thing – a lack of belief in god.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Atheism is not a group .. like a shared religion is. If I don't belong to a gang does that make me a member of the non gang gang? There are infinite things we ALL don't believe in.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Jake - there are many doctrines concerning God and Atheism is one of those doctrines ...

      September 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Hindu

      @If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses -

      there are many theists TOO who practice their faith by themselves at home without going to an organized church, temple or mosques. that does not mean there is are no organized theists. Similarly, there are some atheists who do not join an atheist organization. What is the difference?

      September 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Jake

      Hindu, with all due respect, it doesn't seem like you're even trying to understand. Again, by your definition, 100% of people are religious, in which case, the word ceases to have any meaning. It is literally impossible for you to be right here.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      " What is the difference?" One believes, the other doesn't. Are you just pretending to not understand in order to make some odd point?

      September 4, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Jake - yes 100% of people live with some kind of belief and faith - whether it is based on positive belief in God or denial of His existence. other than use of term "religion" or "viewpoint group" there is no difference beyond that.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Simple answer ... I do not share their beliefs like theists do. You need to understand that NOT believing something is not a shared belief. There are infinite things ALL of us DO NOT believe in .. that does not mean we share a group non-belief.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Hindu .. do you believe there is a stegasaurus orbiting Pluto? Neither do I, but we are not in denial together, we just simply don't believe it's true.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Jake

      Hindu, let me try this again on "Atheist Organizations". The organizations you refer to consist of atheists, true. However, the focus of those organizations is on much more than atheism (which again, is simply a lack of belief in god). People who are atheist tend to have many similar views, but those views are in addition to atheism, not part of atheism.

      It is probably true that the views of atheists beyond a lack of a belief in god are widely similar IN GENERAL. This is probably because atheists tend to have a lot in common: much more intelligent than religious people (sorry, but this is a measured fact), we've all experienced extreme persecution, at least in the US, we generally believe religion is a bad thing, etc. However, it is also possible to be a dumb atheist who has never been persecuted. Get it?

      September 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Jake

      Hindu, the problem is that your definition of religion is not the one the rest of the world uses. Atheists don't believe in a controlling power and we don't have a system of beliefs. Since most of us very much dislike religion, using the actual definition, not yours, we very much object to being labeled as "religious" because this is precisely what we are not.

      The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.
      A particular system of faith and worship: "the world's great religions".

      September 4, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Adam C

      @Hindu, Okay, here is a better analogy for you.

      Most people eat meat of some kind. Some are beef eaters. Some are chicken eaters.

      Then someone along the line decided that being a vegetarian was a healthy option, and then suddenly there were more and more vegetarians.

      Imagine someone asked, "What type of meat eater are you", and you answered "none, I'm a vegetarian."

      Now replace "meat eater" with "religion" and "vegetarian" with "atheist".

      A vegetarian is not a type of meat eater – they don't eat meat. An atheist is not a religion – they don't believe in god(s).

      September 4, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  4. Drew

    The injury from the necklace on a nurse results from infectious agents transported between patients. Or how often does that necklace get disinfected? It's very simple, really, same reason why male doctors shouldn't weat ties.

    September 4, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • snowboarder

      not only that, any dangling item can get fouled or caught when moving or examining patients.

      believe it or not, i once had a nurse examine me while wearing a necklace stand up quckly and her necklace caught in my nose and painfully cut me. suffice it to say, that she was reprimanded for wearing the necklace.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Jake

      Obviously if it's a safety issue, it's valid. What many of us are arguing however is that it should be perfectly acceptable for an employer to tell an employee not to wear religious jewelry simply because they don't want religious tension in the work place.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • snowboarder

      jake – so long as an employer were to enforce the requirement uniformly.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      It could be as simple as not being a christian hospital. By having representatives (employees) showing religious symbols they may no longer be eligible for Gov. funding.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Jake

      snowboarder – I sort of want to agree with you, but I'm not sure I do. If the employer was Jewish for example, I would support his right to ban swastikas but allow yamikas (sp?). The key thing here is we're talking about a private employer, not a government job. Freedom of speech does not apply to private business.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • sn0wb0arder

      jake – i disagree with your analogy. a jewish employer would have other avenues to deal with a swastika than as a religious symbol. where a religious symbol is not a requirement of a particular religion, i see no reason that an employer may decline to include them in uniform statndards.

      i agree that emplyees do not possess "free speech" while working as a representative of their employer, but employers may not also indisciminately set disparate rules for emplyees.

