Comments: more on Hereford recruitment policy

The Bishop's lack of contrition is astonishing. The tribunal has judged him and found his conduct to have been wrong, not vice versa. How can he be fit for leadership in the Church?

Posted by Fr Mark at Friday, 21 December 2007 at 10:09am GMT

I love the way that so-called liberal human rights legislation has taken away the right of people to do anything other than act and speak like an insincere amoral vacuous liberal. It is not justice and freedom for all, just for those who are approved of by liberals!

Homosexuality is a sin according to God, yet human law now imposes a right to sexual freedom overriding any right the Christians have to act freely. I guess it won't be long before some Bishops decide they would rather go to jail than submit to this sort of totalitarian ideology.

Posted by david wh at Friday, 21 December 2007 at 1:59pm GMT

I wonder what this bishop would say or do if the Church as a matter of ethics respected the fundamental equality of all persons, as reflected in its blessings and ministry.

All I see now, in the context of discrimination of the institution, is so much wriggling and positioning, when the law for employment demands a general condition of equality - and yet it is not enough that the law is allowing for the Church's stated doctrine of inequality!

Posted by Pluralist at Friday, 21 December 2007 at 2:25pm GMT

Priddis sums up everything that is wrong with the church. He needs to accept that he is wrong and that he broke the law. As it is, he simply defends the unacceptable institutional homophobia of the Church. My journey towards atheism has certainly been encouraged by this prime example of Christian homophobia.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 21 December 2007 at 2:30pm GMT

"How can he be fit for leadership in the Church?"

Because he's orthodox: he didn't let a fag get a job with the Church. What other criterion is there?

“when they make derogatory statements about me personally, then that’s clearly hurtful to me”

Right back at ya, there! Maybe these things wouldn't be so hurtful to you if they were said by an 'orthodox' bishop, I know I never feel in any way hurt when some bishop or another makes derogatory statements about me, and conservatives think I'm being extreme in reacting negatively to what they seem to feel are perfectly reasonable comments. Tell you what, I'll start saying bishops shouldn't be allowed in the Church because they have a life span thirty years less than everybody else's, I'm sure if I went through enough obituary columns, I could amass enough "evidence" to prove it, and there's ample evidence bishops shouldn't be allowed around kids, just read a newspaper. That shouldn't be hurtful at all, your side says things like that about me all the time.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 21 December 2007 at 2:43pm GMT

"My journey towards atheism has certainly been encouraged by this prime example of Christian homophobia."

I could be almost there with you. But it's a non sequitur. You can keep your faith in God while losing faith in the church. The two are not one and the same.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 21 December 2007 at 3:14pm GMT

Well, David, you still have the 'right' to act freely, just as other bigots have the right to do so. But, it is quite right that human law should override the made up laws of your god, who plays no part in the governance of secular law.

Within your church, you have the right to behave in a discriminatory fashion according to agreed set boundaries. That is a concession you really should be grateful for. After all, we do not live in a theocracy and your conservative god-laws are not applicable to those of us who choose not to follow your conservative god. Of course, if you dislike it here that much, you could always move to Nigeria and take your god with you!

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 21 December 2007 at 3:16pm GMT

david wh,
what astonishing circles you move in.
I have never met an insincere amoral vacuous liberal - where do they hang out?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 21 December 2007 at 3:16pm GMT

David Wh: repsecting human rights is not "insincere vacuous and amoral." Quite the reverse. I do not consent to losing the human rights which I enjoy everywhere else in our society just the moment I walk through the door of a church. I do not consent to that happening, and I don't think it's Christian either. I expect the law to defend me against those who practise discrimination and rights abuse, whatever colour of shirt they are wearing. There's nothing amoral about that: I expect Christians to aspire to a higher standard of ethics than the minimum required by law, not try to stoop below it.

Posted by Fr Mark at Friday, 21 December 2007 at 3:59pm GMT

"I guess it won't be long before some Bishops decide they would rather go to jail than submit to this sort of totalitarian ideology."

Why, oh why must conservatives constantly adopt the "help, help, I'm being oppressed" line of argument? The Church has been oppressed at times in its history, david wh, and Christians are suffering for their faith in the world even now. However, insisting that British Churches adhere to UK employment law (which specifically *respects* the right of the Church to discriminate in the case of clergy!) is not exactly throwing your reactionary brethren to the lions. Face it, +Priddis acted disgracefully, immorally, and - it would appear - illegally. Even an "insinxere amoral vacuous" conbservative would surely have to concede that.

