Thinking Anglicans

UK Government Stands Firm against Faith Exemptions

Updated

This press release from the Faith, Homophobia, Transphobia, & Human Rights Conference held on Saturday:

UK GOVERNMENT WILL STAND FIRM AGAINST FAITH EXEMPTIONS ON LGBT EQUALITIES

Government Equalities Minister, Maria Eagle pledged that she and other Ministers would stand firm against any attempts by faith groups to get out of the demands of LGBT legislation and the forthcoming Equality Bill.

Addressing a cutting-edge UK conference, Faith, Homophobia. Transphobia, & Human Rights – building positive alliances for equality and sexual diversity, Ms. Eagle pointed out :

“Values of equality and social justice are held by many within as well as outside faith communities. The circumstances in which religious institutions can practice anything less than full equality are few and far between. While the state would not intervene in narrowly ritual or doctrinal matters within faith groups, these communities cannot claim that everything they run is outside the scope of anti-discrimination law. Members of faith groups have a role in making the argument in their own communities for greater LGBT acceptance, but in the meantime the state has a duty to protect people from unfair treatment.”

The Minister’s position was reflected in the views of other Conference speakers from a variety of faith, spiritual, and non-religious backgrounds. Bringing greetings from TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber, Peter Purton from the TUC Equality & Employment Rights Department, warned that people resisting progress towards rights for all “have stolen the language of religion.”

The full press release is published here as a PDF file and most of it is also available here, republished by Religious Intelligence.

Audio recordings of the speakers are also available:

More material is available here.

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JCF
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JCF

The fact that, in this case, “rendering unto Caesar” represents the *more Godly* choice, is a sad commentary on too many faith groups in the UK. Lord have mercy!

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Good news. I hope the Government sticks to its guns.

Joe
Guest
Joe

Legislating tolerance that is intolerant to all who disagree is not tolerance. Welcome to the present evil age.

Joe+

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Members of faith groups have a role in making the argument in their own communities for greater LGBT acceptance, but in the meantime the state has a duty to protect people from unfair treatment.” – Maria Eagle, Equalities Minister – I think this is a very fair statement of what is the Church’s responsibility in this area of equal human rights – as well as exemplifying the biblical ethic of Mishpat; peace-bearing justice. While the Church persists in separating common justice issues from its own sometimes archaic precepts of moral and social justice, there will always be friction between the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

If anyone wants a contemporary understanding of the case for passage of this legislation – against discrimination of the LBGT community, then do listen to these three excellent speeches; by Giles Fraser. Maria Eagle and Dr. Marilyn McCord Adams. Compelling stuff!

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

this was the second such conference organised by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement who are to be commended for the huge effort getting such varied speakers takes. Absolutely fascinating to hear Trevor Phillips say that if they had known of the reaction to Joel Edwards’ appointment – things might have been different – and, what’s this – Joel doesn’t hold these views any more … we need to know a little more about that … Very timely considering the new legislation and the reaction of the Church of England, well done LGCM this is the work that really changes… Read more »

Una Kroll
Guest

Thank God for that resistance to faith organisations. I had already asked for the help of my MP and will try to follow the debates. This is one of the issues where I do feel very strongly that the institutional faiths have got it wrong and need to he challenged. Una

badman
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badman

The Church has been damaged because the right to discriminate against gay people has been its core message in public affairs.

As Rowan Williams admitted in his Jamaican address on 11 May:

“…there are some who would say that in this conflict the credibility of Christianity itself is at stake”

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Joe
Tolerance means letting the others live by their own principles provided they don’t do actual harm society has to be protected from.

If society stopping you from discriminating against me simply because of your personal ideology is intolerance, then so be it.
Legislation would not be necessary if you didn’t think you had the right to interfere with my life.

rick allen
Guest

Perhaps the most telling quote is from Canon Fraser: “Homophobia is a sin and its eradication from churches, mosques and synagogues is one of the most urgent challenges for people of faith in the 21st century.”

