Thinking Anglicans

Getting Equal: progress report

According to the Independent this morning, in Kelly rejects call to extend Ulster gay rights to the rest of Britain:

A row has broken out in the Cabinet over how far the Government should go in outlawing discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary, has pushed through regulations in the province that will be tougher than the Government plans for England, Wales and Scotland. He has defied a call by Ruth Kelly, the Cabinet minister responsible for equality, to hold fire until a common approach has been agreed…

Meanwhile, the Tablet has a news report (only available to subscribers) about what the RC bishops in Northern Ireland said, and a leader column which you can read in full here: When tone matters.

According to Anglican Mainstream government telephones are besieged with phone calls from people concerning these proposals.

The Lawyers Christian Fellowship has published a press release concerning a survey of public opinion which it commissioned, and another press release summarising their view of progress: Opinion Poll Results Show Widespread Opposition To Sors; Annulment Of Sors Sought In Commons And Lords

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DaveAlan MarshGöran Koch-SwahneSimon SarmientoMartin Reynolds Recent comment authors
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Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

Just one thing is necessary here – scroll down to the bottom of the page and see the actual questions used – I think I would have answered yes to them myself, put like that.

Jimbo
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Jimbo

The Lawyers Christian Fellowship’s poll asked: “Any law requiring people to promote homosexual practice should be applied selectively so as to ensure that people with strong religious beliefs are not forced to act against their conscience”. If you ask a skewed question, you will get a skewed response. The Sexual Orientation Regulations in N.I. describe themselves as an “Equality Act”, and I do not see them “promoting homosexual practice”, merely giving equal rights. If I follow the LCF’s logic – if a customer of my business happens to be a Christian, that means I am “promoting the practice of Christianity”.… Read more »

jk
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jk

Would any of the following that Jimbo ignored be considered as skewed questions?

Question: “The law should not discriminate against religious groups in order to promote gay rights”.

Results: Agree 66% ___________________________ Disagree 28%

Question: “The Government should do more to protect traditional family and marriage values and less to promote gay and lesbian lifestyle”.

Results: Agree 57% ___________________________ Disagree 38%

Question: “The Government should not legislate to promote one moral view over another”.

Results: Agree 56% ___________________________ Disagree 38%

David Chillman
Guest
David Chillman

jk, try reversing one of the questions and see what answers you get. “The law should not discriminate against gay people in order to promote religious groups” I suspect that the vast majority of people polled would also have said “yes” to this question. So the poll proves very little indeed. “The Government should not legislate to promote one moral view over another” But what about “The Government SHOULD legislate to ensure that no one moral view is promoted over another”? Again – I’d suspect that there would be strong support for such a view. As for: “The Government should… Read more »

Alan Marsh
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Alan Marsh

The problem is, David, that you have NOT reversed the questions. Nobody is asking the government to promote any religious group, or to legislate to enshrine discrimination against anyone else. The objection is to a set of regulations which will criminalise a number of religious groups, on the basis of their beliefs and teaching on personal morality. These regulations are being introduced by a government too craven to defend them in parliamentary debate, in an underhand manner which prevents amendment or even discussion in the House of Commons. The SORs are being introduced by Peter Hain in Northern Ireland in… Read more »

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
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mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

If the people behind these questions are lawyers, heaven help our legal system!

I believe that in the middle mediaeval period theology ceased from being the apogee of the academic world and was replaced by the study of law. Presumably it was found to be more profitable….

As an old barrister mate of mine said, “Of course he was guilty. But I still got him off.”

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Trouble is Alan Marsh, that he did reverse the questions, but that you don’t accept that he did.

What the ones see as (a good start at) levelling the field, the others see as a disadvantage to their mission.

However, it is the State and the European Convention on Human Rights that decides over this.

Rend à César!

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

No, Alan The government have not suggested that any group should be discriminated against. The law aims to prevent gay and lesbian people being discriminated against in the receipt of goods and services. I am afraid that if you wish to have the right to impose your morals on others in the pubic sphere, then that is tantamount to saying your morals are superior to mine. I don’t agree. I don’t consider your position to be in the least moral. You will have discretion within your churches, but not in every circumstance and that is likely to be the case… Read more »

Alan Marsh
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Alan Marsh

Not a “disadvantage” to any church’s mission, Goran, but a very real threat of criminal prosecution to Christians for living and working according to Christian teaching.

Just like the Swedish state’s regulations.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Well, marturein means witnessing, question being what one is bearing witness to…

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

Alan Marsh : “a very real threat of criminal prosecution to Christians for living and working according to Christian teaching” Hmmmmm. 1. The regs in question are civil not criminal 2. We’re talking about action over discrimination not over being a Christian (unless the two are consubstantial). 3. The Swedish case was entirely different and concerned a law about the incitement to hatred (as I understand it), which was a criminal law: From BBC website – ‘In the sermon, Mr Green told a congregation on the small south-eastern island of Oland that homosexuals were “a deep cancer tumour on all… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

I’m intrigued to realise that living and working according to some christians means discriminating against gay men and lesbians.

