Persecution in England?

This story would seem to demonstrate not only a lack of freedom of religion in the UK, but active persecution of a Christian leader for upholding fundamental Christian teaching:

The Anglican bishop of Hereford has been ordered by a court to undergo “equal opportunities training” and pay a fine of £47,345.00, the equivalent of $92,106.00 Cn., for refusing to hire an active homosexual for a position of trust with young people. The ruling also stated that Hereford diocese staff “involved in recruitment should receive equal opportunities training”.

Update: But hold on. Reader Andrew says there is more to the story.

The church lobbied for the right to exclude certain employees (clergy, etc) from the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003. They gained the right (the state does not tell them to employ someone who does not follow the church’s teaching). All they have to do is state on the advert that there is a GOR. The tribunal even ruled that the role of Diocesan Youth Officer falls into the exemption. However, they did not state in the advert that they didn’t want to employ a homosexual (i.e., they choose not to claim the exemption they had lobbied for). Why?

Because as the Bishop himself said to the tribunal, “This we do not wish to do as we wish to encourage people of any sexual orientation to play a full part in the life of the Church and to apply for all Diocesan posts.”

Yet when one applied for the post they then decided not to employ him on the basis of his sexuality.

So they decided not to use their opt out because they want to appear open.

They can’t have it both ways ….

5 thoughts on “Persecution in England?

  1. Sorry this is not quite correct.

    This demonstrates a lack of expertise in the Diocese of Hereford’s personal department.

    As the Bishop later admitted this could have been avoided if they had expressed a “Genuine Occupational Requirement” and claim exemption from the Sexual Orientation Regulation 2003. They did not, and so fell foul of the law. The option was there, they did not take it and so they opened themselves up to discrimination legislation. If they had expressed such a GOR they could have stated that this post would not be suitable for a homosexual.

  2. That’s a minor technicality that doesn’t change the facts–no state has business telling any church that they must hire people that do not follow the church’s teachings. That’s essential to religious liberty.

  3. The church lobbied for the right to exclude certain employees (clergy, etc) from the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003. They gained the right (the state does not tell them to employ someone who does not follow the church’s teaching). All they have to do is state on the advert that there is a GOR. The tribunal even ruled that the role of Diocesan Youth Officer falls into the exemption. However, they did not state in the advert that they didn’t want to employ a homosexual (i.e., they choose not to claim the exemption they had lobbied for). Why?

    Because as the Bishop himself said to the tribunal, “This we do not wish to do as we wish to encourage people of any sexual orientation to play a full part in the life of the Church and to apply for all Diocesan posts.”

    Yet when one applied for the post they then decided not to employ him on the basis of his sexuality.

    So they decided not to use their opt out because they want to appear open.

    They can’t have it both ways- they wanted to appear open and yet they wanted to discriminate.

    I have no sympathy for the Diocese of Hereford. They choose not to state a GOR and placed themselves under the jurisdiction of Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003.

  4. Andrew,

    Now this is an interesting point, which wasn’t in the American coverage.

    You say they specifically chose not to mention this “Because as the Bishop himself said to the tribunal, ‘This we do not wish to do as we wish to encourage people of any sexual orientation to play a full part in the life of the Church and to apply for all Diocesan posts.'”

    So thus you say “they are trying to have it both ways,” like church employers in the US who both want state funding but don’t want state mandates.

    Better to “come out from among them and be separate” than to play these games, I’d say.

  5. Yes, this fact hasn’t really surfaced in the press here either. It has gone from the Diocesan website ( but is quoted in this blog post http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/002793.html)

    I think you’re right, they tried to play games with their public perception rather than state up front that their beliefs would prohibit the employment of certain people.

    As I’ve pointed out earlier, the irony is that this is their own doing- they could have simply declare a “Genuine Occupational Requirement” and then they wouldn’t have been held accountable under this employment legislation! That is why I don’t see this as a lack of religious freedom or state persecution here in the UK, rather I see it as a case of Diocesan foolishness.

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