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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. Hindu

    Atheist billboard advertisements are as much as CONVERSION drive (with slogan - JOIN AMERICAN ATHEISTS) as anything they accuse the religious or theists of ... there is no difference - everyone wants to convert others to their viewpoints ... atheists are very much organized and passionate about preaching, supporting, defending and propagating their views through all traditional and modern means ....

    September 4, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      When's the next meeting? Will they serve doughnuts?

      Silly person, they're not organized. You seem to see some enormous conspiracy where none exists.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Damocles

      @hindu

      There is a difference between a billboard that says 'JOIN AMERICAN ATHEISTS' and one that says 'YOU ARE GOING TO HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY IF YOU DON"T BELIEVE'. One is an invitation, the other is a threat.

      I'm not trying to convert anyone, I'm here to discuss things and get differing viewpoints. A non-thinking mind is a dead mind.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • WOW

      @Tom: So what are your beliefs? You are good at posting replies why don't you post some thing that has some substance?

      September 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I have posted about what I think many times. Sorry you weren't here to see my posts. Too bad for you.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • WOW

      @Dam: How is it a threat if you don't believe there is a Hell??? Gotcha!!!!

      September 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Damocles - well the city mayors tried THREATS too against Chik-FIl-A ..... so if you cannot win by invitation, threaten them with consequences .... and that threat is more serious than saying, "you will go to hell" because after all the theists do not threaten to personally send the atheists to hell but rather by a higher arrangement beyond our control ...

      September 4, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Hindu

      Go to nearest "American Atheists" location - maybe they have morning doughnuts on some days ... ORGANIZATION = ORGANIZED. PERIOD!!

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

      @Tom: Yea right... thats why you won't post them again... you got served the last time you did. I wouldn't post them either if I were you LOL!!!!

      September 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What, exactly, would an agnostic or atheists be trying to get others to "join"?

      And for what purpose? To not sing hymns? To not take communion? To not be baptized? To not pray?

      Why would they care if you believe? I certainly don't. What I DO care about is that you stop using your beliefs to discriminate against others and that you cease pretending that your beliefs are facts.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @WOW, well if so, then why are you asking for me to post them again?

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

      @Wow

      The billboard is a threat against anyone who doesn't believe as they do. If I don't believe in hell, it's a threat, if I believe in a different kind of hell, it's a threat.

      @Hindu

      So if a cop (higher authority) comes to me and says 'hey damo, I gotta kill you', then I should respect his authority and allow him to kill me?

      September 4, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Hindu

      @WOW - well said.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Careful

      Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son -
      "I have posted about what I think many times. Sorry you weren't here to see my posts. Too bad for you."

      Ouch. That statement has the familiar peal of our resident ding-dong, HS. Careful, Tom, Tom.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hindu, you have yet to explain how an atheistic society would be different from a secular society. When are you going to do that? Maybe WOW will give you high five.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son -

      Good question - why dont you ask American Atheists as to what they are trying to get others to JOIN?

      September 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Thanks, Careful. You're right; I'll watch it.

      I am home sick today and just not in the mood to write much of anything for morons like WOW and Hindu.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, I'm not the one who's interested in JOINING anything, Hindu. If you want the answer, why don't you find it out for yourself?

      September 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Damocles

      @Tom

      Awww... need some soup? 🙂

      September 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      Actually, Tom Tom, they are.

      It's not really a conversion campaign though. It's a 'come out of the closet, you're not alone' campaign.

      As far as 'organized'... they are, sort of. And sort of not.

      And Join? well, perhaps you'll find interesting reading on their website. Perhaps you'll join/donate to help pay for legal work that AA does.... And since its main direction is to stop christian groups from claiming that the cross is a 'secular symbol' and not religious and therefore can be on government grounds (which is what the NYC and Kansas and Utah court cases are trying to claim in their briefs...) The goal is to stop that as a precedent in our laws. (BTW, I'm paraphrasing David, himself. - Mr AtheistPants – he gave an interesting talk on th is very subject at Dragon*Con this past friday).

      September 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son -

      I think I have already answered that. An officially atheistic state would actually discriminate against those with religious views as the state would legislate policies violating religious views of theists - for example - force churches to marry gays even if the church does not want 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 2:22 pm |
    • WOW

      @Dam: That is foolish. You can't be threatened by something you don't think is real. So do you or do you not believe in Hell?

      September 4, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Damocles, thanks. Just had a couple bowls.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Then, Hindu, what are you on about? Nobody is taking away your right to worship as you choose. Nobody is forcing kids to be atheists at school.

      What is your problem?

