Here's a mixed bag of example of the horrible oppression that a secular state metes out on its citizens. I'm sure we'll have different opinions about which were justified and which are totally ridiculous or just plain wrong.
From the above linked article:
1. 'Anti-gay' Christian couple banned from being foster parents
Eunice and Owen Johns, who are Pentecostal Christians, were told that they could not be foster carers because of their view that homosexuality was wrong. The High Court sided with Derby City Council against the couple and two judges said that there was no place in British law for Christian beliefs.
---Right off the bat, before reading the article "David Cameron defends ban on anti-gay foster parents" I can think of one major issue to consider. The couple in question were not trying to adopt a kid, they were trying to become FOSTER parents. Foster parents work with the state to care for kids waiting to be adopted. SO, a fostering couple could wind up caring for many children while giving foster care. If the statistics for homosexuality are correct, and something like 1 in 5 (you can gig me on my lack of sourcing for that number but I have to go to work soon) human beings on the planet are gay the foster couple who believe that GAY = BAD/EVIL/INHUMAN/SHOULD BE DESTROYED are highly likely to wind up caring for a child who is gay. If what I hear from podcasters like Dan Savage of the Savage Love Cast can be believed, lots of homeless kids in the US are gay kids that came out/were outed and subsequently disowned by their family. Assuming Dan is correct and that this is also true elsewhere in the world, the likelihood that an anti-gay foster family WILL wind up caring for a gay child would be even more likely.
So this couple was banned from putting themselves into the situation where they would wind up having to 1) violate their own principals and 2) fuck up a gay kid without a family who might have already lost one family because they were gay.
In both the article "Anti-gay' Christian couple banned from being foster parents" and in another Telegraph article "Foster parent ban: 'no place' in the law for Christianity, High Court rules" there was no actual quotes from any judges saying "there was no place in British law for Christian beliefs." Other language in the article was worded in a less than clear way. One quote from the judges was ' the right of homosexuals to equality "should take precedence” over the right of Christians to manifest their beliefs and moral values.' This does not mean that Christians can't be assholes based on their beliefs but that their beliefs may not always be in agreement with the British laws.
Another quote from the article, "Foster parent ban: 'no place'..." reads, "In a ruling with potentially wide-ranging implications, the judges said Britain was a “largely secular”, multi-cultural country in which the laws of the realm “do not include Christianity”." I'm going to have to try to do a little reading between the lines and assume that "do[es] not include Christianity" means that there is nothing in the British legal system that requires that specifically Christian biblical morality is allowed special precedence.
2. Nurse suspended for offering to pray for a patient's recovery
Caroline Petrie, a community nurse, was suspended from her job after offering to pray for an elderly patient, who then reported being "taken aback" by the suggestion to her carer. Mrs Petrie was suspended on suspicion of failing to "demonstrate a personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity", but was reinstated in 2009 by North Somerset Primary Care Trust.
---The synopsis above doesn't do the article justice. A nurse "offered" to pray for a patient who, in no way offended, mentioned the "offer" to another care giver. The policy of the care center is to investigate to make sure that nobody was being pressured or pestered. Think about it, a 79 year old person in a hospital probably isn't in the best position to defend themselves if a situation arose where a person of some other faith decided to take it upon him/herself to try to convert an elderly patient while unable to get away. The care center was erring on the side of caution and in the end nobody was hurt. The care center was not acting in a punitive way but with all of the lawsuits flying around in this top 10 list, no matter what happens the situation is one of "damned if you do and damned if you don't."
3. Schoolgirl suspended for wearing crucifix
Devout Catholic schoolgirl Samantha Devine was banned from wearing a crucifix to the Robert Napier School in Gillingham, Kent, in 2007 on health and safety grounds. She said it was her right to wear a cross around her neck while the school suggested she could wear a cross as a lapel badge instead, arguing it would only make an exception to the jewellery rule if items were "essential requirements" of a religion.
--Quote from the article "School bans Catholic girl from wearing crucifix": "Paul Jackson, the deputy head at the secondary school, said: "The school has a policy of no jewellery to be worn by students in years 7-10.
'The only exception to our uniform rule we would consider making is if the jewellery were an essential requirement of a particular religion.""
So, the school has a policy that NO STUDENT in years 7-10 is allowed to wear ANY JEWELLERY unless there is a specific commandment in the belief system of that student that specifically states some item of jewellery MUST be worn to be a member of that flavor of Invisible Sky Friend Fan Club.
