THINKING ANGLICANS

equality law: two developments

First, Andrew McClintock lost his Employment Tribunal case.

Sheffield Star Gay adoption row magistrate ‘was wrong’
BBC Magistrate in gay adoption defeat

Second, the Joint Committee on Human Rights of the UK Parliament published a report: Legislative Scrutiny: Sexual Orientation Regulations which is available on the web starting here. A PDF version of the document is here.

From the committee’s press release:

Regulations under Part 3 of the Equality Act prohibiting discrimination and harassment on grounds of sexual orientation are expected to be made soon for Great Britain. In light of the consultation held last year by the Government on these regulations, and the equivalent Northern Ireland Regulations which have already come into effect, the Committee in this “post-legislative scrutiny” Report sets out the human rights issues likely to arise in relation to the Great Britain regulations.

The report’s own Summary is here.

The Lawyers Christian Fellowship is upset over both these developments. Anglican Mainstream has their material, here, and here.

The Evangelical Alliance is also upset about Mr McClintock.

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Erika BakerChristopher ShellDaveMynsterpreost (=David Rowett)Merseymike Recent comment authors
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Merseymike
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Merseymike

Very good news all round.

Freedom of conscience cannot mean the freedom to discriminate in the public sphere.

This shows even more just how hopelessly out of touch the church is, and why it will be shunned if it does not change other than by those who seek a bolthole away from progressive change.

Richard Lyon
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Richard Lyon

Are all of these groups protesting the changes in the law affiliated with the CofE and the RCC or are other denominations involved?

Dave
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Dave

What the EA supported was “the need for the law to make reasonable accommodation in cases involving matters of religious conscience”. The JCHR seem to take a common UK view – that when ‘rights’ conflict you have to decide which is the most important and it should then completely prevail – rather than finding a proportionate balance to keep everyone in the public arena. That effectively gives the government the right to negate ‘rights’ and exclude groups from the public arena.. which is, I think, heading towards totalitarianism rather than open liberal democracy (with a small “L”). For instance an… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

Dear Merseymike, I’m happy that people, when acting as representatives of the state in the government sphere (such as magistrates), should accept that their consciencious exceptions are fewer than those allowed to the general public. As representives of the state they should be expected to work according to the precepts set down by Parliament. But I don’t think that it is reasonable or “open liberal democratic” that they be allowed no consciencious exceptions! ps I don’t call a lot of recent societal change ‘progress’… given the spiralling crime, violence, relationship breakdown, mental illness, STDs, teenage pregnancy etc I’d call it… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Tricky. I actually share Dave’s concerns on this one, for the same reasons. There is an honesty from a magistrate who asks to not be put into a conflict of interest. The question of forcing him to do this relates to what happens if every single magistrate chose not to deal with gay couple adoptions. Maybe the flying bishop model pioneered by the Anglican communion is a useful model for government agencies? If the local magistrate wants to boycott helping gays, then have a roving magistrate come in to deal with cases that are being boycotted. The other issue is… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

I think that some notions such as vulnerability and salience come into play , in these contested attempts to balance the various rights; and the various competing claims for legitimation. VULNERABILITY If we compare the position of a judge hearing ‘an adoption case’, with that of a couple offering themselves for consideration as potential adoptive parents, it is clear who is vulnerable (and who is not. A judge is simply doing his job within his legal and professional framework. A couple, of course, are putting themselves on the line. There are intense feelings, and they are to vulnerable to being… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!

Posted by: Dave on Friday, 2 March 2007 at 11:19pm GMT

What prevents you, do you reckon ?

Craig Nelson
Guest

The two cases are really interesting. In the one we find that magistrates are supposed to follow the law ……. In the other we find an analysis of the interaction between religion and other rights (the so-called conflict of rights). We find from the Joint Committee that there is an unlimited freedom of religion but that manifestation of religious belief can be curtailed in the interests of the rights of others. When you think about it this is the merest common sense and couldn’t really be otherwise – you can’t make a bridge from the freedom to exercise a religion… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

But I do not wish to discriminate against evangelical Christians. I may think they are utterly deluded and follow a harmful religion, but that does not mean I think I should be allowed to discriminate against them in terms of the provision of goods and services.

