Comments: Getting Equal: Northern Ireland goes ahead

Usual bias without justification.

"Getting hysterical"

Can I suggest that you either publish the links without snide remarks or spend some time in some constructive comment on why you find a response inappropropriate.

Make up your mind what type of site this is meant to be!

But the level of insults without justification don't suggest that much thinking is going on.

Maybe you might want to consider why a group of legally qualified christians are not happy with specific legislation!

Posted by dave williams at Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 3:09pm GMT

http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/000065.html

Says that news is reported from a liberal Christian perspective. As I understand it, this explains what sort of site this is meant to be.

We all have agendas, but the question is whether there is any substance behind any of these flag waving fears. The Daily Mail report is a near joke, and the others likely to be without any substance.

But, perhaps they should have substance, of a sort, and have substance where a religion is participating in public space and where prejudice is not allowed.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 4:14pm GMT

Lovely posting again Dave Williams --many thanks for it.


Posted by laurence at Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 4:28pm GMT

The Christian Lawyers website, too, obviously know their stuff. The way they combine the Law and Christianity is awesome. Also they combine all that with making vast sums of money--a clear sign of the Lord's approval. And then Anglican Mainstream are so well-- Anglican and Mainstream it takes my breath away.

What with all these wonderful individuals, groups, organisations & websites leading the way, if there are not in depth discussions throughout society, leading to the Right moral outcome, it will not be their fault. In fact we will all know of those dreadful Men who were once criminals ( as recently as 1967 onwards) and should-still-be-criminals--and-are still-sinners-which-is-what-really-counts. If only they would shut up. Wolfenden was never supposed to be like this.

The least the Law can do is deny them as many civil liberties and human rights as possible. And leave them open to the abuse of the mob on council estates,schools, hospitals, care homes, all over these islands.
This motley crew includes among my family nieces, nephews, cousins. But why should I care for them ? I'll trust these nice posh well heeled lawyers, accounts, consultants ....they must know. Why didn't Jesus put them in charge of things ?

I will try to speak and write with as little bias as possible, as they undermine my family and me -- let alone the wider society. These toffs must know. Must be right.

Posted by laurence at Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 4:36pm GMT

The other sad thing is that these groups make christianity seem more and more irrelevant, mad and bad.

Having spent so much of my life in gospel work, it is constatly underminded by the institutional Churchesand their attendant organisations and pressure groups.

Posted by laurence at Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 4:41pm GMT

LCF represents a heck of a lot of lawyers -some of them making money maybe. Some of them earning a normal living. Some of them involved in social action etc and not making much money at all. Some of them not practising law. They are very helpful and for example when I needed to get emergency advice for a non christian friend who was about to be made homeless they were brilliant

Posted by Dave Williams at Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 4:47pm GMT

having a liberal anglican perspective doesn't mean you should simply call names! I also hope there is a clue in the word "Thinking" in the title.

People are presumably hoping for a thoughtful critique from that perspective.

Posted by dave williams at Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 4:50pm GMT

Thanks Simon for these links and thanks TA for continuing to post evidence that some would like to pretend doesn't exist and make next to impossible to find. TA plays an important role in allowing the Truth to be documented in an non-editable archival way. Love it.

Good on the Irish.

I laughed at the Anglican Mainstream article. One of the things I must give some is their ability to quickly imitate their enemies. That combined with their dishonesty of selective amnesia in admitting the model came from an enemy never ceases to amuse me. I remember when I was still trying to work within my local diocese how they would cherry pick my suggestions, taking what would build their empire base and credibility and putting aside the hard questions and lessons.

Their concern about the bookshop is one scenario that should be included in the discussion. Another scenario that should be included in the discussion is when someone goes to a community public forum and tries to advocate on behalf of GLBTs and is told to shut up because they are a sinner or even shunted off to jail for five years for advocating on behalf of the "unclean sinners". Or the people who lead double lives, loving their GLBT family and friends, but not telling their parish members or ministers of their love (even when they introduce them at baptisms, weddings, confirmations or funerals).