      September 4, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Jake

      Snowboarder (are you even the original as your name and I think your point has changed?) Religion is very offensive to many people. Whether it be one religion offending another or any religion offending non-religious people. I think that if an employer found any religious garb to be offensive, they should be able to ban it just like they should be able to ban the display of a swastika at work (or allow it if they so choose). The point I'm making is that religious views are incredibly offensive to many of us, in the same way that other extreme views (like Nazism) is to most. If an employer isn't offended by a cross necklace and wants to allow it, that's his choice. If he doesn't want to allow it either because he's offended by it or doesn't want it to offend other employees, that's also his choice. At least that's how I think it should work.

      September 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  5. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I am such a fool, all along Christians have been trying to help me and I rejected their kind caring words. I guess I will have to stop running my mouth all the time and listen to those who are wiser than I and of course that is just about eveyone...

    September 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, WOW, you must have a bruise.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      This is what it's come down to for you, pretending to be "Tom Tom's evil christian twin".

      September 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Damocles

      @fake tom

      Oh, hey, that's original stealing someone's handle, it's never ever been done before. Here is a cookie, a gold star and a pat on the head in celebration of your truly original idea.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      WOW, you Christians REALLY hate us. You'd burn us at the stake if you could. This is me showing you my finger, and here comes a bop from the Clown Hammer©.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Is there an echo in here? Thats the fake Tom and all his clones, looks like its a bit organized mmm can you smell TROLL!! I guess I should retire my name I mean what's in a name anyway...Oh by the way I really do believe in God except the other me believes its me..dont hate please dont hate 🙁
      wah wah wah

      September 4, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Are this sore when you lose at Monopoly, too, WOW?

      September 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ooops, my bad. Edit: Are you this sore....

      September 4, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  6. Sam Yaza

    my fiance was beating nearly to death by Christians extremist so every time she sees a crucifix it triggers her PTSD and she curls up in a ball and starts crying,... a hospital is no place to were a symbol of bigoty and suffering it is a place of healing and the cross only causes pain for those you persecute, you don't see me were my Magatama (that you all think represents the 666 nonsense, and find it necessary to beat me with bats then break it,)at work; so you shouldn't were your cross it can trigger bad responses. and is not appropriate in a place of healing

    September 4, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      What country was this in?

      September 4, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Sam Yaza


      (Athena Says [that the goddess on the Californian seal])
      basically every one in California decided to through all their religious nut jobs in one place we call it Orange county,,. i would put a wall up around it but then i thought I'm not them how could i fight for the Palestinians if i did, so know California has their own bible belt

      September 4, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  7. Reality

    What the court should say:

    Should we believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    We believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (references used are available upon request)

    September 4, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  8. Adam


    You started off with this very wide statement – atheism is a religion. Now you're down to "(atheist) organizations DO exist and they DO try to CONVERT".

    Baseball players wear hats. Some Jewish men wear hats. Is baseball a religion? That is the type of logic you're using.

    Yes, there are atheist organizations. Yes they try to spread their views via advertising campaigns and such. Does that make them a religion? Of course not.

    September 4, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Adam, I never called them a "religion" in the classic sense. I called them an ORGANIZED VIEWPOINT GROUP - passionately driven to preach, support, defend, propagate their viewpoint and to increase their numbers by attempting to convert others through methods such as billboards bashing theistic viewpoint and God (e.g. Sadistic God, Useless savior) ....

