The first semi-stable Christian communities in Britain can be found from the 4th/5th centuries, although the sentiments of various kings led to mass abandonments of Christianity for political or personal reasons (mostly revolving around power and sex)1 and culminating in the fouding of the Church of England for exactly those reasons. But the modern era has removed Christianity from British life. From 1900 to 2020, UK membership of Christian churches fell from 33% to 9%2. Although many Christians are not formal members, between 1989 and 2005, one third of all Christians in England stopped going to church on Sundays3, leaving only 6% of the total population doing so. A 2007 poll found that Christians were the most inactive of all religious adherents4. The Roman Catholic5, Methodist5 and Church of England6 are suffering the biggest losses, whilst Pentecostal churches are growing5. Between 1960 and 1985 the Church of England halved in size6 and from then to year 2000, 40% of their remaining flock stopped describing themselves as members7. At some point since the 1930s, most Brits stopped believing in Christianity and at some point between the 1990s and 2011, most Brits stopped calling themselves Christian, except on the occasional official document where they think it's the "right answer"8.
In 2007, Tearfund published the following results of their comprehensive review of British Christian religion in 2006:
Self-disclosure polls of church attendance are generally twice as high as reality. Actual measures of church attendance have shown that Church attendance in 1999 was 7.5%, down from 10% in 1989 and 12% in 1979 (declining by about an absolute 2% per decade). This trend predicts that in 2007, the rate will be close to 6% who attend, not the 10% who think they do according to Tearfund. This estimate was backed up by the English Church Census 2004.
The Christian Research group's fourth English Church Census (2004) is another professional census whose authors have never shied away from reporting honest statistics, no matter how painful they have been for British Christianity. 37500 churches were invited to take part, and about half did. Some stark truths of Church attendance between 1998 and 2005:
Between 1998 and 2005, half a million people stopped going to church on Sunday3.
Sunday churchgoing is declining at 2.3% per year, slightly slower than the 1990s rate of 2.7% per year3.
Nearly all Church 'growth' is due to immigrants. A massive influx of Polish workers have filled some churches3.
In 2006, 6.3% of the population go to church on an average Sunday, compared to 7.5% in 199810. 29% of them were aged 65 and over (true of only 16% of the overall population)10, meaning that churchgoers are somewhat older on average.
"The Roman Catholics have recorded the largest drop [...], it has halved over the past sixteen years"11.
The drop in the 20-29 age group was 29%11.
"The fastest rates of decline were among Roman Catholics and Methodists; whereas the Pentecostal Churches showed significant growth over the period. As a result, Methodism has dropped to fourth place behind Pentecostalism"5.
|Roman Catholics (England)||1 703 800||-3.2%||1 217 800||-4.2%||875 600||-49%|
|Church of England||1 260 800||-2.6%||975 900||-1.6%||867 400||-31%|
|Pentecostals||236 700||-0.1%||214 600||+4.9%||287 600||+22%|
|Methodists||512 300||-2.9%||379 700||-3.4%||289 400||-44%|
|Baptists||270 900||+0.2%||277 600||-1.2%||254 800||-6%|
|New Churches||167 000||+2.2%||200 500||-1.2%||183 600||+10%|
|Independent Churches||298 500||-4%||191 600||-0.2%||190 500||-36%|
|United Reformed||149 300||-2%||121 700||-6.2%||69 900||-53%|
|Total of above:||4 599 300||3 579 400||3 018 800||-34%|
The Christian Research English Church Census (2005)3
These figures only reflect Sunday attendance; some denominations and churches have experienced increased numbers mid-week, but only involving small numbers compared to the overall decline. The decline is matched by other church organisations, as is mentioned below:
“A report on youth published for the General Synod Board of Education in 1996, which says that 'the total Sunday attendance at Anglican Churches amongst 14- to 17-year-olds is 60,739', a drop of 34.9 per cent since 1987. [...] If the same rate continues to apply, there may be no young people at all in the Church in twenty years' time. The report goes on to say that this does not just apply to church services - a similar drop has also been observed in church organisations.”