Under the cloak of ‘conscience’, that is exactly what these people wish to do – see their wish to discriminate acceptable in law.

Its not – and if their ‘conscience’ gets in the way of them providing a fair and unbiased service, then the best thing all round is for them to resign.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Now, what the Parliamentary Committee says is that both are perfectly equal and symmetrical in scope, and that the one is not to infringe upon the other. Which, as I have explained several times over, is the Condition d’Ordre Public of the Treaty of Westphalia. Of course, the trouble for Anglican Mainstream is that they think that their own peculiar “lifestyle” should have the right to “override” all others. The case of the magistrate (= judge) being able to exclude himself from certain cases depends on the actual procedures of government in the State, or whatever, in question. Personally, I… Read more »

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

Please prove me wrong – but

I have a suspicion that people sidestep the following question:

In what sense does spiralling crime, family breakdown, increasing divorce and abortion constitute progress.

Failure to prove me wrong will be in danger of being construed as inability…. ;o)

matthew hunt
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matthew hunt

I would say that ‘spiralling crime, family breakdown, increasing divorce and abortion’ are all symptoms of cultures that have been based on dysfunctional, inconsistant, impossible, corrupt ethical frameworks. The gradual passing of these dysfunctional systems will inevitably result in dysfunction.

Lets hope we can do better next time.

mynestepreost (=David Rowett)
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mynestepreost (=David Rowett)

Dear Dr Shell;

…in the same way that increased environmental awareness, fairtrade, female emancipation, abolition of the death penalty etc constitute dystopia 🙂

Charlotte
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Charlotte

My dear Christopher Shell:

You are suffering from a brain bug. I will give you a prescription for it:

**************************************

Correlation does not imply causation.

**************************************

Repeat that statement 50 times before breakfast for the remainder of Lent (100 times on Wednesdays and Fridays).

If my prescription does not do the trick, visit the following website:

http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/

and study the statistically significant inverse relationship between average global temperature and pirates.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Some of those spiralling crime figures are to do with crimes being reported that were not before (for example, a wife could not report being raped by her husband in Australia only a few decades ago because the law said there was no such thing as rape). An escalation of AVO (anti violence orders) does not necessarily reflect an increase in violence, it can reflect that victims are now finding they work to stop violence. (When I was a child, half of women who were threatened with murder if they left their husbands were actually murdered). In that sense, crime… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Fasinating Charlotte. Highly recommended !

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

My problem with this judge’s tender conscience is his comment that he might be saving a child from the “hazard” of a birth family so dysfunctional the child needs to be put up for adoption and then “exposing” them to another “hazard” by placing them with a gay couple. Given the great difficulty in most cases of extracting children safely and quickly enough from grossly unsuitable situations I can see possible adoptive parents not being too impressed with their care being equated with “hazards” like violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, drugtaking, neglect just because they are of the same gender.

drdanfee
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drdanfee

The burdens of proof fall upon the dissenting judge in this case, since presumably the couple who are potential adoptive parents have already been solidly and exhaustively screened and investigated, just as much as heterosexual adoptive parents would be.

The judge wishes to add one more screening to this large and imporant list: Are you folks straight? Yes, pass go and adopt. No, no not pass go and do not adopt.

Pretty simply, it looks. But is the judge actually right, factually, or morally?