      September 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hindu, you simply don't have a case. Your arguments are nothing but silly.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Adam

      You said: "Atheists want the state ruled according to principles of church of atheism." back on page 9.

      What did you mean by "church of atheism"?

      If you want to make the claim that atheists or atheist organizations can be zealous, then I doubt you'll find many people disagreeing with you. When you try to make the connection between atheism and religion is when many will take exception.

      You're throwing around a lot of words that have connotations with religion and trying to apply them to atheism. Atheists are not a religion, and as such will reject the religious labels.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • mitch To Hindu

      I think your "organized viewpoint group" definition applies tenfold to the missionary religious groups, including the two guys in black that show up at my door from time to time, and every TV evangelist trying to hustle a few more dollars from the sheepies. Try looking at what the religions are all about before defaming others as manipulators, pot calling the kettle black, indeed.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Hindu

      @mitch To Hindu -

      my point is now one-fold or ten-fold. my point is that there are atheists organizations and groups that propagate their viewpoint and try to convert others ... i am not saying there is anything wrong with that ... everyone tries to convert others to their viewpoints ... it is just hypocritical of atheists to claim that a) they are not an organized group, b) they do not try to CONVERT others ....

      September 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      " it is just hypocritical of atheists to claim that a) they are not an organized group, b) they do not try to CONVERT others ...."

      Some do, some don't. You claim they ALL do. But, of course, all Christians claim that. I'm not a member of a group, and if you had strong religious convictions, as you claim, you wouldn't be here lying and saying nasty stuff to people. Now go on and bluster some stuff about how Stalin and I are both alike, so boring when you trot out these old saws but I guess it is all new to you.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • myweightinwords


      my point is now one-fold or ten-fold. my point is that there are atheists organizations and groups that propagate their viewpoint and try to convert others ...

      1) Yes, there are atheist organizations and groups. I'm not really aware of any who try to convert others. Most that I am aware of advertise their existence and hope that by being visible it will make others feel comfortable enough to express their own disbelief.

      2) The fact that such organizations exist does not make atheism a religion.

      i am not saying there is anything wrong with that ... everyone tries to convert others to their viewpoints ...

      This is untrue.I know many people who have no desire to convert anyone to their beliefs. We each believe as our hearts lead us.

      it is just hypocritical of atheists to claim that a) they are not an organized group, b) they do not try to CONVERT others ....

      If the atheist you are speaking to is not a part of an organized group and has not sought to convert others, how then is the statement hypocritical?

      September 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  9. Jake

    What is wrong with telling someone they can't wear religious symbols while working? Even if the employer simply finds Christianity to be evil and doesn't want it displayed at his business, I don't see what is wrong with that.

    And this business of caring whether or not it's "required by your religion" is irrelevant. Anyone can make up a religion with whatever "requirements" they want – that doesn't mean you don't have to follow the rules.

    September 4, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Jake - that is a logic on very slipper slope. what if a christian employer stops hiring atheists and gays? but, no a christian employer cannot discriminate in employment practices - similarly an atheist or anti-christian employer can not discriminate in employment practices.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Jake - what if a christian employer bans display of the LGBT rainbow symbol and other such gay symbols at work ... would that be discrimination?

      September 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I doubt it would be called discriminatory. The employer would probably have the right to do so if he/she felt that clients or customers would find it objectionable.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • WOW

      @Tom: "if he/she felt that clients or customers would find it objectionable" So you want the employer to, at there whim, decide if something is objectionalbe to there customers without knowing it as a fact? WOW Tom... never thought that you would typing a statement like that... AGAIN when you attempt to put some substance behind your typing you FAIL.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      How exactly is that a failure, WOW?

      September 4, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Jake

      Um, I hate to break it to you, but there are plenty of Christian employers who would NEVER knowingly hire an atheist or a gay person. Even though it is illegal, it happens constantly. Personally, I don't think it should be illegal because I'm a free markets believer and organizations that hire less qualified employees by discriminating against atheists and gays will eventually lose out to smarter companies.

