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still more on the McFarlane case

Nancy Doyle asks on the Charities_Parliament blog Was Lord Carey right to question ruling made against Christian who refused to treat gay couple?

Tom Chivers at the Telegraph argues that Religious beliefs should not trump the laws of the land.
George Pitcher does not agree.

From Eastbourne comes Christians warned of increasing marginalisation in the UK, a report on a conference where Bishop Wallace Benn, Oak Hill principal Mike Ovey, and others attacked Lord Justice Laws:

“Lord Laws also believes something, he fails to see that he has a faith too … secularism fails to understand that it is a religion.”

And there is an interview with Bishop Benn over here: Wallace Benn on the marginalisation of Christians in the UK.

But best of all, in today’s Guardian Stephen Bates tells us how Anglican the judge at the centre of this controversy really is. In the Diary column he writes:

…So just who is this wicked, secularist judge who doesn’t understand the former archbish’s concept of Christianity? Intriguingly, it turns out that Laws could scarcely be more Anglican if he tried…

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Bill DilworthRosemary HannahRichard AshbyJPMevensongjunkie (formerly cbfh) Recent comment authors
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Sara MacVane
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Sara MacVane

Thanks to Stephen Bates, as so often.

Bishop Alan Wilson
Guest

Having had dinner once with Mr Justice Laws (albeit in 1997), I can heartily endorse Stephen Bates’ point. The part of Lord Carey’s case he hasn’t really demonstrated is a part that may appear so obvious to him it doesn’t need articulating: why views on homosexuality are somehow the core determinant of historic Christianity. However strong the conventional moral disapproval of it by past Christians, it has traditionally been seen as something to discuss with one’s spiritual director, not the Great Shibboleth. Blowing it up from the former into the latter is in itself an innovation, and this creates a… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre and Christian Concern For Our Nation says ‘What compels us to speak the Gospel is believing in hell and the fact that we don’t want anyone to go there.’ What gives this women the right to pronounce from the pulpit of these narrow minded and, in my view, non Christian, organisations what is best for the rest of us? She wants us to follow like sheep her own perverted interpretation of the gospel. The arrogance is breathtaking. I shall do my own thinking thank you very much. And Wallace Benn, who is… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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And a female canon at that. But Wally isn’t dead yet!

MH
Guest
MH

Whatever one may think of Lord Laws’ decision, his argument at section 23 of the judgement is questionable, and I’m surprised not to have seen anyone pick this up. He makes a distinction between a moral position commended by reason, held on objective grounds (he gives the examples of the prohibition of violence and dishonesty), and a moral position held because of its ‘religious imprimatur’, which is necessarily subjective because it depends on faith and cannot be communicated by proof or evidence. But no-one can show by purely rational, objective argument that dishonesty, for example, is immoral, without a subjective… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

I would still like to get a proper reply as to why this case ever went to court. Yes, the judgement is right. Yes, Lord Carey is completely misguided. Yes, discriminating against gay people on any grounds is totally wrong. But this is about therapy and about effective therapist-patient relationships. No therapist is able to treat every kind of clients, each has their own emotional barriers that get in the way and prevent them from being suitable for a particular client. There are proper systems in place that enable therapists to refer these clients to one of their colleagues. Why… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

Wonderful, Stephen Bates. Already bookmarked.

peterpi
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peterpi

Thank you, Simon for this collection of articles. As American entertainer Elvira once said, this is déjà vu all over again. The American and English Christian alarmists are virtually interchangeable. They certainly seem to be using the same phrase book. Give GLBT people rights, and suddenly the usual Christian suspects make the usual ridiculous claims. In much the same words. His Lofty Sanctimoniousness Lord Carey accepts religious diversity — at least I hope he does!!!! — and England long ago gave up being an exclusively Christian realm, but let GLBT people have civil rights, and suddenly the Vikings are once… Read more »

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

Judge Laws a communicant member of the Church of England – Carey need not have worried.

Cheryl Va.
Guest

Loved Bates’ piece. The real issue is that there are some very selfish and manipulative christians who have tried to make themselves “above the law”. It’s not just about whether or not gay couples can receive counselling, it also comes back to how women are treated and excluded, accountability for abuse of children, misuse of power, bullying. One feature of this wave of reforms is that the idea of religious organisations being “above the law” is being overturned. It is not appropriate for souls to be abused, tormented, deprived, shunned, or insulted; nor for souls to gloat over their suffering… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“As American entertainer Elvira once said, this is déjà vu all over again.”

