Religious rights are deteriorating in Europe, perhaps at a
faster rate than in the United States.
The U.S. Helsinki Commission heard testimony from
experts on the subject in a special hearing conducted Monday in
Washington, DC. The topic for the briefing was "state-sanctioned
marginalization of Christians in Western Europe." Leading up to the briefing, the Commission
stated: "Reports ... indicate that the marginalization of
Christians occurs through subtle changes in law and policy that
drive Christian expression off the public square or signal that
Christians are not welcome on the square."
Associated Press reports that one of the witnesses -- Roger
Trigg, director of the Centre for the Study of Religion in Public
Life at Oxford University -- said British courts have found faith
to be in conflict with human rights.
"Human rights are pitted against religion -- and freedom of
religion is itself being marginalized as a right," he stated.
Georgetown University's Thomas Farr told members of the
Commission that religious rights are threatened in most of the
world. "I believe we're witnessing a worldwide crisis of religious
liberty -- one that increasingly includes Europe and, I would add,
the United States," he said.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Roger
Kiska, who lives in Croatia, was on hand to cite some active cases
"Recently in the United Kingdom, bed-and-breakfast owners have
been sued successfully for refusing to rent one of the rooms in
their own home to a same-sex couple," he reported. "In another
instance, a foster family was denied the right to take in foster
children because they opposed homosexual behavior.
"Simply by seeking reasonable accommodation for a sincerely held
religious belief, people are being punished, fired or pushed out of
their job," he concluded.
According to those offering testimony, such treatment of
Christians seems to be an international crisis that has made its
way to the United States -- and Farr testified that loss of
religious freedom is a threat to democracy.
A blind Chinese activist, who made a dramatic escape from China
to America, is urging his former country to reform.