      Being gay is not a sign of lesser intelligence. Being religious, however, is. Therefore, as an employer, it would be a poor business decision to limit your pool of candidates by excluding gays. But (assuming enough of a population), it would be a wise business decision to exclude religious people.

      Allow discrimination to all and evolution will take care of religion faster.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "So you want the employer to, at there whim, decide if something is objectionalbe to there customers without knowing it as a fact?"

      While you're trying to come up with something with which to "serve" me, Brophy, um, I mean WOW, where did I say that I "wanted" any such thing? I said that I thought the courts would PROBABLY not find banning such symbols from the workplace to be discriminatory. Do you disagree that is what the courts would probably do? Do you have a case to cite? Or any statistics?

      September 4, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • WOW

      @Tom: You as an athesist go on facts or not? So if the owner only "feels" that some of his customers will be offended then where does this feeling lead to? How many are offended? How many are not? How the wind blows? or how the sun is shining? You FAILED because the owner does not really know if someone will be offended. Now I agree you can make claims such as a KKK member showing up with a KKK hat on at a black panther meeting would not be the wises thing to do but the point is you of all people going on FEELINGS??? LOL you talk out of both sides of your mouth.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Honey, I suggest you read my response before you attempt to do a victory dance.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • WOW

      @Jake: The more you type the more everyone can see you are .... well... foolish.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Poor Clown Question Bro. I guess you've been lonely.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • WOW

      @Tom: For one thing I am NOT your gay honey and it is already known that we WIN and you die and nothing more.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, gee, that was really a powerful response, WOW.

      Was that what you call "serving" me?

      September 4, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • WOW

      LOL... you will be served up to the worms by being an athesist but my Spirit will live on... So I guess yea in time you will be served.. up LOL

      September 4, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Gosh, Brophy, you're really not much of a good sport, are you? Do you always take your ball and go home when you're walloped?

      September 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Jake

      @WOW You call me foolish, but don't even give a hint at what you think I said that is foolish...feel free to try to find something I wrote that you consider foolish.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Jake

      @WOW, Never mind, I just read a few more of your one-liner posts and am confident that nothing you say will be worth responding to.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Damocles


      So if your side wins and the other side dies and you know this for a fact, why in the world are you here ranting and raving like a lunatic? I mean the only thing missing in that post was you sticking your tongue out at us as you said 'we win, we win, suck it atheists'.

      You've got 20 lbs of stupidity crammed into your 5 lb brain.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • mama kindless

      It is a business, WOW = FAILURE. People in marketing and sales make all kinds of decisions about their customers and potential clients based on estimates, and gut instinct. Nothing wrong with adopting policy for personnel to give the greatest advantage for the business. One can always leave the job if they find it offensive or "unhealthy" to themselves in some way. Of course, if it's a really poor idea, then it will hurt the business as well.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      hmmm. i get the feeling WOW is another disgruntled

      September 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Being gay is not a sign of lesser intelligence. Being religious, however, is. " Jake, that's incorrect. Plenty of smart people believe in the unseen. Plenty of clods don't go to church. Don't judge real Christians by the nellies who come here and throw p00.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  10. mitch

    Please try to view this post not from a single perspective of your own faith/religion that you may or may not believe. You stated "belief that religion is bad" is still a belief. I will restate that the debate is "Is religion a force for good in the world?' that is all religions and their relation to each other. Lots of evil done in the name of religion, historicaly and not so long ago, 9/11 in the US and7/7 in Britian. In my opinion John Lennon's Imagine strikes the right balance. The atheist believes that the world would be a better place if no one beieved in any God/deity, whether considered good or bad, get it?

    September 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Jake

      I disagree a bit – being an atheist says literally nothing of what one believes. It says only one thing about a person: they don't believe in god.