      September 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Thanks, Wrenn, but I'm not interested in joining such an organization. I think the ACLU does a pretty good job of keeping religion out of the public square already.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yeah, you know, two billboards in Charlotte, NC that have since been removed will suddenly make all Americans give up their faith, overnight.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Careful

      Tom, Tom,

      Hope you feel better soon. Take good care of yourself.

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

      Tom Tom... You'd think that... that the ACLU would be doing a 'good job'.... But it's just one organization.

      btw. I'm not a member of AA. David's just an old friend (from long before he was elected president of the organization).

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

      @wow

      Ok, here, I'll try to explain it this way... I'm not threatened by the belief, I'm threatened by the believers. I'm not saying that all believers are out for my blood, but some of their views can get me hurt or killed as an innocent bystander.

      My beliefs are mine alone, you can read my posts and draw whatever conclussions you'd like, it matters little to me, just don't make the mistake that everyone who disagrees with what you say is an atheist.

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

      @Wrenn_NYC - wrong! Some of heir billboard advertisements are more than just, "you are not alone. come out of the closet". They have advertisements directly bashing opposing views and God - e.g. "Sadistic God; Useless Saviour". Those arguments are not meant to sway those who are in the closet. Those are hard-hitting propaganda to shake up the faith of those who believe in God. This is hard-core CONVERSION DRIVE .... which is OK ... everyone tries to CONVERT others to their beliefs. So why be a hypocrite and deny that ATHEISTS ALSO TRY TO CONVERT OTHERS ... No difference - ORGANIZED CONVERSION DRIVE ...

      September 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, stop your barking, Hindu. Are you one of the proselytizing nuts who go around knocking on people's door or accosting them at airports? No, you're probably not.

      Well, I'm not a believer, but I don't go around bawling at people that they shouldn't believe. Stop being such a doofus and figure out that most people couldn't care less about you or your beliefs. Sheesh. Do you have a hissy fit when you see billboards that advertise Fords because you only like Chevys? Get over it.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • 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 2:49 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      Hindu.. all I can tell you is what I've heard directly.

      And you and I both know you cannot convert anyone who isn't already on the fence.

      Most of the more extreme billboards are more likely there to get a rise out of religious extremists.

      And those billboards you quote? were taken down. Due to death threats to the owner and family of the billboard company. Death threats from Christians.

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

      Hindu – as far as organized? yes and no.

      There are many atheist and secular organizations. Most of them relatively small. They really don't work together. There is no 'overall' organization. And quite a number of them don't like each other. Many often don't agree with each other.

      There has been only one large scale event that was worked on by more than one or two organizations working toegether in tandem. And, suprisingly, to everyone involved, it went well. Not without it's problems, but it worked well. I'll leave you to figure out what that was.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  2. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Perhaps the cases involving wearing of ancient torture devices as jewelry would have some merit here in the States – 1st Amendment – but not even here if all jewelry is banned on the job.

    September 4, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I wonder if I could wear a little hologram of the burning of Giordano Bruno?

      September 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • WOW

      You're just SOOOO funny LOL!!!!

      September 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  3. Hindu

    @WASP - my point is simply that atheist are as organized in preaching, supporting and propagating their viewpoints (through billboards etc) as the theists. When there is no difference, why the hypocrisy.... you do your preaching and conversion drive and let others do theirs ...

    September 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • WASP

      @hindu: as much as i have seen atheist groups have put up FAR fewer billboards than the religious.
      not to mention most atheists spoke against the billboards in question because they weren't very well thought out; i for one would have liked to seen a billboard displaying religious faith on one side and scienctific facts on the other......such as photosynthesis requires sunlight for plants to grow; god created earth then the sun. that kind of thing.

      we don't preach because we can't preach, no book to preach from we only counter your scriptures with what we know as facts.

      we aren't trying to convert, just get you folks to leave the legal system and government alone, not to mention allow equal rights to all humans, not "the chosen" few.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Hindu

      "leave the legal and govt system alone" - OK, then preach secularism! preaching atheism on billboards is not same as preaching secularism. there is a difference and I can tell you if you don't know what the difference is between the two.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  4. Tex71

    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 |
    • Hindu

      Good point - I believe the secularism does not work, as it failed in France. For true secularism, burqas and hijabs should not have been banned in France. Or the French immigration system should directly state that muslims wanting to immigrate should officially disavow burqas, hijabs and sharia. But then that is not secularism. The point is secularism does not work as religion, politics and culture are always strongly inter-mixed.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  5. Damocles

    @amn

    Thank you. 🙂

    September 4, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  6. Hindu

    Atheists believe they OWN the platform of tolerance. Anything they do is "inherently" tolerant and whoever opposes them MUST BE intolerant. This is a dangerous fascism developing ....

