Sunday, 18 May 2008

Ending Discrimination — Amen Brother!

A big sloppy wet enthusiastic “Amen, brother!” to Simon Barrow, from think-tank Ekklesia. Obviously there are jobs (like being a vicar) for which some faith commitment is part of the job. What is wrong is to pretend every role in a Christian organisation carries this occupational requirement, or to resort to abusive process. Reporting a recent employment tribunal judgment, he writes:
This judgement ought to make religious charities sit up and think - not just about their legal responsibilities and the morality of non-discrimination, but about the impact of their behaviour on their image with the public at large.

Leaders and entrepreneurs in many faith organisations seem reluctant to embrace a comprehensive equalities agenda, or to recognise their culpability in issues of discrimination. Yet they are often the first to seek exemptions from legislation accepted by others and to complain that they are being 'attacked' when criticisms are raised.

The Christian message of love and justice is undermined by poor employment and equalities practices in the Christian organisations. This is an opportunity for the churches to get their house in order.

This encapsulates precisely what I was trying to say here last week about raising our game in Church employment practice, to create a safer less abusive working environment. I see this as one key weapon against bullying cultures and practice after appointment. Talking this through with people over the past few days, it seems our diocesan appointment practice is basically sound, but there’s a challenge to prove it. Out in the world of parochial appointments, practice varies from state of the art to completely potty. Time for the tough to get going...

PS — full and detailed account of the original case by Ruth Gledhill here.

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