Craig Nelson
Guest

Judges should only recuse themselves if they are unable to ensure impartiality and the appearance of impartiality in a given case. For example a judge who is a member of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship can’t hear a case which LCF brings or where LCF has a strong public position. If however a judge is saying they can never apply the law when a member of a significant minority is involved in a case because of a deep seated prejudice in the case then the judge is making an open advertisement that he is not capable of being an impartial judge… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

Dear Laurence Roberts and All, I don’t expect, or want, to oblige other people to live according to what I believe to be true and virtuous, though I do want to persuade and pray that people come to believe and live as I [try to] do. I certainly don’t expect that I or any other member of the general public should be obliged to behave (or not behave) in ways that are against their religion – unless *actual* harm could result and the restriction is proportionate. Public Officials, on the other hand, represent the state in their roles. While performing… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Its really quite simple, Dave.

In the public sphere, you cannot legally discriminate against gay and lesbian people.

And no, there should be no clauses that allow such prejudice to be enacted. None of your given examples involve such discrimination against individuals.

You are entitled to believe as you wish. There are exemptions for the internal workings of your churches. But thats as far as it should go.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Charlotte Re: correlation and causation. I have posted on this several times before, but to repeat the main points: (1) Practically all causations are also correlations. (2) The semantic content of the word ‘correlation’ overlaps considerably with that of ‘causation’. For example: ‘where you find one, you tend to find the other’. (3) Correlations are never mere coincidence. Where there is not a direct line of causation, there is going to be some other line, e.g. a common source which is related to both elements. This applies even in cases like ‘ice-cream causes rape’ where in fact the common… Read more »

Anglicanus
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Anglicanus

I hope that Dave posted before having chance to read Craig Nelson’s contribution, as it answers all points with even handedness and a clear understanding of the role and functions of the judiciary.

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Chris, your comments make sense up to your last point, which is not an argument but an unsubstantiated belief statement. Where are (for example) ‘Thatcher’s/Reagan’s children’ your the 1960’s paradigm? It’s also a gross oversimplification to see the 1960’s as ‘hedonistic philosophy’: unless one acknowledges other developments which are just as much 60’s phenomena – the abolition of the death penalty, the beginnings of an anti-war movement beyond traditional pacifist circles, the beginnings of environmental awareness, the decline in the acceptability of racism to name a few – then one is turning into a ‘grumpy old man’ harrumphing at these… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

“Practically all causations are also correlations.” All causations do have correlations, sometimes masked by extraneous factors that affect the manifestation. But not all correlations infer causation. The primary school example being the premise that poverty caused english people to catch tuberculosis. Actually, it was living near the railway tracks where the ash from the coal-fed steam trains got into their lungs. Similarly, gout only became identified as a diet related illness during the world wars when people no longer had easy access to red wine and rich foods. Their gout cleared up and came back when things were bountiful again.… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

In any case, recognition of gay and lesbian relationships is rather the opposite to hedonism – its actually very conservative, recognising the value of marriage as a model to be extended, via civil partnership, to same sex couples.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Merseymike wrote. “Its really quite simple, Dave. In the public sphere, you cannot legally discriminate against gay and lesbian people.” Dear Merseymike, I think that the correct legal phrase would be “discriminate against someone on the on grounds of their sexual orientation” (of which homosexual is just one variant!). I do not want to do that – just like you would not want to discriminate against someone on grounds of their religion. I have an obligation to love everyone – even people who treat me as their ‘enemy’. However, I do not want to be obliged to speak and behave… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

RE Dave’s new version of the Evil Extreme Muslim (Al Who?) canard: “For instance an extremist Muslim government could use the same logic to negate sexuality rights – by deciding that religious rights are in their judgement more important than sexuality rights, and wherever they conflict the religious rights must totally prevail.”

Now dear Dave, again,

What precisely was it the Lawyers Christian Fellowship, the Evangelical Alliance and Anglican Mainstream wanted the State to do?

Let me think … the above?