    September 4, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Of what are atheists intolerant that secularists are not?

      September 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      And we are in your nearest public school indoctrinating your children into reality, yes you heard it, reality! Oh I bet that makes you shiver! And we will continue to fight people like you from taking our children, our government and our public lives, you can take that to the bank!

      September 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'm waiting for Hindu to predict that public school children will be made to stand and recite some pledge that states that there's no god.

      And the worst part is, Hindu will be dead serious. It's laughable.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son -

      Yes, the way things are "progressing", I am SERIOUS that day is not far off ... another 25-30 years ... yes!

      September 4, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      What would you do if your son or daughter decided that Atheism made perfect sense to them and they dropped all religious dogma and belief? Would you disown them? Still love them? Or kill them?

      September 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • WOW

      @TheVocal: It make me shiver to think your kind is in our class rooms but what you don't realize is there are FAR more of us than you. Your efforts are in vain for you athesist will never stand. You forget the MOST important thing that I have and you do not. You will die and be placed in the ground and nothing more but my body will die but my spirit will live on. It is so sad for you to know that every minute of your day is ticking by to your final nothingness. You waste your precious seconds here on CNN complaining and not living your limited time alive enjoying it. Now I know I will get a GREAT number of reply on this comment and most all will be foolish junk but the truth does hurt, doesn't it. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BTW – We WIN.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hindu, okay, you're just a goof-ball who can't tell reality from fantasy. No wonder you're full of religion.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Hindu

      @TheVocalAtheist - I will tell them that while I disagree with them, I love them unconditionally as always. Love is unconditional, for it is the very essence of God and His spiritual kingdom. Loving does not mean agreeing completely ...

      September 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      @WOW

      If I was so gracious to share with you the life I live day to day I think you might find that I have things that many people wish they had. But being gracious is not one of my strong points when dealing with infomercials like yourself. I will tell you that life has never been better and the lifestyle I have was acquired by hard work and good decisions, no God needed. If you think it's money I'm getting at, it's not, it's much richer than that, though money does help just ask your local priest or minister.
      My time is limited as is yours, the lights will go out and that will be it. I will fall into a deep sleep same as you, no God needed.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      WOW, why are you here then?

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

      "Atheists believe they OWN the platform of tolerance."

      Here is the atheist platform: Everyone is welcome except those who do not welcome everyone.

      It's not freedom to deny other people the same rights you enjoy, it's religious slavery. I for one will NEVER cast my vote for the party that supports religious slavery, where we are all enslaved to the Christian law's and ideology of hate. They hate gays, they hate independant women, they hate any poor who refuse to rely on the Church for their wellfare, they hate any who do not worship their brand of deity. The republican party and Christian right's platform is that of exclusion, hate and deception. If you find yourself reading this and getting upset and wanting to defend the religious rights agenda of hate, then it's likely you are indeed a hater as well. If it wasn't a policy of hate then you would see Christians out there at planned parenthood giving women who are going in big hugs and telling them they are loved. Instead you get red faced screaming hate and violence directed at women who are likely going through one of the most difficult times in their lives, and you place all the blame on your silly made up non-existant magical sky daddy. How mature of you, you spoiled little children.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • WOW

      @The Vocal: LOL... so you will die and that is it for you... no matter what you do during your life you will die and that is it... See you avoided what I said. You want to focus on the here and now... you want to win the race of life, don't you? My Spirit will live on and no matter how much you gain now you will leave behind but for myself... I will live on. I feel sorry for you.

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

      @ Tom: Guess I am here to call you out... on why you always do replies and never post a substance.

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

      @WOW

      Of course I'm going to live for the here and now but I'm in no race, life is way too short, I did all my running when I was younger. As for you, well it's apparent you're going to waste a perfectly good life believing there is something other then this existence, just killing time waiting for the day for your soul to go somewhere. Good luck with that! By the way, there is not one tiny essence of any proof of a God or an afterlife or a soul. Who's the fool now WOW! Bye Bye!

      September 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Post a substance."

      Which substance would you like for me to post?

      If it makes you feel better to call me out because I'm not writing a novel here, have at it. Knock yourself out.

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

      "so you will die and that is it for you."

      No, of course that's not all. After death we all go on a journey to platform 9 & 3/4 and take the magical spirit train to Hogwarts where we all learn how to live as magical wizards, right Wow? It just makes so much sense its scary.

      How is it that anyone can believe in something that has as much proof of validity as a childrens book? I think it must take a combination of extreme laziness (so much easier having a pastor give you the answers) and mental retardation.