Posted by MRG at Friday, 21 December 2007 at 4:04pm GMT

So some of us call what people are born as a "sin".

Then we act on our high horse self-righteousness and run afoul of the law. We're sorry but we don't apologize.

Then we whine about it.

Pathetic.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Friday, 21 December 2007 at 6:19pm GMT

"I have never met an insincere amoral vacuous liberal - where do they hang out?"

Why, in PapaRatzi's "Dictatorship of Relativism", of course!

[aka, "Never-Never-Land" ;-/]

+Priddis: "Those nasty queers have hurt my feelings: waaaaaah!" :-(... {Now, if only I could FIRE the lot of them from the media!}

Posted by JCF at Friday, 21 December 2007 at 7:56pm GMT

The agony and waffling of the bishop in question helps demonstrate the difficulties of the traditional negative approach. If the bishop wishes to continue to bear false witness against queer folks as his negative traditions and manner of reading the scriptures necessitates - then he cannot at the very same time get kudos and cheers from the rest of us for being an exemplar of both caring and honesty.

The common sense equation is simple - if you believe queer folks are bad as most of our negative legacy says they are, then you will probably treat them badly. How badly? Well it probably depends on who you are, and what the particular situation is, and who else is watching, and who else could get news of your potential mistreatment, and whether you surmise you can get away with this piece or that, depending.

Not much more to it than that.

The bishop should just bite the bullet and publish that so far as his jobs are concerned: No OUT queer folks need apply, and certainly not ones who are pairbonded in any significant manner for any significant length of time.

If he wishes to keep pledging the received flat earth nonsense that still passes for sacred knowledge about queer folks, then he has to pay the piper for the orthodoxy dance.

(Sorry if his feelings are hurt - just hang around the conservative Anglican blogs and see what gets posted about New Hampshire and VGR.)

Posted by drdanfee at Friday, 21 December 2007 at 9:12pm GMT

Dr Dan

What you suggest, albeit ironically I daresay, is undoubtedly unlawful here in the UK, except for a religious organisation.

That is the point here: we have a law on the matter, which already contains not one but two separate clauses that each permit an organisation such as the Diocese of Hereford to claim exemption, i.e. to lawfully discriminate on grounds of orientation, for a particular job.

Senior Church of England officials have previously stated that the first clause, which roughly approximates to the scenario you describe, is not one which the Church would ever wish to invoke, because of the Church's insistence on making a distinction between orientation and "practice". This particular bishop has said much the same thing himself, in relation to this case. The distinction is not recognised in English law.

The second clause is the one the diocese actually invoked in this case. This clause was inserted in the legislation at the direct request of, you guessed it, the Church of England. The tribunal found (to the surprise of some) that the clause applied in this case, but also that the particular actions taken by the bishop exceeded those which the exemption allowed him to take.

And yet now, in the only case to come before a tribunal so far from the CofE, the diocese is saying that it does not want as a matter of policy to follow the accepted procedure to invoke this clause in future cases.

Unless the CofE can make it clear that Hereford is not speaking for the whole Church, it is in my opinion likely that there will be calls for repeal of the exemption, based on Hereford's apparent repudiation of it.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 21 December 2007 at 9:37pm GMT

The problem for the church, Simon, is that the civil law does not follow its beliefs at all. It makes no distinction between practice and orientation. It never will, as such a law would be unworkable.

So, either the church has to discriminate by restricting, or it allows all comers and does not discriminate. It isn't above the law but cannot cope with the law that exists - which shows it up in its true light. Institutionally homophobic.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 21 December 2007 at 9:56pm GMT

David Wh 'Homosexuality is a sin according to God'

Errr...Hmmm...Don't think I understand how you can speak for God. Even the Bible has nothing to say about two people who are deeply and wonderfully and faithfully in love.

Posted by Neil at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 12:23am GMT

The "Bigot of the Year" award is most amusing. Should that action be used as an example of righteous shaming?

Surely Jesus walked, talked, and ate with a bigot or five and, in all likelihood, affirmed them as well as accepted them unconditionally. I wonder how Jesus would reconcile this situation.

