Comments: +Carlisle speaks

I bet it took all of the bishops seven heads to come up with that contrast.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 13 February 2008 at 11:36pm GMT

Well, the circus is now moving on to that superstitious prelate from Carlisle. Rowan must be relieved...

Posted by kieran crichton at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 12:22am GMT

May we Episcopalians again explain the virtues of ELECTING our bishops? ;-/

[My condolences to the good Anglicans of Carlisle]

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 4:54am GMT

This is just the kind of thing that reminds us why "keeping God out of government" may not be such a bad idea. While the theory of the pluralist State (in the Cole, Figgis, Laski tradition), based on "belief in the vitality and legitimacy of self-governing associations as means of organizing social life and the belief that political representation must respect the principle of function, recognizing associations like trade unions, churches and voluntary bodies" (P. Hirst), is interesting and thought-worthy, the sad fact is that churches have far too often sought influence in the most retrograde causes, and the State has often liberated human beings from sufferings due to Christian influence on legislation.

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 5:47am GMT

The interesting thing about Revelation 13 is that it refers to duress and having the rules imposed upon souls.

Whereas Romans 13 refers to the freedom that comes from doing no wrong, even to those who are in authority e.g. "For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you."

Those who want to create a "new covenant" to which we must submit sound more like the draconian repression of Revelation 13 than the free conscience of Romans 13.

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 7:52am GMT

On the subject of God, Gays and the Church, I'd have liked to contact you guys this morning, but couldn't find an email address on the site. I've found the book contains some horrendous examples of homophobia, far beyond what (I would hope) most evangelicals in the Church of England would be prepared to accept. I really think this kind of thing needs to be denounced loudly, as it has made it very obvious that a group claiming to represent mainstream Anglicans has in fact moved to ridiculous extremes.

My preliminary review is here: http://www.exgaywatch.com/wp/2008/02/new-book-reveals-depth-of-anglican-mainstreams-homophobia/

Posted by Dave Rattigan at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 8:34am GMT

The Bishop of Hereford breaks the law, and the Bishop of Carlisle appears to be an alien to reason, and yet there seems to be no mechanism to remove them. Would any other organisations allow such evidently sub-standard leaders to remain at the top and expect to maintain their credibility?

Posted by Fr Mark at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 9:32am GMT

Here, here! And what about the Bishop of Liverpool, chair of Wycliffe Hall council, which is being accused of dismissing Elaine Storkey illegally? She spoke up on this at the Synod. Can we bring complaints against these three?

Posted by William of the Wirral at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 10:35am GMT

Hey - personal attacks here are just as much in the public domain as on the BBC, maybe just a bit less obvious.

I don't like what Graham Dow said at all, not do I like what's happened at Wycliffe, but can we not keep the debate to what these bishops are doing?

I thought that gospel tells us to resolve our differences without bearing it all in public.

Posted by Adrian at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 11:40am GMT

It's Dow who seems to be happy to bare all...and then (according to the article) ask that his comments not be reported!

So, a coward too?

Posted by cjcjc at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 12:10pm GMT

Not forgetting the good Episcopalians of San Joaquin, JCF.

Basically I agree with you, of course, but let's not forget the "rotten apple in the barrel" principle and the power, that C of E bishops do not have, but TEC diocesans clearly have, to shape and determine the politics and churchmanship of their diocese at the parish level - see also Pittsburgh & Ft. Worth.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 12:22pm GMT

Dave Rattigan,
thank you for your review!!

I read it open mouthed, I still find it hard to believe that many actually believe this nonsense.

Do they?
Genuinely, apart from the Anglican Mainstream fundies and their supporters, how widespread is this ignorance and venom in the Communion?

I have met many who oppose my life on religious grounds but none who has ever peddled such utter rubbish.
I just cannot believe that this truly represents the majority of the anti gay movement in the church.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 1:01pm GMT

I met someone from the diocese of Carlisle about 4 years ago when we were being interviewed for a parish. He said that many (including he) were trying to escape because of a perceived shift in the climate in the diocese since +Graham arrived.

Fast forward to the other day, when I met another priest from the diocese who said that more and more posts were being filled by those attracted by +Carlisle's theological stance, with the consequence that a feedback loop seemed to be being created, the diocesan becoming more CharisEv, which drew more likeminded clergy into the diocese, which encouraged the diocesan to become more CharisEv....

I cannot say whether that's true or not, but if it were, it would in part explain why +Graham seems to be living in such a strange little cultural box: he believes that his bit of the planet is representative of general Christian opinion as a consequence of hearing it as a very significant voice among his clergy.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 2:17pm GMT

Overheard at a gathering last year, some ordinands from St Helen's, Bishopsgate (via Oak Hill), discussing the difficulty of finding title posts: "there's always Carlisle..."

Posted by Matthew Duckett at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 2:38pm GMT

From the review and excerpts this book can only be described as "hate literature".

Disgusting, disgraceful stuff.

Combine this with the ABC furore and watch the CofE shrink even more.

Posted by cjcjc at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 2:39pm GMT

This is the same chap who believes gays cause floods, right? Lord Melbourne would never have appointed such a person to the Bishops' Bench!

