And rather than being seen as the intolerance that it is, Christians are frequently portrayed as either attempting to be “above the law” or looking for “loopholes” in the law. However, instead of legal loopholes and complicated exemptions, a simple bit of common sense and tolerance (in the true sense of the word) in the legal system would certainly go a long way.
For example, take the case of Lillian Ladele, the Islington registrar forced to resign for conscientiously objecting from performing same-sex civil partnerships. Her case was rejected by the Supreme Court in the U.K. and is now being argued before the European Court of Human Rights. Could she have been accommodated by her employer? The overwhelming evidence was that a simple rotation system would have allowed her to continue to work without the slightest problem to her employer or any same-sex couples seeking a civil partnership.
Or take Britain’s ill-fated Catholic adoption agencies. In existence for more than a century and widely recognized as being some of the best in the country, the agencies have all but closed or been forced to remove their Christian ethos. Why? Because they conscientiously objected from placing children with same-sex couples. The remarkably few couples that would have been affected by the policy could easily have accessed another agency. But apparently that wasn’t the point. The agencies had to fall in line or close down. Once again, there was no tolerance or common sense shown to the agencies, and it is hard to see how anyone has benefitted from losing their dedicated services.
The case of Peter and Hazelmary Bull has also become widely known because of how blatant the discriminatory treatment was against them. Their case provides one of those “if it could happen to them, it could easily happen to me” moments which resonate with the public. The couple was successfully sued for upholding their policy in their private guest house about not renting single rooms to unmarried couples—in this case, a same-sex couple.
Examples of such intolerance against Christians abound and have led the European Court of Human Rights to accept four U.K. religious freedom cases on the same day, as well as a recent parliamentary inquiry. While it is encouraging that the European Court has decided to engage with the myriad of problems caused by Britain’s non-discrimination laws, the suggested solution is not that difficult to understand or implement. While the legal phrase is known as “reasonable accommodation,” what this means, in reality, is simply common sense.
Do Christians want to be above the law? They most certainly do not. But that does not mean that the law has to operate like a blunt instrument enforcing a new political orthodoxy and a new “tyranny of the majority.” A simple bit of common sense and real tolerance would go a long way toward ensuring true respect for all, including Christians.