      It is true that when a person doesn't believe in god and isn't hindered by religious preconceptions / indoctrination, we tend to come to similar conclusions regarding religion (and generally agree it is bad for the world). But the truth is, it is at least theoretically possible to be an atheist and at the same time, believe religion to be a good thing and support it.

      Being anti-religion is not part of the definition of atheism. It is just the most common stance for those who don't believe in god and therefore have no reason to try to find positives in religion.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  11. Hindu

    @Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son -

    Did I ever say you personally go around knocking on people's doors trying to convert them? My point is simple - there are Atheist Organizations that are openly trying to convert people to Atheism and no one can deny that. Those billboards are direct proof of that. Now you may not be personally involved with those organizations and those conversion drives but those organizations DO exist and they DO try to CONVERT .... that much cannot be denied.

    September 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Amniculi

      The don't try to convert, they try to educate. Conversion implies religion. You can't convert to something that doesn't exist.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Amniculi - you are clearly an atheist fundamentalist - co-opting widely used terms such as conversion and education for your absolutist agenda. you say ONLY atheists converting is education - well everyone who believes in their views thinks converting to their views is education as they believe their views are fundamentally good - just the same way you seem to believe of your atheistic views.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • sam

      Hindu, you're not even really trying to make a point anymore, you're just trying to argue with everyone.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      how many people will be converted by two billboards in Charlotte, NC, that I'm not sure even lasted a month?

      You premise here is laughable.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Please, Hindu, explain to me what an "atheist fundamentalist" is. Inquiring minds want to know.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Adam

      Hindu, if I teach you about photography and you then decide to purchase a camera and take pictures, have I converted you to the church of photography?

      September 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Jake

      It is funny to read of "converting" to atheism. Atheism is the default, we're just trying to bring you back from fantasy land. It's not like it's a religion, it's simply a denial of god.

      I think it's fair to say that the passion that these people have is about being AGAINST religion and much less about being FOR atheism. Atheism isn't a set of beliefs, so it's not really even possible to feel passionately FOR it.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      Indeed the 'fundamentals' of atheism are:

      1. Don't believe in God.
      2. Ummm, ummm, ummmm?

      September 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Lol, GOPer, then I guess in this one instance Hindu was right. I apologize.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Adam - YES! as much as if I teach you about Hinduism and you start practicing and going to temple regularly ....

      September 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      From the online OED:

      Fundamenatalism, n

      a. A religious movement, which orig. became active among various Protestant bodies in the United States after the war of 1914–1918, based on strict adherence to certain tenets (e.g. the literal inerrancy of Scripture) held to be fundamental to the Christian faith; the beliefs of this movement; opp. liberalism and modernism.

      b. In other religions, esp. Islam, a similarly strict adherence to ancient or fundamental doctrines, with no concessions to modern developments in thought or customs.


      fundaˈmentalist n. an adherent of fundamentalism; also, an economic or political doctrinaire. Also attrib. or as adj. , and transf.
      For atheism, no sacred text and no hagiography = no fundamentalism is possible.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Jake

      @Hindo – Let me point out a couple of facts that you don't seem to understand:
      1) Atheism is not a set of views, as you describe it. It is simply a lack of a belief in god.
      2) What is an atheist fundamentalist? An atheist simply has a lack of a belief in god.
      3) Since atheism isn't a set of views or a religion, it sounds very strange (and funny) to hear you use the phrase "convert to atheism".
      4) I do have views that I believe are fundamentally good, ethical, moral, etc, but that is all beyond the scope of atheism.
      5) People who fight against religion do so because they believe it's bad, unethical, immoral, etc. and therefore, are likely to be atheists – it technically does not have to hold true in the other direction.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Hindu

      @amniculi - Fundamentalism - point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by RIGID ADHERENCE to those principles, and often by INTOLERANCE of other VIEWS

      everyone who has a RIGID viewpoint is a fundamentalist .. including the atheists with a a STRONG & RIGID ATHEISTIC STANCE like amniculi .... who has convenient co-opted widely used words such as conversion & education for his fundamentalist definition that ATHEISTIC conversion is education and NONE other is. Every fundamentalist of every viewpoint feels like this - muslims think what they impart in madrassas is education and not brainwashing or conversion. How is your claim different from others'?

