The European Court has held that in three high profile cases, Christians were not persecuted. The fourth case said an airline steward was able to wear a small cross at work.
All decisions which balance good principles against genuinely held beliefs are complex and can be argued over. The court seems to me to have got it about right… for example, a ban on wearing jewellery where there are genuine safety issues is different from one which is purely about branding.
What lies behind these cases, which are all different, was an attempt to say that those who work in relationship therapy or who administer marriage and civil partnerships, should have a religious opt out from doing so with same sex couples. Gay registrars are not permitted to refuse to marry black people, or to reject evangelical Christians. Gay therapists are not inherently allowed to refuse to treat people whose religion they disagree with. But expect to hear more about a conscience clause. (Just as we ended up with a law that no priest could be required to marry a man to the man’s deceased wife’s sister against his conscience.)
I use the language of persecution because there is a systematic attempt to ramp up fears. One group claims legalising gay marriage will mean hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs. As the Bishop of Buckingham says in today’s Times, there is plenty of real persecution going on around the world and we should perhaps focus on that.
Another problem is, why should a deeply held religious view be different from any deeply held belief. I know people whose belief in peace, environment, vegetarianism, or perhaps opposition to abortion, is fundamental to them. Will managers be forced to allow people to wear these badges at work?