The child was not singled out, the teaser and the title of the article make it sound like she was specifically targeted because the article of jewellery was a crucifix. There is nothing in any Christian bible that I've ever heard of that says a "silver necklace with a small cross" MUST be worn at all times lest ye be smote by the angry wraith of your one, true, only, Invisible Sky Friend.
4. Sikh schoolboy sent home for carrying ceremonial dagger
A 14-year-old schoolboy was sent home from school in Barnet in north London in 2009 for wearing the kirpan, a five-inch ceremonial dagger. Governors at The Compton School suggested that he should wear a two-inch version of the dagger welded into a sheath but the boy’s family said that would not be a genuine kirpan – one of five articles of the Sikh faith that must be carried at all times.
--- What are the specifications of a kirpan? Quoth Wikipedia: The Reht Maryada does not specify the length of the Kirpan or the construction of the various parts of the Kirpan or how and where it is to be worn by the devotee; it can be worn either over or underneath clothing. Kirpans are anywhere from 3 feet (90 cm) blade down to just a few inches (cm) in length as often worn in the West. The blade is normally constructed of mild steel and the handle may be made of metal surrounded with leather or wood. The kirpan is always kept sheathed except when it is drawn in religious ceremonies such as the preparing the Karah Prasad, a ceremonial sweet pudding.
The Sikh family makes the argument that a 2 inch blade welded into a sheath is not a real "kirpan." I cannot find the source but I remember reading a situation like this that was solved when the offending kirpan was replaced with one made of a blunted wooden blade a few inches long. Maybe I'm thinking of the resolution to the above article as its several years old. It seems that the only requirement of the kirpan is that you can use it cut pudding and keep it on you at all times. You don't need a three foot chainsaw bladed kirpan to cut pudding.
5. Christian couple charged with public order offence for criticising Islam
Christian hotel owners Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang were charged with a public order offence by insulting a guest at their hotel in Aintree, Liverpool with comments they made about Muslim dress and the Prophet Mohammed. They eventually won their case but said they lost business because of the row.
--- The link to the article for this teaser came up with a 404 error on the Telegraph's website. Don't have time to try to find some mirrored copy elsewhere in the intertubes. they talked shit to a CUSTOMER, and a customer caused a ruck-us. Secularism doesn't seem to have any part of this article as it was one religious person shitting on another religious person. Nothing secular about that.
6. Christian electrician disciplined over palm cross on van dashboard
Colin Atkinson, 64, was called to a disciplinary hearing after refusing to remove a small palm cross from the dashboard of his company van. The Christian electrician's employers, Wakefield and District Housing, eventually relented.
--- Quote from the actual article, "Christian electrician wins cross battle": "The electrician said he has had the 8in cross of woven palm leaves on display for the whole of his 15 years with the housing association without ever receiving a complaint.
But his supervisors said a tenant had complained about the cross, and demanded he remove it for fear it could offend people or suggest the company favoured Christians."
The employer didn't seem to give a shit until a customer complained. The employer needs to make customers happy and sometimes often times will try to change things in a heavy handed and ultimately silly way. I work in a store that will see 800 customers on a slow day and all it will take is ONE to complain that an employee looked at them funny and management tries to make some change to make that ONE customer happy, even though the other 799 were fine with the way things were. This is England we're talking about, a place with some many flavors of faith and a political atmosphere that is constantly up in arms about trying to resolve one groups fears of being ostracised, criticised, or offended. Shit like this happens in a diverse religious culture that constantly tries to keep everybody un-offended.
On the other hand the guy doesn't own the company's vehicle. So his employer probably has the right to ask that he not put things in the truck that will wind up getting a brick through the window in the wrong neighborhood or causing a lawsuit from the customer citing discrimination based on religious grounds.
7. Council worker suspended for suggesting terminally-ill woman 'put her faith in God'
Wandsworth Council worker Duke Amachree was suspended for encouraging a terminally-ill woman to turn to God after she told him her doctors could do nothing more for her. The committed Christian said he was told it was inappropriate to "ever talk about God" with a client and that he should not even say "God bless". Council sources insisted that he had made a long and aggressive "religious rant" against the woman.
--- The title of the source article is this, "Council worker suspended for suggesting terminally-ill woman "put her faith in God." The line right below the title of the article is "council worker Duke Amachree has been suspended for encouraging a terminally-ill woman to turn to God after she told him her doctors could do nothing more for her."
Suggesting and encouraging aren't exactly the same thing. Suggesting is just something you might say in a passive attempt to be supportive and to make believe that you're helping. Encouraging is what you do when you're trying to convince somebody.
