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A court ruling makes it harder for faith-based employers to discriminate

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egstafford

In your report you stated that article 21 of the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights prohibits discrimination based on gender. In the excerpt from that article gender is not mentioned, unless you are equating Sex with Gender, which would be a gross error in myriad ways. I imagine the words "on any ground" would cover gender as well as the illustrative list of unfair grounds for discrimination. Article 21.1: Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.

Fabelhaft

Why would anyone seek employment with their philosophical adversary? Why would an expectantly productive individual want to use his or her skill to advance the cause of people with whom they disagree? Sounds like Progressives sending people where they can exploit philosophies, for expectant political gain. In other words, a slight-of-hand from the Liberal mid - 60's playbook.

roddalitz

It seems reasonable to me that a job which is strongly influenced by religion, for example a teacher, may be legitimately required to be filled by a person of that faith. However a "normal" job like secretary, cleaner, cook, driver, accountant, or gardener should not need to be filled by a person of that faith.

Sense Seeker in reply to roddalitz

"It seems reasonable to me that a job which is strongly influenced by religion, for example a teacher, may be legitimately required to be filled by a person of that faith."
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Hm. To me that seems a good reason for teacher positions not to be filled by religious persons.

Ajay271

At last the ECJ has made a small inroad into how "Religious" bodies cannot discriminate. This should be just the beginning.

The next stop should be how they discriminate within its adherents. How do they tackle rebels or those who oppose some of the statutes as decided by the clergy. Some religious bodies force conformity by social exclusions applied not only to those who do not conform but even anyone (nearest and dearest included, who associates with them. .

It Is also clear to me that all bodies that seek funds from the general public, which in my definition includes worshippers, must have their accounts audited (which probably occurs in the UK) but available for public inspection.

All of this deserves scrutiny and I cannot wait for someone to bravely challenge these "religious" bodies and for the cases to be taken to the ECJ.

Robs Review

I am reminded that in the first half of the 20th century people capable of systematic discrimination were looked up to: back then the word was associated with a demonstrable and consistent ability to choose wisely between alternatives. Someone known to have an ability to discriminate was seen as socially astute, the term invariably used as a compliment.
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In the latter half of the 20th century, political activism uncoupled the word "discriminate" from its etymological moorings and sent it off on a number of socially transformative cruises.
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From this vantage point, one can make a case that the 2008 financial meltdown found its seeds in what had become a muddled etymology - starting with the view that those who were traditionally outside of home ownership were being actively "discriminated against" rather than being seen through the discriminating, but impartial and accurate lens of actuarial risk assessment models.
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Thus an act of impartial discrimination became fatally conflated with the cause of the problem it had previously served only to draw attention to.
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Unsurprisingly, the financial differences at the heart of these divergent views could not be reconciled, and the mathematical consequences nearly brought down the west. While the 2008 story was clearly wider than this, the point being flagged here is even an inadvertently muddled etymology can have real and socially costly consequences.
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Is the ECJ view another episode in the history of this ongoing etymological bifurcation?
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As noted the view that humanity can now solve its problems by discriminating against anyone found applying discrimination in the old-fashioned sense arguably led to one of the costliest tax-payer funded bailouts in history. Might not the appropriate sense of discernment have helped all that money go where it was needed – rather than to banks?
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Not least, people who cannot or who are unable to discriminate – at least in the old-fashioned sense of the word - are fodder for authoritarian governments.
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Etymological awareness is clearly good for business. And perhaps ultimately, one's bank balance.

guest-570c8caa712d9

Thanks for European Court of Justice (ECJ). The way it was perceived contributed for discrimination. If Employment is just to serve the people while faith is to serve the God, I hope it will be simplified.
Although its harder to accept this decision, its necessary to exercise earlier than cases appearing before court by faith based organizations.

guest-aanoaeno

I work for the Economist, I deal with B2B & B2C subscription renewals, I love reading everyone's comments.

