Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Equality & Religious Freedom: What accommodation is reasonable?

The Cutting Edge Consortium invites you to discuss:

Equality & Religious Freedom: What accommodation is reasonable?

Tuesday 4th February 6.30pm
House of Commons Committee Room 15

With Speakers:

  • Karon Monaghan QC, Matrix Chambers
  • Carola Towle, National LGBT Officer UNISON
  • Frank Cranmer, Honorary Research Fellow Centre for Law & Religion, Cardiff University

This meeting is kindly sponsored by Sadiq Khan MP
Please email Cutting Edge Consortium to register your attendance

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 at 11:45am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation
Comments

Here's a thought (re "What accommodation is reasonable?"). Believe WHATEVER you want to believe . . . but treat everyone EQUALLY under the law.

[Really, this isn't a new issue. I mean, which sinner among us wouldn't behave as dictator towards "the unworthy", if we could? But we (legally) can't, so we (hopefully) don't.]

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 21 January 2014 at 8:26pm GMT

"Believe WHATEVER you want to believe . . . but treat everyone EQUALLY under the law."

If only it were so simple. For most religious people, belief isn't just something that can be swept into a private corner. It influences everything we do, every decision we make, every hour of the day (or it should do - few of us, perhaps, really live up to that principle). If we live under laws that are dictated by secular humanist and utilitarian principles, then there will inevitably come to be occasions when we are in conflict with the law. Then there is the issue of whether public law ought to be founded on such principles at all - should, for instance, there be some allowance for Muslims to pursue traditional forms of religious jurisprudence within the British legal code rather than outside it, even if this appears contrary to the ideal of equal treatment? Finally there's the problem of 'equality' and its relationship to 'fairness' and 'justice'. Is it always just to treat different people in the same way? These are problems that easy maxims won't help us out of.

In some ways I think it is unfortunate that the relationship between religion and the law is being fought chiefly over the issue of gay rights, as this tends to skew our perspective. There are bigger and more pressing questions in terms of the relationship between religious values and the secular-humanist principle of 'equality,' and perhaps better historical examples. What, for instance, would a dedicated 'equalist' say about the Christian pacifist commitment to conscientious objection? Should Christians get special treatment merely because of the beliefs they profess to have? Strict equality would suggest not.

Posted by: rjb on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 9:11pm GMT

"What, for instance, would a dedicated 'equalist' say about the Christian pacifist commitment to conscientious objection? Should Christians get special treatment merely because of the beliefs they profess to have? Strict equality would suggest not."

I'm afraid I don't follow. I'm a conscientious objector myself: a Christian pacifist, following the example/instruction of Jesus. But I don't believe that ONLY Christians should receive C.O. status. If your, um, *conscience* objects to war---even a humanist-formed conscience---then they should receive the same status.

As far as conflict w/ "secular humanist and utilitarian principles" goes, I've found that REGRETTABLY those principles tend to reflect the example/instruction of Jesus, moreso that do explicitly "Christian" principles. I sincerely hope that changes (i.e., that Christians get their acts together!).

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 23 January 2014 at 6:04am GMT

rjb,
the principle is sound.
My faith does inform how I live and influence what I do.
But it does not give me the right to impose those same rules and principles on others.

The question of whether Muslims should have the right to set up their own legal system is one for all citizens of this country to answer through our parliamentary system of making those kinds of decisions that affect Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

What we ought not to have is this strange state of affairs we have with regard to Scottish independence, where the outcome of the vote will impact on the whole of the UK, yet only Scots get to express their views.

It's a very simple principle - if something affects the whole country, it gets decided through the democratic process and is then binding for everyone.

Religious people will remain entitled to organise their private lives according to their own beliefs.
And so it is perfectly acceptable for Muslims not to drink alcohol and for Jews not to eat pork but it would not be acceptable if they tried to stop others from doing so because of their personal faith.
Treating gay people as equal adults under the law is no different.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 23 January 2014 at 10:21am GMT

Anyone going?

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Friday, 24 January 2014 at 12:34am GMT

I am chairing this event, so yes I am going.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 24 January 2014 at 8:15am GMT
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