LONDON (ChurchMilitant.com) - An atheist politician who converted to Catholicism is suing Britain's most left-wing, pro-abortion party after it ousted him from candidacy for his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.
"It is a tragedy for democracy that I am having to pursue a discrimination case against the Liberal Democrats because they don't like the views of a practicing Catholic," lamented Rob Flello, former Liberal Democrat candidate for Stoke-on-Trent South.
Flello was deselected by the Liberal Democrat Party, a process in U.K. politics that involves rejecting the person who currently represents one's party as a candidate in the next election.
The 53-year-old, who was hoping to take back the seat he held for 12 years, lambasted the Liberal Democrats as "neither liberal or [sic] democratic and therefore I need to take a stand as much as anything for the sake of British democracy."
Flello, who was an atheist until he became Catholic at the age of 41, left the Labour Party in September, saying it is a party he could "no longer recognize."
Just 48 hours before nomination papers had to be filed, however, the Liberal Democrats, headed by pro-abortionist Jo Swinson, de-selected him for his voting record on gay marriage and abortion.
Defending their stance, a Liberal Democrat spokesperson claimed it was because of "how greatly [Flello's] values diverge from ours" as well as his "activities on social media, tweeting or re-tweeting items that were well beyond the values of the Party."
The spokesperson said Flello was "directly associating himself with comments and causes" and so had "put himself outside the standards we would expect for a Liberal Democrat candidate."
Flello hit back, saying he was ousted from candidacy because "they don't like the views of a practicing Catholic," asking: "Is there really no place in British politics for Catholics or Christians who won't conform?"
"It seems we're almost back to the days when a Catholic couldn't stand for Parliament," he observed, referring to the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829, which finally permitted Catholics to sit in the Parliament at Westminster.
After the Reformation, Catholics in Britain had numerous restrictions imposed on them and could not purchase land, hold civil or military offices or seats in Parliament, inherit property or practice their religion freely without incurring civil penalties.
What it comes down to is that someone senior within the Liberal Dems does not like practicing Catholics. It seems that you can be a Christian as long as you are a compliant Christian who goes along with what they say. But if you in any way want to defend the Faith, then that's it. Your card is marked and out you go.
According to Flello's attorney, Paul Conrathe, this is the first time a political party will be sued over religious discrimination, in particular for discriminating against a Catholic.
"The party deemed his religious views were not 'in tune with what would be expected of a liberal.' This is a blatant breach of [Britain's] Equality Act," Conrathe noted. "It would appear that people with sincerely held religious beliefs are not welcome in the Liberal Democrats.
Noted conservative commentator Adrian Hilton defended Flello on his website:
If a party that calls itself "liberal" is actually anti-Catholic, why should Roman Catholics (or indeed any Christian) vote for them? If one were to scratch beneath the anti-Catholic "liberalism" of the Liberal Democrats, would one find prejudice against all religious people who take their faith seriously? Would they sack a Muslim candidate who articulated the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman? Would they sack one who believed Jews are destined for Jahannam? Is there no freedom of conscience or freedom of belief in the Liberal Democrats? Is there no freedom of religion?
"How can any Roman Catholic vote for a political party which plans to legalize abortion right up to birth? How can any Christian do so?" Hilton asked. "How can Labour's Roman Catholic parliamentary candidates subscribe to this? What is the lesser evil? Is free broadband worth an abortion holocaust?"
Both the Liberal Democrat and Labour parties want to legalize abortion up to birth and have committed themselves to this agenda if they win Thursday's parliamentary general election.
Earlier this month, Church Militant reported that the Catholic bishops of England and Wales had warned Catholics not to vote for politicians who are pushing for abortion in Britain's general election.