      September 4, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Adam

      "@Adam – YES! as much as if I teach you about Hinduism and you start practicing and going to temple regularly ...."

      Then you're falling into the classic trap of using words without respecting their meanings. Church, Religion, Belief – these words all mean something specific.

      Have you ever heard someone say they do something religiously? In that context, religiously describes a level of devotion. During a conversation in a Belief Blog specifically about religion, you should understand that most people are going to assume you're using the primary meaning rather than a secondary or tertiary meaning.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Hindu

      I am using common sense meanings as they would apply in a philosophical debate and not the stereotyping of these words in day to day social life ...

      September 4, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Jake

      Hindu, I don't find your use of the word "conversion" offensive, it's just sounds funny and isn't the right word because you don't really "become" an atheist in the way that one would become a Christian over the period of years, etc. If you get rid of your religious views, then you just are an atheist as the default result. So it's not really converting TO something, it's just getting rid of your religious beliefs.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Adam

      "I am using common sense meanings as they would apply in a philosophical debate and not the stereotyping of these words in day to day social life ..."

      On a quick review of the thread, it seems that many are confused by your statements. I can't help but think that this is do to the terminology that you are using, and the readers not understanding that you're using these words in a sort of slang way.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Hindu, I don't rigidly adhere to any belief other than a lack of belief in a deity. That is the sole requirement of atheism. Even that would be subject to change if you could offer me solid evidence that a deity exists. My views and beliefs can change or alters as needed to accommodate new evidence. It's called the scientific method. Welcome to the 21st century.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well at least Hindu makes it interesting the rest of you Trolls simply type things that have no perception of anything relevant or of any substance other than your own prejudice of personal veiws or persona...Oh I am just so intellegent dont ya love me dont cha 🙂

      September 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  12. Wrenn_NYC

    Hindu- – having to tolerate it is not the same as having it thrown in your face. No on is forcing you to watch or join in.

    Would you consider a religious 'parade' by jews on their holy days having them throw their religion and lifestyle in your face? (btw, such does happen... such outdoor gatherings). No one forces you to join in.

    I can't buy a good bagel in my neighborhood on a saturday... so what.

    How is – having to acknowledge that people who are lgbt exist – being forced to do something?

    Whereas, christian types have been working hard to force others to toe their religious line.

    September 4, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Unfortunately, Wrenn, logic does not work on individuals such as this.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  13. WASP

    this guy wins the best comment award for pointing out a TRUTH.

    The same people whining about discrimination here are the ones cheering the French government for banning burqas and hajibs. Go figure.
    September 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    September 4, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Hindu

      @WASP - agree 100%

      September 4, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • old ben


      September 4, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • WASP

      @HINDU: you do know it's the christians that were endorsing france banning the burqas and hajibs.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Hindu

      @WASP - no it is the "secular" French state driving this - even Sikhs, Christians and others were required not to display their symbols in public ... The Sikhs there are still fighting the turban ban.

      The law does not mention any particular symbol, and thus bans all Christian (veil, signs), Muslim (veil, signs), and other minor religions' signs. Dont forget that Christian women also used to wear (and in some places still do) a headscarf and sometimes a veil as well. They are all banned.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  14. snowboarder

    it seems ironic that these folks are complaining that they are being discriminated against for discriminating against others.

    September 4, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  15. Truth

    Job description: Give marriage counceling to couples.
    Employee Gary: Okay, I can do that but I don't consider gay people couples.
    Employer: Gay people are couples and would be part of your job description.
    Employee Gary: My faith makes me refuse to deal with gay people so i will not do that job.
    Employer: Okay, so you will not do the work that your job requires? Then you have no job.
    Employee Gary: Discrimination!! Discrimination!! I'm Being discrimated against!! Aaaargh!!
    Person with IQ over 90: Gary, go fvck yourself, you are refusing to do the work so you have no job. Period.

