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Supreme Court of the United States

10 Important ADF European Cases

October 17, 2017

ADF opened our first international office in 2012, in Vienna, Austria. Here are ten important cases we've been a part of:

1. Taking Up Her Cross.

British Airways told Nadia Eweida, a check-in counter employee at London’s Heathrow Airport, she would have to cover up a small cross necklace around her neck even though the airline allowed other employees to wear symbols of their religion, such as turbans and hijabs. ADF provided funding for the case, and ADF Legal Counsel Paul Coleman joined Allied Attorney Paul Diamond at the counsel’s table during the hearings. The European Court of Human Rights upheld Eweida’s right to religious freedom as contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. The historic ruling marks the first time the United Kingdom has ever been found to be in violation of Article 9 of the Convention, on freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

2. The “Roe v. Wade of Europe.”

ADF intervened as a third party before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in A., B., and C. v. Ireland, a direct challenge to Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion which could have had an impact on the abortion legislation of all 47 Council of Europe member states. As a result, in part from ADF intervention, the Grand Chamber held that no right to abortion exists under the European Convention on Human Rights.

3. Italy Free to Display Crucifix.

On behalf of 33 members of the European Parliament representing 11 European nations, ADF intervened before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Lautsi v. Italy. A lower chamber of the court had ruled in favor of a single Finnish-born parent that Italy must remove all crucifixes from Italian public school rooms. A Grand Chamber majority overturned the lower chamber, 15-2, holding that the European Convention on Human Rights did not give the court the right to bully Italy into secularism.

4. Challenge to Turkey’s Prohibition on Christian Churches.

In Turkey, a Christian church cannot exist as a recognized religious entity. Churches cannot even legally form an association if they have a religious ethos and are forbidden from building places of worship. In Erkin Altinkaynak v. Turkey, ADF is challenging provisions in Turkish law which impedes Christian churches from existing so they can spread the Gospel.

5. Historic Victory for Church Autonomy.

In one of the most significant religious freedom victories before the European Court of Human Rights, ADF and Dr. Daniel Karsai, successfully brought suit against Hungary for de-registering and refusing to re-register dozens of Christian churches under the country’s new religious association law. The ruling in Magyar Keresztény Mennonita Egyház and Others v. Hungary represents one of the rare times when the European Court issued a declarative judgment regarding a nation’s domestic legislation.

6. Swedish State-napping Challenged.

Christer and Annie Johansson dreamed of working as missionaries in India with orphans. As they were preparing to leave for India, they began homeschooling their only child, 7-year-old Domenic. While boarding the plane headed to Delhi with their son, police also boarded the plane and took Domenic from his parents without a warrant or any allegations of abuse. The family’s only “crime”: homeschooling Domenic. ADF has filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of the family.

7. Parents Imprisoned because of “Sexual Education.”

ADF represented 14 parents from Salzkotten, Germany, who wanted to be able to opt out their 9 and 10-year-old children from attending two days of mandatory “sexual education” teaching. Some of the parents who refused to allow their children to participate in the teaching were imprisoned for more than 40 days. As a result of ADF intervention, parents are now allowed to opt-out their children from this “sexual education.”

8. Death Without Dignity.

The case of Tom Mortier v. Belgium, uncovers the dark side of the euthanasia industry. The applicant woman, suffering from depression after breaking up with her partner was denied her request to be euthanized by her long-time physician and other experts. Her request was eventually granted after she “donated” 2500 EUR to a physician who agreed to euthanize her. The woman’s two children were only informed of her passing and request after she was euthanized. This case highlights the growing problem of unregulated euthanasia in Belgium.

9. The Fight for Freedom of Conscience.

Gary McFarlane, a devout Christian, was fired from his job as a counselor simply because he sought respect for his religious faith. He did not want to provide psychosexual therapy for same-sex couples because he saw that as facilitating behavior that went against the teachings of his faith. ADF provided funding for the case and assisted ADF Allied Attorney and lead counsel, Paul Diamond, in defending McFarlane’s right of conscience before the European Court of Human Rights.

10. Church Raided in Bulgaria.

When an evangelical church in Sofia, Bulgaria, applied for church registration with the local authorities, it could never have imagined what would follow. The church’s application was denied and it was then forced to meet in the church leader’s apartment. In an unprecedented move, police invaded the apartment and confiscated all Christian materials (Bibles, hymnals, a Bible school application and some Christian literature). The case of Dimitrova v. Bulgaria will send a message to European governments that heavy-handed tactics used to control freedom of religion will not be tolerated.

Thank you for your support of the work we are doing internationally!  Please continue to pray for our international attorneys and allies.

Which of these cases stands out to you the most? Leave a comment below. 

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