UK Churches Fear Being 'Forced' to Perform Same-Sex Ceremonies
As the debate over same-sex marriage continues in the U.K., leading conservative policy makers are once again highlighting the need for some protections for churches. There are concerns that churches may be punished for not consenting to gay marriage ceremonies in their churches should a law be passed redefining marriage.
The Church of England, the Roman Catholic church, and a host of prominent conservative and religious leaders are continuing to advocate the need for certain legal protections to prevent those religious institutions from being forced to oversee same-sex ceremonies by the European Court of Human Rights.
"There are legitimate fears of European Court of Human Rights challenges and churches being forced down the line to conduct such ceremonies against their wishes," Eric Pickles, Communities Secretary, told The Telegraph.
"These concerns need to be explicitly addressed in any legislative reform to provide safeguards against such coercion," he added.
These warnings follow highly publicized court proceedings by the European Court of Human Rights over the termination of four separate individuals over the wearing of religious items and objections due to conflicts with religious beliefs.
To make the road a bit more befuddled, lawyers with the British government told the court earlier this month that Christians should keep their religious beliefs to themselves or accept that the public display of that faith- wearing a cross, in this particular case- could lead to that person losing their job.
Pickles urged the British government to reassure Christians and people of other faith that the open and public observances of their faith would not be punished.
Everyone should have the option "to follow their faith openly, including by praying in public and promoting their beliefs- as well as wearing religious symbols," Pickles said. "Banning discreet religious symbols for reasons of political correctness is not acceptable."