    Employer: No jewelry is allowed to be worn outside your uniform.
    Employee: What about this special pendant given to me by my grandfather, it's very special to me.
    Employer: Sorry, no jewelry means no jewelry.
    Employee: What about this cross that showspeople my faith?
    Employer: Is it jewelry?
    Employee: Yes.
    Employer: Then no, it's not allowed.
    Employee: Discrimination! Discrimination! I'm going to sue!!
    Person with IQ over 90: Women, go fvck yourself, you are refusing to understand this has nothing to do with faith and everything to do with a consistant dress code policy.

    Why is it so hard for these morons to understand this? Does religion s u c k half of your brains out through your nose when you are praying?

    September 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You have no class or understanding of anything other than your own pityful views as can be told by your rantings, you simply hate what you dont understand. Get on your knees and pray boy maybe God will give you something to change that poison that is rotting you! MEMEMEMEME its all about ME!

      September 4, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
  16. mitch

    @Answer by way of WOW
    Exactly if it was a Star of David, Cross and Sceptre all rolled into one or on the same chain, it would still have to be removed. The longer chain idea or simply put it in your pocket untill you finish your shift didn't work because of what?

    September 4, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Hindu

      @mitch – here is the link you wanted to see -


      September 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      I agree with the -put it in your pocket until you're done with work'. - that's not so different than what any machinist or millright does with his necklaces and wedding rings.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  17. Amniculi

    One of the great things about being an atheist is that you can't be pigeonholed into a single group. There is no one telling you what your beliefs are. No worry of imaginary punishment from an imaginary sky-figure. There are humanist atheists, militant atheists, agnostic atheists, anarchist atheists and many, many others. The only thing binding them is a lack of belief in a God or gods. I would say lack of belief in a religious system, but you can have a religion and not believe in a god, i.e. some Buddhists. For people to say atheism is a religion is ignorant and prejudicial.
    I am an atheist, yes, but I do not claim to speak for all atheists. I do not tell others what to believe, or what not to believe. To each their own. What bothers me are those who proselytize and force their beliefs and so-called "morals" on others and then claim, loudly and obnoxiously, "Discrimination!" when someone dares to stand up for the rights of others in opposition to their beliefs, or dares to tell them that their bigoted religious views are not welcome. Whatever happened to the Golden Rule?

    September 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • WOW

      So you are looking for the easy way... one which you have no back bone in a belief other than what ever pops into your mind. Loser.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Atheism does not mean you are without beliefs, convictions or morals. I have lots of beliefs. Many of them as closely and as strongly held as those who claim to believe in "God". A belief in a deity, however, is not one of them.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Damocles


      Good post.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Amniculi

      For example, I strongly believe that religion is a blight on humanity that serves no purpose other than to control the ignorant. It creates a culture of hate, corruption, and fear and a lack of personal responsibility. It is an outdated method of explaining that which can be explained by science rather than mysticism. I also strongly believe that if you don't like what I believe than that is your right and I won't attempt to force into my system of beliefs upon you or use my beliefs to dictate the way you live. It is unfortunate that adherents of Christianity do not subscribe to this belief as well.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Amniculi

      @Damocles – Thank you.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "So you are looking for the easy way... one which you have no back bone in a belief other than what ever pops into your mind. Loser."

      LOL the "easy way" is believing in something when there is no proof.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yep you are so arrogant that a belief in God would be out of the question. The fact that God exists is not in question here, but that one meaningless little bug like you could have the arrogance to assume that you have all these answers and God is a sham makes me question your beliefs based on that fact alone..WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? I hear its hot where you are going real HOT! blahblahblahblah I am so together in myself woohooo!