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

      @wow

      For the love of.... of course it matters what you do in this life. Was I a good parent? Did I do the best I could? You can leave behind a legacy of good actions and in such a way 'live forever'. You are afraid of dying, thats fine, I am too in a way, but I can not put aside my responsibilities to those in my life in the hopes of receiving some sort of eternal reward.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  7. Hindu

    @Jake - belief that "religion is bad" is still a belief (and a belief that is opposed to traditional religious views). and this belief drives you and makes you passionate about it ... so there is my point ....

    September 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • mitch

      @Hindu
      The debate is "Is religion a force for GOOd in the world?" That means all religions and there interactions with each other. Religion can be very bad if you are more than willing to blow up a plane load of people, just because. Most of the debates conclude with the harm of religion far out weighs the good

      September 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  8. mitch

    Much ado about little. Right here in the good old USofA, hardly a day goes by without a story of some LGBT person getting beaten or committing sucidide because they can't cope with bullying. Or how about the wonderfully inclusive christians denying a black couple the right to marry in the church of their choice. The cases quoted in the story seem to me to be an attempt by the employees to get away with insubordination on the gounds of their religious beliefs. Stubborn on both sides and the courts in Britian have already ruled, the rest of Europe should butt out. The people of the USA do not take kindly to another country telling them what to do.

    September 4, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Hindu

      @mitch - you have short memory - have you forgotten all about the recent story of this "hateful" lesbian how staged a "hate crime" against herself? how much full of "hatred"" she must have been to do that. hypocrisy much?

      September 4, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why would you as sume the woman was not mentally ill, and thus not capable of rational thought?

      September 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • mitch

      @Hindu
      Missed that story, provide a link if you have one. Your position seems to be that the more wrongs there are it will make things like these incidents right. You are scary.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Hindu

      @mitch - here is the link you wanted to see

      http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/21/justice/nebraska-hate-crime/

      September 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  9. Hindu

    Some atheists here are saying they are not a group or that they are are not organized. Really? Who are the organizations putting up billboards and countless websites and internet blogs preaching and supporting their viewpoints and bashing the opposing viewpoints? Who are "American Atheists" founded by Madalyn Murray O'Hair?? Who are the "Atheist Alliance International"?? Hypocrites!

    BTW, secular does not equal atheist. Secular means that state is blind to private citizen's religious beliefs - who as full freedom to practice the same individually and in his family or the church that he chooses. Biggest myth of today is that Secular state = Atheist state, where the state runs sets policies based on atheistic viewpoints and discriminating against the religious.

    September 4, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Hindu.

      who said secular = atheist?

      The first amendment is fantastic. I welcome you to follow your religious traditions. Just keep religion out of civil life (courts and government) thank you.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Hindu,

      do you think there is some big atheist conspiracy? That anyone who realizes one day that they no longer believe in God, whips out their chequebook and starts t-ithing to David Silverman so he can put up stupid billboards?

      You are starting to sound like a paranoid or a fool.

      By the way, I never thought the billboards were a good idea – and neither did many of the atheists who posted on that particular blog topic.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • WASP

      @hindu: "Who are the organizations putting up billboards and countless websites and internet blogs preaching and supporting their viewpoints and bashing the opposing viewpoints?"

      most of the time those people are called CHRISTIANS.
      i have to deal with subway preachers, subway station ministers, i have you folks walking up to me and trying to hand me your leaflets, books and wanting to preach at me...........that is bothersome and i am always polite and i explain "i don't believe in religion" then i attempt to walk away, most of the time i can just leave some times they follow me wanting to pray for me or asking why i don't believe; as if that will change anything; i live my life not bothering anyone, here is an idea TRY LIVING YOURS WITHOUT BOTHERING US AND WE WON'T BOTHER YOU. (not bold for emotional response, bold so you get the hint)

      September 4, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Hindu

      @I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV -

      In that case, I would love to see some atheist protests against those billboards saying they do not speak for all of us atheists. you can say one thing - but i know the wink-wink support - while trying to hold onto the higher ground ...

      September 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Hindu,

      if you had read the blog topic on the billboards you would have seen atheists protesting them and others supporting them. Lots of people said they were stupid and some reported that the response on Silverman's website was very negative – including comments by atheists.

      Despite what you seem to think, there is no unified atheist system of belief. The ONLY thing we have in common is a disbelief in God.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Hindu,

      you presume that anyone who doesn't believe in God stands to destroy everything you hold dear. This is incorrect.