In more detail from 1975 to 2010, we can see what the decline looks like for the major Christian denominations. Some of the smaller denomination grew slightly, but the overall picture is dominated by the fall of the larger ones.
During the period depicted on the chart above, UK population increased from 56 million to 63 million, with a reduction of church membership dropping from 18% to 12% of the total population.
From 2002 onwards, the Electoral roll has included those registered in Europe, which have numbered around 10,000 people.
“A key element in the fall of church membership which started in the 1950s was an alarming failure to recruit even the offspring of adherents... between the mid-1950s and 1980, the number of Church of Scotland Sunday-school pupils almost halved, and a spectacular fall in church baptisms followed; between 1967 and 1982, they fell by half in the Church of Scotland and by almost 40 per cent in the Catholic Church.”
"A Social History of Religion in Scotland since 1730" by C. Brown (1987)16
|1975||1980||1985||1990||1992 % female||2002||2012|
|Anglican||15 911||14 654||14 064||14 137||13 920 (5.9%)||11 52217||11 37517|
|Baptist||2 418||2 469||2 648||2 803||2 936 (2.9%)|
|Independent||1 575||1 483||2 022||2 786||2 903 (2.3%)|
|Methodist||2 726||2 632||2 617||2 668||2 657 (9.3%)|
|Other||1 884||1 850||1 922||2 324||2 321 (45.4%)|
|Pentecostal||1 605||2 243||2 580||3 359||3 462 (15.4%)|
|Presbyterian||3 776||3 632||3 412||3 159||3 060 (10.3%)|
|Roman Catholic||8 892||8 854||8 408||7 980||7 798 (0.0%)|
|Total||38 913||37 977||37 860||39 457||39 306 (7.9%)|
“The turn of the century has seen a decline in the numbers of clergy, though there has been a recent small upturn. By the year 2000 the Church [of England] will have around a thousand less clergy than it had in 1980 - around ten thousand.”
“The Church [of England ...] could face a dramatic shortage of priests within a decade as almost half of the current clergy retire, according to the Most Rev Justin Welby and Dr John Sentamu.”
The Telegraph (2015)19
It has been pointed out in multiple sources that British clergy have a peculiarly non-religious nature. G. K. Chesterton writes light-heartedly that:
“We all feel angry with an irreligious priesthood; but some of us would go mad with disgust at a really religious one.”
|(denominations in 1992)||1975||1980||1985||1990||1992|
|Anglican (7)||19 783||19 366||18 892||18 340||18 236|
|Baptist (9)||3 619||3 344||3 375||3 627||3 614|
|Independent (27)||4 536||4 611||5 331||5 932||5 898|
|Methodist (6)||9 066||8 492||7 954||7 591||7 401|
|Other (43)||1 992||2 004||1 998||2 064||2 148|
|Pentecostal (69)||1 655||1 935||2 041||2 143||2 215|
|Presbyterian (13)||6 177||5 897||5 650||5 489||5 450|
|Roman Catholic (15)||4 104||4 132||4 222||4 297||4 290|
|Total||51 067||49 931||49 632||49 690||49 470|
“Between 1990 and 2001, the Church [of England] lost 18% of its Sunday communicants, 17% of its clergy (none of them bishops) and 1% of its buildings. The Church Commissioners' gradually shrinking endowment of £3.5 billion, is about half the value of, say, Yale University's investments. [...] Last year, 70% of gross endowment income went on paying pensions alone. [...] Donations per head have increased steeply in recent years, in part because the disappearance of working-class believers has left congregations older and wealthier”
The Economist (2003)
The overall picture is of a Church that has lost most of its membership and is losing the rest. Its financial situation is poor and getting worse, with a top-heavy organisation with less and less income for more and more pensioners. Things are bleak. The Church's financial hope is that all the pensioners die before the Church Commissioners' funds dry up completely. Drastic measures yet to be introduced, but which I expect, is a culling of bishops and staff. I do not foresee much building-selling as there are not many buyers who can do anything with old, semi-derelict Churches or huge Cathedrals. The government, in the future, will need to step in and take ownership or control of decaying Church buildings (for demolition & conversion to useful buildings?) as the Heritage Fund cannot cope (and wouldn't be justified) in paying the costs associated with maintaining these anachronistic structures. It is difficult to imagine that the Church hierarchy is unaware of the risk - but in 2015 Jan two archbishops still felt the need to warn the ruling Synod of the situation:
“The Church of England will no longer be able to carry on its current form unless the downward spiral its membership is reversed "as a matter of urgency", the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have warned. [...] Dwindling numbers in the pews will inevitably plunge the Church into a financial crisis as it grapples with the "burden" of maintaining thousands of historic buildings, they insisted.”