      September 4, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  18. Hindu

    @Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son ––

    I think I have already answered that question RE: difference between an officially atheistic state and an officially secular state -

    An officially atheistic state would actually discriminate against those with religious views by legislating policies violating religious views of theists – for example - force churches to marry gays even if the church's religious views does allow them to - force theists to teach atheism to their kids at threat of state taking away their kids if kids talk about belief in God.

    An officially secular state on the other hand, will give each individual freedom to practice their faith with their family and church without threat of being discriminated against by the state on basis of one's private religious views.

    I hope that answers your question.

    September 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Amniculi

      There has never been such a thing as an "atheistic state". To much religion in the world.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      Quite a silly idea, though.

      "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

      As such, and as long as that clause stands, there can not be a religion or religious views taking over government and secular law, and there can be no secular law or goverhment establishing a single church/taking over religion.

      Now... dispose of that clause, So... say, religion CAN take over government... all bets are off. Do away with that, and ANY religion could make a go. A Hindu state. A Muslm ine. A Catholic one. Or.... an far extreme atheist one where religions are banned.

      But none of that can happen as long as the Establishment clause and the Free Exercise clause exist. Remove them.. As the religious right is trying... who knows what we'll have in 50 years.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      I realized I wasn't as candid as I could have been,.

      AS to remove those clauses and who knows what we'll have in 50 years.... Because you have to remove them FIRST to open the way for a Theocracy ... OR an atheist dictatorship. You cannot have either as long as those clauses stand.

      I often wonder how religious types who are working on this would feel if they found themselves in a theocracy, but not one run by their particular stamp of religion. Or realize that removing those clauses would open them up for what they SAY they are afraid of – an atheist dictatorship. That those words protect them as well.

      (I know what SOME say though, when asked... 'God would not allow that'. Yeah. RIght.)

      September 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Wrenn, Can you provide evidence of any group actively trying to dismantle the Establishment clause beyond your aessertion? For instance, the only situation I am aware of where a body is attempting to circuomvent the Constiitution is the United Nations Arms Treaty currently endorsed by Hillary Clinton. Certainly if you are a supporter of the Constiitution you are aware of and oppose this infringement on our rights as well as any infringement to the Bill of Rights.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I didn't think so.

      September 4, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well said my little Hinduian friend well said...Now go kill some Christians thats what you guys do best isnt it?

      September 4, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  19. WOW

    @ Mitch: This is a simple case of singled out religious symbol and it is wrong to do such.

    September 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Answer

      Yea the singled out cross that 'you' support..

      Never mind anything else that might be considered a religious symbol that has been banned in the workplace, but touch your 'cross' and it's time to speak of indignation. So laughable.

      Your religious zeal is for that stupid cross and that is all you care about.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      when the answer was – buy a longer chain.

      The cross was under the neckline of the non v neck uniform, it would be under the neckline of the v neck with a longer chain.

      How simple is that?

      September 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Exactly. It is a symbol, not a religious item. If it were required by their religion to wear it nothing would have been said. It is not required, therefore the only purpose it serves is show that that person is a Christian and by doing that indirectly proselytizing to those who may not welcome it.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Jake

      Please explain why it is wrong? Even if it had nothing to do with safety, etc, and was blatantly the employer deciding he didn't want her displaying a religious cross at work, why is that wrong? Religious freedom doesn't mean you don't have to listen to your boss if he finds your religious jewelry offensive.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Amniculi

      The owner has a right to protect his business. Not offending customers is good business. And, I know this may be surprising to some of you, some people find unnecessary displays of religion offensive.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • sam

      WOW, how many times do you need to be pwned with logic before some of it sinks in?

      September 4, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Apparently, WOW has to be pwnd repeatedly and with fervor, and even then it doesn't sink in.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  20. mitch

    @Hindu your anti-atheist rant have little to do with the article. Do you maintain that the European Court of Human Rights and the British courts are loaded with atheists that are there to rule against the religious, I think not. Basic Human Rights if they had to depend on the religions of the world would not exist.

    September 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Hindu

      @mitch - here is the link you wanted to see


      September 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.