      Yes, there are some militant atheists who preach anti-religion. Many are happy to live and let live. I am delighted for you to live a faith-based life. We should all be able to agree in the context of our secular civil inst'tutions. Where most atheists will get riled up is with pressure from religious groups in the secular, civil context.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      No Hindu.. the biggest belief today is that being secular and being 'blind to another's religious beliefs' is that you can ignore the religious types who are doing their best to promote and push their religious viewpoints and laws into secular law.

      That you can be passive and ignore that there are people trying to do that, and it won't affect you when/if it happens.

      You are the recipient of the freedom to believe as you will, due to the original founders of the country's decisions on separation of church and state. Ignoring the erosion of that separation, KNOWING that such erosion is the stated goal of a number of religious organizations... is sticking your head in the sand.

      Not all secularists feel this way. Not all are passive.

      You are right, not all secularists are atheists. But it is true that all atheist are secularists. some have a more negative views about religions than others.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  10. notraitors

    I love seeing all these great examples of secular tolerance on the comment board. Thanks guys for confirming my inherent belief in the hypocrisy of liberalism. Liberals only tolerate themselves.

    Does anyone for a moment believe that all those taking the side of the employer in this case would do the same if the plaintiffs were of any other religious faith?

    September 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Common Sense

      If they were muslim, this would have gone far differently.....

      September 4, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • notraitors

      Indeed it would have. You'd have all those defending the employer screaming about "Islamaphobia"

      September 4, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      You guys might note this is a class action – with a grand total in the class of four people out of millions.

      Two of them clearly butted heads with their supervisors, deliberately picking a fight. The flight attendant had rigorous uniform standards. The nurse also had particular uniform standards. She appears to have a stronger case, but even including a line cherry-picked from the BBC report, we are woefully short of facts here to make substantive conclusions.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • WOW

      Things are only going to get worse.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Dean

      Atheists don't know how to think things through to completion to figure out flaws. There is no equation for X, only what's in it for them.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • WASP

      @dean: the equation for "X" is simple.

      "an ye harm none do what ye will"

      i don't harm nor do i wished to be harmed, so as the old saying goes "don't tread on me"

      as far as "what is in it for us"; i will tell you what "i'm in it for"
      1) i'm in it for my son
      2) i'm in it for my family
      3)i'm in it for my country
      4) i'm in it for the whole of the human species
      5)i'm in it for women
      6) i'm in it for gays
      7) i'm in it for every creature everywhere on this beautiful blue and green planet of ours.
      8) i'm in it for anyone that is being stepped on or pushed around

      want to know what it is? it's life, it's a struggle and NO ONE can make it anywhere in life alone we all need each other and it's religious BS that chooses to group people into catagories; i have no use for catagories i have a job to do and making the world a beeter place, not worse is my job..............or atleast as much as i can before i pass away.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  11. WOW

    I stated this in past comments but feel it needs to be repeated: Compare this CNN article to BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19472438 and you will notice that CNN left out things like this: "She was working alongside colleagues who were able to wear religious symbols and attire including the Sikh turban, the Sikh bracelet, the Muslim hijab, and the Jewish skull cap." but she was told she could not wear the Cross. Some comments have said it is a safety issue but this is no safety issue for CNN left out this as well: "It was indisputable that wearing the cross visibly did not have any detrimental effect on Miss Eweida's ability to do her job." (there are also break away safety chains that could resolve that kind of issue) Other past comments stated that her religion did not require her to wear the cross but we do not know that since it is not mentioned in either article however being required to wear a religious symbol or not required should not play a factor in this for displaying is displaying. It appears to me this is a simple case of a specific religious symbol being singled out.

    September 4, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Jake

      You are absolutely right. The employer should be consistent in banning all religious symbols in the workplace. It's inappropriate regardless of which religion you represent.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • WOW

      @ Jake – You miss the point... you have religious symbols hitting you in your face daily... do you really think you can stomp out all religious symbols in the world? The work place is just one place. The answer is no it will never happen.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Jake

      @ Wow – No, you are missing the point. An employer has every right to decide that they don't want religious expression in their workplace. It is not a public setting and they have the right to make that decision. Perhaps they find it offensive or perhaps some of their employees do and they don't want to create religious conflict in the office as it has nothing to do with their business.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Honestly, WOW, have you ever worked for anyone? Employers don't have to allow you wear whatever you want.

      Come to think of it, if you don't have a job, perhaps you should re-evaluate your penchant for wearing that crown of thorns to your interviews.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  12. Hindu

    "I BELIEVE there is NO GOD" - this is a BELIEF as much as saying, "I BELIEVE THERE IS GOD". And Atheists work to preach, support and propagate this belief on billboards and internet blogs (like this one) so passionately. Dont be hypocrites.

    If you do not have any any view or beliefs in this matter - why are you even writing on this blog. LOL!!

