Local Christians have brought to my attention the possible dangers of proposed anti-harassment and anti-discrimination legislation emanating from the European Union. If enacted, these laws could prevent Christians living out and speaking about their deeply held Christian beliefs for fear of being accused of discriminating against or causing harassment of a particular person or groups of persons. The criterion for bringing an action to court is that one has perceived that one has been harassed or discrimated against. The burden of proof shifts from the accuser to the accused who will have to prove that the accuser has not in fact been harassed or discriminated against. This could affect a Christian bed & breakfast owner, a pastor who rents out his church hall, Christians who run adoption agencies, etc.
The warning comes from Christian Concern for our Nation who write as follows:
Video on EU Directive on Equal Treatment: Professor Wagner Explains Concerns
Please watch the video (above), where Professor Wagner explains how this Directive has a potentially horrendous impact on Christians and the Christian way of life.
The measures could have the effect of silencing Christians for fear of being sued for ‘harassment’.
Freedom of speech and the exercise of religious conscience are at risk. The stark choice for Christians could be – ‘be silenced’ or ‘be sued’.
Proposals would extend the definition and the reach of harassment. Key concerns are:
• The vagueness of the definition of harassment which will make it far too easy to bring an accusation
• The alarming shift in the burden of proof onto the accused to demonstrate that the person alleging harassment did not, in fact, perceive offence. In practice this could mean that anyone could potentially accuse a Christian of harassing them, leaving the Christian the almost impossible task of proving that the alleged victim had not, in fact, been offended.
The proposals would also extend harassment to harassment by association. For example, a heterosexual could perceive offence because of something said about his homosexual relative, friend or work colleague whilst being provided with goods or services.
The UK Government who support Equality measures even recognise its negative impact on:
• Freedom of speech
• Freedom to speak to non-Christians about the Gospel
• Academic freedom
• Religious groups delivering public services (due to the possible chilling effect on free speech)
We expect the Council of Ministers (with representation from all Member States) to vote in November 2009, so there is little time left to act.
Action to take:
1. Watch the Video.
2. Prayer. We serve a Mighty God. Pray that Nations will say No to the Directive and veto it. Without a unanimous vote in favour it will not be passed.
3. Please read the first 10 pages of the pack and Appendix 1 (example letters). If you have the time or interest, the other Appendices provide more details. To access the pack, please click here.
4. Use the example letters in Appendix 1 to write to your MP and Equality Minister.
5. Encourage your Christian friends in other European countries to do the same and write to their political representatives and Ministers responsible for Equality. The pack contains a list of Ministers from each EU country that might be responsible for equality matters. It is vital that Christians across the EU realise the seriousness of the situation and that Equality Ministers are informed that they can vote “no”.
The final decision-making is now with the Nations themselves in the Council of Ministers, so MPs and the Equality Ministers are the best choice. You can also write to your MEPs to make them aware of our concern not only for our own nations but also for Europe.
Thank you for your support in protecting religious liberties.
Andrea Minichiello Williams
Christian Concern for our Nation