Posted by Prior Aelred at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 3:03pm GMT

One neither wishes to interfere with Peter Ould or some other nominally ex-gay or post-gay citizen's happiness, any more than one wishes to intefere with Bishop Robinson's happiness as a partnered gay bishop who has ministry to do in New Hampshire.

But from where does the rest of all this hysterical trash talk come, and how does it so repeatedly arise, mainly from very conservative religious narratives?

Do any of these vitally alarmed people who tag their own false witness about queer citizens, Agape Love, that is, un-self-serving, wow? - actually know any modern, productive, ethically alert, and spiritually minded queer citizens? If they do, how can they publish such lies about them as the Godly gospel truth?

There may be a serous OT commandment being broken here, but it itsn't the queer folks who are violating in the main.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 4:01pm GMT

Some may be interested in this cartoon of mine:

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2008/02/bishop-in-government-shift-13-shock.html

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 4:26pm GMT

What left my mouth agape was the idea that some public figure would believe he could prevent remarks at a public meeting to which the media had been invited from hitting the media.

The technical term for such a person is "idiot."

Nice to see that the reactionaries are just as feeble as Rowan in dealing with the realities of modern communications.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 4:59pm GMT

Oh dear - no wonder we in the gay rights movement have so comprehensively won all of our recent campaigns.

We couldn't have more inept and stupid enemies as those in the Church!

You really couldn't make it up....but you know, the cons evos just do not realise how utterly, totally loony they appear. And they will always see any opposition as persecution for being Christians.

Of course, its not. Its simply a totally reasonable reaction to perceived lunacy.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 6:32pm GMT

A piquant end to the week-long struggle between theocracy and democracy...(Punch and Judy?).

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 7:03pm GMT

"I read it open mouthed, I still find it hard to believe that many actually believe this nonsense."

Erika, I am still reeling that someone who thinks like this can be a bishop! I'm used to fundamentalists being so ignorant, but I thought possession of a brain was a prerequisite for Episcopacy in the Anglican Church. It is a sad day when Anglican clerics sponsor what sounds, from the reviews, like hate speech. Dear God!

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 7:33pm GMT

>>>This is the same chap who believes gays cause floods, right?

I think it's not the gay men themselves who cause floods so much as the gay men's rectal demons.

Posted by JPM at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 7:45pm GMT

malcom+, i think it is unwise of you to call graham dow an idiot. in the first place, this has a technical, clinical definition, and it would not be appropriate for him. in the second case, there is the example, as in dostoevsky, of the idiot saint, or idiot savant, and he certainly isn't that. i think you'll find that the more appectable word is 'cretin'.

Posted by poppy tupper at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 7:51pm GMT

Poppy:

Actually, I think the operative term is probably "bigot".

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Thursday, 14 February 2008 at 11:28pm GMT

Well it seems that I'm the only person in the world who is prepared to say anything good about +Carlisle's comments.

When he criticises the UK Government for imposing its morality what he means is, of course, that he disagrees that homosexuality is equal to heterosexuality, and objects to legislation that effectively imposes that view. The basic issue is that the Bible is extremely narrow on sexual issues. It has no accommodations for sexual orientation, repeatedly rejects homosexuality as a perversion, and several times links it into motifs of degraded societies that come about when God is rejected.

Liberals argue that we now know better, but really what they mean is that they have evolved a different way to decide what is morally good. Harm is the decider for morality, not just law, so sex between consenting adults is not immoral, and positively virtuous if they are in a loving relationship. If homosexuality were a perversion then it would not be a loving relationship but would be associated with abuse, personal degradation and immorality.

The conservative counterarguement is, obviously, that what God has revealed so clearly through the Bible and Tradition, can't just be swept aside by changing the grounds on which you decide what is right and wrong. They can also point to male-female physical sexual complimentarity, and the incongruity between the homosexual mental attraction and physical design.

Having said all that, the usual reaction to such religious complaints is that it is, in any case, not right to discriminate. However, this objection is only raised when you think something is acceptable - not when it is "wrong"!

Interestingly, Article 21 of the European Fundamental Freedoms states that: "Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited." That doesn't include every difference between human beings, and doesn't mean that you are prohibited from discriminating between different political views or religious views! The prohibited discrimination is against the person, rather than the ground. I think most conservative Christians would not feel so abused if the UK SORs had made a distinction between treating others equally whatever their differences, and being obliged against conscience to act as if homosexuality is good.

Posted by david wh at Friday, 15 February 2008 at 1:41am GMT

I didn't call my Lord of Carlisle an idiot.

I said that anyone who believes that controversial and provocative comments openly made at a public even with the media present can be kept out of the media is an idiot.

If the episcopal slippers fit . . .

I had considered "brain-dead moronic blithering twit," but thought it was a trifle harsh.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Friday, 15 February 2008 at 3:04am GMT

I think the appropriate word is "verkakte".

Posted by counterlight at Friday, 15 February 2008 at 4:49am GMT

David Wh

You've made a strong point about why you believe that homosexuality is wrong.