    September 4, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Jake

      It is not a "belief", it is a lack of a belief. You can't define a group of people by a shared lack of a belief. Do you group everyone together who doesn't believe in dragons?

      September 4, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Jake - Non-believers in dragons do not put out billboards and internet blogs preaching, supporting and propagating their belief ... LOL!

      September 4, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Hindu,

      So in the face of being disproven, you resort to "LOL". Pretty desparate there.

      Perhaps what you are trying to say is that some atheists can be as zealous and bigoted in their unbelief as some believers are in their belief. This is certainly true, but it does not make atheism a religion.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Common Sense

      Since theists as well as atheists have ZERO hard evidence that God does or does not exist, EVERYONE is essentially agnostic, since NO ONE really knows the real truth.

      As a result, we are all in the dark making educated guesses.....

      Since NO ONE can claim omniscience, we have only what we can be perfectly rational to believe.

      Since both theists AND atheists do not have perfect knowledge of the existence of God....BOTH are reduced to a faith based belief that God does not exist.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Would these hackneyed cliches help?

      Not collecting stamps is not a hobby.
      Bald is not a hair color.
      etc

      September 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Jake – I have not noticed "non-believers in DRANGONS" ORGANIZING themselves to put out billboards and internet blogs preaching, supporting and propagating their belief ... they do not have ORGANIZATIONS like "American Atheist Society" ... actively promoting their viewpoints and passionately fighting debates like on this blog ... LOL!! Who are you kidding!

      September 4, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • WOW

      @Jake = Communist

      September 4, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Hindu

      @I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV -

      I had a pretty good argument along with LOL. Jake's ridiculous logic made me laugh - sorry could not help! Here is the argument again - try to defend his "dragon" argument -

      "I have not noticed "non-believers in DRANGONS" ORGANIZING themselves to put out billboards and internet blogs preaching, supporting and propagating their belief ... they do not have ORGANIZATIONS like "American Atheist Society" ... actively promoting their viewpoints and passionately fighting debates like on this blog ... "

      September 4, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Hindu

      @I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV -

      I had a pretty good argument along with LOL. Jake's ridiculous logic made me laugh - sorry could not help! Here is the argument again - try to defend his "dragon" argument -

      "I have not noticed "non-believers in DRAGONS" ORGANIZING themselves to put out billboards and internet blogs preaching, supporting and propagating their belief ... they do not have ORGANIZATIONS like "American Atheist Society" ... actively promoting their viewpoints and passionately fighting debates like on this blog ... "

      September 4, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Hindu,

      what percentage of atheists in the US belong or contribute to the "American Atheists" organization? I put it to you that this is a very small number of people.

      This organization does not represent all atheists in the same way that the Southern Baptist Convention does not represent all US Christians (or even all US Baptists). If you have issues with David Sliverman, address them to him – not all atheists.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Jake

      Hindu, you're missing the point. It is not a lack of belief in god that drives the people you mention to fight against religion. These people are fighting against religion because they believe religion is bad. THAT is the belief they are driven by.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • notraitors

      The only way someone could know for certain there was no all-powerful, all-knowing being would be for them to be all-powerful and all-knowing themselves. They would have to BE God to prove there is no God (credit to Douglas Jacoby, author of "The God Who Dared")

      September 4, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @notraitors,

      indeed so. Which is why atheists don't believe in the non-existence of God. They just don't believe in God.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Jake

      Let me explain the order of events here:
      1) A person learns that some people believe in something called god.
      2) After hearing what this god thing is, a person concludes they do not believe in this thing.
      3) Since so many people do believe in this thing called god, they invent a word called "atheist" to describe the rest of us.
      4) The rest of notice that those who aren't part of the mainstream religion aren't treated fairly in our society and those who are part of mainstream religion get special treatment. The rest of us notice that the practices of mainstream religion include mental and physical child abuse, among many other atrocities.
      5) Some of us decide to try to do something about it to make the world more fair and less atrocious.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  13. Britney

    I couldnt agree more. There is A LOT of discrimination agaisnt Christians in Europe!!!

    September 4, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Got any examples? Can you provide a link to sources?

      September 4, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  14. William Demuth

    Hindu

    I am quite the exception.

    I want a public dialouge about religion.

    I want a true assesment of the damage it has caused.

    I want those who are responsible identified prosecuted and then executed for crimes against rationality, modernity and humanity.

    Those who have bigoted and twisted beliefs need to be held accountable.