We learnt from the Prohibition Laws in the US that illegalising something does not stop it from occurring. Evidence suggests that acknowledging it occurs and then looking for safer avenues to manifest and manage the boundaries has greater success at keeping the majority of people safe.

If people are going to be gay, then let them be gay with one soul in a contract with a lifelong commitment. Better that than two-faced behaviour where souls are "holy" in public whilst hypocritically acting out in private what they exhort others to avoid. Better to be an honest gay than a duplicitous hypocrite.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 6:06pm GMT

The argument that the church needs to distinguish between "orientation" and "behavior" is a Straw Man.

In point of fact, the church, as well as the state, already does: if a heterosexual engages in polygamy (in the UK!), they will be "discriminated" against, irregardless of their sexual orientation.

No, the point is that the church (some of them) is seeking to discriminate against the "behavior" of those of a same-sex orientation, ON A DIFFERENT STANDARD than the one it uses to evaluate heterosexuals (civil marriage of the latter: A-OK! civil union of the former: you're fired!).

In regards to the *secular actions* of the church (employment, housing, social services), is where the state is bound to say "Don't discriminate!"

In regards to *religions actions* (sacraments, like religious marriage), the state has NO say, and is making NO say.

Christians claiming otherwise are, in point of fact, being *hysterical* (if they're not just outright *lying*).

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 7:33pm GMT

'..... Ulster will be right."

Posted by laurence at Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 7:48pm GMT

“Maybe you might want to consider why a group of legally qualified christians are not happy with specific legislation!”

Well of course we are interested in this “heck of a load of lawyers” and their political campaign. As a matter of interest we recently wrote to them of their renewed campaign asking for some information an extract follows:
“I see that in your advice on strategy you say:
""5. Christians need to emphasise specifically that it is crucial that we are free to follow the Bible’s teaching in our jobs. THIS POINT IS KEY.""
I wonder if you have already prepared such a case for your own members who practice Law?
If you have perhaps you could send us a copy.
Do you have a public membership list?”

No reply yet!

But we have had discussions with the Law Society and how lesbian and gay people might view lawyers with such views.
Those making the policy and laying out the public strategy of this organisation have a particular view of sexual orientation and practice that leads them to believe that Christians presumably of a like mind to themselves should be able to discriminate against lesbian and gay people in a way that far exceeds the limited scope envisaged and now laid down by the government.
We are of the opinion that the competence of such lawyers to act in a fair and proper manner in the best interests of a lesbian and gay client might be seriously questioned.
Our considered view is that legal practitioners who subscribe to this organisation and its public policy must be seen as having ruled themselves out as suitable representatives for lesbian and gay people as their prejudicial views might well impact adversely on the proper pursuit of their clients best interests.
We are writing to the Law Society expressing our serious concern and asking that they prepare a schedule of those in practice whose personal views render them incompetent to represent us.
I am sure that this will be of advantage to all concerned. Those seeking legal advice will be saved fruitless enquiries and legal representatives saved from refusal on the basis of their incompetence.
We would be glad to publicise the membership list of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship if they send us one, along with the practices in which they operate, so that lesbian and gay clients might take a considered view.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 7:57pm GMT

State and Church again, it seems.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 8:30pm GMT

Martin,

I'm not sure what you are trying to gain from that? Are you planning a campaign against Christians who disagree with you on a specific moral issue? Who is the "We"

I would never publish a membership list of my clients, employees or congregation members on demand if asked in such a way.

Secondly. Lawyers frequently have to make decisions about cases. They have to represent people that they may not particularly like or approve of. That's part of their business.

Thirdly, the issue as you know full well is not about Christians being allowed to be homophobic and treat homosexuals unfavourably based on their orientation. It is about Christians not having their views on homosexual practise compromised.

So unless your representatives are planning to engage in sexual activity on a solicitor's premises I'm not sure what your point is.

A client wrongly accused of theft or involved in a car crash is a client first and foremost, not a gay or a straight person

Posted by dave williams at Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 11:41pm GMT

Hysteria is the word - but then, no surprise there.

