Comments: more on the equality regulations

Downthread I noted that if you repeat the same lies often enough, people will begin to believe them. This more of the same, with a dash of added hysteria.

The Christian Institute's 'briefing' (in quotes since it barely qualifies for its dictionary definition) is a tissue of coulds, mights and maybes tied together with nothing but insubstantial conjecture dressed up as fact.

Really, Colin - is this the best you can do? Perhaps I should apply to the Charity Commission to have you stripped of the name 'Christian', Exeter CU-style. I am embarrassed and ashamed that you use that title.

I'm cross. Can you tell?

Posted by Simon Morden at Wednesday, 6 December 2006 at 5:32pm GMT

TA says, "The Sun newspaper came to the support of the Bishop of Rochester".

The report seems quite neutral to me, neither supporting nor opposing the BIshop. Is it because it's the Sun that it's assumed to be supporting the Bishop?

Posted by maniple at Wednesday, 6 December 2006 at 5:51pm GMT

It's a rather warped view of reality which insists that religions benefit by discriminating against minorities. I don't recall Andrew Brown fulminating against the Church because it does not treat adultery and marriage equally, although adulterers are thankfully still a minority group. Or complaining about its refusal to ordain people under the age of 22 - there's discrimination for you in secular terms!

But that is how the gay campaign is conducted - label your opponents as victims of an irrational phobia and denounce them as bigots for acting according to their principles.

Perhaps Andrew Brown is secretly jealous that there are still people with principles in New Labour Britain?

Posted by Alan Marsh at Wednesday, 6 December 2006 at 6:58pm GMT

Hobson's point as always is to remind us that he is a disestablishmentarian.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Wednesday, 6 December 2006 at 7:02pm GMT

I enjoyed both Andrew Brown and Theo Hobsons' pieces. I particularly liked Hobson's final paragraph: "At first I was angry that such a marginal issue, as I then saw it, was grabbing such big headlines. But now I give thanks for the crisis, for it has taught me that institutional religion is a sinking ship."

Christianity did not have a church per se when it first started out. Institutions by their nature will self-preserve. Full-time officials within institutions by their nature will attempt to empire build and jockey for resources.

They can evolve into a corrupt court that seek to destroy advisors such as Daniel, or they can evolve into a wise counsel that follow good modelling e.g. those who chose to heed Joseph's advice.

The reality is that they are two edges swords, and that the officials within are always walking a tightrope between self-preservation and the greater good. The ones to be most scared of are the ones who say that is not the case. They delusionally think that because they use the secret password "Jesus" they are allowed to do whatever they want with impunity.

They should remember that Jesus is the advocate, and the magistrate can dismiss advocates who are seen to have a conflict of interest. Covenants come and go, God goes on.

Plus the prosecution might well bring evidence before the magistrate that the advocate's clients kept from site. There's many a case been lost because the advocate was unaware of the extent of his clients' misdemeanours and/or crucial evidence (thus the advocate was unable to prepare an argument to defend his clients in court before the case was heard).

Failing to confess to the advocate and "keeping silent" with each other does not stop the accrual of evidence by outsiders...

There are times the magistrate will judge against clients, whilst acknowledging the innocence of the advocate because it was clear the advocate's clients were fundamentally dishonest - even with the advocate.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 6 December 2006 at 9:22pm GMT

There's unjust discrimination, and then there's just ordering of society.

Certainly, it's true that BOTH sides (in this particular debate) play a game of "here's how our opponents engage in the former, while here's how our side supports the latter."

I'm just noting this reality of rhetoric. As to this particular example of it:

"I don't recall Andrew Brown fulminating against the Church because it does not treat adultery and marriage equally, although adulterers are thankfully still a minority group. Or complaining about its refusal to ordain people under the age of 22 - there's discrimination for you in secular terms! But that is how the gay campaign is conducted - label your opponents as victims of an irrational phobia and denounce them as bigots for acting according to their principles."

No comment.

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 1:21am GMT

The Christian Institute brief says: “Regulation 16 provides some partial exemptions from the discrimination law for religious organisations and ministers. For example, they will be permitted to restrict church membership to those who uphold their doctrinal beliefs on homosexuality. However, a church could still be sued for harassment over the way it turned down a homosexual for membership. The exemptions are totally inadequate.”

Much to ponder here “… sued for harassment over the w a y it turned down…” I thought this applied to a l l situations in life (and all laws).

