summary update 03/09/08
Christian lady challenges blasphemous statue
On Tuesday 2 September at Gateshead Magistrates’ Court, lawyers for Emily Mapfuwa, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, commenced a case against the Baltic Flour Mill Visual Arts Trust known as the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art following the exhibition of an obscene statue. The statue, which was displayed between September 2007 and January 2008, depicts Jesus with an erection, and is part of an exhibition of artwork by Terence Koh, a Chinese artist.
At the time of the exhibition several people complained to the Baltic Centre after seeing the statue but the Centre’s response was to say that they had provided warnings about the potential offence the display might cause. In January 2008 Mrs Mapfuwa contacted the Christian Legal Centre and, with assistance from their lawyers, reported the statue to Northumbria Police, asking for an investigation. In May 2008 Northumbria Police concluded there was no case.
The Christian Legal Centre is continuing to support Mrs Mapfuwa as she pursues a private prosecution. She will argue that the statue of Christ outraged public decency and that people who saw it were likely to be harassed, alarmed, or distressed.
Andrew Ian Lovatt representing the Baltic Arts Centre indicated a not guilty plea and elected a Trial at Crown Court. The Committal proceedings will be heard on 23rd September.
The Christian Legal Centre believes in freedom of expression but this statue served no other purpose than to offend Christians and to denigrate Christ.
Christian radio presenter disciplined for appealing to freedom of expression
Reverend Masih presents a weekly Christian radio show for Asians. He invited a Muslim, Zakir Naik, who often speaks against Christianity, on to the show. A few weeks before the show Mr Naik had said that Jesus was not the only person who was ‘the way, the truth and the life’ but that every prophet was in their own way the way, the truth and the life. A Christian apologist, Asif Mall, was asked on to the show to clarify what Mr Naik had said, and he concluded that Zakir Naik’s statement demonstrated a lack of knowledge of the Bible and the Qur’an. Some Muslim listeners were offended by what Asif Mall had said and a complaint was made to the radio station. Management staff asked the radio presenters to offer an apology for any offence which had been caused. The presenters were also asked to go to the mosque to apologise. After reading out the apology Reverend Masih added the words “We live in a free country and everybody has the right to express his/her opinion...” Reverend Masih has been disciplined for breaching the code of conduct, for failing to read the apology in Urdu and for adding extra words after the apology. Lawyers at the Christian Legal Centre are supporting Reverend Masih as he seeks an answer for the way he was treated.
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority challenged after granting licences to create hybrids
On the 8th of April 2008, the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) and Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE) filed papers seeking judicial review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s (HFEA) decision to grant licences to Newcastle University and King's College London to use animal-human hybrids.
The legal challenge is on two grounds. First, CLC and CORE are arguing that the HFEA acted beyond its powers when it granted the licences because the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 does not permit licenses for the creation of animal human hybrids. Secondly, the 1990 HFE Act provides that licences cannot be granted unless the HFEA is satisfied that the research is necessary or desirable for one of a number of specified purposes and the HFEA is satisfied that any proposed use of embryos is necessary for the purposes of the research.
The CLC and CORE are arguing that the proposed techniques are unnecessary and undesirable as a result of technical advances and that the proposed techniques do not work and raise new scientific problems which will make the research meaningless.
There is no legal internal process either in the 1990 Act or in the new Bill for interested persons to object to or appeal against the grant of a license and ask for reconsideration. In view of this lack of public accountability, the only way of challenging the HFEA’s decisions is by way of judicial review.
The CLC and CORE have to be granted leave to proceed to a judicial review hearing. They are also applying for a protected costs order so that the court can decide whether to impose a limit on costs paid to the HFEA, if the challenge is unsuccessful. Please pray.
Links to media reports on the case
Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-558337/Christian-group-launches- High-Court-bid-prove-creation-human-animal-embryos-illegal.html
BBC Radio 4 Today programme: http://www.ccfon.org/mediacentre.php?avid=59&avap=1
Links to lay summary of the Newcastle project and the King’s College Project
Eunice and Owen Johns seek clarification on Council’s sexual ethics policy for fostering and adoption
Eunice and Owen Johns have been reinstated by Derby City Council to the application process to foster children. We thank God for this. They are endeavouring to obtain up front clarification on Derby City Council’s policy regarding Christian couples who hold orthodox views on sexual ethics, their suitability to adopt and whether that view is compatible with the Council’s Equal Opportunities Policy.
Vincent and Pauline Matherick reinstated
Since late May 2008 the Mathericks have been fully reinstated as foster parents by Somerset County Council. We thank God for this.
Exeter Christian Union
The Christian Union is currently able to fully function within the University and Student Guild. We thank God for this. The CU and Guild remain in ongoing discussions regarding the application of Exeter Student Guild’s Equality and Diversity Policy to the Christian Union.
Christian Councillor challenged BBC freedom of speech ‘ban’
Councillor Alan Craig of the Christian Peoples Alliance challenged the BBC over its decision to change the CPA’s political party broadcast speech just days before it was due to be aired. The CPA, which objects to proposals for a London ‘mega mosque’, believed that the Islamic group planning to build the mosque were ‘separatist’ and that ‘moderate Muslims’ supported the CPA’s decision to oppose the mosque. The BBC had quoted Mr Craig describing the group as ‘separatist’ on three earlier occasions. However, the BBC asked the CPA to change the script so that the Islamic group were described as ‘controversial’ and so that ‘Muslim leaders’ rather than ‘moderate Muslims’ were recognised to be supporting the CPA’s decision.
Paul Diamond, representing the CPA, argued in court that the BBC had unlawfully restricted the CPA’s freedom of expression and had put pressure on the CPA to deliver a diluted version of the speech. Although the case was unsuccessful, we thank God for the CPA’s courageous stand and for the positive media coverage.