The only real issue is whether any broader exemption that the directly religious activity is to be allowed. There IS going to be anti-discrimination legislation relating to the right for gay men and lesbians to receive goods and services - and it is to receive support from all the parties, too.

Evangelicals will just have to get used to it, or perhaps emigrate to somewhere more to their liking?

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 12:10am GMT

Good on the Irish???!!!

This has nothing to do with the Irish. If you care to read the links you will see that because Northern Ireland is currently under 'Direct Rule' from Westminster, the UK Government is using us as a test bed for this new legislation - so all the credit should really go to that nice Mr Blair. (when you consider what he did to Iraq, I suppose we're getting off lightly)

As to what 'the Irish' might think of it all - a local political party once had an election poster which read "Save Ulster from Sodomy" underneath which someone had scrawled "vote for a better Gomorrah".

Posted by ChrisM at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 1:59am GMT

Well I dont think there are enough prison places.
I am gay, I have a joyful disposition, the joy of the Lord is my strength. Sex sex sex thats all some people think about. Have I got the right to follow Jesus Christ and His teachings as a gay person who sees that the Bible teaches that same-sex sex is wrong?
2 Peter 2:6 "..if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.

Posted by DaveW at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 8:04am GMT

You have every right to think as you wish. But you will not have the right to discriminate in the provision of goods and services. In other words, your prejudice will not be justified by the State, and neither should it.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 9:52am GMT

Dear Merseymike,
I would have liked to have kept this to discussing the issue rather than personal observations. But in reply to your post, you also have every right to think as you wish, but no right to discriminate against the views of the Christian faith and indeed other faiths with your prejudice. I am not sure I would want to discriminate against people because of what they believe, just against what they believe.

God bless you my friend

Posted by DaveW at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 10:25am GMT

You see Muslims arent forced to hire the mosque out to Christians or Hindus and I cant see them being penalised for breaking the goods and services act with respect to homosexuals.
As to a church not hiring out to a gay and lesbian event if the church doesnt want that they dont have to. Who owns the church? What about the celibate homosexual Christians who dont want it?
Why have those obsessed with sex force their sexual celebrations on the rest of society?

Posted by DaveW at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 10:35am GMT

Martin has raised an interesting point. We would like people to be able to stay true to their religious principles (even if that is homophobia)? But then there could be situations where one's religious principles mean that one has a conflict in acting as the advocate for a plaintiff.

Is there a requirement for the plaintiff to be aware that there is a potential conflict of interest? Then how is that handled?

I would rather an honest system where someone admits they do not want to advocate on behalf of a plaintiff, than a situation where a plaintiff finds themself screwed in court because the person they thought they could trust screwed them because they "deserved" it. And if there is professional integrity, why is there a concern about being honest and admitting one's subjectivity?

And if a homophobe is not required to declare their potential conflict of interest, then why should a pedophile admit their potential conflict of interest when applying for childcare jobs?

Consistency in application is again the key.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 11:31am GMT

I would like to propose that Jesus more often than not spoke primarily to His disciples. As was the case in the OT, Gods wants His people to be a blessing to others and set apart as a witness to Him. Jesus says to the people love God and love ones neighbour but to His dispciples He gives a new command on top of that, to love each other as He has loved so that all may know who His disciples are.
The governments therefore may pass laws which may be against God's purposes but as Christians and God's people our primary job has always been to witness. Same sex activities were going on at the time of Genesis, at the time of the NT and today.... Such laws are not necessarily something Christians should be surprised at.