The Telegraph (2015)19
|Year||Sunday School Teachers|
These graphs are from data published by the Church of England which show the percent of the total population of England and Wales involved. The marriages graph has "Anglican" mean "Church of England" or "Church of Wales", and also shows the % as the total population of England and Wales (excluding the Isle of Man and Channel Islands).22 You might expect that the National Secular Society would have found statistics that show lower attendance, therefore supporting their cause that organized religion should not be an official part of public politics. However in 2011 they commented on Christmas attendance and state higher values23. They mention that surveys before Christmas in 2010 saw about a quarter of respondents say that they were going to go to Church over Christmas, but, actual counts of attendance shows that only 11% did, which is less than half of those who said they would. This is very similar to the phenomenon by which in official polls, about twice as many say they are religious as actually are. See "Institutionalized Religions Have Their Numbers Inflated by National Polls" by Vexen Crabtree (2009). The Church of England think that just over 2% of the population attended Christmas or Easter in Church in 2010.
The decline in this number from the 1930s was slow, from a peak of about 70%, but the decline in the number of Anglican baptisms from the 1950s has been rapid. In the 1990s, 3 out of 10 newborns have been baptised and by 2010, only 1 out of 10. Infant baptism has always been an important source of recruitment for Anglican churches, the slight increase in child and adult baptisms has not made up the numbers.
The Pagan Federation offers baby blessings, as does The National Secular Society and the Family Covenant Association. So worried is the Church of England, that in 1999 we saw a Church offer its own version for newborns with parents who are not religious25.
|Year||Davie (1997)6||Wilson (1966)21|
The percent of 15-year-olds confirmed in the Church of England has never been much more than 30% of the population of England. Between 1960 and 1982 the actual number of confirmations taking place each year declined by more than 50%. It's not just that people are being confirmed at an older age. Total confirmations in the age group 12 to 20 years have also decreased from the 1960s21. In 2010 the total number of confirmations was 22,093, down 3,000 from 200922.
The English have produced world-class religious clerics and scholars. Universities and Christian centres of learning proliferated in England. However, the depth of the religious convictions of most Christians is seriously questionable. From historical "Celtic Christianity" to the modern-day liberal Church of England, many have questioned whether Britons now, or our ancestors in the past, ever really took to Christianity the same as others and whether or not we really were ever in sync with the rest of the Christian East.
From early on in its introduction to Britain, Christianity has been tied to the politics of power.
“The marriage of Ethelbert with Bertha, and much more his embracing Christianity, [...]. He governed the kingdom of Kent fifty years, and dying in 616, left the succession to his son, Eadbald. This prince, seduced by a passion for his mother-in-law, deserted for some time the Christian faith, which permitted not these incestuous marriages: his whole people immediately returned with him to idolatry. Laurentius, the successor of Augustine, found the Christian worship wholly abandoned, and was prepared to return to France, in order to escape the mortification of preaching the gospel without fruit to the infidels.”
The ease at which Christian affiliations come and go in those centuries hint that the British approach was often one of those who not quite convinced of the truths of the religion. They would follow their kings and princes from one religion to another, to Christianity and back to paganism, over and over, with little regard for serious evaluation of correctness. Only after hundreds of years, into the late medieval period, did Christianity establish permanency, mostly through the use of force and power.