But of course, they are not homophobic…

Alan Marsh
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Alan Marsh

It is extremely unclear what the Church of Sweden witnesses to these days which is any different from the liberal ideology of the Swedish state. There is not much evidence of martyrdom among its clergy.

Alan Marsh
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Alan Marsh

Hmmmmmmmm. If I were to be fined or imprisoned for refusing to obey the SORs I think I would view it as criminal.

drdanfee
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drdanfee

The proposed more equal playing field provisionally envisioned in the new regulations does help expose the underlying exclusively straight privileges in question – legacy privleges to negatively define non-straight folks, along with legacy privileges to put non-straight folks at some one or more disadvantages that are obviously not so mandated for straight folks. Funny that you should be exclusively straight, or have to pretend you are anguished and overtly sorry for not being exclusively straight – in order to get food from a conservative church run soup kitchen, sleep overnight in a shelter, or get help with other services when… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Well, Alan, if your desire is to discriminate against people who have done nothing to deserve such treatment in what is a society where we are all supposed to be equal citizens, then you only have yourself to blame for any consequences.

No Blacks,No Irish, the notices used to say…you and your mob clearly think that is a sound enough principle as long as you can choose the victims.

How about ‘NO Christians’? Like the sound of that?

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

Again (once more with feeling) The regs do not (as for the most part discriminatiuon law in the UK does not) allow for criminal proceedings, so nobody will be imprisoned in connection with the sexual orientation regulations. There’s this big obsession with Sweden – if someone got imprisoned on account of a breach of the criminal law (but since been released on account of a judgment of the Supreme Court) then we’re all headed to jail. A little exaggerated? Just a reminder – the UK is a separate jurisdiction (well several jurisdictions if you count Northern Ireland and Scotland as… Read more »

Alan Marsh
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Alan Marsh

“Funny that you should be exclusively straight, or have to pretend you are anguished and overtly sorry for not being exclusively straight – in order to get food from a conservative church run soup kitchen, sleep overnight in a shelter, or get help with other services when you might be down and out.”

– Pure invention which has nothing to do with the SORs or the Churches in the UK.

Gerry Lynch
Guest

– Pure invention which has nothing to do with the SORs or the Churches in the UK.

Which potential incidents would worry you in that case? And what was the Bishop of Rochester talking about when he said that the law may force ‘Christian’ charities to shut down?

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Craid, do you really imagine that someone fined either £5,000 or even 50p for an alleged breach of these regulations is going to pay the fine? Or conform to what they consider an immoral law? Those who refuse to pay fines or obey injunctions go to prison.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Then don’t break them, Alan. Or do you think discriminating against people is a moral thing to do?

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

I guess that what the Bishop of Rochester meant was that some Christian charities, e.g. those dealing with adoption, will no longer have discretion to act according to Christian conscience but be forced to choose between the government’s diktat, or close down rather than face prosecution, fines, etc. The SORs will also impact massively on Church schools, both state and public, where demands will be made for the school to conform its teaching to the government regulations, or face fines imposed on teachers and governors. Just two “for instances”. Many more will emerge once the activists running the Equality Commission… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“Those who refuse to pay fines or obey injunctions go to prison. “

Fine Good Splendid!

Then the stand up for what they belive. Commendable.

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Turn it round, then, Goran. If the SORs prohibited any public expression of or approval of homosexuality, would it be Fine Good and Splendid as more and more members of this minority were fined and imprisoned?

Why should one community have power like this over another?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Dear Alan March,

“Being” and “objecting” to being are not symmetrical, not the same thing but 2 different.

You are mixing them.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

But the SOR’s do not say anything about Christianity, nor your right to believe or say anything, Alan.

Simply that you cannot discriminate in the public sphere with regard to the provision of goods and services

Is that so hard to understand – or put into practice? You simply have to treat people fairly if you provide a public service. You can be as nasty and bigoted in your own church as ever!

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Not at all: the SORs will require Christians and Christian communities to act against deeply held beliefs and conscience. What we believe is what we are.

laurence
Guest
laurence

‘Turn it round, then, Goran. If the SORs prohibited any public expression of or approval of homosexuality, would it be Fine Good and Splendid as more and more members of this minority were fined and imprisoned?

Why should one community have power like this over another?’

(Posted by: Alan Marsh on Monday, 11 December )

Gay men have been fined and imprisoned up, until quite recently, in Britain.
I have myself, and most lgbt poeple have wondered long and hard,’Why should one community have power like this over another?’

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

“… the SORs will require Christians and Christian communities to act against deeply held beliefs and conscience”

Correction:it will require some Christians, etc. Some of us welcome this legislation and abhor the way in which the Christian faith is being muckraked into a controversy which seems to have a lot to say about men’s willies and absolutely s*d all about the morality of replacing the UK’s ‘nuclear deterrent’.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

No, Alan. You are saying, then, that you should have the right to discriminate against gay men and lesbians in arenas which have nothing to do with the church?