DaveG
Guest
DaveG

So I propose a trade:
We in the US will take your conscientious objectors to your government’s new policy (their faith would be respected here) and you can have those who disagree with our laws (those of most states and the federal government) that refuse to recognize same sex marriages and/or civil unions.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear Göran, the key phrase was “totally prevail” – I want a bit more ‘live and let live’ – rather than the UK government’s approach to date – which seems to have no sense of proportionality. They are arguing that, because one human rights status (sexuality) is in their opinion more fundamental than another status (religion) [because sexuality is a more inbuilt aspect of human beings than religion], then whenever there is a conflict in the public square (which in real life as actually rather rare) then one must “win” 100% and the other “loose”. This approach is obviously going… Read more »

Dave
Guest
Dave

DaveG wrote: “We in the US will take your conscientious objectors to your government’s new policy (their faith would be respected here)….”

Dear DaveG, I wonder whether it might not come to something like that…. wouldn’t be the first time of course!!!

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

No, Dave. The bottom line is that people like you do not have the right to discriminate against me because of your religion. You have the right to holds and practice that religion, and not be discriminated against because of it. But that doesn’t give you the right to discriminate against others. Get used to it.

CHristopher Shell
Guest
CHristopher Shell

Hi Cheryl-

You wrote: ‘not all correlations infer causation’. Trying to grasp your point – I assume you mean ‘imply’ not ‘infer’.

If that is what you mean, that is precisely the point I was replying to in the first place. Not that anyone believes that all correlations imply causation anyway. But my 5 points (none of which remotely suggested that all correlations imply causation) were designed to show that the relationship between causation and correlation is none the less close.

Hope this is clear.

CHristopher Shell
Guest
CHristopher Shell

Hi David Rowett

There are not just two options open to us, the 1950s and the 1960s. There are thousands of options, and our job is to choose the best/truest available worldview that will bring about the best possible society.

Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Christopher Shell wrote
There are not just two options open to us, the 1950s and the 1960s. There are thousands of options, and our job is to choose the best/truest available worldview that will bring about the best possible society.

Exactly. So the demonisation or raising to heroic status of any decade is inadvisable, including the much-maligned 60’s. Augustinianism rules!

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear Merseymike, I can’t think of a circumstance where I would want to discriminate against someone just because of sexual orientation as such. I am under an obligation from Christ to love everybody!! Christ also made plain that not everything we do (or want to do) is right and good – which lead Him to die for those sins..

If the SORegs (now published) provide protection for people from previous unfair discrimination, and don’t unreasonably limit me manifesting my moral beliefs and religion, I am all for them.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Dave,
Christ didn’t want you to be “under obligation to love”, he wanted you to actually “love”!
Whether we understand him in precise detail or get him wrong at times (all of us!), that remains.

Try actually loving people like Merseymike and myself for a minute. Loving, as in “liking” (James Alison).
Scary, I know….
But we are to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable!

Dave
Guest
Dave

Dear Erika, Love *is* actual love, there isn’t another form! What I mean by ‘obligation to love’ is that even if you don’t feel love for someone, even if they treat you as their enemy, you must still choose to love them.. Not always easy in real life – someone once said something like: “I love the whole human race! It’s just that I can’t stand some of the people I actually know.” Or are you confusing loving people with uncritically loving their actions and desires? That is not a Christian concept, and I doubt that anyone actually does it!

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi David R

To demonise the 1960s in toto and to point out that a certain form of preferred worldview and/or legislation happened to become widespread at that time are two different things. I am doing teh second not the first.

I also agree that the 1980s philosophy was equally selfish albeit in a different way. The fact that people so often go for just one or the other explanation of where things have gone wrong shows how many of us fall for the temptation to be ideologues, whether right or left wing.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Dave,
I never said it was easy! But it’s what Jesus did and what we’re meant to do. A loving that doesn’t include the possibility of liking is only a word that can cloak much hatred. Elevating the perceived sin and using it to discriminate against the “sinner” (who is so satisfyingly more sinning than we are!) is one of the most unpleasant traps Christians fall into.