“Pre-progressive” notions of marriage and chastity are now sins that must be eradicated, not only from the State Church, which is subject to Parliament’s direct control, but from all religious organizations. Tolerance is apparently no longer an option.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Rick
Of course we tolerate your views and will continue to do so.

What we do not tolerate, and what the church shouldn’t tolerate either, is that your views of marriage and chastity should be binding for everyone.

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

rick allen: so should discrimintion on the basis of “pre-progressive” attitudes to black people, women, Jews, left-handed people, etc., etc. also be tolerated in civil society? Isn’t that a rather strange argument – “I hold values from a few taboo-ridden centuries back that tell me to carry on stigmatising gay people, therefore I should be specially exempted so as to carry on doing so”?

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

One gets the feeling they will be wiped out at the next Election.

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

The exact traditionalistic point so far is that (A) premodern beliefs about gays (nasty stuff all round?) are categorically true. Plus, (B). Pressure or even force must be used to interfere in the daily lives of gay people, or terrible things will happen. (Just as the premodern fears predict?) Belief A flies patently in the face of the fact that we really have changed our premodern beliefs already. We no longer think that gays cause crop failture, or a whole list of other unnatural disruptions which common sense and religious and folk thinking attributed to non-reproductive sexual behavior in past… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

Perhaps churches should be forced to call Muslims as priests and Hindus as deacons, too, huh? How can you not see, Erika et al, that many Christians view this as a moral/religious matter? As I understand the legislation, no one is saying you can’t be gay, they’re just saying churches (and ONLY religious groups) should be able to say, “a gay lifestyle is inconsistent with our religious concept of moral purity.” I could see churches saying the same thing about the use of beverage alcohol, gambling, or other morally ambiguous issues. No one has to agree with the religious institution’s… Read more »

john
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john

Everyone here knows – for what it’s worth – which side I’m on. Nevertheless, Giles Fraser’s typically lazy formulation crystallises everything I find problematic about this man and about a certain type of ‘liberalism’ that he champions. Of course, “homophobia” (itself a sloppy term) is a sin. The question is: what constitutes homophobia? It is open to conservatives to respond: we do not fear/hate homosexuals, we love them and welcome them but we think that actual homosexual activity is wrong. I don’t agree: but they can argue this, and it is not ‘per se’ homophobic.

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Joe, there is a big difference in “disagreement” and then denying somebody a job/membership/ratification because of how God made them.

It’s like what Giles Fraser said in his speech, you can make all the jokes at the “terraces” (stadiums?) with the “good ‘ole boys” (blokes? mates?) during ball games, to act on them is a whole ‘nother thing altogether!

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Whew, thanks to all those who gave talks at the LGCM Conference. Wish I’d been present. GF, thanks for saying, antigay stuff isn’t special high religious principle; it’s mechanic garage and bar and football pitch (mainly male?) prejudice, pure and simple. Are you listening, Canterbury? ME, thanks for being willing to do hard, direct work, standing as equality minister. Putting a duty on the book is not the whole job, just the beginning of the job. Job LGBTQ? Bravo. MMcC, thanks for working so brilliantly on the critical scholarship needed to frame wider cultural, historical, scholarly perspectives on these hot… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Trouble is, trouble that won’t go away is, you can still claim to believe negative things about gay folks; but you will shortly shift to saying that you cannot understand embodied sexual orientation according to nothing but the received ancient categories (which know nothing of that idea, sexual orientation). Next, you have to focus on condeming sex behavior; backgrounding the modern mysteries of sexual orientation as such. Still yet, it’s no intellectual solution. You are now just shifted over a bit, still needing to explain exactly what is wrong with these sex behaviors when two men or two women do… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
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choirboyfromhell

“I could see churches saying the same thing about the use of beverage alcohol, gambling, or other morally ambiguous issues” And this is related to being born gay via what type of logic? “Do you really believe that gays have a special right to force their beliefs and practices on EVERYONE else?” Like the bumper sticker on the back of my bedroom doors says-“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are NOT ‘Special Rights'”. “…but on this matter I’m certainly glad I live in a country with true religious freedom.” I’m glad you live in the same country as I… Read more »

