Ethos Education

Discrimination Against Christians Legal Decisions 2013: What rights should Christians have in the workplace concerning their faith?

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Learning Objectives:

  • Awareness of the consequences of prejudice and discrimination.
  • Awareness of the persecution of Christians in the world today.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Reflect on the way that context changes our opinion as to what constitutes reasonable behaviour.
  • Analyse four court cases where Christians argued that they were being discriminated against at work because of their faith.
  • Reflect upon how the law deals with conflicting rights in the area of discrimination.
  • Synthesise learning by writing an analysis of the four court cases, showing whether the student agrees or disagrees with the decision made by the court in each case.

STARTER:

Divide the class into small groups and give a set of Reasonable Behaviour cards to each group. Ask the students to divide the cards into two categories: things that it is reasonable for someone to do in their own home; and things that it is unreasonable for someone to do there. Here is the text on each of the cards:

  • Listen to loud music.
  • Listen to loud music through headphones.
  • Eat a sandwich.
  • Eat strong smelling food.
  • Dance.
  • Carry out acts of violence against someone else.
  • Have a phone conversation.
  • Read a book.
  • Bounce a ball against the walls.
  • Pray.

Once the students have agreed which cards belong in which pile, ask them to repeat the process, but this time ask them to assess whether the things described are reasonable for someone to do on a busy bus or train.

Take feedback, asking the students if any of the things on the cards were reasonable in the home but unreasonable on a busy bus or train. Why do they think that they felt differently about the same thing in different contexts? If there were any things which students could not agree on, explore why different people feel that different things are reasonable or unreasonable.

Explain that in today’s lesson you are going to be looking at some court cases where Christians complained of being unreasonably treated in their workplaces as a result of their faith.

MAIN ACTIVITIES:

Give out copies of the article British Airways Christian employee Nadia Eweida wins case, which you can find at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21025332 and read through it with the students.

Ask the students why they think that Nadia Eweida won her case when the other four Christians mentioned in the article lost theirs. What are the significant differences between Nadia Eweida and the others? In which of the four cases do the students think that the Christian concerned was acting reasonably, and in which were they making unreasonable demands on their employer?

In two of the cases, those of Lillian Ladele and Gary McFarlane, the rights of the Christian had to be balanced against the rights of others not to be discriminated against. On what basis do the students think that such decisions should be made – how do courts balance conflicting rights?

Give out another BBC article on this news story, Analysis: Milestone left in Christian-secular debate, which you can find at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21037173 and read through it with the students. Draw the students’ attention to the fourth paragraph in the section headed ‘job applicants’ and make sure they understand the difference between the right of people to hold a religious belief (which remains absolute) and the right of people to manifest that belief, which is more qualified. Do the students think that this distinction is a helpful or unhelpful one. Is it fair on Christians (and believers of other religions)? Would abandoning such a distinction be fair on other people, such as homosexuals?

SUMMARY AND ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING:

Give out another article linked to the four court cases, Christian discrimination cases heard by European court, which you can find at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19467554. Ask the students to write an assessment of each of the four decisions, arguing whether or not the decision was a fair one and whether the rights of the people concerned were fairly treated.

YOU WILL NEED:

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