Saturday, 24 March 2007

SORs: follow-up and analysis

Ekklesia has Victory goes to equality in House of Lords vote.
The BBC has Blair proud of gay rights record.

The Daily Mail has How agencies could beat gay adoption laws and also Gay adoption laws forced through by the Lords.

…Equalities Minister Meg Munn admitted the nine Catholic adoption societies in England would be released from the demands of the Sexual Orientation Regulations if they forego cash from state-run social services and instead rely entirely on collections from supporters.

The announcement caused speculation that the Catholic Church could launch an appeal to England’s one million Catholic churchgoers to make up the £10million agencies get from local councils.

Miss Munn revealed the breakaway option in a Parliamentary written answer.

She explained how regulation 14 of the gay rights laws allows religious organisations exemption from the discrimination rules, as long as they are not run on commercial lines.

They can discriminate if it is necessary to comply with doctrine or the beliefs of members…

The Parliamentary written answer to which reference is made above can be found here.

The Evangelical Alliance issued this press release: Christians should continue to deliver public services until the law stops them.

Craig Nelson has an excellent detailed and critical analysis of the bishops’ contributions to the House of Lords debate at More on the House of Lords debate - the bishops’ speeches. It’s worth reading in full, but predictably he selects this quote from the Bishop of Winchester as winning the prize:

“I greatly regret the fact that the Government chose not to do so, but, rather, chose to legislate to coerce the churches and others to accept as the norm for this society—the regulations ask us to accept this and to collude in the Government’s promotion—alternative patterns of living and of family life that many people conscientiously believe are less than the best, less than the most healthy, and less than God’s will for humankind.”

Keith Porteous of the National Secular Society has much harsher things to say about the bishops:

“As it turned out, only three of the bishops turned up. They probably realised that a show of brute power would seriously jeopardise the survival of the Bishops Bench in House of Lords reform. But they clearly tried to field their top brass. This included the Archbishop of York, who even apologised for the absence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and two senior bishops. All voted against the Regulations…

…“Their remarks were torn to shreds by several speakers in a way that would have been unthinkable just a year ago. The most effective attacks came from three non-aligned Christians, two peers who happen to be gay and a baroness who was chief executive of Childline. To murmurs of approval they lectured the prelates on love and discrimination. It was unforgettable.

“Lord (Chris) Smith spoke of the humiliation of a gay couple being turned away from a bed and breakfast, and the reality of gay and lesbian people being removed from GP lists because of their sexuality. In one of the most powerful speeches of the evening, Lord Waheed Alli spoke of his father, a Muslim. The Koran openly says that Jews should be killed, he told peers. As a Muslim, if he truly believed that, then there should not be a law against it, according to the arguments of the bishops. ‘The sight of children holding up homophobic placards outside the Lords seems a good argument for these regulations,’ he told peers. Baroness Howarth of Breckland concluded ‘Gay people deserve that as much as any of us, just as Wilberforce said that every black person deserved equal treatment.’

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 24 March 2007 at 10:54am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation
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Terry Sanderson in the link to the National Secular Society wrote: "They walk away from this confrontation with a reinforced reputation for bigotry. It is well deserved."

Amen to that.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 24 March 2007 at 1:07pm GMT

As I explored the attitudes and statements, along with eventually coming across other links, I pondered afresh Canterbury's past comments, Nobody is arguing for an unintelligent reading ....

See: http://chrispaul-labouroflove.blogspot.com/2007/03/homophobia-special-disgusted-of.html

Even when the conservatives narratives are sometimes a tad more measured and/or moderated on the right, the intention and negative tone is astoundingly clear.

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 24 March 2007 at 3:45pm GMT

I think that this comment from Lord Smith is also very moving:

"Secondly, some people listening to the discussion tonight might be forgiven for thinking that the point of view expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady O’Cathain, is the point of view of all people of faith and all people who take Jesus Christ as their Lord. That is not true, either. For me and many Christians, the Christ whom we look to is someone who talked about love and inclusion, who accepted and drew in the people who did not fit into the mainstream of society and did not seek to exclude them."