“... totally inadequate.” – what do they want instead?

But more important, if this CI representation is anywhere near correct, Regulation 16 leaves heterosexuals unprotected against religious discrimination, precisely overriding “the consciences and free speech of Christians”.

Also, I would say that the awkward phrasing “… will be banned from discrimination and harassment… ” and the negative use of “… will be covered by the discrimination and harassment laws…” are very telling.

Especially the “scenarios” under point 3. are hilarious ;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 8:46am GMT

Oh for the days when 'discriminating' did not automatically lead to an indictment by a howling mob. We would say that he was a man with 'discriminating tastes' - he knew the difference between fine wine and plonk, he could look into the eyes of a candidate for a job and get a sense of whether this was somebody who was up to the task, he could look through the hype and bad rhetoric and see whether the writer had a point or not. It is the sort of kommissar's world view that has turned discriminating into something necessarily wrong headed and dangerous to society.

Posted by Raspberry Rabbit at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 9:57am GMT

Just sticking to the Anglican perspective on the Sexual Orientation Regulations for a moment:-

The Primates said at Dromantine in February 2005: “The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said in "The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today" in June 2006: "it is imperative... to give the strongest support to the defence of homosexual people against... legal disadvantage."

The official position of the Church of England would seem, therefore, to be IN FAVOUR of the equalisation of the rights of homosexuals under the law. This is in line with Lambeth Resolution 3. of 1978 stating that “human rights and dignity” are of “capital and universal importance”.

Posted by badman at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 10:29am GMT

I am ashamed enough that some of my fellow Christians want to discriminate against my family.

I am ashamed that some of my fellow Christians imply that their ability to discriminate is somehow a central part of our faith.

I am ashamed that the government feels they should.

I am ashamed that some fellow Christians think that what they are offered is not enough.

I am ashamed to think I already know "what they want instead"?

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 12:28pm GMT

There is one thing that needs to be answered about this site's view of the proposed legislation:
Surely no-one can support the quashing of any debate on this matter? Debate is fundamental to an honest and fair society that looks askance at any imposition of power by the powerful. No debate equals no honesty and a might-is-right mentality.
It also leads to the question of why it was this specific matter (rather than various others) that was not allowed to be debated.

(2)

Posted by Christopher Shell at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 12:29pm GMT

The point is, Alan, that those principles are bigoted. The BNP is bigoted against black people. Some in the church are bigoted against gay people. I think they are about equivalent in terms of the notice which should be taken of them in a pluralist and secular society.

Allowed to exist, of course, but certainly regarded as socially unacceptable.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 12:43pm GMT

Christopher - whoa! That jumbo jet flew right over my head. What particular right to debate is being quashed here? I missed that bit.

People can and do argue against homosexuality and against these regulations - as is their absolute right in a democratic society. What these laws will prevent people doing is, for example:

a. refusing a gay couple a room for the night in their hotel
b. expelling a pupil from their church school for being gay
c. turning down a contactor to regrout their parish hall because he is gay.

If that a problem for you? If so why? What has any of that to do with your faith?

And if you support the right of people to behave like that towards gay people, would you equally support their right to behave like that towards black people? Or Christians? If not, why not?

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 4:23pm GMT

Merseymike says that I am a bigot. It must be true if that is what merseymike says.

Is this what passes for academic method these days in merseyside?

Posted by Alan Marsh at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 4:28pm GMT

The fact is, these new regulations are a forthright attempt to address discrimination, since citizen inequalities and unequal access to resources/opportunities detrimentally affects everybody.

If some queer street kid thrown out of her home has the capacity to get educated and help us in the fight against HIV/AIDS, then surely she is most welcome, even if she is not straight.

Send not to know for whom the bell of antigay discrimination tolls, as it were. If it does not toll for you, it surely tolls for your children, relatives, friends, coworkers, or neighbors down the street.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 4:35pm GMT

Christopher Shell will be pleased to know that the necessary objections have been laid in Parliament and this matter will be debated.

Parliament, in this case, will have the choice of affirming or deleting the regulations. There will be no possibility of amending them.

The problem for those who oppose the regulations is they can invent possible "hard case" scenarios but at this time lack the actual parties to their imagined actions. Hence their appeal for "offended" printers etc to come forward…..

I am sure that some individuals will be persuaded to tell us how the new laws will contravene their conscience, and that we will all take care to evaluate their individual rights against the common good.