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

Of course you cannot legislate tolerance – only tolerant behavior. Who knows how many generations of tolerant behavior are required to achieve tolerance? I think it’s also time for some people to face that a lot of fears about how this will change society are a bit unfounded. Most people, given the choice, don’t want to take a job where people think they are defective scum. Note: I said given the choice, sometimes there aren’t any available, one must pay the bills associated with a place to live and food on the table. Joe, I really feel your leaps to… Read more »

Gerry Lynch
Guest
Gerry Lynch

There’s a part of me that sympathises with John’s point of view; I mistrust institutions and ideologies even when they happen to be ones I agree with. But ‘faith communities’ brought this on themselves. The immediate response of the Diocese of Hereford to the Reaney case, for example, was to say that they would be imposing new doctrinal tests on applicants for posts as Youth Workers. A good way of catching the queers out, without overtly singling out the queers. Except anyone with half a brain knew exactly what was going on and, laus deo, in these islands in the… Read more »

Joe
Guest
Joe

Choirboy, you’re ramblings almost made sense. Let me get this straight, I think churches ought to have the right to decide moral issues without government interference THEREFORE I must be against civil unions for gay people. WHAT? No, I think the (US) government should get out of the matrimony business altogether. It’s a religious matter. Civil unions on the other hand are the right of the state and in our representative republic each state should have the right to decide if they want to recognize gay unions. I, in fact, would support civil unions for homosexual couples. Nevertheless, what I… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Do you really believe that gays have a special right to force their beliefs and practices on EVERYONE else?” – Joe, on Thursday –

No, Joe, we don’t – that’s only your perception!
Nor do we want you and yours to force your beliefs and practices on us.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“One gets the feeling they will be wiped out at the next Election.” – Robert Williams –

Exactly who are ‘They’ here Robert?

If you mean your fellow Roman Catholics, I don’t think that is likely. After all, this legislation is about non-discrimination, is it not?

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Legislating tolerance that is intolerant to all who disagree is not tolerance. Welcome to the present evil age” – Joe, on Thursday –

I think that the word you really should be using here, Joe, is ‘anti-discrimination’ – which is rather different from ‘tolerance’. The weight of meaning is very different. The LGBT community, for instance, are not looking for tolerance, they are looking for non-discrimination – a very different thing.

And, Do have a nice day. (Evil be to him who…)

ErikaBaker
Guest
ErikaBaker

Joe
since the gays “special beliefs” you refer to are simply equality with anyone else, nothing special, yes, I do think we have the right in a civilised society to expect that people get it.

You seem to confuse tolerance of ideas with the permission to discriminate against those you disagree with.

ErikaBaker
Guest
ErikaBaker

Joe
“It’s about the government staying out of religion.”

Yes, and I don’t see any government initiative to legislate who the church must baptise and who it must marry, do you? Or what you have to believe about the Trinity.

And it doesn’t forbid you to preach that homosexuality is wrong, just as it doesn’t forbid you to preach that gambling is wrong.

I see no government initiative that forces you to have a gay priest in your parish, or that compels you to conduct same sex blessings.

Your right to discriminate within your own club is still intact.

What are you complaining about?

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

“WHAT? No, I think the (US) government should get out of the matrimony business altogether. It’s a religious matter. Civil unions on the other hand are the right of the state……” So what is preventing us from splitting the two? What’s preventing us from getting rid of the indirect subsidy to taxpayers (“Married filing Jointly” on your 1040)? Who do you think and what lobby fights against this? Get real. Tell that to your buddies who supported Prop 8 in California, along with all the attendees of pole barn “churches”, that are the only new buildings being built at present… Read more »

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

Joe,

Rest assured that your original comment was clear but unconvincing, and there was no need to “simplify” your statement. I am unimpressed with the fundamentalist tradition of circulus in probando, and your additional swirls added little to the argument.

