Friday, 5 February 2010

Equality Bill: more articles

The Church Times today carries my report of recent events under the headline: Churches to keep their exemption from equality law, Harman confirms.

THE LAW covering church employment will stay as it is, the Minister for Women and Equality, Harriet Harman, said on Tuesday. She was speaking after the defeat in the Lords of an amendment to the Equality Bill (News, 29 January), which sought to clarify the ex­emption for religious bodies from the existing legislation, to ensure that it applied only to church ministers…

This report also includes two sections on more of the House of Lords debates from Monday and Wednesday of last week, including the one on Civil Partnerships venues.

Earlier on Monday of last week, the House considered a proposal from Lord Alli to to amend the Civil Partner­ships Act to allow religious venues to be used.

Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford, spoke in support. He said: “The Government were absolutely right to respect the religious sensitivities of the Church of England when the Civil Partnership Bill went through Parlia­ment, but since that time a new situation has emerged. The Quakers, liberal Jews, and other religious bodies have made it quite clear that they want permission to conduct these cere­monies in a religious context with religious language. This is a fundamental issue of reli­gious freedom…”

Cif: belief yesterday carried a comment article by Riazat Butt headlined More Catholic than the pope.

There is still much anger over the pope’s comments about UK equality laws. Part of me wonders why people are surprised by the nature of his observations – they are exactly what one would expect – and part of me also wonders why people are focusing on the equality bill, which was more about Anglicans than Catholics. The Catholic bishops did not turn a blind eye to the proposed legislation, but it was the Lords Spiritual who went to war over it. They won. Well done them. That the established church is trying to shut out people whose lifestyle is at odds with Christian ethos brings the words “stable”, “door” and “bolted” to mind. Their attempts to legitimise “sexual cleansing” also reminds me of the time that Katharine Jefferts Schori accused the C of E of double standards

and she concludes:

While I accept the pope was out of order for passing judgment on equality legislation and UK attitudes towards homosexuality, the same level of anger and outrage must be directed at those Church of England bishops who fought tooth and nail to keep the status quo, to preserve their right to discriminate against gays and lesbians and to institutionalise and legitimise prejudice against anyone they deemed to be unfit for purpose because of their lifestyle.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 5 February 2010 at 8:16am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation
Comments

I really don't think anything has changed. The intention was always that religious jobs only would be covered, and that is still the case. It just hasn't been formally clarified, and that may be less beneficial to the church than they realise, given that there will be tribunals if they try and apply it any further. And the chances of them winning given that statements made by Government and the European directive are small indeed.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 5 February 2010 at 12:47pm GMT

This really needs saying, and needs to be repeated in season and out.

'...the same level of anger and outrage must be directed at those Church of England bishops who fought tooth and nail to keep the status quo, to preserve their right to discriminate against gays and lesbians and to institutionalise and legitimise prejudice against anyone they deemed to be unfit for purpose because of their lifestyle.'

It is vital that we don't capitulate to this innovation the bishops want to thrust on us, contrary to the more liberal practices of the recent past in many dioceses including Southwark, York and Canterbury.

Also as envisage in the document Issues in Human Sexuality; and the unpublished Osborn Report.

But mainly becuase equality for all people, incluidng lesbian,gay, trans, & bi members and ministers is just good sense, good theology and good lovin' ....

Posted by: Revd L Roberts on Friday, 5 February 2010 at 2:40pm GMT

Popes, bishops stood loud and strong for God's created-revelation orders in a whole number of important legacy areas: Ptolemaic Cosmology, demon possession instead of infection microorganisms, standing against anatomy studies, males first-males only rules with women relegated to home/hearth only, the heionous sins of usury often linked to anathematizing the dirty Jews who handled money, .... the historical list is long indeed.

So add these latest items from B16 and others, to that same list. As with slavery, we hope for pretty similar results - standing up for mean stuff, unfair stuff, and flat earth stuff does speak loud, clear, to ongoing good change effects.

A phase in the change process, still happening.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 5 February 2010 at 8:28pm GMT

'And the end of words is to bring men to the knowledge of things beyond what words can utter. So, learn of the Lord to make a right use of the Scriptures: which is by esteeming them in their right place, and prizing that above them which is above them.'

Isaac Penington: Letters, ed. John Barclay, 1828, pp. 39-40. Letter XVI, undated

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Sunday, 7 February 2010 at 10:16pm GMT
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