In the end the opponents of this legislation were always going to find the demarcation line a challenge. As I have said before, the main precepts of this legislation have almost universal approval, it is precisely where the exemptions cease that is in question.

My only view on these matters is that if the regulations proceed as drafted for Northern Ireland, we can be sure that the vast majority of cases coming to the courts will not be aggrieved gays, but aggrieved “Christians” testing the law.

As to the costs of defending a case ruining some poor and unsuspecting Christian defending their conscience – well, I seriously doubt that eventuality – the money will pour in!

But it makes good copy ……….

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 5:24pm GMT

Alan, I see no such personal remark towards you by merseymike here. He said only that some people were...
Let's cool it please.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 6:45pm GMT

The problem grows. Some non-Christians look in on us and assume that because the only Christian views they see/read/hear on the media are those which oppose the SORs, all Christians are opposed to the SORs. Consequently, they decide they want nothing to do with us.

Some non-Christians look in on us and decide that, because there's so much sound and fury about witholding rights from homosexuals, we're on the right track. Gays - the mere thought of gays - gives them the creeps. They become interested in Christian matters.

The problem is that both groups are wrong. There's rather more to being a Christian than being against things. The first group need to be told that Christianity in general - and the Anglican church in particular - is not monolithic: there are shades of opinion, and some of us disagree vehemently with those who oppose the SORs.

The second group need to be told that they'll be called to love all sorts of folk they consider unsavoury. Even gay people. Jesus commanded it.

In the end, the Church will lose both groups. One will never hear. One will hear, and turn away. For the want of humility and compassion, the Kingdom is lost.

Posted by Simon Morden at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 7:19pm GMT

"Debate is fundamental to an honest and fair society that looks askance at any imposition of power by the powerful."

Honest and fair debate is fundamental to an honest and fair Society, that looks askance at any imposition of Power by the powerful over the disempowered.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 7:31pm GMT

Gerry

Thanks, I missed that low flying plane too. Did it ever exist?

Still, if there is a written audit trail proving that one camp has been suppressing, then they need to counteraccuse the other side, because otherwise how do they justify their own behaviour.

More credibility to falsely accuse than take responsibility for one's own conduct? Adam would be proud.

Doubly ironic when "Eve" hadn't done it in the first place.

Still, who needs truth when trying to set up a propoganda image?

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 8:16pm GMT

'As to the costs of defending a case ruining some poor and unsuspecting Christian defending their conscience – well, I seriously doubt that eventuality – the money will pour in!' Martin Reynolds.

What price the beatitudes* ?

Jesus' actual message* is so much less sexy than the anti-gay, anti-women, anti-poor, pro-institutional religion, pro-capitalism, pro-the-nuclear-family, message he Should have given, to satisfy the religious establishement of our own times.

Jesus seems to have had alot of Be-Attitude !

Posted by laurence at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 9:18pm GMT

And the debate goes on (and on, and on).

We are now (surely) close to the point where everything that can be said will have soon be said, including a fair spread from the sublime to the ridiculous.

It all looks rather overblown to be honest.

Here, in a nutshell is how I see it -

A) The Human Rights Act takes precedence over the regs in any case

B) It seems to me that rather then annulling the regs it would simply be preferable to get questions asked of ministers in Parliament about the effect of the regulations and ask them to give assurances to bring in amended regulations if the terrible things which some people believe might happen actually do happen (in the remote unlikelihood that this happens)

C) The doctrinal exemption is for any religious organisation to not be required to contravene their own doctrines (eg carry out blessings, be required to allow into membership and so on). That would seem to be more than adequate for the purposes of free speech and freedom of religion in terms of the Human Rights Act,

D) anything further than this would inevitably constitute a weakening of the law affecting discrimination in this area when both Houses of Parliament have voted in favour of the principle of non-discrimination - to exempt people on the grounds that they hold a series of supernatural belief would be simply preposterous.

E) Some people prefer to whip up a media storm to suit their own purposes

Posted by Craig Nelson at Thursday, 7 December 2006 at 11:34pm GMT

Hi Martyn & Gerry-

(1) 'Parliament will have the right of affirming or deleting these regulations. There will be no possibility of amending them': That's exactly the point. What possible good is served by quashing debate on possible amendments?

