case of Adrian Smith, an employee who has been demoted allegedly simply because he posted on Face book comments which disapproved of the new proposals to allow civil partnerships to be registered in religious premises. This is the latest in a long line of cases which are being brought, and no doubt being supported by the Christian Institute, alleging that Christians are facing discrimination for their beliefs/ opinions in the workplace and that this amounts both to discrimination and suppression of free speech. Recent examples include a builder disciplined over a palm cross on his dashboard and the case of the cafe owner who was questioned by the police for allowing homophobic comments to be played on a video relaying scripture in his Christian cafe (I didn't manage to blog on that one!)
I have blogged on these matters fairly extensively over the past few months and years. I find it depressing that so many of these cases revolve around sexuality, which seems to be a tinder point for many disagreements, although the wearing of crosses and saying of prayers for patients has also featured. I have argued before that each case needs to be looked at on its merits and also that the the law should allow a clause for reasonableness and context , and indeed this has recently been mooted by the Equality Commission. It is a very different matter, for example, if a cafe is playing a looped video of the whole of the bible ( in which case people should put anything that jars in context and live with it in my humble opinion!) from if they are repeatedly playing specific verses with the marked intention of targeting a particular group and causing distress or offence.
As for the case of Adrian Smith, on the basis of what has been reported it sounds as if he has been badly treated both by colleagues and his employers. I am aware, however, that there is often more to these stories than first meets the eye and The Daily Mail sometimes has a reputation for being less than accurate and impartial in their reporting. I note that there is a sentence about a "second colleague" who has complained and, in the Telegraph, a mention of a previous faith based complaint. I am also unsure whether the case doesn't also say just as much about the increasing power of employers over their employees, the pitfalls of social media and the Internet, and our increasing willingness to resort to "law" and not "jaw" to resolve our disputes and disagreements. I can't help thinking that when it comes to disputes the principle of resolving matters informally and amicably whenever humanly possible would benefit us greatly.