Links to media coverage
Christian Today: http://www.christiantoday.com/article/christian.london.mayoral.candidate.takes. to.bbc.itv.to.court.over.censorship/18344.htm
Case Win - Final Victory in Lap Dancing Case
Following a challenge to a lap dancing licence by Durham residents in December 2007, Durham Magistrates Court found in favour of the residents and revoked the licence. Vimac, who owned the Club, appealed and requested a judicial review of the decision. In June 2008, Sir George Newman issued a decision on paper, once again refusing the licence to Vimac. Although Vimac had the opportunity to file for a full court decision, the time window in which they could have lodged a complaint passed on 7th July 2008 and so the case has officially closed. Vimac will not be able to open its lap dancing club. We thank God for this victory.
See Christian Legal Centre coverage of the case:
Case Win - Victory in Important Trademark Case
In 2006 the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (VES) changed its name to Dignity in Dying. The group were seeking to monopolise the phrase to advance their ideology, particularly in the educational sphere. Many people felt that a monopoly of the words “dignity in dying” were misleading for an organisation which advocated euthanasia. In August 2007, the Christian Medical Fellowship, Alert and the United Kingdom’s Disabled People’s Council sought to stop the monopoly by challenging the phrase under the Trademarks Act 1998. We thank God that a victory has been achieved, because the VES withdrew its trademark applications for the words ‘dignity in dying’. This is a great step forward for pro-life groups, because it means that they are free to use the phrase ‘dignity in dying’ in a way that expresses the love and care people deserve at the end of life. The VES has kept its own stylised trademark - ‘dignity in dying - your life your choice’. VES had sought to set the tone of the debate surrounding end of life issues, but pro life groups have claimed back the language. We give thanks to God for this victory.
Police officer discriminated against for traditional beliefs
PC Graham Cogman, has taken his police force to an Employment Tribunal on grounds of harassment because of his traditional Christian values.
PC Cogman, 49, from Sea Palling in North Norfolk, has been an officer with the Norfolk Police for 15 years, having previously served in the RAF for 12 years.
PC Cogman is taking the unprecedented action as a serving policeman after a series of complaints and investigations suggesting he is ‘homophobic’ – something he strenuously denies. He says that the ‘over the top’ promotion of homosexual rights within Norfolk Police makes being a Christian policeman, or an officer with traditional family values, extremely difficult, unless a person is prepared to ignore his or her conscience.
In 2006, PC Cogman was working at the force’s Great Yarmouth headquarters when gay liaison officers put ‘politically correct’ pressure on all colleagues to wear a pink ribbon supporting Gay History Month. PC Cogman claims police stations were flooded with homosexual literature and posters, including the promotion of a gay quiz night in pubs. As a member of the Police force, an organisation which he feels is charged with upholding traditional standards of freedom of speech and association, he emailed colleagues with an alternative view on the subject, stating his Christian views and reminding them that Christians, and other members of society, whom they serve as officers, believed homosexual acts were wrong in God’s eyes.
PC Cogman was subsequently accused of failing to be tolerant and banned from using the force’s internal email system. When the event re-occurred 12 months later, PC Cogman again protested, especially when the promoters wanted to use the Rainbow Symbol, which has special significance for many Christians. The officer was summoned to a full disciplinary hearing. On the advice of lawyers, and because he was told he would lose his job otherwise, he pleaded guilty to a breach of the police code of practice and was fined the maximum, £1,200. When PC Cogman then added a Christian text to his computer screen saver, he was questioned again and in April 2008, he was interviewed about his faith and beliefs. He now faces a further full disciplinary hearing and is in fear of losing his job.
Links to media reports
Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/textbased/news/article-1036577/8216-Harassed- Christian-8217--policeman-objected-gay-ribbons-turning-tribunal.html
Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2309730/Christian-policeman- claims-victimisation-over-opposition-to-gay-pride-event.html
Norwich Evening News: http://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/content/News/story.aspx?brand=ENOnline&category= News&tBrand=enonline&tCategory=news&itemid=NOED21 Jul 2008 08:50:11:340
Lillian Ladele – victory at Employment Tribunal
Lillian Ladele, a Christian registrar at Islington Council, was successful in her religious discrimination case. When the Civil Partnership Act 2004 was passed, Lillian Ladele realised that she would have to perform civil partnership ceremonies. She asked her employees whether she could be excused from performing the ceremonies but her managers refused her request. Lillian Ladele found it increasingly difficult to work in an environment where her views were ignored. After several months of being discriminated against for her position on civil partnerships, and after being threatened with dismissal, Lillian Ladele took her case to the Employment Tribunal. This case was supported by the Christian Institute. The tribunal found in favour of Lillian Ladele. However, Islington Council is appealing the decision.
Links to the Christian Institute coverage of the case
Links to media reports
Channel 4: http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/society/law_order/christian+registrar+ wins+right+to+refuse+gay+civil+partnerships/2328972
Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1033955/Victory-Christian-registrar- bullied-refusing-perform-sinful-gay-weddings.html
Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2280484/Christian-registrar-who-refused-to- conduct-gay-weddings-wins-case.html
Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/registrar-wins- right-to-refuse-gay-weddings-865042.html
The Times: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article4312447.ece
Link to Christian Legal Centre summary of the case
The Christian Legal Centre is supporting several other cases the details of which cannot be disclosed for legal reasons.
The Christian Legal Centre is willing to assist in cases dealing with life, marriage & the family and religious liberties. Please see our website for further details or contact us at email@example.com
Andrea Minichiello Williams
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Christian Legal Centre
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