Posted by DaveW at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 11:34am GMT

I am sorry Dave Williams, but you appear to have missed the point raised by the CLF in their own strategy document.
As they see it the KEY POINT for lawyers and others is to follow (what they understand to be) the Bible’s teaching in their jobs.
It seems that they believe that to properly exercise their conscience they require a much broader exemption from the regulations than the government is to lawfully allow.
There are many legal family matters from Civil Partners buying a house to adoption of children that might offend this principle for a particular legal practitioner and put their competence in question.
In dealing with a gay couple such a lawyer would already be of the view that they are “morally repugnant” and convicted of disobedience to a higher law. – this is a KEY POINT – that strikes to the heart of the ability for competent representation.
It is clear that CLF is arguing that as professionals they cannot put away their personal faith when carrying out their jobs and we are seeking to respect that here.
One of the few requirements placed on a lawyer when they take a case is they must be competent to fulfil the task. Our view is that the views expressed by CLF render those who share their statements incompetent to give us the best representation and it seems from their strategy paper that they would concur.
We believe a schedule of those whose principles seriously compromise their ability to act competently on our behalf is a good way forward. This would be self-declared and the schedule would be open to public scrutiny so that gay clients might avoid those who are incompetent and lawyers might not be asked to act against their principles.
There are broader issues of course.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 11:50am GMT

In their letter of 21st November to members of the Houses of Parliament the CLF offers this example of conflict between the regulation and the rights of religion to promulgate its beliefs:

“A homosexual man goes to a Christian bookshop in his home town in Northern Ireland. The bookshop contains many books, some of which refer to homosexual practice as a sin. There are posters on the walls of the shop promoting marriage as the only right sexual relationship and the only right context for bringing up children. Even if the homosexual man had no interest in receiving goods or services from the bookshop, if he felt the presence of this material ‘violated his dignity’ or created a ‘hostile environment’ he would have a strong case under the Regulations that he had been unlawfully harassed. If he won, even if the alleged harassment occurred on one single occasion, the bookshop could be ordered to pay him up to £5000.”

I wonder if such a bookshop now exists.

These regulations have been long in the coming, several years ago their possibility was signalled and there has been a great investment of time and resources since to ensure that these bookshops and other such places no longer fall in the bracket “whose sole or main purpose is commercial”, but rather now fulfill the legal requirement of exisiting:
“ b) to advance a religion or belief; or (c) to teach the practice or principles of a religion or belief;”
If such a bookshop has failed to avail itself of the several ways of avoiding being “caught” by this legislation and continues to run simply for the commercial gain of its owner then they have no principle to defend.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 12:57pm GMT

Dave William (one of them) wrote: "Lawyers frequently have to make decisions about cases. They have to represent people that they may not particularly like or approve of. That's part of their business."

However, this bunch of lawyers have made an un-public, but still public stand against part of their prospective clientele.

N o t part of any normal business, in my opinion.

and: “… the issue as you know full well is not about Christians being allowed to be homophobic and treat homosexuals unfavourably based on their orientation…"

Isn’t it?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 4:52pm GMT

Goran, some Christians who you call 'homophobic' are those with homosexual desires, so I believ you have been somewhat contradictory?

Posted by DaveW at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 7:40pm GMT

There's enough evidence of clients, justly or unjustly condemned, who've felt poorly served by lawyers, and those who've dismissed their counsel and conducted their own defence after losing confidence in their advocate. A client who cannot know for certain where their lawyer stands or how they are regarded is on unsafe ground when it comes to legal process. There's a difference between the high ideals of the legal profession and human reality. Lawyers are indeed confronted with clients they fear or dislike. They may well have a moral struggle to put feelings aside to ensure justice is done.
If I was a 'bible based' lawyer, wouldn't I be extra alert to the power of sin, not only in the sufferings or wrong-doings of my clients, but also in its influence on me? Wouldn't I honestly admit sin's power to ruin my competence? Surely then, I'd have to be honest and admit to any gay clients that my religious integrity could undermine my ability to represent them legally, wouldn't I? It would be a brave witness if they were to 'out' themselves before being 'outed', and much kinder to those whose 'sin' they claim the bible abhors.

Posted by Keith Kimber at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 8:15pm GMT

There are a number of things the LCF seem to be unaware of in their anxiety about their notional “aggrieved” gay student.

All lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people belong to a family. We are all born into a family. Family relationships are as important for us, and sometimes as dysfunctional for us, as they are for any other human being.

