Thinking Anglicans

church leaders attack equality regulations

Despite the extensive scope of the “religious exemption” provided in the Northern Ireland regulations, attacks on this legislation, and on the presumed extension of it into the mainland UK, continue from the Daily Mail, from the usual conservative Christian lobby groups, but also from various Christian leaders.

The paid advertisement in The Times yesterday can be seen in full here (PDF file). The group that sponsored this is Coherent and Cohesive Voice. This is an alliance of Black church leaders (“a network of hundreds of Christian leaders in the UK representing hundreds of thousands of voters”) including many names which can be found here.

Complaints about this advertisement can be made to the Advertising Standards Authority.

This group also issued a Briefing Paper last July which can be read here. Both documents contain statements about the effect of these regulations which are just not true.

Tomorrow’s Times carries several letters to the Editor about this matter. One of them is from the Minister for Equality, Meg Munn:

Sir, The Government is seeking to strike a balance between protecting the rights of religious groups and preventing discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

This is a Government, and country, that has a proud record of tackling discrimination wherever it exists. But it is also a country that has a proud record of respecting people from all faiths and none.

No one is proposing that schools will have to promote homosexuality or that a priest will have to bless same-sex couples. But at the same time, it is wrong for gay teenagers to be refused emergency accommodation after being thrown out of their family home on the ground that they had chosen to tell their parents about their sexuality, or for lesbian and bisexual people to be denied access to essential healthcare.

MEG MUNN
Deputy Minister for
Women and Equalities

And in an interview, Meg Munn said:

“It is right that there should be a public debate on these complex and difficult issues, but that debate should be conducted in a calm and measured way rather than through inaccurate and wild speculation.”

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Craig Nelsondave williamsCheryl CloughFord Elmslaurence Recent comment authors
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Göran Koch-Swahne
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“a network of hundreds of Christian leaders in the UK representing hundreds of thousands of voters”

How about letting the hundreds of thousands speak for themselves?

DaveW
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DaveW

Dear Goran,
Are you part of the Christian church? you seem to grumble about it at every opportunity.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

The problem with covert discrimination is that the size of the issue can not be measured. So as Meg Munn points out in the letter, a youth that “comes out” can safely go to which refuge? Better to have overt discrimination, then funding can be provided for the GLBTs, as well as for the Christian purist service providers. The GLBT community can then develop a knowledge base to enable them to support those that the purists will not. There’s nothing wrong with honesty, unless there has been an under-resourcing of GLBTs’ needs, in which case that market niche might divert… Read more »

laurence
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laurence

I find the late bishop JC Ryle’s distinction between the visible church & that which is invisible & true more & more compelling. This what the BCP 1662 calls ‘the blessed company’, and 17th century Quakers called ‘the Church Catholick.’

‘Church leaders’ and all of us who speak (or blog!) in this field need to be bear Matt.25:1-25 very much in mind for ourselves; and the parable of the Wheat & the Tares for others !

Isaac
Guest

Is Ms. Munn honestly suggesting that the Daily Mail and the Bp. of Rochester speak “in a calm and measured way rather than through inaccurate and wild speculation”? Hope springs eternal, I s’pose, but surely a gov’t minister should have a greater grip on reality than that.

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

I think we can see here that the Religious Right (and thanks to this we see who in the UK they constitute – LCF, Anglican Mainstream and the DUP) have had their fox somewhat shot here by being quite over the top and in exaggerating wildly which has led most people (apart from the Daily Mail and Telegraph) to conclude they are somewhat lacking in balance and in easy going contact with the real world. (Actually there is a link with foxes being shot. Remember all of the stories from right wing sources that the ban on foxhunting would destroy… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