    September 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Common Sense

      You're a bigoted fascist

      September 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I suppose you could bring a hypothetical case for crimes against humanity if you could indict any such person. But there can be no crime against rationality or modernism as these are constructs, not persons. What you are proposing is the same as "crimes against the state" or "apostasy against the church" Are you sure it's Christians who are trying to take us back to the 14th century?

      September 4, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  15. Elena

    That ,means Jewish males should not be allowed to were a kipa at work?

    September 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Of course, if the policy bans it.

      Any expression of bigotry or madness, be it a swastika, a Klansman's hood, a Sikh's blade, a Muslim's burka or a Hell's Angels patch can and should be banned.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  16. Hindu

    Atheism is also a belief (in non-existence of God) - there is no one without any belief. And our lifestyles are according to our beliefs. We all have viewpoints and beliefs that we think are right.

    September 4, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Hindu,

      no it's not.

      Theism = I believe in God
      Athesism = I don't believe in God.

      You can't prove the non-existence of anything. I don't think there is a God, but I can't prove it. I don't "believe in" the non-existence of God.

      Atheism is not a religion.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The prefix 'A' = lack of
      Theism = belief in gods
      Atheism = the lack of belief in gods.
      Lack of belief is not a belief.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      How can one have a belief or a non-belief of something that doesn't exist. I have absence of belief.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Like Atheus said earlier – "Saying atheism is a religion is like saying 'off' is a TV channel."

      September 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Hindu

      @I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV --

      Not believing in God is also a belief with its associated lifestyle. It is a negative belief but still a belief and you conduct your life on that basis for example by not going to any church, temple or mosque. And you preach and propagate that belief on billboards and internet blogs. You passionately write about it. No one can live in a vacuum or void. Every one has beliefs and viewpoints according to which they conduct their lifestyle.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Hindu,

      atheists certainly have beliefs. But belief in the non-existence of God is not necessarily one of them. Some may do this but not all.

      Your original statement is incorrect.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Doc Vestibule -

      Not believing in God does not land you into a vacuum or a void. You still have an active mind and brain with a set of beliefs and viewpoints according to which you conduct your life.

      Your belief is negative of the theists, as in saying, " I BELIEVE there is NO GOD". That is what you believe. That is your viewpoint. And you conduct your life accordingly.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @hindu
      Atheism describes a LACK OF BELIEF.
      I believe in naturalism.
      I believe that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals.
      I believe that blame, guilt, responsibility etc. are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else and therefore we should be rational and realize that not everyone will share the same evaluations of good and evil.
      I believe that most religions encourage tribalism and religionists are prone to getting lost in sectarian dogma, arguing over mythological minutiae.
      I believe that in the end, the definition of Christian is to live your life in the image of Jesus Christ. Faith in miracles, divinity, resurrections, and other fantastical flourishes isn't required to live a life of pacifism, charity and humility.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • WOW

      @Hindu – You are correct in what you stated. For no one has no beliefs and if they say they don't they are only fooling themselves.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • WASP

      @hindu: i don't believe in dragons, gods, demi-gods, demons, angels, fairies, toadmen, santa clause, aliens visiting earth, mole people, mer-people, loch-ness monster, bigfoot, yeti, sasquatch, flying saucers, etc etc etc that falls into the imaginary or fiction catagory.

      that doesn't mean because i don't believe in those things, that i have a belief in those things not being real because i can look around and i see no dragons or any gods for that matter.

      I DO however believe in the power of humans to accomplish astounding things, from building the pyramids to landing on the moon, those things i can see are real; no faith required.

      faith: the belief in something without proof or evidence.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  17. Hindu

    @Amniculi - we religious people want the same ... protection for atheist and LGBT bigotry that we saw in case of Chik-Fil-A where the mayors tried to bully Chik-Fil-A into converting into views of those administrations by threatening economic sanctions by not allowing them to operate a business in their cities. GIVE WHAT YOU WANT TO RECEIVE. GIVE AND YA SHALL RECEIVE. IT IS A TWO WAY ROAD. IF YOU WANT PROTECTION .. STAND FOR PROTECTION OF RIGHTS OF RELIGIOUS.

    September 4, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Amniculi

      I will agree with you that city governments should not be able to restricts the rights of a business based on religious beliefs. However, I do believe that it is the right of every member of the LGBT community and their supporters to protest Chik-Fil-A for being a bigoted corporation.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Amniculi - protest but do NOT try to use the state / govt policies to punish those who disagree with you - that can boomerang easily ...

      September 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Primewonk

      And yet, when they post the stories about governmental subdivisions blocking construction of Mosques, It's usually the Christian nutters supporting this obstruction.

      And yet, when they post stories about folks fighting to get the Pentagon to allow wiccan symbols on the tombstones of fallen soldiers, it was Christian nutters who opposed it.