LGBT Christians have a strong Bible-based ethical and moral code. Changing Attitude also believes in the importance of marriage and the value of faithful, committed, life-long, monogamous relationships.

Gay students in the understanding of LCF are apparently belligerent. The notional gay student is perverse enough to be attending a church school with a theologically conservative ethos. A mature student might want to argue with the interpretation of Biblical teaching presented - that is how education works in school. If the student claims this to be a 'hostile' or 'insulting' environment, I think all would rightly tell him or her that this is not so.

A similarly belligerent gay man perversely enters a (theologically conservative?) Christian bookshop, presumably with the express intention of experiencing harassment at seeing books or posters promoting traditional families and marriage.

Changing Attitude would welcome information about which Christian bookshops are at present displaying these posters so that we can undertake an exploratory investigation to see if we are offended and harassed by them.

Posted by Colin Coward at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 9:27pm GMT

Its quite possible for someone to be homophobic and gay by orientation - its called the product of internalised homophobia.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 10:08pm GMT

The most prolific "gay bashers" and some of the most public homophobes I know are homosexuals - but in this case Goran was quoting the other Dave's comment above.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 10:10pm GMT

"Why have those obsessed with sex force their sexual celebrations on the rest of society?"

DaveW, do you include *heterosexual marriages* among such "sexual celebrations" *forced* by those "obsessed with sex"?

IF NOT, then quit w/ your freakin' DOUBLE STANDARDS already!

[And when it comes to being "obsessed w/ sex", my cognitively-dissonant friend, I suggest you'll see morely clearly through a *window*, than you currently do with a *mirror*? ;-/]

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Friday, 24 November 2006 at 2:21am GMT

Dear Colin Coward,
You make some bold statements which I think are 100% wrong. Allow me to make some bold statements in reply.
You speak of gay people in a sexual way only. People can be gay as in having a joyful disposition. It seems LBGT is rather sexually orientated. I don’t believe we should label people by their sexual desires as then I would be an adulterer and people just get labelled by their sin when in fact God wants us to have life to the full and realise our potential.
You wrote “LGBT Christians have a strong Bible-based ethical and moral code. Changing Attitude also believes in the importance of marriage and the value of faithful, committed, life-long, monogamous relationships. “ I would say that’s rather a proud and boastful statement. Indeed regardless of a faithful, committed, life-long, monogamous relationship, if one is promoting same-sex sex with it it’s a sin rather than a ‘Bible-based ethical and moral code’ Indeed as a Christian one is not under the law or code, but free not to sin.
You wrote “Changing Attitude would welcome information about which Christian bookshops are at present displaying these posters so that we can undertake an exploratory investigation to see if we are offended and harassed by them.”
Well I don’t know about Changing Attitude, but the Bible is clear, and the Bible is a book isn’t it. And so is the Anglican Communion clear, so as a thinking Anglican I point out that Lambeth 1.10 says that marriage is a faithful union between a man and a woman (Genesis 2, Matthew 19, Ephesians 5 etc) and homosexual practice is not compatible (Lev 18 & 20, 1 Corinthians 6, 1 Timothy 1 and Romans 1 etc) You refer to Bible based ethical and moral code, have you got any to support ‘gay and lesbian’ as in sexual realtiosnhips and practice?

Posted by DaveW at Friday, 24 November 2006 at 8:00am GMT

Dear Merseymike,
You wrote “Its quite possible for someone to be homophobic and gay by orientation - its called the product of internalised homophobia”
No I think if someone were homophobic and gay by sexual desire they would be unhappy with their sexual desires and lifestyle and the gospel of Jesus Christ would be what they need.
Phobia is a fear, I think gambling is wrong but I don’t fear it, I may be fearful that it causes addiction but I am not fearful of gambling itself. It is quite possible to be against something without being fearful of it.