Posted by trog at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 12:33am GMT

Let me try to stir just a little grey into the black and white terms in which this issue is being discussed.

As I read it Bishop Anthony does not want to impose a total ban on gay men being recruited to posts in his diocese, even to posts at a quite senior level. If he did he could use the proivisions under the law to do so. I suspect some C of E bishops would want to impose just that kind of complete veto, and for them the current law will probably work.

I would expect that every C of E bishop has some sort of boundaries as to the degree of stability in personal lifestyle that he requires of those he licenses (lay and ordained). So, for example (though without any implication that this is an exact parallel to the present case), a priest who is divorced for "unreasonable behaviour" (the main grounds for most UK divorces) is presumed to have committed an offence for which deprivation of office is the stipulated outcome, and a period of about 5 years is the norm before that person can be considered for another post. It is worth noting that one of the differences between the C of E and TEC is that no divorced priest (or any priest married to a divorced woman) has ever been consecrated bishop in England. Nor has a bishop in such circumstances ever been translated to another see. (There has been nothing in law of course to prevent a bishop in office from divorcing or remarrying as long as he does not commit an offence as indicated above.)

Bishop Anthony argued in court that he would have taken the same view and the same action had the case been one of a candidate who had recently emerged from a long term heterosexual relationship. I can only presume that either the court didn't believe him or that it ruled that the legislation actually gives an organisation less protection when it seeks to require standards of a gay person than of a straight one.

Posted by David Walker at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 9:44am GMT

David: are you really as naive as you make out?

Basically, it was not appropriate for him to ask those sort of questions, and there is no evidence at all that it would have even been known had he simply been a single applicant who had not revealed his sexuality. The court got it right and recognised that he was behaving in a discriminatory manner.

I wouldn't believe a word he said about anything! If he had any conscience at all, he would resign - but 'church' and 'conscience' are somewhat oxymoronic! More chance of finding 'morality' in the Hellfire Club!

You really do sum up why the CofE is such a pathetic, compromising waste of space. Thank goodness that we have TEC who are prepared to get off that fence and support justice.

Perhaps the conservatives will be a bit more convinced by your willingness to sell gay people out. Essentially, it should be no compromise and onwards to a split. I assume you will stay with Williams the Spineless and the conservatives.

Posted by Merseymike at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 10:43am GMT

David
First, I don't think there is any question here of discrimination on grounds of gender (you said "men").
Third, the tribunal (rather than "court") did not need to take a view on whether they believed the bishop on this point. The view they took was that the Complainant had met the requirement of "Issues", see para 105 of the judgment.
Second, I am unclear what the point you are trying to make is! Any bishop may have such boundaries, but under the law he may not have different boundaries for females, or for straights...

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 10:47am GMT

Merseymike

In fact, the tribunal ruled that the bishop was entitled to ask the questions that he asked, and it cleared the bishop of the separate charge of harassment. What the bishop was not entitled to do was to disregard the reply given by the Claimant to the requirement to abstain from a sexual relationship.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 11:28am GMT

But would he have asked a heterosexual candidate those same questions? I think the answer is no....

The simple way forward is to remove the exemptions. There is no justification for them in any case. I see no reason why discrimination should be allowed simply because people justify them by way of religion.

Posted by Merseymike at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 11:40am GMT

David mentions "stability in personal life" as an important consideration for bishops when licensing. Yet "stability in personal life" in the Hereford case meant 'stable celibate', not 'stable committed gay relationship'. Indeed the Bishop of Hereford's letter to John Reaney on rejecting him for the post states: "It would be potentially extremely destructive for the Claimant, as a youth worker, for the Diocese, to have to withdraw from the work should he wish to enter into a future committed relationship". This is consistent with the position the Diocese of Chester took previously when forcing Reaney to resign upon entering a gay relationship.

It is unlikely that either diocese would have treated a heterosexual person equally. If Reaney had entered a relationship with a woman, there simply would not have been the same degree of scrutiny. What proportion of couples are celibate on getting married in the Church these days?

