The move comes in the case of three Christians whose cases have become testing grounds over the restrictions which can be put on public displays of faith.

Their appeal to the Grand Chamber of the court will open the way for a final ruling on what limits can be put on such displays, including wearing a cross and talking about belief in the workplace.

Shirley Chaplin, Gary McFarlane and Lillian Ladele all had their cases rejected at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg earlier this year.

In the case of Mrs Chaplin, an Exeter nurse who was forbidden to wear a cross at work, the Strasbourg judges ruled that her right to express her faith could be overridden on “health and safety” grounds.

Mr McFarlane, a former Relate counsellor, and marriage registrar Miss Ladele - who both resisted tasks they saw as condoning homosexuality, which they believe is against the Bible’s teaching - lost their cases.