ashbird in reply to guest-aanoaeno

That's great, @guest-aanoaeno,
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I noticed you don't have a comment record or history. This is your first comment, and likely your last.
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Taking your word as is, i.e., you work for TE and deal with the paper's subscriptions, which is to say, you are an "insider" for the paper, do you have the scoop, in full or in part, on whether TE is now selling advert space on its readers' forums for sellers of love potion, magic to bring back lost husbands, and a click a day to make $5,000 a day?
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If you answer, perhaps you are real. If not, you are a fake. I expect no answer.
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Thank you more than words can express, however. As what is developing a truly a Global Conversation.

guest-niosimo

ECJ is right. Piety is no substitute for business skills. The term 'employer' suggests an entity engaged in delivering some sort of social benefit that would in turn imply leveraging resources - e.g. financial, human, technical - for a beneficial end result. Maximising the latter while optimally deploying the former is what 'productivity' is all about...and surely God wouldn't complain.

ashbird in reply to guest-niosimo

I am of the same view that God wouldn't complain. Imagine God complaining when a Presbyterian hospital hires a cracker-jack neurosurgeon for its neurosurgery department who happens to be a Buddhist, or Heaven forfend, an abominable atheist, or Muslim.
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But many self-appointed spokespersons for "God" do seem to be of the opinion that God does mind. In fact, they claim all doctors who volunteer their time for Doctors Without Borders are Christians, NONE are of anything else, the logic being no one who is not a Christian is capable of deeds of charity and compassion, only Christians are. These "thoughts and sentiments" are all documented on TE's archive, chiefly under the blog Erasmus.

nickcox

This is certainly a welcome development, and long overdue.
If one cannot show discrimination on grounds of colour, race or gender, why should it be allowed on the basis of religion?
What is somewhat shocking is that legal/political moves have hardly been used to legislate away the huge tax breaks religious bodies get based on their misnomer as "charities".

ashbird

It seems the ruling of ECJ is reasonable. In essence, ECJ is not removing the right of an individual in the person of an employer to have the freedom of religion; it is ensuring the employer cannot make it a condition for employment an applicant for a job to be an adherent of the same religion but otherwise qualifies in every other aspect of the job applied for.
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The only exception to the rationale of the ruling I can think of is when the job responsibilities involves the employee being an adherent of the same religion. There, it would make no sense to hire a nonbeliever to do the work, by the tenets of the faith, that must be performed by an ordained priest, such as baptism at birth, listening to confessions, and performing the last rite, even if the applicant agrees to wear the garb of a priest during work.
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The article mentions an attempt of some priests to unionize was rejected by the Court. The rejection would seem to require no justification other than labor union is not part of the Christian tenets.
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ashbird in reply to ashbird

erratum -
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"....it is ensuring the employer cannot make it a condition for employment that an applicant for a job be an adherent of the same religion who otherwise qualifies in every other aspect of the job ..."

PamSkeen

If a black woman had ten (10) black partners within the past year...but no white partners....this is racism...we must utilize the police powers of government to force her to be with a white man.

If a white woman had ten (10) white partners within the past year...but no black partners....this is racism...we must utilize the police powers of government to force her to be with a black man.

We are government....ye shall submit yourself to our dictate.

We are Liberal Progressive Democrats. we shall not allow you little worthless pathetic sheep to choose your own way. We shall control you. do not resist our dictate you pathetic little useless dumb sheep !!!

roddalitz in reply to PamSkeen

This is not relevant to the article. People are entitled to form friendships with whoever they choose. People are not entitled to choose to employ people based on characteristics which do not influence the job.

"I reserve my right to dislike anyone, regardless of race, creed, or color." There is a delicate line, but a definite one.

roddalitz in reply to PamSkeen

This is not relevant to the article. People are entitled to form friendships with whoever they choose. People are not entitled to choose to employ people based on characteristics which do not influence the job.