Western society only considers one type of person to be valid: the victim fighting against his/her oppression. There is a cachet in this, of course, it’s delicious to stand up to the Man and demand one’s rights. This plays into the persecution complex that is rampant in some Christian groups that seem to pine for the good old days when there was an Emperor one could refuse to worship and thus get sent to jail. It is seen in the popularity of the Left Behind claptrap(Fundamentalism’s Da Vince Code) and the claims of persecution by those who can’t force Christian… Read more »

laurence
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laurence

I think she has to be judicious ! BTW What a brilliant wheeze to get a known Opus Dei member to steer the legislation through Parliament, and speak up for it now ! Do listen to today;s Afternoon Play (radio 4 & online) on how Christians and the State treated gypsies in Switzerland UP TO THE 1970s. It is very relevant to this legislation. It reminds us all of what we are (all) capable. It explores beautifully the processes of marginalisation of a minority and their cruel abuse. (Children are seized from their “nomadic parents” and put in institutions.) Our… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
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Ford Your posting of 1 December genuinely surprised me.This quote came via Sojourners only the other day: “The Bible clearly and repeatedly teaches a fundamental point that we have often overlooked. At the crucial moments when God displayed mighty acts in history to reveal [God’s] nature and will, God also intervened to liberate the poor and oppressed. – Ronald J. Sider” If western society has a respect for the victim and fighting against oppression, then that is a legacy of our Abrahamic faiths. That is something we should be rejoicing, that a key godly trait has been so internalised that… Read more »

dave williams
Guest

Craig,

No-one has been proved to be lying. What has been shown is that there a number of different interpretations of the regulations.

And no, it isn’t about saying that a government disagreeing with means that you are persecuted. But it is about saying that the impact of the regulations may be negative noting that Christians have already had police and court actions taken against them before these regulations are even in place.

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

I have found that in the evangelical mindset there is a very loose concept of the truthfulness (other than the literal truth of scripture, that is which no doubt gives believers a certain dispensation from the other kind of truth). I certainly notice no-one from the religious right has made any efforts to rectify earlier comments which have proved to be false. Being truthful is more than not intentionally lying. It means making an effort to be truthful in the first place (actually reading the published NI regs might be a start), apologising for and rectifying incorrect and misleading statements… Read more »

laurence
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laurence

The Regulations are like the Bible then–or any other human document…

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

Cheryl, Yes, of course God sides with the poor and the oppressed. My point was that our society, at least in liberal circles, only validates those who fight their oppression. It has bled way beyond liberalism. We now have poeple inventing oppression for themselves. Take for instance the Fundamentalist attitude that it is oppressive to prohibit Christian prayers in culturally mixed schools, or because they can’t say the Lord’s prayer before a football game. It isn’t, but try telling them that. It also stifles discourse. I saw a talk given by a psychologist on research he had done into those… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Ford Thanks for a more sophisticated consideration. I can empathise with much of these contemplations. I often find it amusing to see abusers crying “victim” or “oppressed” when they perceive they are going to lose the ability to intimidate and humiliate their intended victims. There is an excellent section in Hugh Mackay’s book “Generations” which looks at the dynamic between individuals and society. He postulates that neither extreme is healthy e.g. Stalinism’s suppression of the individual led to a repressive nightmare, conversely the US’s glorification of the individual can lead to chaos in both streets and homes. Mackay suggests that… Read more »

dave williams
Guest

Craig,

I repeat my previous comment that nobody has proved to be lying. What we have seen is some regulations put forward, people putting forward different interpretations within the context of their experience. Personally having read the regulations as someone who has read Law and has had to deal with regulations, I haven’t seen any untruthfulness from the Evangelical side yet.

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

Well Dave, I’m assuming you didn’t see the ad put out by the Lawyers Christian Fellowship in the name of Coherent and Cohesive Voice. It’s still on the Lawyers Christian Fellowship website. So I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to differ on that. I don’t directly accuse anyone of lying per se as that’s a quite complex psychological state to be in, though of all people LCF probably does come the closest (as well as in trying to hide behind ‘Cohesive and Coherent Voice’ as a front organisation for ts own views). I do though accuse LCF, Bp Nazir Ali… Read more »