It was no surprise that the founding of the Church of England occurred for reasons of power politics, tax, and sex. Over time, the absence of true religiosity in the muscle of the Church led to the C of E becoming, for the people, one of the mildest and sensible of denominations, with little of the doctrinal fervour of its angrier incarnations abroad. Except, of course, for the top-down driven wars of power, and saw either Protestants or Catholics at the wrong end of bloody clubs.
Jeremy Paxman in his book studying English personality, history, religion and identity, comments:
“[In history, the English] were not in any meaningful sense religious, the Church of England being a political invention which had elevated being 'a good chap' to something akin to canonization. On the occasions when bureaucracy demanded they admit an allegiance, they could write 'C of E' in the box and know that they wouldn't be bothered by demands that they attend church”
Paxman observes that the Church of England is how it is because "that is how the English like their religion - pragmatic, comfortable and unobtrusive". Although in recent years evangelical, extreme and fundamentalist Christianity has been slowly catching on. However the Church of England still remains a "power" within the UK, which can exert pressure through the media. It is still given press attention although there admittedly more scandal and shock, than awe or reverence.
“The only sensible conclusion to draw from the uniquely privileged position of the Church of England - its official status, the bishops' seats in the House of Lords, the Prime Minister's right to appoint senior clerics and so on - is not that it represents some profound spirituality in the people, but that it suits mutually convenient purposes for state and Church”
The absolute, institutionalized and symbolic strength of the Church of England has disappeared. The history of the English finding their identity after the two world wars is a history of the realisation that there is no Christian Britain.
“The Church of England is between a rock and a hard place, and there are bitter pills to be swallowed. The most painful fact with which it has to deal (along with other churches) is the all-round drop in numbers: churchgoers, those on the electoral roles, numbers of baptisms, confirmation, church weddings - all have dropped steadily since the 1930s, with consequential loss both of morals and of income. Much is made of the increase in the numbers of ordinands (those training for the priesthood), but this, the only good news on the table at the time of writing, seems an odd criterion of renewed life - many chiefs and few Indians will scarcely solve the problem.”
Most data shows a peak in the 1930s of Church membership and participation, which declined slowly until the 1960s. Then, numbers plummeted, until the 1990s, where the collapse began to slow. What I believe is that a bubble has burst: The public are no longer putting "Church of England" or "Roman Catholic" down as their religion as a standard answer: only true believers are now doing so. From around now, 2020, we will begin to see real participation data! And a continued genuine decline in numbers.
With the bulk of shallow Christians now faded away, the nation is asking true questions about its religious identity. The State runs along completely secular lines, and the forced involvement of religion has ended. Theoretical and legal entanglements are being slowly worked out.
Lord Woolf, former Lord Chief Justice, was asked:
“Is British judicial system derived on Christianity? No - the basis comes from the role of the sovereign, who provided justice. High Court Judges around the country provided justice linked to the role of the sovereign.”
Even at the height of medieval religion, English affiliations to the church were long-suspected to be rather shallow. For example, in the 12th century the chief Christian was Anselm. When he was banished from England at the turn of the 12th century, his fans warned that unless he returned, Christianity risked complete extinction, and that "the most shocking customs" were prevailing - men were daring to wear long hair without fear of reprisal30! But these people clearly didn't believe that England was strongly Christian if the loss of one man could engender its collapse.
The historical dominance of Christian power in England led to the full political institutionalizing of Christianity. The Church of England in particular is the 'established religion' of the UK. Although much of this is reversed - public offices are no longer restricted to members of Catholic or Protestant denominations, some oddities do still remain. For example "the Church of England is required by law to display a complete, accessible Bible in all its places of worship"31. There is no similar law placing requirements on Mosques or Synagogues. Such an outdated law is nowadays considered improper: under the concept of democratic secularism, the state has no right to interfere in such a way. Most of the time the legal entanglement of Church and State involve the former having undue influence on the latter. Bishops still sit in the House of Lords (the UK's second chamber of government) and "Britain is the only country left in the democratic world that allows clerics to sit in its legislature as of right"32. Although there is a long-lasting "disestablishment" movement in the UK, the public do not know enough about religion to be roused to either oppose or support it. The government tends not to devote much time to actively dismantling such apparatus because even though it is an democratic embarrassment, the public themselves don't often notice.