The BNP would certainly share that view, and would wish to discriminate against minority ethnic groups on the grounds of their deeply held beliefs and conscience.

Just because beliefs are deeply held doesn’t make them right. Many racists have deeply held views. Your religion, in my view, is ethically no better than them. Both of you wish to discriminate against others.

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

If that is your considered view, merseymike, there can be no discussion of anything at a rational level.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Its perfectly rational, Alan. Its your point of view which is irrational. You think that just because you stick a religious label on your beliefs, they should be treated automatically with respect.

I don;t think wishing to systematically discriminate against others in the public sphere is to be respected, Alan. Your religion oozes bigotry: it should be tolerated in the private sphere and you should be allowed to practice it, but essentially, its tenets are socially unacceptable.

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

As I was saying, the matter is beyond rational debate when it descends to cries of “bigot”.

Is this how you conduct academic discussions, MM?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Alan March wrote: “What we believe is what we are.”

So, well. Then I hope for the future to be spared this “love the sinner, hate the Sin” nonsense.

(or is it “love the Sin, hate the sinner” ;=)

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

Alan states that Christians would refuse to pay a fine.

This is not the model of citizenship proposed in the New Testament. In the NT the spirit of rebellion against the divinely ordained powers is identified with a different source.

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Yes indeed, and Romans has other things to say about what kind of state the Roman empire had become.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Then, Alan, alter your perspective, which is clearly discriminatory and does not treat gay people as equal citizens.

This isn’t an academic discussion. It is about practical policy in the secular society, and your wish to discriminate against me.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Alan

Could you give me one concrete example of an action which:

a. you believe the proposed regulations will prohibit AND

b. which you believe that as a Christian you are REQUIRED to perform

I think an example would help a lot of us here who are trying to understand what exactly it is that is causing you so much anguish.

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

SS inserts: the following contribution exceeds by far the 400 word limit; but I am making an exception. ——————————– Simon, thank you for your invitation. The consensus among most Christians is that what they do must reflect what they believe, and if they are to be required by government decree in any way to cooperate with those promoting an unbiblical lifestyle (in older terminology a way of life which is intrinsically sinful) then there is a conflict and a crisis of conscience. The NI version of the SORs is published and gives a foretaste of what might be expected in… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Tough love.

But then, a law which does not apply equally to all, is not a law.

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Goran, would you really assert that all laws are equally just or appropriate?

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Now, Alan, rather than listening to the extreme and inaccurate predictions of the anti-gay campaign groups, can we have a reality check? Personally, I think that a non-prejudiced person who treats gay people equally should have no problem with any of those things. But, looking at your list, there are some obvious inaccuracies. What is said in church will be exempted and that has been made clear enough. Unless it actually does incite hatred, and I don’t think there are many who go to those lengths. Similarly, communion would not be covered by the regulations as that is central to… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Alan Marsh does not seem to have understood the SOR’s for Northern Ireland. None of the above are accurate. A church can continue to refuse hiring its church hall to gay organisations. A church can continue teaching what it wants on sexual ethics. A church can continue to turn away people from communion, can refuse membership and can refuse burial for a gay person or even refuse to allow our children to go on the church outing. What church schools are allowed to teach is not covered by this legislation. No law allowing same-sex marriage exists in the UK. (!?)… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Alan Thank you for that: I fear that you have seriously misread the text of the NI regulations. I believe that in every single case you have cited, you are wrong in your assertions. Regulation 16 (3) enables “religious organisations” (a term which is defined in 16(1) in quite wide terms) to disregard most of these regulations and expressly permits them to do all the following things: (a) to restrict membership of the organisation; (b) to restrict participation in activities undertaken by the organisation or on its behalf or under its auspices; (c) to restrict the provision of goods, facilities… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

The Northern Ireland regulations were debated in the Stormont Transitional Assembly this week. You can read the full debate at
http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/transitional/plenary/061211.htm

The outcome of the vote is summarised at
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/2006/12/post_2.html

and reported by the BBC at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/6169873.stm

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Simon, thank you for your further references, at which I have glanced briefly. I will take a more detailed look and come back to you, but I see that I stand at least partly corrected.

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Simon, I now see that s.16 does make some provisions of the kind which I would have hoped to see. I looked at the Regulations in too much of a hurry, allowed myself to be distracted by the Guest House exemptions in earlier sections, and altogether missed s.16. I do apologise! S.16 does go some way to address the issues raised, in reiterating some of the principles contained in the earlier employment regulations and applying these explicitly to religious groups and bodies. For this I am grateful. It will make it harder than I first thought for anyone to challenge… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Alan March wrote: “Göran, would you really assert that all laws are equally just or appropriate?”

Certainly not. What I wrote was this: “… a law which does not apply equally to all, is not a law.” Not the same thing.

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Goran, as we have seen here there are laws which vary in their application, but are still laws. Nor is it any guarantee that because a law has been passed, that it is equitable or balanced in its application.

This particular set of regulations has not even been passed by our Parliament, but effectively imposed by decree by the Minister concerned, who has found a way to bypass parliamentary debate, amendment or approval.