The tribunal found direct discrimination: it was only because of Reaney's gay orientation, that the Bishop applied Issues; he would not have applied the same strict criteria to a heterosexual. And indirect discrimination: Reaney was placed at a particular disadvantage by being unable to choose to marry. Although the post of DYO fell within the small number of posts exempted from the Regulations, allowing the Diocese to impose a celibacy requirement on gay applicants, the tribunal found that Reaney did in fact meet the requirement.

Clearly this unjust exemption for organised religion, which is confusing in practice, needs repealing forthwith. Or at the very least, the C of E should opt out of it and be brought into line with the higher standards of employment practice required elsewhere.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 12:42pm GMT

Mike and Simon, if liberal "human rights" legislation is against biblical morality in some ways, it should be repealed. Human Rights are not divinely inspired - they are just "laws made by humans". So who are Christian leaders supposed to obey - God or humans? I don't expect that Bishops will always submit to the law of the land, despite the CofE's strong erastian tendencies.

Why shouldn't we expect God's judgement on a country that rejects Him and His righteousness and then tries to force His people to act against His will too?... I think you could see the massive increases in relationship breakdowns, breakdown in society and the hikes in sexually transmitted diseases as natural judgements on previous legislation for evils like abortion and encouraging sexual promiscuity; and I worry about what judgements will come next.

Posted by david wh at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 2:59pm GMT

The problem for the church, Simon, is that the civil law does not follow its beliefs at all. It makes no distinction between practice and orientation. It never will, as such a law would be unworkable.

So, either the church has to discriminate by restricting, or it allows all comers and does not discriminate. It isn't above the law but cannot cope with the law that exists - which shows it up in its true light. Institutionally homophobic.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 21 December 2007 at 9:56pm GMT

Neither does Church Law make any such distinction.

All thruogh Church Law spouses, widows. widowers and civil patners are cited together. The C of E, at the highest level, oversaw these changes in the Law affecting it.

Posted by L Roberts at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 5:57pm GMT

So david w., how does the blessing of monogamous, long-term same sex relationships have to with increased promiscuity, STD's, abortions,and breakdowns in society?

You know, it is the "conservative" continual fight against encouraging the LGBT community to partake in a "lifestyle" of stable relationships in an ecclesiastical atmosphere that makes your argument so selfishly and stubbornly ignorant. More than missing the forest because you continually bang your head against one of the trees, you are leading the way to the eventual extinction of Christianity. Now that is one causative effect I can certainly see emerging from your pontifications.

What did Harry Potter say to the Bogart?

RIDIKKULLUS!!!

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 6:30pm GMT

No, David. You do not appear to realise that the UK is a secular country where religion is respected but does not direct the law of the land.

You appear to be advocating a theonomist or reconstructionist position, where you impose your religious beliefs upon the broader population even if they do not follow your religion.

Christian leaders have to remain within the democratically agreed law of the land.

You are welcome to call upon your god to wreak vengeance. Poor old Africa. They must have really irritated him somewhere along the line. All those famines, all that AIDS - and largely affecting conservative christians, too.

Posted by Merseymike at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 7:40pm GMT

choirboyfromhell, the trouble with liberal attitudes to sex is that they are based only on Self (what I want, who I am) and see objective human realities as inconveniences rather than God-ordained disciplines (babies, sexually transmitted diseases, relationship breakdowns etc). So they have failed to make people happier, healthier and more integrated. Quite the opposite, as I just said.

Whether legal forms of same-sex relationship will improve matters I don't know, but it will be at best a small improvement since very few LGB people have taken up the option of forming a legal partnership. As I guess you know, many LGB folk think exclusive marriage is a heterosexual creation, and that more flexible forms are better - ie, in Christian words, homosexuality is related to promiscuity. Which is the reason for the much higher incidence of STDs and lack of life-long exclusive relationships in the LGBT community. This is harmful to LGB people, not to me (directly at least).

The arguement is really about what is and isn't holy/healthy, why, and how far a legal system should legislate for or against each. There are other strong largely unchangeable sexual attractions that even liberals see as unacceptable and harmful and wouldn't want to see legal forms created or even decriminalised.

As for the extinction of Christianity, it is the liberal churches that are dead and dying. Conservative ones are doing much better (like all the UKs megachurches). Or do you mean that liberals are going to go so far as to try to snuff us out because of our moral views and refusal to accept their feeble ideologies ?