In a 2012 poll conducted by YouGov and BSAS, 81% of the British stated that religion is a private matter, and should be separate from politics (only 6% thought otherwise), and 71% said that religious leaders should not influence the government33. Only 7% think that Britain would be a better place if more religious leaders held public office33. Battles between Christian powers and democratic propriety have a long history.
The Act of Settlement of 1701 enshrines various inequalities into law (amongst other (beneficial) changes to the Constitution). It (1) prevents potential successors to the throne from marrying Roman Catholics, (2) gives male heirs preference of succession, (3) prevents Catholics (or anyone married to a Catholic) from sitting on the throne and (4) forces the Sovereign to "swear to maintain the Church of England (and after 1707, the Church of Scotland)"34. This prejudice is surely at odds with any notion of human rights or democracy, and itself falls foul of equality laws, and as such the UK Government has attempted to scrap it. The latest attempt in 2011 was abandoned after opposition from the Church of England.35. The Church then, takes a power-games approach to Law rather than a moral approach, and for this their claim to be moral guardians is clearly misrepresentational. Such religion-based prejudiced ought to be sternly removed and the Church ignored.
The UK's second chamber of government is called the House of Lords. 26 Anglican Bishops and Archbishops exercise an anachronistic right to sit in this legislative body where they are known as the Lords Spiritual. These particular Bishops have in recent generations played a persistent, active, aggressive and decisive role in battling against anti-discrimination measures against gays in the present time, and against blacks, slaves and women, in older times.36
“Even though their church can claim the active adherence of less than 5% of citizens [the] "lords spiritual" still have clout [...] in February, [the] government backed away from a confrontation over the question of whom churches should employ - and in particular, which posts can be barred to gays. The government's hopes were fairly modest. It was not questioning the right of religious bodies to follow their own beliefs when hiring priests or imams, it merely wanted to clarify that, in recruiting for non-religious jobs (accountants, for example), churches must obey the law and refrain from discrimination against gays. But pursuing even this cautious aim was deemed unwise at a time when many religious leaders, including the Pope Benedict, were opposed.”
The vast majority of the UK are not Christian and yet the Bishops continue to sit in the Lords, representing the interests of their own dwindled Church. Archbishops, when they retire, are routinely given life peership in the House of Lords. It is an embarrassment for democracy that they continue to sit there, but it is a hallmark of the way Church and State became symbiotic in history. It may have done in an age where most people were Christian and human rights didn't exist. Now democracy caters for all beliefs, non-discrimination and human rights are defined internationally, and Brits are no longer Christian, it will not do that the Bishops continue to sit in the House of Lords. Britain is the only democratic country left in the world that grants clerics the right to sit in its legislature38. Indeed, the Labour government (and the Church itself) have both tabled for continued disestablishment in recent years.
In 2010 March results of a poll revealed that seven in ten Christians in Britain believed it is wrong that Bishops sit in the House of Lords. A lobbying group called Power2010 organised voters to send 50,000 letters to Church of England bishops, asking them to back reform, and the campaign was supported by "a wide range of Christian and non-religious groups, including Ekklesia, the Student Christian Movement, and the British Humanist Association.
Sessions in the House of Lords start with a period of prayer. In 2008 Lord Rana requested a multi-faith opening, and shortly afterwards five peers all requested that they be scrapped altogether, or replaced with a simple period of silence, which is the practice in N. Ireland. This sensible request eliminates an anachronistic procedure that was only ever fair as long as everyone was Christian - or at least, theist. A spokesperson for the Church of England opposed the amendment.39
The emergence of hard secularism might seem to be fair to all but some historical factors can still lead to accidental inequality. For example, because Cathedrals happen to be old, many of them are listed buildings and receive state funding. A series of grants from English Heritage goes back to 1991, in 2008 28 Cathedrals were granted £2.1 million40. Even while Christian congregations shrink, growing Muslim mosques receive no state-involved funds on that scale because their buildings are new. A Christian heritage has therefore led to benefits that are no longer given to new religions. Such elements of perceivable inequality must be battled over on a case-by-case basis, the most important lesson is to take the potential for accidental inequality into account. Most awareness-raising on this will be done by civil protest and lobby groups.
Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, warns that "religious campaigners are trying relentlessly to reverse hard-won equality rights or [to] give religious employees carte blanche to exempt themselves from the laws and regulations that apply to everyone else"41. The point of equality laws is that they protect all people. There's no point encoding the morality of tolerance into law if you then exclude Christians because they happen to be a member of a religion that frequently discriminates against gays. The moral case is made and discrimination on grounds of sexuality is now illegal as well as wrong.
In the UK many of these claims are funded and managed by (1) the Christian Institute and (2) by the Christian Legal Centre behind which is lawyer Andrea Minichiello Williams (related to Christian Concern). Many cases are dismissed quickly and receive little attention, for example:
"The case of the family court judge in Sheffield who didn't want to deal with gay couples was thrown out" (2009)41.
Unfortunately, some out-of-court settlements have gone in favour of Christian prejudice. For example:
Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service didn't fight against "a case brought against them by a Catholic firefighter who refused to provide fire safety literature to gay people. Instead of seeing the case through, the Council settled out of court"41. If they had fought it, they would have won.
Tolerance, equality and human rights prevent the immoral abuse of unpopular minorities, but, when it comes to homosexuality, Christian institutions are conducting a world-wide battle to make themselves exempt from the growing tide of democratic fairness towards those of all sexualities. The Catholic Church itself is the most powerful campaigner for anti-gay discrimination. In response to the long stream of failed cases in Europe, a Vatican Radio broadcast the Vatican's foreign minister Archbishop Dominique Mamberti saying that "everyone in Europe should have the right to object to issues they find immoral"42. The problem is, if your idea of "immoral" means removing the free and equal rights of others, then, such dogmas will, and should, remain firmly illegal. The Catholic Church is going to have to get used to a world that no longer adheres to its prejudiced dogmas.
In 2003 March two Sefton Council workers refused to take part in adoptions for gay parents, because they say it is against their Christian beliefs. As it is part of their job to perform this civil function, they have been fairly enough been threatened with dismissal for not doing their job. The Christian Institute fought for the two Christians' cause "based on Christian principles".
"However, during the consultation on the Employment Directive [...] the Christian Institute - and other faith groups - fought for the right to sack non-Christian workers who didn't support the "ethos" of faith-based organisations that employed them. Now, it seems they think it is OK for Christian employees to undermine the ethos of secular employers and get away with it".43
The Christian Institute wants employers to be able to sack people for not having the same beliefs as themselves, Christians, but also wants Christians to be able to remain in companies despite having religious beliefs that undermine the job the employees are supposed to do. The Christian Institute is not fighting for morals, but supporting sectarianism and discrimination based on religion, and therefore undermining the stability of equal and democratic society.
You simply can't discriminate against gays, even if you do believe they're "immoral". It is illegal to discriminate, even if you do so out of religious conviction. If employers such as Sefton Council bend to the wishes of those who wish to discriminate, then, those employers are encouraging illegal (and hurtful) behaviour.
National Secular Society's Terry Sanderson summarizes the Christian Institute's story-making, and the fact that some national newspapers report these attention-grabbing distortions. Newspapers include the Daily Telegraph, Daily Express and the Daily Mail (2009 Feb 20).
