Must European Churches Now Hire Non-Christians?

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European Union laws will destroy religious organizations, says group
The Christian Institute, which is like the British version of the Family Research Council, is warning that churches, religious schools, charities, and other faith-based organizations throughout Britain (indeed, perhaps all of the European Union) could be forced under a European Union directive to hire staff who oppose their beliefs.

"The government regulations have all the potential to seriously undermine freedom of association for religious people," said Ian Leigh, codirector of the Human Rights Center at Durham University. "They place the modern concept of 'equality' over and above religious liberty."

The laws, which must be implemented in Britain by December 2, 2003, ban employment discrimination on the basis of religion, belief, or sexual orientation. (And they don't apply to Northern Ireland.)

"While the Vegetarian Society can refuse to employ meat-eaters and the [Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] can sack an executive who is found to have invested in the fur trade, churches which employ Christians could now face legal action for doing so," the institute explains on its website. "They could face the possibility of crippling legal actions just for following their beliefs."

The EU directives do give churches and faith-based organizations an exemption in cases where "being of a particular religion or belief is a genuine and determining occupational requirement for the job," but the Christian Institute says the exemption clauses are "convoluted" and incomplete. "First, this is not a general exemption from all discrimination provisions for religious employers. It only relates to discrimination claims brought on the ground of religion or ...

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September
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