"I reserve my right to dislike anyone, regardless of race, creed, or color." There is a delicate line, but a definite one.

guest-niwnnej

So a congregation of, let's be generous and say 500 believers wants to hire a preacher. Seems like a clear case of an occupational requirement that the preacher belong to their faith, but they have to be able to prove that in court. So now they have to use their meager funds to hire a lawyer instead, and there's nothing left for the preacher.

Sense Seeker in reply to guest-niwnnej

"... they have to be able to prove that in court."
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Cue the 'be able to'. So long as they're not asked to appear before a court, they need no lawyer. And since, as you say, it's a clear case where religion does matter, nobody will ask them to appear in court.
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Anyway - Next, please.

aeVXx2tq6P

What would Dietrich Bonhoeffer say? Germany's Bonhoeffer witnessed the government's interference with church employment during the 193os and 1940s.

CA-Oxonian

The larger issue for society is simple: no group can be granted a uniquely privileged position, because we all know what happens when you permit one group to have more rights than others.

Religionist groups may sincerely believe that they have "special" needs. But lots of other groups will likewise believe in their pre-eminence. Bankers, for example, would doubtless argue that their role is so central to today's modern economy that they should be permitted to evade laws that confine "ordinary" people. Surgeons could argue that the unique demands of their profession mean that they too should be granted certain privileges not available to regular citizens. The list of such groups who would love to have special privileges is limited only by our imagination.

The case of religionist groups is particularly important because they base their demands for exception entirely on irrational beliefs for which there has never been the slightest shred of empirical evidence. By granting special status in any way, society thus elevates unreason and suppresses reason. As there is little enough intellectual coherence in everyday life, one can hardly make an argument that what little we have should be further reduced. Yet this is the inevitable outcome of privileging empty belief over fact. Furthermore, because religionists believe that their "rules for living" are eternal and inviolable, there will always be conflict between religionists and humanistic progress. Remember, religionists have opposed progress every step of the way: the abolition of slavery, the use of anesthetic, inter-racial marriage, women's rights - all these and more have been resolutely opposed by religionists in their time because they were "against" the beliefs of the dominant privileged religious groups.

Thus any society seeking to base itself on coherent and humane values must categorically reject religionist pleadings for exemptions and special treatment, for that can only harm the great majority of citizens in ways they cannot even comprehend.

AtlantisKing in reply to CA-Oxonian

And there you laid the case for the secular religion of humanism. I'm an agnostic, but I'm ready to battle "any society seeking to base itself on coherent and humane values " if the price for that is to trample on the beliefs of religious people.

SebastianKnight in reply to CA-Oxonian

Excellent analysis, as usual CA-Oxonian!
I do have one question however:
What is the criteria for determining whether a person is claiming a privileged position or
is expressing a valid truth? these concepts change over the centuries.
Might not future generation object to scientific privilege, meaning
the assumption that newtonian physics was eternally "true" because it had empirical
evidence, as opposed to the "specious" evidence of quantum mechanics?

Of course you say that no position should be privileged,
so maybe you have included this in your thesis.

Robs Review in reply to CA-Oxonian

It is worth quoting Meir Soloveichik from the Apr 17 Commentary Magazine here: "The definition of a miracle is an event that should not naturally have occurred. .... It is a miracle that Israel was born, and endured in the way that it did. It is a miracle that after a generation in which many Jewish children grew up without parents, let alone grandparents, we have experienced the fulfillment of Zachariah’s prophecy that grandparents will watch their grandchildren play in the streets of Jerusalem. It is a miracle that after so many civilizations have disappeared, Jewish children continue to be born. It is a miracle that as anti-Semitism continues to haunt the nations of Europe that persecuted the Jews for so long, religious Judaism flourishes in Israel even as a now secular Europe demographically declines." Irrational? Without a shred of evidence? Not when I look at the history of the Jewish people.