"In France we are facing a difficult time with our government, which does not at all respect parental rights," Puppinck explained. "We have some members of the French government who say children belong first to the state, to the community, and secondly to the family."
He therefore lauded the resolution for reaffirming the "rights of parents concerning the education of children."
The part of the resolution restricting religious freedom when it clashes with other rights was neither authored by Volonte nor was it present in the original draft, Puppinck said. Rather, this language entered through amendments adopted after debate on the topic, and Volonte assented to them so as to gain a large majority of support for the resolution.
Volonte chaired a seminar after the resolution's adoption which focused on the cases of two British Christians who were penalized in their workplaces for their religious beliefs.
In January, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Shirly Chaplin, a nurse who was kept from wearing a cross at work, and Gary McFarlane, a therapist who was fired for saying he would be unable to give sex therapy to homosexual couples, had not had their rights unduly violated by U.K. workplace discrimination law.
While acknowledging that the religious beliefs motivating their acts at work were worthy of protection, the court decided that British law in their cases fell within a wide "margin of appreciation," which gives legislatures and employers broad discretion about how to balance conflicting "rights."
Chaplin and McFarlane have appealed the decision to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, which is also a body of the Council of Europe.
The assembly's resolutions influence the decisions of the court, Puppinck noted, adding that the cases of McFarlane and Chaplin were part of the motivation for introducing the resolution.
In the January decision against Chaplin and McFarlane, the court did find that British law had insufficiently protected another Christian, Nadia Eweida. It ruled that her freedom of religion had been breached after she was kept from wearing a cross in her employment at British Airways.
All these cases, and the resolution, are part of a growing trend of Europe's "clash of rights" cases involving Christian identity and expression in the public sphere.
Chaplin and McFarlane have appealed to the Grand Chamber saying that protections for the freedom of "thought, conscience and religion" will be effectively meaningless if the Court does not clarify how the rights of Christians, and other religious persons, are to be balanced with the rights upheld by secular persons and societies.
The Grand Chamber is not expected to decide whether to hear the case for several weeks.
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