This can't be said enough.

--sheila--

Posted by: sheila on Saturday, 24 March 2007 at 5:08pm GMT

These bishops are becoming a farce, an embarrassment and pathetic.

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 24 March 2007 at 8:21pm GMT

It is true beyond a shadow of doubt that Jesus welcomed the outsider, the excluded, and those on the margins. Sinners, prostitutes and pagans all flocked to Him. On this both traditionalists and revsionists agree. But what traditionalists affirm and revisionists deny is that Jesus then went onto demand that sinners practise righteousness, prostitues embrace chastity, and that pagans forsake ploytheism and follow the one living and true God. This is the Christ not only of Christianity but of the universal and undivided Church in both East and West for two millenia. So Jesus is both at one and the same time both radically inclusive and radically exclusive. He radically includes all who are prepared to abandon all and become nothing for Him. People with no rights, no demands, and no a priori claims or stipulations. This needs to be done so He can refashion and remake us according to His design as it was "in the beginging" for in the begining it was fundamentally "not" as we have made it.

Posted by: Athos on Saturday, 24 March 2007 at 8:36pm GMT

Yeah. The God of complexity and diversity reigns. No more distilling God to some rarified and unpalatable level. The God who loves to be loved, who seeks out the lost and forgotten, who heals the sick, binds up the broken hearted. We all know the God of power e.g. the tsunami, and now we also remember the God of compassion and mercy. Yeah.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Saturday, 24 March 2007 at 10:16pm GMT

Athos, I'm not sure your grasp of Scripture is entirely correct. The Centurion acknowledges Jesus' authority, but doesn't offer to give up paganism. And even the case of the woman taken in adultery is less clear cut than you might like - she is told, not to keep her knickers on in future but to 'sin no more' - not far removed from 'your sins are forgiven' said to the paralytic: in fact, I'd say that to particularise Jesus words to her undermines the thrust of the entire story. She is not told to 'give up her sinful lifestyle' though I can see it is a great comfort to reasserters to believe otherwise.

Zacchaeus is your best bet of someone turning away from a previous wrong on encountering Jesus - but does Jesus demand it? I think not, though he rejoices when Zacchaeus acknowledges him ('salvation has come...').

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Sunday, 25 March 2007 at 8:25am BST

Thank you for your interseting comments David. I think Christ's inclusive/exclusive claims are most exemplified when He says things like "For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son that whoever beleives [inclusive] in Him [exclusive] will not perish but have eternal life". It is inconceivable that once folks yielded to these radical claims they were ever the same again. The Christian Church was not known for being inhabited by those who worshiped Christ AND Zeus or who loved Jesus AND promiscuity. In fact Jesus often made His deamnds more onerous than the teaching of the Scribes and Pharasies. Witness His teaching on marriage.

Posted by: Athos on Sunday, 25 March 2007 at 12:26pm BST

Yet another misrepresentation. Sigh.

Apparently the revisionists deny "...prostitutes embrace chastity..."

Sorry, this revisionist is calling for chastity. It's called an attempt at lifelong monogamy, to the same standard called upon for heterosexual couples, with the same compassionate interpretation of the law for those who fail to meet the standard that heterosexuals also fail to meet.

We are not asking for more for GLBTs than we are asking of homosexuals, nor are we demanding less of them that we are of heterosexuals. We do not demand that a soul without limbs uses the staircase, but we do demand that they show up for their job on time, unencumbered by the unnecessary roadblock of a building that precludes wheelchair access.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 25 March 2007 at 12:27pm BST

Mynsterpreost, I'm not sure your grasp of Scripture is entirely correct. According to Church Tradition, the centurion did in fact give up paganism, nor is he the only example in the Bible of pagans turning and giving up paganism (cf the beginning of the letter to the Philippians 'how you turned to God from idols'). Even the case of the woman taken in adultry is more clear cut than you think. She is told, not to keep on sinning but to 'sin no more' which according to the Hebrew law would generally mean keeping her knickers on in future (marriage excepted) and altering her sinful lifestyle, difficult to keep a sinful lifestyle while obeying the command to 'sin no more'.