FTR, this should properly be attributed to American baseball player Yogi Berra.

Larry Bradford
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Larry Bradford

It might be worth remembering something the great social philosopher, Mahatma Ghandi, said: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”

badman
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badman

Hear, hear, Bishop Wilson.

What is worrying, however, is that the message that all Christians are – indeed must be – homophobic is now being put out so strongly, and so regularly, that it is widely accepted by those outside the Church – to our shame.

It is troubling for liberal Christians. But I fear it may be toxic for the future of the Church of England.

Dennis
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Dennis

MH wrote, “…no-one can show by purely rational, objective argument that dishonesty, for example, is immoral, without a subjective starting point.” Actually, the philosopher Immanuel Kant did it rather nicely with his concept of the categorical imperative. Agree or disagree with where Kant winds up, he at least met your conditions. Perhaps though you have slipped in the concept of God in to your use of the word “moral.” Which makes your point something like “no one can demonstrate a godly morality without God.” Circular argument. Anyway, back to a discussion of the links. I would be curious to see… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Sir John Laws has a reputation for defending people’s rights against the “tyranny of parliament”and other institutions, so along with Stephen Bates’ splendid news that he is a devoted Anglican, it is hard to think of a judge less suited to the abuse and allegations of devil (secularist) worship being directed at him by a few conservative Christians. Its no surprise that the Principal of Oak Hill gets a F- for his research on Lord Justice Laws, for as I read it Sir John was saying that the view faith was subjective and incommunicable by any kind of proof or… Read more »

peterpi
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peterpi

Pat O’Neill, thank you for the clarification. Now that I think about it, it would be something Yogi Berra would say. But my first instance of hearing it came from an Elvira commercial in which she was pitching beer, not baseballs.

Joe Cassidy
Guest

Just to continue the Kantian idea: Kant’s argument is really about internal contradictions in a system. If one makes truth-telling optional, then no one will be able to trust anyone. But if you can’t trust anyone, then lying is no longer an advantage. Kant’s famous example was making a false promise to get medicine: if this were moral, then it would undermine the system that enables chemists to supply drugs in the first place. If you accept the need for coherence as a prerequisite for any ethics, or for any rule-bound system, then this is probably about as objective an… Read more »

JPM
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JPM

While we are on the subject of professional anti-gay campaigners, the co-founder of the Family Research Council, one of the most powerful fundamentalist pressure groups in the U.S. and source of much of the “scholarship” being pushed by the likes of Carey and Orombi, has been caught taking a European vacation with a male prostitute he picked up on a site called rentboy.com.

Here in the U.S., we have become used to professional scolds getting caught up in lurid sex scandals. It’s becoming about as predictable as the sun rising in the morning.

Details here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_evangelist_scandals#George_Alan_Rekers.2C_2010

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

‘While we are on the subject of professional anti-gay campaigners, the co-founder of the Family Research Council, one of the most powerful fundamentalist pressure groups in the U.S. and source of much of the “scholarship” being pushed by the likes of Carey and Orombi, has been caught taking a European vacation with a male prostitute he picked up on a site called rentboy.com.’ Why am I not even slightly shocked ? What does this man’s confessor or spiritual director have to say to him — or does he feel no need of such ancient medecines. (after all on any reckoning… Read more »

evensongjunkie (formerly cbfh)
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evensongjunkie (formerly cbfh)

“What does this man’s confessor or spiritual director have to say to him — or does he feel no need of such ancient medecines. (after all on any reckoning it is a grave sin to be duplicitous and to be caught red er handed !).”

You assume that these people would be humble enough to ever have a mentor to begin with.

JPM
Guest
JPM

The Rekers story has now hit the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8665812.stm

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

The George Rekers scandal proves that there is a God afterall, and He has a sense of humour!

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

Hypocrisy is horrible of course – but do imagine how terrible it must be to be intellectually committed to the belief that it is terrible to be gay, whilst BEING gay and unable to control your behaviour, and driven to condemn others and to make them as miserable as you are. Poor poor man- trapped in a web of self disgust and anger and destruction.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“whilst BEING gay and unable to control your behaviour”

I don’t think that the “unable to control your behaviour” is a given.