Posted by DaveW at Friday, 24 November 2006 at 8:08am GMT

Dear Martin Reynolds and J C Fisher,
If this is ‘Thinking Anglicans’ then maybe we should recognise that the Anglican Communion, certainly the majority believes what is stated in Lambeth 1.10.
I do hope this isnt going to be one of those debating forums that refuses to discuss and listen to others points of view but degenerates into discussions about ‘hate’ and ‘prejudice’ afterall we know that in Christ there is no condemnation.
One cannot be a ‘gay basher’ if one merely disagrees with same-sex sex. A person could have same-sex desires and be gay as in having a joyful disposition and still know that God’s purpose is for a marriage union or celibacy when it comes to sex. Otherwise all we end up with is ‘gay’ meaning sex and any dislike or objection to same sex desires becomes hate. One shoudlnt talk about hate but of the good things of God, the mouth is the overflow of the heart. Luke 6:45.

Posted by DaveW at Friday, 24 November 2006 at 8:38am GMT

Dave W wrote "...some Christians who you call 'homophobic' are those with homosexual desires, so I believe you have been somewhat contradictory?"

The difficulty is that sometimes those who are of a group but attack that group are more vicious than those who are not of that group. When a person makes an effort to repeating bring up the problems of homosexuality and its sinfulness a few of my straight friends (with gay in-laws) comment that they are probably gay but in denial.

Similarly, we often find in ethnic cleansing and apartheid that those of part-blood but have managed to wheedle their way into the "elite" class are often more repressive and vicious than those of pure blood.

This truism is so well known that it is one of the key elements in the Harry Potter series - Lord Voldemort whose aim is to destroy muggles is actually part muggle himself. There are similar stories from the Nazi period, and I am sure there are plethora of souls who would jump at the chance to say "and also here..."


Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 24 November 2006 at 9:03am GMT

Gay people are not 'labelled' by their sexual desires but choose to identify as someone who loves others of the same sex and enters into sexual relationships with them. As we are in a minority, discrimination and prejudice has occurred which led to the mobilisation of people to seek social change and to eradicate discrimination.

That is what has been happening, and generally, the last 9 years have been very fruitful for those who want to see equal citizenship. Ensuring equality in the provision of goods and services is an important part of that aim.

Traditional Christian approaches to this subject have no place in a State which treats people equally - if the Church can't get used to that, then it will continue to become even more of a marginalised irrelevance than it is now.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 24 November 2006 at 9:57am GMT

Please restrict further comments on this thread to the subject matter, namely the wording of the government regulations. And what those who don't like them can do about it.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 24 November 2006 at 12:22pm GMT

Martin,

You must understand that whilst there are such groups as Stonewall who believe in direct action in favour of gay rights that producing a target list or inviting pressure groups to go and view bookshops just isn't on. Come on you know the context.

I'm still not sure who the "We" are.

Posted by dave williams at Friday, 24 November 2006 at 12:28pm GMT

Mike

"Traditional" Christian approaches to this subject have no place in a State which treats people equally.

Sounds like intolerance to me! Is there equality for those who want to continue to pursue a different way?

The issue here isn't equality it is morality.

The contemporary view is that

Homosexuality is morally ok if not good
Holding traditional Christian views are immoral
Enforcing traditional Christian ethics even on private property are definitely immoral and therefore to be outlawed.

Again despite arguments to the contrary on other threads we see dogmatic certainty at work here.

I like that I know where you are coming from and it means we can have a conversation!
Hopefully that will be in the context of whether or not we tolerate the other's beliefs or practises we can tolerate and welcome the person (both ways)

Posted by dave williams at Friday, 24 November 2006 at 12:35pm GMT

It is perfectly obvious in the previous cases in the last few months where Christians have made Biblical Christian statements about same-sex sex and the police have investigated or arrested or spoken to the people, that no prosecution has taken place or has been possible. Therefore protection must be built in to new laws to protect Christians from the obvious attempts by gay and lesbian rights activists to suppress aspects of the Christian faith and free speech and religious freedom.
To back up my point I cite the following
http://www.christian.org.uk/rel_liberties/index.htm
As to the question "And what those who don't like them can do about it." Well I see Jesus teaching shows that we can expect persecution on account of Him (Mark 13:9) and that we are to obey the authorities (Eph 6:5 Col 3:22,Rom 13:5) we are ultimately to obey God Matt 28:20,John 14 & 15)
In the meantime I am going to vote against my local MP at the next election.