Zacchaeus is a great example. Jesus may not demand it in this situation (I believe he does in others - 'repent and believe'), but he rejoices in it. Should we as Christians be looking to the least we can do in order to secure 'salvation' or some other some such good, or should we be striving to do everything we can to gain the rejoicing of Jesus over our lives. Not that we are saved by works, we are undeniably saved by Christ, nothing we do can contribute, nevertheless, there is something undeniable wonderful in the image of Jesus rejoicing over Zacchaeus, and as the Church we should be seeking that, not using it as a get out clause.

Posted by: JamesCrocker on Sunday, 25 March 2007 at 1:34pm BST

Athos - you are conflating what Jesus may have said and what the Christian Churches say about him. Lofty refelective theological statements aren't necessarily the same as present-forward looking endtime statements in a Jewish context.

In a worldview where health, death, wealth and sin-salvation are all wrapped up, and there is a great deal uneven and what we would consider unfair about life, Jesus is preparing these people. Claims are made to him about who he is, but he is reluctant to make claims about himself and in using The Son of Man he is using an open, dynamic and future-laden concept that leads the messianic and the Christ identities as more open to dialogue among a few and in the early Churches. Telling someone to sin no more is a statement of preparation, orientation and readiness for what is coming and their access opened to it.

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 25 March 2007 at 2:15pm BST

As to Athos's comments, which are interesting, although they use that old trick of superimposing hyper-authoritative talk over one's opinions so that to disagree agree with them is to be disagreeing with something big (God, The Book, the Universal and Undivided Church of Two Millennia - sorry but it looks fairly divided to me.... and as for Universal, doesn't that have at least some connotations of being for everyone?).

That apart; Jesus invites all to repentance. The thing at issue is whether repentance for LGB people means changing their sexual orientation; which if it is seems to be salvation by works and something (including celibacy) which isn't demanded of other believers.

Doesn't the forgiveness of Jesus open us up to a new life, not a launch into the old life of works based salvation associated with divine permission to perpetuate hostility (persecution, discrimination, lesser moral status -remember the Bishop of Winchester's 3 lesses)?

Put bluntly is this a gospel? Come unto me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest. I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.

I think Jesus came to bring fulness and abundance and in my version of the New Testament he came to bring it for everyone.

(But I think I might now have done the same as Athos in cloaking my points with an authoritative language of the gospel - except that I belong to a class of people that isn't allowed to do that. Full access to authoritative speech is reserved for heterosexuals who alone may interpret the Bible).

Having said all of that I think there is something interesting in Athos's statement, which I fundamentally have no argument with:

"People with no rights, no demands, and no a priori claims or stipulations. This needs to be done so He can refashion and remake us according to His design as it was "in the beginging" for in the begining it was fundamentally "not" as we have made it."

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Sunday, 25 March 2007 at 10:39pm BST

It seems at least Cardinal Cormac Murhpy - O'Connor agrees with me!

Check out the link to Steve Doughty's Article in today's Daily Mail.

Excellent article in todays Daily Mail. Thursday 29 March Page 19. It's gay rights laws that are intolerant, says Cardinal.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=445280&in_page_id=1770

I have been campaigning on this issue for the last three months, indeed I was one of the original protesters outside the House of Lords on Tuesday 9 January 2007 and was interviewed by Times religious Correspondent Ruth Gledhill a copy of that interview is now on the Times SOR Religion Blog and also on YouTube. I have written to many newspapers and appeared on many websites debating the unfairness of these new SORS.

TIMES SOR BLOG AND YOUTUBE INTERVIEW

http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2007/01/christians_torc.html

Posted by: Simon Icke on Thursday, 29 March 2007 at 4:52pm BST
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