Posted by david wh at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 7:44pm GMT

I can only assume you do not live in the UK, David, or you would know that the numbers of civil partnerships which have taken place here are way above estimates.
According to the Office for National Statistics, 18,059 couples, or 36,118 individuals, entered into an officially recognised civil partnership in the UK between December 2005 and the end of December 2006. This total far exceeded the Government estimate, surpassing in one year the number of partnerships which were estimated would take place by 2010.

I also think you have been reading too much 70's liberationism - gay and lesbian people are calling for partnership, parenting and mainstreaming these days, as recent campaigns testify! We won them all, by the way - you may not have realised.

And recognition will assist this - hence civil partnerships, giving people like my partner and I the chance to be officially recognised after 16 years together.

Posted by Merseymike at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 11:04pm GMT

18,000 civil partnerships in two years, David Wh. Not bad, eh?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7156151.stm

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 11:04pm GMT

"choirboyfromhell, the trouble with liberal attitudes to sex is that they are based only on Self (what I want, who I am) and see objective human realities as inconveniences rather than God-ordained disciplines (babies, sexually transmitted diseases, relationship breakdowns etc). So they have failed to make people happier, healthier and more
integrated. Quite the opposite, as I just said."

God's discipline is STDS? Where is this in scripture?

"Whether legal forms of same-sex relationship will improve matters I don't know, but it will be at best a small improvement since very few LGB people have taken up the option of forming a legal partnership."

Well gee, since the church doesn't offer it yet, I guess not many have.

"As I guess you know, many LGB folk think exclusive marriage is a heterosexual creation,"

Actually it's called 'Matrimony' and it's roots are in the giving up of property to another family. That would be in line with your idea of sex only being for procreation (talk about SELF!), and virgins being
traded to keep the family line going. Very healthy.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 11:39pm GMT

"..and that more flexible forms are better - ie, in Christian words, homosexuality is related to promiscuity."

That's b.s. and you (no, you probably don't) know it. How in heaven's name does homosexuality=promiscuity?

.."Which is the reason for the much higher incidence of STDs and lack of life-long exclusive relationships in the LGBT community. This is harmful to LGB people, not to me (directly at least)."

Your logic is incredible.
But then again, it proves that being filled with so much nonsense you can equate anything to become anything.

"The arguement is really about what is and isn't holy/healthy, why, and how far a legal system should legislate for or against each."

No the argument is to keep your religion out of my politics. That's a serious matter here in America.
Although you consider it not, you are very lucky to have the laws on the books to protect LGBT people in the UK from people like yourself.

"There are other strong largely unchangeable sexual attractions that even liberals see as unacceptable and harmful and wouldn't want to see legal forms created or even decriminalised."

Last time I knew, the sheep weren't consenting at all.

"As for the extinction of Christianity, it is the liberal churches that are dead and dying. Conservative ones are doing much better (like all the UKs
megachurches)."

So is radical Islam. What's your point?

"Or do you mean that liberals are going to go so far as to try to snuff us out because of our moral views and refusal to accept their feeble ideologies ?"

You just go your way and I'll go mine. Perhaps
Merseymike is right. But I think that your form of "christianity" is very far from God.

Have a Merry one, but don't eat any pudding, as
your Puritan forebearers here in the colonies forbade it, as it caused LICENTIOUSNESS and LEWDNESS of conduct! See aren't you proud?

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Saturday, 22 December 2007 at 11:42pm GMT

David Wh:

Just for you. My favorite Christmas Carol:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdXF9KhcSJQ

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Sunday, 23 December 2007 at 12:05am GMT

Hugh

No, actually the tribunal's finding in relation to the second point you mention also falls into what the law calls "direct" discrimination. See para 97 and 98 of the judgment. The tribunal then found that in one particular respect the case failed to meet the multiple requirements of the clause 7(3) exemption, see paras 105 to 108.

The tribunal did also say in para 100 that they would if necessary have found there was indirect discrimination as well, but they did not need to do so.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Sunday, 23 December 2007 at 12:11am GMT

David Wh
I do not believe there is any conflict between the UK employment legislation involved in this case and the beliefs of the Church of England. This is because the law provides, as I have already explained, two forms of exemption which the Church of England is entitled to make use of.

The problem is that in the case at hand, the diocese had signally failed to follow the procedures needed to be safe in invoking the second form of exemption.