Posted by DaveW at Friday, 24 November 2006 at 1:36pm GMT

This is just to say that many people have not bothered to read the draft NI regulations.

They allow (reg 16) for wide religious exemptions including the practice of religion and the use of property, so a lot of the comments are simply ill informed, demonstrating that some Christians care more about sectarian propoganda than truth. If that's their moral code, so be it.

In effect the religious homophobes are being allowed to freely practice their own bigotry in their religious groupings. If they are willing to fight to the last for the hatred of gays as their core religious dogma, then let them be free to do it.

Some of us have a different kind of religion.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Friday, 24 November 2006 at 3:10pm GMT

...by the way, did anyone actually get the (Sodom and) Gomorrah joke?

Posted by ChrisM at Friday, 24 November 2006 at 3:35pm GMT

"These regulations have been long in the coming, several years ago their possibility was signalled and there has been a great investment of time and resources since to ensure that these bookshops and other such places no longer fall in the bracket “whose sole or main purpose is commercial”, but rather now fulfill the legal requirement of existing:

“ b) to advance a religion or belief; or (c) to teach the practice or principles of a religion or belief;”
If such a bookshop has failed to avail itself of the several ways of avoiding being “caught” by this legislation and continues to run simply for the commercial gain of its owner then they have no principle to defend."

Martin,

When I wrote to the Minister earlier this year on these types of matters I was advised in my reply that the intention was that the religious exemptions should be interpreted as narrowly as possible.

As far as Christian bookshops -some belong to chains such as SPCK, CLC etc but there are many independent shops run by a couple of people and sometimes by smaller independent churches who may not have access to legal advice in the same way that large organisations such as the CofE do.

I guess examples that I could think of relating to the theoretical example.

1. There are a number of books available that argue for a conservative position on sexuality
2. A bookshop might be advertising a Care For the Family event relating to marriage
3. A bookshop might be advertising a Christian Institute event dealing with matters relating to the SORs.

Posted by dave williams at Friday, 24 November 2006 at 5:10pm GMT

As you say Dave most of the Christian bookshops in this country are owned or run by charitable trusts/churches.
All those that I know of that began on the initiative of a couple of people are now operating as non-profit trusts and have made explicit in their articles the guiding principles of their status.
As I say, there are many organisations - some whose information you refer to - that can freely advise any who have missed the boat - but I would be very surprised if there are more than a couple in the country.
If there is any left operating on a purely commercial basis for the financial benefit of their owners they will have to be as thoughtful as any other commercial business, the fact they happen to make their living selling religious books will not offer them any exemption from these regulations.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Friday, 24 November 2006 at 9:51pm GMT

Dave ; there is no equality for those who wish to discriminate against gay and lesbian people, and if that is what you wish to do, then there are good reasons to prevent you from doing so.

Simply because something has a religious label does not make it acceptable.You will be given exemption within the boundaries of your direct religious practice - fine by me as I wouldn't go near any anti-gay church in any case,but in the public sphere, you will have to treat people equally.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 24 November 2006 at 10:55pm GMT

Mike,

I'm not sure what post you are responding to or quite what your point is I have noe wish to discriminate against gay and lesbian people

Indeed it is that misunderstanding of Evangelical Christian intentions that make the regulations so ill equipped to deal with the real issues

Posted by dave williams at Saturday, 25 November 2006 at 12:17am GMT

Martin,

Thanks for your response. My personal understanding of the regulations is as follows

1. It is restriction of the provision of goods and services and the restriction of membership that the exemptions apply to

2. The exemptions are related to "Sexual Orientation" not to sexual practise

3. The exemptions do not deal with harrassment or victimisation

a. No Evangelical Christian SHOULD want to discriminate on the grounds identified in the regulations. Acting in that way should be subject to Church discipline regardless of the law

b. However the burden of proof as is increasingly the case lies against the respondant. That is exactly the point of the bookshop example. The plaintiff decides they have been victimised and complains. The bookshop then has to prove that it was not doing so.

c. The assumption then is that someone cannot run their private commercial business in line with their personal convictions. Which may be based on religious views but as it happens may not

d. The regulations do not provide for what might be regarded as a free exchange of ideas.

