At issue: The marginalization of religious freedom

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
 | Staff (

Religious rights are deteriorating in Europe, perhaps at a faster rate than in the United States.

No Christian crossThe 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 of discrimination.

"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.

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