Registrars in Town Halls arrange marriages. They are government employees whose wages are paid for by the public, via taxes. They must therefore, treat everyone equally and without prejudice or discrimination, because they perform a service as a part of a democracy. Lillian Ladele felt that such lofty ideals were below her but lost her legal case after refusing to officiate for same-sex civil partnerships since 2005 Dec. Her battle against homosexuality caused additional complaints from her work colleagues, and by 2007 the office atmosphere was described as "deteriorated", at which point disciplinary action was brought against her. She took it to the Employment Tribunal and ironically claimed that she was being directly discriminated against and it was taken to an appeal court: "Lillian Ladele, the Islington registrar who refused to conduct same-sex Civil Partnerships on religious grounds, has been refused leave to appeal against the decision of an Employment Tribunal that she did not suffer religious discrimination at work. She has also been ordered to pay costs". Her case was funded by the UK evangelical political lobbying organisation The Christian Institute.The National Secular Society report that "Islington was also battling against considerable odds. These cases are being fought with huge determination and massive funds from evangelical Christian groups".41
In 2009 the UK Court of Appeal upheld the ruling that she had not been subject to religious discrimination and BHA's Andrew Copson said "As the judgment made clear, in a modern liberal democracy, there can be no “opt out” for those who say they are unable to do their jobs because they wish to discriminate, even when that desire to discriminate derives from a religious belief. This judgment is extremely welcome"44. She then appealed yet again, now to the Supreme Court, but was refused on 2010 Mar 04. But it wasn't the end of the story! Lillian Ladele contined to fight, and the case eventually went to the European Court of Human Rights, where, on the 15th of Jan 2013, they also found that anti-gay bigotry was not excused in the public sector, not even by domineering Christians. She reinforced her irrational and prejudiced opinions with constant references to her belief in Christian beliefs, and the press have widely reported it as "Christian persecution".45
The Christian Institute's news article on the loss of the Ladele case said "Five judges rejected her claim, but two believed that she had suffered discrimination because of her Christian beliefs about marriage" which is a skewed perspective; she was not discriminated against because of her beliefs, but because of her behaviour. She was rightly fired because she was refusing to do her job. If her religious beliefs mean she puts herself under additional limits as to who she can treat equally, then, she should not choose to do a public-facing, public-sector job.
Gary McFarlane was employed by Relate to give counselling in sex and relationship issues. His strict Bible-based Christian beliefs were widely known especially that he sternly believed that he could never engage in any action that appeared to support homosexuality. However in 2007 he assured his employer that he would be able to, as Relate's charter states, treat people equally and fairly. He saw two lesbian couples with no problem, but in 2008 it became apparent he had serious issues with male homosexuals, and he was suspended. He stated his views had never changed, and that he still held he could never support homosexuals. He appealed, and then, supported by the Christian Legal Centre46, lodged a complaint with the Employment Tribunal, ironically, claiming that he suffered from direct discrimination because he wasn't allowed to discriminate. He lost the case, and the panel noted in particular how it is not practical to filter away homosexual clients from seeing him in confidence. It is quite easy to imagine that patients may have homosexual concerns that are not raised until they are already sat with Gary McFarlane, and that therefore he cannot be relied upon for counselling.
Catholic Care is a charity ran by the Diocese of Leeds. It stood alongside 12 other Catholic adoption agencies in England and Wales that refused to place children with homosexual parents49, pretending that this was for welfare reasons. Same-sex parents have proven to be as good parents, if not better, than typical heterosexual parents. Public services, or services that are counted as charitable (and therefore tax exempt), must abide by national and European human rights law, which is designed to fight discrimination and prejudice, embodied by The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation Regulations) 2007 (now part of the Equality Act 2010)50. The Catholic adoption agencies faced a choice between helping children (who benefit more the quicker they are placed into homes) or sticking to their prejudices. For the sake of the children, several of these adoption agencies cut their ties with the Catholic Church and changed their policies49. But some battled on against modern equality, seeking instead to hold back human rights laws by seeking exemptions from them.
The Catholic Care's case was thrown out on 2011 Apr 26. Some arguments documented by the Judge are revealing. The charity, being defended chiefly by the RC Bishop Arthur Roche, threatens to close (doing even greater social harm) if it cannot continue to discriminate against homosexuals (Charity Commission 2011).51. This revealed that doctrine is more important than welfare as a motive and the charity was thrown into disrepute.50