In effect by insisting that beliefs cannot be put into practise outside of a restricted group of buildings, we are ghettoising and commencing the criminilisation of beliefs as well as practises.

"Direct religious practise" to use Merseymike's phrase suggests a failure to understand that direct religious practise for the Christian affects all aspects of their life. As a manager of a team I worked on the basis that my faith should affect how I did my job and treated my team. My faith wasn't something that I left at home when I went to work. It was what helped me get to and through work

Posted by dave williams at Saturday, 25 November 2006 at 12:31am GMT

Rend à César...

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 25 November 2006 at 8:37am GMT

Dave Williams (one of them) wrote:

"a. No Evangelical Christian SHOULD want to discriminate on the grounds identified in the regulations. Acting in that way should be subject to Church discipline regardless of the law"

O dear, Candide in Neverland ;=)

"c. The regulations do not provide for what might be regarded as a free exchange of ideas."

When did discriminating against customers become an "exchange of ideas"?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 25 November 2006 at 12:32pm GMT

"Rend à César..."

Goran -your point is what exactly?

Posted by dave williams at Saturday, 25 November 2006 at 12:33pm GMT

Just to say two things.

First, I don't think the bookstore thing is much of an issue. I doubt very much that posters of married people would ever reasonably be construed as harassment.

I don't think the regs oblige you to stock (or order) items that you don't agree with.

What they do do is oblige the seller to not discriminate or harass on the grounds of sexual orientation. Eg No I'm not selling you this Bible because I think you might be gay. Or "Get out of here you ~!#+"@!! I don't like your sort of people".

I think it is reasonable to ask all commercial enterprises to abide by such a discrimination and harassment law.

The second point is how bizarre it is for evangelicals of all people to want to put so much effort at legally preventing people coming to their book shop and possibly buying Bibles and books on theology as I did recently. Surely evangelicalism is believing you have good news and actually wanting people to hear it!

We are now in a very strange position where public Christianity is reduced to the defence of discrimination and harassment and the obligatory wearing of religious adornments at work. Is this the sole legacy of evangelical (or of any other kind of) Christianity in the 21st century?

Posted by Craig Nelson at Saturday, 25 November 2006 at 3:03pm GMT

Craig,

1. Neither myself, in terms of my comments here, nor the LCF letter alluded to argues that homosexuals should be prevented from buying books in a Christian bookshop. It seems to be the legislations attempt to do this though!

2. The issue is that harrassment is placed pretty much in the judgement of the person beleiving to have been harassed and the burden of proof is with said bookseller to prove that they didn't

3. Nonoe has responded to the issue that there are campaign groups that quite happily take direct action and would quite possibly try a test case with all the implied costs for a church or shop

4. No! evangelical Christians are not reduced to the things you mention. Evangelicals are involved in a wide range of activities from the more traditional aspects of evangelism and training missionaries through to the work of Tearfund, Care for the Family and other social/poverty relief activites. It's just this is the particular item under discussion here. (E.g. Did TA mention Tearfunds invovlement in the activities to do with climate change a fortnight ago?)

Posted by dave williams at Saturday, 25 November 2006 at 5:12pm GMT

Sorry, I asked that comments be limited to the subject matter of the regulations and then allowed through some comments that did not do this.

I've reversed them out and repeat my request to stick to the topic. Also I have posted further, and in some detail, about these regulations more recently than this item. It may be more useful to post comments about the topic there.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 27 November 2006 at 2:04pm GMT
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