Another quote from the article, "Mr Amachree, a member of the UK World Evangelism Church in London, was disciplined as a result of a complaint made by the woman client, who had come to the council to discuss a housing problem." The complaint was made by a client not the employer or some secular rule.
Yet another quote, "They also say he has been warned in the past for raising his religious beliefs with members of the public." "They" being the senior members of the council that were a source of information for the article. So the guy gets in trouble after a customer complaint that was the last in a series of instances where the guy was told something along the lines of "stop proselytising, please."
8. Sikh schoolgirl excluded from school for refusing to take off religious bangle
In 2007, Punjabi-Welsh schoolgirl Sarika Watkins-Singh was reprimanded for breaking the "no jewellery" rule at Aberdare Girls' School for refusing to take off a Sikh religious bangle and was eventually excluded from the school. She took her case to the High Court and won in 2008.
--- Another instance where the school already had a policy that forbade almost all forms of jewellery, the article mentions that this particular school allowed wrist watches and ear studs only, and in the end the girl WAS allowed special treatment based solely on religion.
"9. The word 'Christmas' banned from festive celebrations
In 2008 a council-funded charity in Oxford decided to ban the word 'Christmas' from the festive celebrations in the city and rename it a 'Winter Light Festival' in order to make events more inclusive. The move was condemned by religious leaders of all denominations."
--No where in the Telegraph article that is titled "Christmas banned in Oxford by council-owned charity" is there any indication that the council "banned" anything. They just changed the name of the festival. That's it. The title of the article is a bit, nay, very misleading. There is nothing in the article that even hints that people are forbidden to say the word christmas. So absolutely nothing was banned. Now, the festival is a CHARITY. Meaning that the council is trying to drum up as much cash as possible during the event. One way to help achieve this goal might have been to try to make the event seem as friendly and inviting to as many people with cash to spend as possible.
10. Muslim schoolgirl banned from wearing jilbab
Muslim schoolgirl Shabina Begum was banned from classes at Denbigh High School in Luton for more than a year because she wanted to wear a jilbab – a loose ankle-length garment that is orthodox religious dress. She took her case to the court of appeal and won in 2005.
--- I couldn't find anything in the linked article giving the dress code of the school. So I'm guessing that the tunic and trousers that Shabina Begum had been wearing previously (as mentioned in the article) were a part of the required school uniform. So I'm going to guess again that the issue wasn't "the evil secular school is out to get the religious folks by banning their stuff" its an issue of "religious person goes to school knowing what the rules of the school are and then cause a fuss when the school enforces the rules that it made."
After perusing the articles linked from the "Top 10" list I find that they were split between religious employees doing something that caused a complaint from a customer/complaint or a religious student enrolling in a school and agreeing to abide by its rules and then demanding a special exemption.
In the cases of the employees, a customer/patient makes a complaint or comment that makes its way up the ladder of management who are then EXPECTED to act on the complaint, causing a backlash against the employer who was EXPECTED to act on the complaint in the first place, and everybody seems to forget that the whole issue started when another individual human being made issue of the actions of the employee.
In the cases of the students, the schools weren't accused of making new rules on the fly targeting a particular student because of their religion. The students were attending schools that had some combination of the three: 1) Strict rules about what kind of jewellery could be worn (girls wanting to wear a cross and bangle), 2)a strict dress code that didn't include what a student wanted to wear (thegirl and her jilbab), and 3) the school's and probably the states policy against bringing weapons into a school. The rules that caused problems probably weren't made with any thought about giving special permissions for religious exemptions. They were probably made and enforced with the idea that it was much more fair to bad everybody, equally, from choose: jewellery, not the school uniform to school, bringing a weapon to school.
The only situation that doesn't fit cleanly into those two categories is the foster care story. But then again, a foster parent is probably considered an employee of the state in some way as the agency that is placing the pre-adopted kids is state run. So a foster family trying to work through the state would be expected to act in accordance with the states rules and regulations.
In most of the titles of the articles it seems like there is the intention to make it sound like the religious person was being specifically targeted by their employer or school. The content of the articles, written by the Telegraph, gives enough information that it should be clear that there is very little "clashing" between religion and secularism. There was no titan struggle happening between anybody, these are examples of cases of personal offence taken by the customers or patients who caused the employer of the offender to have to investigate an employee and cases of personal offence by the religious who voluntarily went somewhere that had rules they didn't agree with while demanding special treatment.
(Forgive me, I haven't posted on a forum is so long that I can't remember how to make links work in my text before needing to leave for work.)