(2) Martyn's point about Christians not actually being disadvantaged is not accurate. For example (in a related arena) Catholic adoption agencies are under serious threat as we speak.

(3) It beggars belief to say that there is general agreement on this issue. There is widespread disagreement, indeed (more) a clash of worldviews, as can easily be seen by scanning the secular and Christian press.

(4) Gerry's point about guesthouse proprietors (or parents for that matter) having the right to say who sleeps together under their own roof is the one I don't understand. Why should this right be taken away from precisely the ones who are responsible and have the good of society at heart? Hopefully you are not one of those who simply says 'society has changed' (as though we hadn't noticed!!). Duh! (as one is tempted to say)...! To change is not always to move forwards. To change is not always to be justified in changing. Why (in your capacity as Christians) change in ways that say: 'The nonChristians have been right, and the Christians have been wrong.'? And (most importantly) why change in a weak and passive manner without ever first debating whether the change is a good thing? Change is so often the result of people doing what they can get away with, not the result of debate.

(5) The whole attitude of parliament (worryingly - if without argument - affirmed by most on this site) is that there are some people termed 'religious' who are nonmainstream and for whom fringe exceptions need to be made. What sort of worldview is that? Precisely: a secular one. Someone somewhere has been duped.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Saturday, 9 December 2006 at 12:56pm GMT

PS Couldn't resist adding:
Gerry's 'Is that a problem for you?' (like the even more cringeworthy 'Do you have a prahblem with that?') is a phrase I have often seen as quintessentially indicative of a particular (untenable) worldview.

Just what is wrong with this phrase?
(1) It sees everything as subjective. No problem is *actually* a problem in and of itself. It is only a problem 'for you'. But just try working out a coherent worldview where everything is subjective.

(2) It implies that the person who 'has a problem' has some complaint for which they need to see a doctor or psychiatrist. In other words, the fault is assumed (not argued) to lie with them and not with the self-contradictory views they are endeavouring to expose.

There are some words and phrases that witness to a whole untenable worldview. This is one of them.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Saturday, 9 December 2006 at 1:06pm GMT

Christopher Shell wrote: “(1) 'Parliament will have the right of affirming or deleting these regulations. There will be no possibility of amending them': That's exactly the point. What possible good is served by quashing debate on possible amendments?”

Not wasting Parliamentary time and money on futile parlour games? Saving that same Parliamentary time and money for worthier purposes? Using that same Parliamentary time and money for such purposes.

I count 3 “possible goods” ;=)

Christopher Shell wrote: “(5) The whole attitude of parliament (worryingly – if without argument – affirmed by most on this site) is that there are some people termed 'religious' who are non-mainstream and for whom fringe exceptions need to be made. What sort of worldview is that? Precisely: a secular one. Someone somewhere has been duped.”

But it is you (and Miss Kelly, according to reports) who are claiming “fringe benefits”. No one else.

And yes, sometimes “The non-Christians have been right, and the Christians have been wrong.”

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 9 December 2006 at 2:58pm GMT

But I do agree that both claiming and granting exceptions for "christian" organizations to make them free to discriminate is outrageous.

But the, the courts will tear them to pieces.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 9 December 2006 at 3:01pm GMT

Goran-
You are discriminating yourself. You are saying (a bit like the communists or their fascist counterparts of yore) that some people are allowed to follow their consciences and some are not. 'Some consciences are more equal than others.'

The ones who are allowed to, moreover, are none other than the secular humanists, whose 'worldview' (or rather, preferred practice)is responsible for the most cataclysmic set of statistical trends imaginable on all family-related issues.
I am sure that nonchristians have often been right where christians are wrong (if less often than the reverse). Where this is the case, one would expect to see this reflected in the relevant statistics.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 1:10pm GMT

I am not, dear Christopher Shell,

I am saying that "being" - for instance a negro - and "opposing" to others being - for instance a negro - are not equivalent.

Morally or otherwise.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 11 December 2006 at 2:35pm GMT

the most cataclysmic set of statistical trends imaginable on all family-related issues

Given that Jesus apparently taught the overthrow of family values, shouldn't we be celebrating this as a sign of the Kingdom????

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 3:43pm GMT

Jesus's most sharp critizism of Polygamous repudium in Mard 10 with parallels (Jesus sharpens the Law) certainly indicates he was not too keen on the inbalance found in the power structures of his day.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 12 December 2006 at 8:51pm GMT
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