      Seems you nutters are all for freedom of religion, as long as it's YOUR religion.

      September 4, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  18. Rachel

    The woman wearing the cross at the airlines has a good case. The other woman wearing the cross does not, because jewelry is banned for safety and hygienic reasons. The relationship counselor has an ok case, but the registrar is a government employee making records of legal contracts. It is not her place to decide that she disapproves of a contract, only to complete the paperwork.

    September 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  19. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    There's not nearly enough real facts reported in this story to make any reasoned comment.

    When you accept a job like a flight attendant you accept the employer's prerogative to insist that you conform to the uniform 'rules'. The uniform is an extension of the company brand and these employees know that they are expected to 'represent the company' through their appearance while on duty – unless individual expression is encouraged. Plus, it sounds like BA relaxed their policy.

    The case with the nurse sounds like there was a lot of head-butting going on between the nurse and her supervisor. This case is not very clear cut to me.

    September 4, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  20. Hindu

    TO those saying do not throw your religious lifestyles in my face - Are ONLY the gays allowed to throw their lifestyles in our face with their gay "pride" parades. and are ONLY the atheists allowed to throw their beliefs (in non-existence of God) in our face on those massive billboards offending the faith of those who believe. What utter hypocritical nonsense! Atheists want the state ruled according to principles of church of atheism. why dont you admit it? Amniculi is the honest one - who openly admits that he would like Atheistic States of America. That is the true face.

    September 4, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Damocles

      If you don't want to go to a gay pride parade, don't go. If you think that 10 atheist billboards are the same as the 100,000 religious billboards that are on display, you are wrong. Any person has the right to voice their opinion and hey, gosh darn it all, you have the right to not agree with it.

      Here is what I'll admit: I want a country in which every adult enjoys the same rights, no more, no less.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Hindu

      @Damocles - yes, I was only pointing out that LGBT and atheist groups cannot protest against religious people throwing their religious beliefs in others' face because they themselves assert their rights to do the same and do the same all the time. I just want end to hypocrisy of saying that ONLY religious people should NOT do that. You go ahead with your pride parades and billboards and let us have ours. Dont be hating ...

      September 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Amniculi

      I suppose that in the 1950's and 60's you would have claimed that African-Americans were throwing their skin color in your face. This is no different. All we want are our rights and protections.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Damocles

      @Hindu

      The point, Hindu, is that a believers actual beliefs are not under attack. You don't have to like a person to treat them equally. You can believe that everyone except you is going to hell, that's fine, I have no problem with that. What you can not do is try to dictate how other adults live their life.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Amniculi

      @Damocles – Well said!

      September 4, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Britney

      I agree with you. I for once dont want my children learning anything about this.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • notraitors

      Dam, when was the last time someone forced you to go to church or read the Bible? I'm guessing NEVER

      September 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Damocles

      @not

      Well then you would be guessing wrong. As a child I was forced to go to church, but do not mistake that as my reason for disliking religious beliefs because, again, you would be wrong.

      Religious beliefs do, at times, try to force people into a certain way of thinking. I'm not saying all, or even yours, I'm saying it does happen. This constant talk of hell fire and eternal damnation is tiresome in its monolithic style attacks on the human psyche. If you want to believe that, go for it, that's your right, but I have the right to not believe as you do.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Damocles

      @amn

      Blah, posted my thank you in the wrong place so again, thank you. 🙂

      September 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • WASP

      @notraitors: hmmmm the last time i was forced to read a bible or go to church? i would say my whole childhood.

      i had to sit through sunday school (importance is the word SCHOOL), i had to sit through wednesday sermons, i had to (pretend) to sing hymns, i had to listen to a preacher profess MY sinning ways at the age of 10 and how i was bound for he11, i had to read through "the good book" as the preacher condemned everyone else in the world through his interrptation of scripture, later in life i had to read your WHOLE bible so that i knew more than the religious people to guard against their ignorance with knowledge.

      so YES all atheists have been forced to attend some form of organized religion and read it's scripture by either nitwit (but well intendig parents) or by mindless relgious automatons not understanding that we don't want to hear them on the news, or read them in the news papers, or listen to them on the trains going home....................religious people put themselves out there so you want to harrass everyone expect no less in return.

      September 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Wrenn_NYC

      The only issue I have is when they try to change the laws to conform to their religious beliefs and RESTRICT others who do not follow their belief systems.

      The attempts to force others to follow their rules and their beliefs.

      They can have all the billboards they want. But when they attempt to change the laws to restrict others, or when they make laws that favor one religion over another, that is where I draw the line.

      September 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
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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.