And now, the diocese is stating that as a matter of policy it does not wish to follow those procedures in future, and yet it still wishes to claim the exemption.

This is I suggest a silly position for the diocese to take.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Sunday, 23 December 2007 at 12:18am GMT

David Wh: you suggest that bishops should be breaking the law where necessary. The problem with that argument is that bishops sit in the House of Lords, and are instrumental in the legislative process. You cannot be a legislator and then say people should disobey laws you have voted against (and lost).

Secondly, you suggest that liberal churches will die out, and the illiberal ones will remain. The problem for that argument is that many people (I am an example) are brought up in illiberal churches, but then move into a more liberal position on the gay issue as they mature. It doesn't much happen the other way around, because it occurs as a result of experience dispelling ignorance of gay people.

Posted by Fr Mark at Sunday, 23 December 2007 at 4:34pm GMT

Fr Mark
I would say that many people move to a more liberal view on many other issues too. It's not restricted to the gay issue.

What I've loved about Anglicanism is that it has been able to encompass all my growing and changing, giving me space to become more and more liberal on a huge variety of theological issues.

I do hope that we're not in the process of destroying that wonderful aspect of our church. Otherwise people like me are likey to fall off the edge with nowhere to go once the certainties of conservatism no longer make sense.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 23 December 2007 at 5:37pm GMT

Yes, Erika, you're quite right. Being broad and diverse is the chief selling-point of Anglicanism: those who are trying to ditch this don't understand the nature of the Anglican genius at all, and shouldn't be allowed to take it over, as they will only destroy it. If people want hard-line religion, then most of the other mainstream denominations will cater for them quite happily. I am always coming across gentle people who have found a space in Anglicanism which allows them to be unpressured and does not judge and push them. That is so important in this world of increasingly hard lunatic fundamentalist religion.

Posted by Fr Mark at Sunday, 23 December 2007 at 9:40pm GMT

Simon and Mark, I don't think that Bishops will be influenced by my musings about what they might do; but I do think that several, including ++Rowan and ++Cormac, are not sounding very happy with the ideological and compulsive elements in the way "gay rights" laws have been formulated and imposed.

As for lawmakers breaking the law, I presume that you don't mean that in any case where a government makes bad laws the lawmakers must conform regardless? Where would that leave people trying to resist an autocratic fundamentalist regime? Would they have to resign and leave parliament completely open with no opposition to any legislation the ideologues wanted? Ridiculous!

Posted by david wh at Thursday, 27 December 2007 at 8:34pm GMT

Some comments are tending to wander from the subject of the Hereford case. Please ensure comments are related clearly to that issue.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 27 December 2007 at 10:54pm GMT

"Where would that leave people trying to resist an autocratic fundamentalist regime?"

Poor Mr Brown???

Now, t h a t one was ridiculous.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 28 December 2007 at 7:16am GMT

david wh

In a democracy there are enough processes for disaffected people to try to overturn laws they don't agree with. If they don't succeed they have to live with it. That's the nature of a democracy. They can vote for a different government next time round.

In a totalitarian state things are different, but you really will not be able to turn the Bishop of Hereford into a modern day Bonhoeffer.

Sweet irony too, when you think that most conscientious objectors to oppressive laws fight on the side of the oppressed to win their freedom. Yet here the church is the oppressors wishing to continue to keep a group of people in a state of inequality. It really isn’t a pretty picture and defending it does you no credit.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 28 December 2007 at 10:10am GMT

""gay rights" laws"

I note your quotation marks. Now, being gay is something one is, not something one chooses, whatever the way in which that state arises. Religious belief is, however, a choice. Being gay demands nothing in terms of how one lives one's life: one can be promiscuous, celibate, monogamous. One can work in an office or at home. One can eat what one wants, dress as one wishes, go out or stay home as much as one wants. Religious belief, on the other hand, often dictates what one eats and when, how one dresses, how one lives one's life. It has also brought untold harm, and good I grant you, to the world: violence, war, vicious oppression. It defines a lifestyle while homosexuality is simply a state. How then is the choice of a religious lifestyle a "right" to be enshrined in constitutions while a state of being that harms no-one is allowed to be a focus of persecution?

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 28 December 2007 at 1:50pm GMT
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