Friday, 29 May 2009

critics of the Equality Bill

Updated

There have been quite a few of these during the last week.

The Church of England Newspaper has a news report by Toby Cohen Churches warned over equality laws. In the paper edition the headline was Minister’s warning to churches on equality.

And Andrew Carey discussed it in his regular opinion column in the same issue, headlined A chilling strategy (reproduced at Anglican Mainstream).

Today, the Church Times reported (scroll down to end of article) on what the Christian Institute said about it, which is based on their press releases, linked earlier.

The Spectator published an article by Melanie Phillips entitled The sexualisation of heresy.

Christian Concern for our Nation published Equality Bill will force Churches to Employ Homosexuals. Earlier this organisation had published Equality Bill: An Unworkable, Muddled Hierarchy of Rights.

Update

Neil Addison at Religion Law Blog wrote Religious Freedom in England Today.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 29 May 2009 at 6:28pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation
Comments

I've just finished reading Ms. Phillips Spectator bit. I cannot abide false witness without commenting, of course. Firstly, she repeats all the old presuppositional nonsense, in a tone which energetically urges us to take all the old negatives for granted.

Her basic rhetorical skew is familiar, too, a clear frame: My Way (The only gospel orthodox way) or the Highway. The alternative to following her nasty views, lock step? Why, of course – Anything Goes. Ms. P does readers a passing favor by actually spelling this set of opposed categories out, instead of slyly insinuating. Like looking for setups in school test questions, we can see through some of her frame elements, just because she is setting up fake choices right from the start.

One clue? The only possible frame we can legitimately use to view our gay neighbors is a negative frame, one tinged with high emotions ranging from pitiful concern to scathing condemnation or scorn.

Facts? Oh, let's not do facts, please.

One set of facts immediately comes to mind. One hopes her readers also think of those facts. We have shifted in our views of sexual orientation, firstly because so many of the traditional negative ideas were disconfirmed by empirical hypothesis testing. Then we shifted to researching positives, and low and behold, we discover just as many positives in daily life among gays as among straights. Surprise, again.

Ms. P dismisses all our data as Anything Goes, morally smelly, stinking.

Still we dug deeper. We did not find complete moral and behavioral and sexual chaos in nature. We are still looking, deeply – into culture-socialization, into genome/epigenome, into physiological structures and functions.

Meanwhile, clearly, many acts of violence and discrimination towards gays connect with clinging to the very flat earth views that Ms. P is preaching. A real connect between believing nasty flat earth things about gays, and doing gays harm.

Ms. P also preaches: Good believers are harmed if they cannot justify negative acts towards gays by using flat earth negatives. Using that frame, then, we might surmise: Ms. P believes negative acts towards gays shield us in church and in general society from the awful doom of Anything Goes. My guess? Can Ms. P tell the practical or moral difference, between say, Emperor Nero marrying his horse in ancient Rome, and a committed gay couple in modern UK parenting their children?

Truth? Please?

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 29 May 2009 at 9:44pm BST

Anyone reading any of Melanie Philips' characteristically forthright opinion pieces would be well advised to take a hot bath afterwards.

Posted by: rjb on Friday, 29 May 2009 at 11:41pm BST

"The trouble is that the alliance of the government with so-called ‘progressive’ Christian groups represents the breakdown of trust in the Church. When you have Christians seeking to curtail the freedom of their co-religionists through instruments like the Equality Bill and the Equality and Human Rights Commission then you have a return to the religious persecutions of the past." - Andrew Carey (any relation to..?) -

Has Andrew Carey ever thought that the actions of his fellow Evangelical homophobes have sought to *curtail the freedom of their co-religionists* - in seeking to exacerbate the exclusion of LGBTs and women from fellowship and ministry in the Church, thus dividing the Church and promoting schism on these issues?

Also, the LGBT community are still having to wrestle with the persecution of homophobic *Christians* (like Carey) in the present day and age. It is not a matter of the Government action here being guilty of persecuting Christians, so much as the Government helping to relieve the present Church persecution of Christians and others who are part of the LGBT community.

Let's get a proper sense of perspective on this.
Bravo to a government which seeks to implement a climate of justice in areas where the Church has long been reluctant to do anything about it.

"When the Spirit comes, He/She will lead you into all the truth - about me (Jesus) and about sin."
Happy Pentecotst!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 29 May 2009 at 11:46pm BST

Just for the record--Nero didn't marry his horse; on the other hand, Caligula did get his horse elected to the Senate. Oh, and Caligula--good little heterosexual that he was--married his sister.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 30 May 2009 at 12:28am BST

It seems entirely reasonable that exemptions from the duty to treat people fairly must be kept as minimal as possible. Personally, I think there is a case for no exemptions at all, but given that the church is institutionally homophobic, these allowed discriminatory practices should not be allowed to go further than those involved in the central religious role. There is no reason why any other role could not be carried out by someone simply doing the job for a wage in return.

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 30 May 2009 at 1:10am BST

Colin Coward has commented on the article by Melanie Phillips, see http://changingattitude-england.blogspot.com/2009/05/melanie-phillips-world-of-intolerance.html

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 30 May 2009 at 12:26pm BST

I could barely parse Malignant Melanie's article, laced as it was with overblown metaphors... no wonder she mentioned neuralgia somewhere in that lot... so thanks to drdanfee and Colin Coward for hacking their way to the end.

"Normal" is a rallying cry of the bully - you can't be different to me because it icks me out, WE are normal but They are unnatural, and they do disgusting things and have odd ideas and probably smell funny too. The church is the last place where this toxic, defensive little attitude should flourish.