john
Guest
john

Gerry, Thanks. My point was a narrow one: I just think Giles Fraser argues badly and that this does liberal Christianity a disservice. I entirely agree with your point about Northern Ireland (where I was born and raised – though haven’t worked there since 1979). In fact, Northern Ireland is a main factor why I’m against all faith schools – don’t suppose I’d ban them but I certainly argue against them. Note that Giles Fraser supports them. Of course, the main reason Christians – and others – support them is anxiety about the possible collapse of their faith. The anxiety… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

What strange words ‘homophobia’ and ‘transphobia’ are. Why? (1) ‘Homophobia’ translates as ‘fear of that which is the same’. The same as what? Likewise ‘Transphobia’ is perhaps ‘fear of that which changes from A to B’. Well, many things do that. It is a large indicator of pansexualisation that it is assumed that whenever one is talking about *anything* at all being the same, or *anything* at all changing, one must be referring to sexual or homosexual matters. (After all, what other topics exist for human discussion?) (2) Why does the meaning ‘fear’ get turned into the meaning ‘hatred’? They… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi drdanfee- You haven’t yet, as far as I know, responded to the point regarding the acknowledgement of homosexual orientation by Aristophanes and Plato. To say it is absent in all ancient literature is quite a claim, since one would need to have all ancient literature at one’s fingertips before making such a claim. Of course, any such acknowledgment by the ancients would not (to mix metaphors) be dressed up in the cultural baggage of the 21st century west. How could they have known what our cultures and concepts would be? But it doesn’t follow that ours are superior or… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“the fact that it is perfectly possible that one might oppose homosexuality for rational rather than emotional reasons” Indeed so, Christopher, but it is a very rare phenomenon. I cannot remember ever seeing it, though I may. It certainly doesn’t seem to exist among “Christian” opponents of gay people. Oh, they all protest loudly that they “hate the sin, love the sinner”, but their subsequent words and actions prove otherwise in short order. Can you give me one example of a Christian opponent of homosexuality, and we are talking about modern people now, whose opposition to homosexuality is not based… Read more »

mario
Guest
mario

If anyone wants a contemporary understanding of the case for passage of this legislation – against discrimination of the LB GT community, then do listen to these three excellent speeches; by Giles Fraser. Maria Eagle and Dr. Marilyn McCord Adams. Compelling stuff.

——————–

Mario

mls

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Honest people want to seek the truth and dishonest people wish to avoid it. ITo that end they will hand-pick speakers to put a cross a particular perspective which affirms their existing position, rather than wishing knowledge to be advanced by challenging cut and thrust or even dialogue of any kind.

Looking at the choice of speakers, the word ‘unbalanced’ is an understatement. So which type of conference was this? Honest or dishonest? Academically respectable or demagoguery?

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Christopher: how does this compare with any conferences organised by proponents of the conservative position on the gay issue then? Are you suggesting that they are ever 1) balanced or 2) academically respectable?

Blackwell’s bookshop in Oxford had a great pile of books on The Gay Issue in its Theology section when I last looked: I couldn’t see a single one seriously arguing for ongoing ecclesiastical homophobia as an academically respectable position.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Looking at the choice of speakers, the word ‘unbalanced’ is an understatement. So which type of conference was this? Honest or dishonest? Academically respectable or demagoguery? – Christopher Shell – Here you go again, Christopher Shell, stating the obvious. If you were to be organising a public conference on a particular subject about which you felt a particular passion, would you invite oppositional speakers? If so, one wonders why you would call a conference to advance your cause. Surely you are not oblivious of the fact that any conference organised by *Global South*, *ACNA*, *FOCA, or other anti-Gay sodalities in… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Fr Mark- Homophobia academically respectable? It is not academic in any way: it is something emotional not rational. Remember that bookbuying is partly down to a store’s buyers, ideology, image they want to project to known customer base, etc.. Hi Fr Ron- Your comment puzzled me. If lack of balance is a fault – and you don’t disagree with that, surely – then how could it be less a fault among one party than among another? There are of course circumstances – such as, so far as one can see, the abortion issue, where the very reason for the… Read more »