Friday, 4 March 2011

Church Times comment on Derby foster care case

The Church Times today has a news report by Ed Beavan Pentecostal couple find no comfort in the High Court.

A COUPLE’s views on homo­sexuality are relevant to whether or not they can foster children, the High Court ruled on Monday. The court also ruled that to ban them on these grounds would not be dis­criminatory, even when their views are informed by religion…

And there is a Leader: The Johns judgment: a useful corrective

…Some Christians — we do not know how many — would agree with Mr Johns’s view that, were a foster child to express the view that he or she was possibly gay, an attempt should be made “gently [to] turn them round”. Others would disagree. Neither side could claim that theirs was the exclusive “Christian” view, and thus, even within the Church, an appeal needs to be made to authorities other than the Bible. For Anglicans, these are tradition and reason. Another quote from Lord Justice Laws: “The general law may, of course, protect a particular social or moral position which is espoused by Christianity, not because of its religious imprimatur, but on the footing that in reason its merits commend themselves.”

This important point is repeatedly overlooked by those who cite scripture (or their interpretation of it) and then feel hard done by when they are ignored. It is not a new requirement that the Church, or a section of it, marshall evidence to demonstrate that what it proposes or defends is for the general good. This is the day-to-day task of bishops in the House of Lords. What is new, perhaps, is the laziness of Christians when it comes to reason­ing their case, with the result that rationality is now thought, erroneously, to be the preserve of secularists. In such an atmos­phere, the lack of investment by the Church in research and education has severely weakened its intellectual centre, leaving the field to be occupied by lobby groups of various persuasions. When these go to law, it is no surprise when their emotive, par­tial arguments are given short shrift. This is emphatically not the defeat of Christian principles or teaching. A few more press re­leases and a little more lazy journalism might, however, convince people that it is so.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 4 March 2011 at 11:26am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation
Comments

Interesting line from the Church Times editorial: "the lack of investment by the Church in research and education has severely weakened its intellectual centre."

I fear that it has become significantly harder for intelligent people to identify with the C of E under this archiepiscopate, as a result of the leaderships's shying away from an intellectually honest or coherent approach to the gay issue.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 4 March 2011 at 12:41pm GMT

"It is not a new requirement that the Church, or a section of it, marshall evidence to demonstrate that what it proposes or defends is for the general good. This is the day-to-day task of bishops in the House of Lords. What is new, perhaps, is the laziness of Christians when it comes to reason­ing their case...."

The same could be said of the "case" for the proposed Anglican Covenant.

Posted by: Alan T Perry on Friday, 4 March 2011 at 1:51pm GMT

From the New York Times 3 days ago, obituary of Rev. Peter Gomes:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/us/02gomes.html?_r=1&

“Religious fundamentalism is dangerous because it cannot accept ambiguity and diversity and is therefore inherently intolerant,” he declared in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times in 1992. “Such intolerance, in the name of virtue, is ruthless and uses political power to destroy what it cannot convert.”

In his 1996 best seller, “The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart,” Mr. Gomes urged believers to grasp the spirit, not the letter, of scriptural passages that he said had been misused to defend racism, anti-Semitism and sexism, and to attack homosexuality and abortion. He offered interpretations that he said transcended the narrow context of modern prejudices.

“The Bible alone is the most dangerous thing I can think of,” he told The Los Angeles Times. “You need an ongoing context and a community of interpretation to keep the Bible current and to keep yourself honest. Forget the thought that the Bible is an absolute pronouncement.”

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Friday, 4 March 2011 at 8:00pm GMT

I'm surprised that David Starkey's blow for common sense didn't warrant a stop press on this site:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ctrua5c-AYU&feature=player_embedded

I look forward to the ruthless criticism of his position and wild speculation about his motives.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Saturday, 5 March 2011 at 11:10am GMT

'A COUPLE’s views on homo­sexuality are relevant to whether or not they can foster children, the High Court ruled on Monday.'

That's a sloppy formulation. It's not their 'views'. Anybody can hold any views they like on this issue. What they can't do, within a fostering situation, is attempt to translate their 'views' into 'action'. If they could not themselves accept homosexuality but treated a homosexual child responsibly and lovingly and did not attempt to 'turn' him/her, there would be no problem. As far as I can see, there are lots of 'Evangelicals' who behave roughly in this way within the C of E. It's not ideal - it would be better if they did not hold such 'views' - but it is acceptable.

Posted by: john on Saturday, 5 March 2011 at 1:40pm GMT

The difficulty, again, is whether it is reasonable to expect such a couple to refrain from expressing their views to the child.

It is an equally sloppy formulation to say that "views" cause no damage, and, as long as evangelicals aren't physically assaulting homosexuals, they're causing no harm.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 9 March 2011 at 6:39am GMT

The sloppiness is yours here, Mark Brunson. My formulation obviously went far beyond your minimalist 'not physically assaulting homosexuals'. See 'if they could not themselves accept homosexuality but treated a homosexual child responsibly and lovingly and did not attempt to 'turn' him/her, there would be no problem.' I am completely pro-gay. But it isn't the only game in town. If there are Evangelicals within the C of E (or within the Anglican Communion) who baulk at full theological acceptance of gay sexuality (because, let's be honest, the Bible isn't terribly good on this particular topic) but want to 'park it', or behave with complete kindness and charity to gay people in practice (and there are thousands of such people), we should keep terms with them.

Posted by: john on Thursday, 10 March 2011 at 7:23pm GMT

John, I believe that to a degree you are not wrong in your argument. The only problem with evangelistic evangelicals is that they feel 'duty-bound' to proclaim their shibboleths. They are often under the impression that only they have the truth on moral questions, feeling it incumbent upon them to proclaim it 'in and out of season'.

In the case of the Johns, it seems that they wanted to have their opposition to gays justified by the law - in other words they wanted to have their views sanctioned. For what reason - other than to propagate them, in whatever way they felt necessary? And as their plea was made in the context of their application to become foster parents, one can only assume that they would claim it to be their responsibility to enforce their morality on their foster-children.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 11 March 2011 at 12:39am GMT
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