Sunday, 4 February 2007

The Tablet on the adoption agency row

The Tablet has this leader: Faith’s place in public life and also this feature article by James Freestone Church 1, State 1.

The leader includes this:

…But more broadly even than this, politicians need to consider whether they are dealing a fatal blow to the policy, now promoted by both main parties, of drawing the religious and voluntary sector deeper into the functioning of the welfare state. Ministers have seen that the voluntary sector has a lot to offer; not just expertise but compassion and dedication beyond the call of duty between the hours of nine and five. But those qualities arise precisely because the motivation comes from deep religious commitment. With that religious commitment comes religious convictions, not all of which are likely to be compatible with a monolithic liberal-progressive orthodoxy. In short, the Government may be beckoning the voluntary agencies on board with one hand, and waving them away with the other. And this will be made worse if the perception grows that even politicians with deep religious convictions are no longer welcome in public life. Religion has long had a place in British public life, although as an influence rather than as a protagonist…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 4 February 2007 at 12:41pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

I think I must have missed something.

When I serve, in the name of Christ, or even from basic human impulse, it is not because someone behaves or thinks in some way or not.

It is because they need me.

That is a privilege and an honour, whether the person is a mass murderer or a 'pious' ohsowonderfullypureandalmostgodlike.

I'm utterly stunned that so many people are being so openly un-good-samaritan.

It's like they are proud of it.


Posted by: matthew hunt on Sunday, 4 February 2007 at 2:11pm GMT

Yes, it could well be that state rules mean national or local government provision - for example, so that gay retired couples who want to have their own room in a retirement home do not have to travel miles to find a private one that would be welcoming. It needs, though, legislation to say that someone hoping to set up such a home and provide a public seervice and/ or draw a profit cannot discriminate. If some don't like it, don't do it, and indeed then the state ought to provide. It ought to provide anyway.

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 4 February 2007 at 5:10pm GMT

If the Government thinks that the Catholic church should be excluded from providing public services because it does not believe in giving children to gay partners, maybe they would like to exclude God (or Nature) on the same basis ?!

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 4 February 2007 at 5:29pm GMT

I think the Tablet makes an interesting case and is right to highlight this.

However the argument can equally be turned on its head. If the state is going to increasingly use faith organisations and volunteer support then there is a clear interest for some basic guide rules to be laid down. The first is that services offered to the public (with the help of public money) are offered to all equally.

Imagine if there is a massive extension of faith based services and they all are allowed to opt out of equality legislation regarding one group of people - that would amount to state financed exclusion and discrimination, which no amount of alternative funded arrangements can make up for.

So if the state lays the parameters of the rules pertaining to state funding for faith based initiatives, they will be able to flourish because they will be serving the whole community. Otherwise they will feed exclusion and prejudice in our communities and that is clearly at odds with current public policy see sections 3 and 10 of the Equality Act

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Sunday, 4 February 2007 at 7:03pm GMT

If religious voluntary agencies cannot work without discriminating, then good riddance to them

They will simply have to learn that their homophobia is no longer acceptable.
And God should certainly be excluded from civil government. We do not live in a theocracy

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 4 February 2007 at 7:31pm GMT

Merseymike wrote: "If religious voluntary agencies cannot work without discriminating, then good riddance to them"

Dear Merseymike, You don't seem to understand that religious conviction and morality are not the same as hate; it is not "all or nothing". Are you suggesting that religious bodies SHOULD be discriminated against because they are true to their religion ? Where does that leave the right to religious freedom ? People and groups have an inalienable right to their religions. Just because they disagree with other groups on the degree to which they should have certain rights, doesn't mean that the government should operate a win/loose policy on who does and doesn't have rights..

Imposing uniformity is effectively deleting Rights. If the government just wants to ensure that all groups are equally provided for, it should ensure that everyone has a suitable service provider. If, on the other hand, it wants to discriminate against religious individuals and groups, and remove them from the public square because of their genuine religious beliefs, it is in breach of equality rights, as well as the right to freedom of religion.

Equality for all people, not just for those who are acceptable enough!

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 4 February 2007 at 11:43pm GMT

Dave proclaimed
Equality for all people, not just for those who are acceptable enough!

At last! We 'liberals' have convinced you!:-))

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Monday, 5 February 2007 at 8:58am GMT

Religious bodies are not being discriminated against. They are being treated fairly ie that they should be inclusive in terms of who they provide goods and services to.

The right to discriminate is not a right I would support.

Religious freedom still exists, but they cannot use that freedom in the public sphere to discriminate in the provision of goods and services. They can still discriminate within their own church.

Religious freedom is not about the right to discriminate against others in the public sphere - or is that actually what people like Dave thinks religious freedom means?

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 5 February 2007 at 9:07am GMT

The trouble is that religion may indeed forbid me to provide a public service -- such as a contraceptive (if I am a strict Catholic) or an abortion -- which is otherwise available in the public sphere. This is a matter of conscience rather than anything that can justly be called discrimination.

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Monday, 5 February 2007 at 12:48pm GMT

Dave's refusal to accept that there are limits to freedom of religion, in order to protect society as a whole, is well known from previous threads. He wont accept that there are laws that quite rightly protect society from religious views it finds objectionable. Catholic bigotry may be at the thin end of the wedge. At the other, there are some pretty scary people who believe their religion teaches them to decapitate British soldiers.

Posted by: Terence Dear on Monday, 5 February 2007 at 1:29pm GMT

Neither Wilberforce nor Shaftesbury would be electable today. Unless of course we had proper PR to replace a liberal-humanist monopoly which systematically excludes all the largest and oldest international communities - and then claims to be representing the people.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Monday, 5 February 2007 at 1:41pm GMT

"The trouble is that religion may indeed forbid me to provide a public service -- such as a contraceptive (if I am a strict Catholic) or an abortion -- which is otherwise available in the public sphere. This is a matter of conscience rather than anything that can justly be called discrimination."

Untill you act upon it against your Neighbour.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 6 February 2007 at 5:45am GMT

mynsterpreost wrote: "Dave proclaimed: Equality for all people, not just for those who are acceptable enough! At last! We 'liberals' have convinced you!:-))

Dear mynsterpreost, I didn't need convincing at all! I am convinced that we people all equal in God's eyes, but that not all sexual desires and behaviours are acceptable in His eyes. I think you would also agree with that! Where we would probably disagree is just on one class of desires and behaviours that could be termed "consentual, adult". I also exclude many of those because they are against God's intentions as we see them in the revealed and natural orders. Whereas you would probably argue that they are ok - for those people who perceive them to be "natural for them".

Posted by: Dave on Thursday, 8 February 2007 at 11:26pm GMT

"Revealed and natural orders". Let's unpack that. Across human society, there have been many different kinds of "family". Momogamy is our current Western idol, but polygamy, polyandry and even same sex marriage exist in other societies. To stay close to the "revealed order" even those to whom we believe God revealed Himself more clearly than to anyone but us, the Jewish people, at the time when God's revelations were being made, considered polygamy to be part of this "revealed order". Given that homosexual behaviour is not rare in nature, despite what conservatives need to believe, your "natural" argument is reduced to genital compatibility and reproductive possibility. the first reveals an incredibly mechanistic, and ultimately unIncarnational I would say, attitude towards sex, the latter would preclude sexual relations in ANY context that could not lead to procreation. If your partner is past menopause, your own argument means you must practice sexual abstinence.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 9 February 2007 at 1:52pm GMT
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