I can't help thinking Caligula was probably onto something (as well as probably on something) with equine representatives - horses don't have very expensive tastes.

Posted by: Joan_of_Quark on Saturday, 30 May 2009 at 1:30pm BST

"WE are normal but They are unnatural"

"Father and Mother and Me,
Sister and Auntie say,
And all of the people like us are We,
And everyone else is They.
And They live over the Sea,
But we live over the way,
But would you believe it, They look upon We,
As only another They?"

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 30 May 2009 at 4:11pm BST

Thanks PON for the fact check. Just reading through the MP essay disoriented me, contributing to my fake memory retrievals. Other factors? Well, posit age above all.

Passing note add: At least in USA the freedom of nonprofit organizations to set their own special rules for membership/leadership have been legally well-established. How? Via the USA famous case of the Boy Scouts which ascended all the way to the SCOTUS. Supreme Court of the US. That final federal ruling affirmed that the USA Boy Scouts could refuse to let gay scouts and/or gay scout leaders into the scout tent, period.

Thus. The fear mongering about real, particular churches not being able to continue to refuse membership/leadership to the much-maligned queer folks are, well, fairly well settled at least for the time being.

I do not have much experience with established churches. Offhand, I would guess that CoE as such has a bit a dilemma, if its own queen/parliament want to write laws and public policy that lessens or removes the very traditional barriers faced by gay citizens in UK. These barriers are religious in essence, if they have any salience any longer at all. Flat earth religion is after all, still religion. Just perhaps, not the sort of religion we wish to use as basis for law or public policy?

My reply to Carey and all those others, so fearful of losing their special privileges to police barriers? Well, for starters - NO extra credit at all, none, zero, not even the whiff of a ghost of any credit (for claiming to care about queer folks or have their better interests at heart in any way, shape, fashion, or degree).

That grey zone has slowly but surely disappeared over the past three to seven decades. Gone, gone, gone, gone.

We are all completely clear, are we not? If Carey-ite campaigners had their way, any number of citizen spaces, resources, merit opportunities, and institutional venues would be utterly closed to honest queer citizen participation. We surely would return to, say, the seventeenth century, if not farther back? Dust off the prisons and the public stocks, please. Gay malefactors arriving soon. In USA, the far religious right has resurrected some notion of indentured servitude, especially useful for policing/punishing all the presupposed categorical offenses innate to not being straight. Hasn't gotten all that much traction. Yet.

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 31 May 2009 at 8:37pm BST

"Passing note add: At least in USA the freedom of nonprofit organizations to set their own special rules for membership/leadership have been legally well-established. How? Via the USA famous case of the Boy Scouts which ascended all the way to the SCOTUS. Supreme Court of the US. That final federal ruling affirmed that the USA Boy Scouts could refuse to let gay scouts and/or gay scout leaders into the scout tent, period.

Thus. The fear mongering about real, particular churches not being able to continue to refuse membership/leadership to the much-maligned queer folks are, well, fairly well settled at least for the time being."

And, yet, in New Hampshire, the bill authorizing gay marriage is being held up in search of acceptable language that no church would be required to marry a gay couple. Unnecessary language, obviously. For example, no RC church can be required to marry a couple at least one of whom is not a Roman Catholic...despite all the laws about religious discrimination.

However, there is also concern that non-religious service providers would not be able to discriminate based on their "consciences". For instance, would an evangelical wedding photographer be able to refuse to photograph a gay wedding? My response -- damned right he wouldn't be. If a bigot's "conscience" can be overridden by law as to his willingness to serve a mixed-race couple, how is his "conscience" regarding gays any different?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 2 June 2009 at 8:59pm BST

"Has Andrew Carey ever thought that the actions of his fellow Evangelical homophobes have sought to *curtail the freedom of their co-religionists* - in seeking to exacerbate the exclusion of LGBTs and women from fellowship and ministry in the Church, thus dividing the Church and promoting schism on these issues?"

I think the point is that the conservative arm of the church seeks to influence policy within the structures of the church, not by secular government - but on the other hand, those in favour of full acceptance of homosexual lifestyles in the church are using government legislation.

In general terms, conservatives are using words, liberals are using the sword. As such, the liberal arm of the church is being far more violent and oppressive than a few isolated incidents of misguided violence carried out by mentally sick individuals against gay people.

Posted by: James on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 3:06pm BST

James
I am not sure how familiar you are with the British situation, but the majority of those supporting the legislation under discussion here are not active members of any church (or any other religious body, for that matter).

And the vast majority of official representations made to the legislators from official British church bodies are concerned to curtail the effects of the proposed legislation. See for example my post on the history of regulation 7(3).

So I simply don't understand your point.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 3:32pm BST

"I think the point is that the conservative arm of the church seeks to influence policy within the structures of the church, not by secular government"

You can't possibly be serious!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 3 June 2009 at 7:41pm BST

"I think the point is that the conservative arm of the church seeks to influence policy within the structures of the church, not by secular government" - James, on Wednesday -

Oh really! In the same way, do you mean, as the conservative Archbishops in Nigeria and Uganda - where they have influenced government on legal penalties for gays? Or in the USA, where the conservative Christians have helped to overturn existing laws which allowed same sex couples to marry? Let's get real here.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 4 June 2009 at 11:50am BST

It would appear, Fr. Ron, that we have been caught by a troll. Will I never learn?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 5 June 2009 at 2:59pm BST
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