You have not made the point why the state should accept your view over mine and allow you to discriminate against me.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 15 February 2008 at 9:15am GMT

The SOR's expect you to treat people equally and not discriminate against them. Of course, if you wish to treat them as if they are 'bad', or something about them is 'bad', then you will hardly be treating them equally.

You can't have it both ways. I'm not a Tory, but I recall David Cameron saying that whilst on one level he understands where the religious conservatives are coming from, in the law you either allow discrimination or you don't, and there cannot be one law for one and one for another. Thus, if equality for gay and lesbian people is against your 'morality', then of course government will be seen to be 'imposing' it. That's what Governments do.

The civil law does not reflect biblical and conservative religious prejudices, and neither should it, given that this is a liberal, secular democracy. Conservative religionists may believe as they wish, but not implement that prejudice in the public sphere. However they spin it, that is what they wish to do. And the latest RW spat has shown how unpopular that call is and will be - and we intend to keep reminding the public of what they are asking for. Different laws because of religion.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 15 February 2008 at 9:54am GMT

"The conservative counterargument is, obviously, that what God has revealed so clearly through the Bible and Tradition, can't just be swept aside by changing the grounds on which you decide what is right and wrong. They can also point to male-female physical sexual complimentarity, and the incongruity between the homosexual mental attraction and physical design."

You mean the way we "swept aside" belief in special creation, a young earth, geocentrism, and a host of other ideas "revealed so clearly through the Bible and Tradition"? Or are you one of those folks who rejects the last 150 years of scientific research and discovery in biology, paleontology, geology and physics?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Friday, 15 February 2008 at 11:42am GMT

Much as I disagree with +Carlisle on this one (and on many other issues), in the light of what happened to the ABC recently perhaps we need to get this in perspective.

If Graham Dow thinks the present government is more Rev 13 than Rom 13, then he'd be in company with Tom Wright and others - it's about a govermnent taking choice away from citizens and impoding a moral code without debate.

As to how he is received in his own diocese - I have met several middle of the road clergy in Carlisle who find him a mixed blessing - embarassing when he does things like this, but good at engendering mission in ordinary parishes.

Posted by Frozenchristian at Friday, 15 February 2008 at 12:54pm GMT

Bp Dow may be being genuinely reactionary and apocalyptic, or alternatively clear-minded and able to think for themselves (ie one of those majority which does not simply see their own very specific culture as some kind of norm but has the capacity to stand outside it and critique it from a broader basis). Or maybe a bit of both.

I think the phenomenon of vociferously anti-christian individuals (satanists or wearers of garb depicting dark-arts-related material, on the one hand; radical socialists, on the other) seeming to prefer black is not something to be dismissed out of hand without further reflection. Maybe they do, demographically, prefer black more than the average. If so, the person who asks why is more open-minded than the person who does not ask why.

Of course the North West is slightly more than average acquainted with such stuff, as is the bishop himself in his longstanding deliverance ministry, so he probably speaks with more knowledge than the average Joe.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Friday, 15 February 2008 at 2:03pm GMT

"seeming to prefer black is not something to be dismissed out of hand without further reflection"

said Chris Shell of vociferously anti-Christian types.

Umm, speaking as a vociferously extravagant Anglo Catholic priest I wear black rather a lot (though I did once, just once, possess a grey clerical shirt). Would he care to cast the runes as to my religious agenda/state of mind/degree of demonic possession?

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Friday, 15 February 2008 at 2:56pm GMT

You bet he would!

;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 15 February 2008 at 3:26pm GMT

Dave Wh wrote: "The prohibited discrimination is against the person, rather than the ground. I think most conservative Christians would not feel so abused if the UK SORs had made a distinction between treating others equally whatever their differences, and being obliged against conscience to act as if homosexuality is good."

Seems to me they must be virtually the same, in practice, so - feel
free to feel "abused"...

;=)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 15 February 2008 at 3:40pm GMT

The removal of the choice to discriminate is something governments should rightly do, in my view.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 15 February 2008 at 3:55pm GMT

"I thought that gospel tells us to resolve our differences without bearing it all in public."

Adrian, naughty souls have been using that one to shut up the oppressed and abused for centuries.

Sorry, but when the leadership brings a planet's biosphere to the brink of extinction, they lose the rights to posture as God's emissaries.

They broke the covenant of peace, they went to war on a lie invoking God's name in the process (to paraphase Ted Turner from CNN "it was probably the stupidest thing ever an American president has ever authorised").

Break covenants, then find the branches of Favour and Union snapped. Then it becomes possible to regraft back in what was lost, and to bring in new graftings.

Cheva as the mother of all acknowledges what Jesus was ordained to do for all of humanity for all time. She will not tolerate Christian grafting unless all souls of equivalent calibre are also grafted back in. God will do unto humanity what is done unto Christians. Grace comes unilaterally from God and is not earnt or meted out by humans, and especially not accusatory Christian priests.

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Friday, 15 February 2008 at 8:27pm GMT

Erika,

I don't *want* to discriminate against you, or anyone. However, I have a conscience that tells me that some things are wrong, including homosexual sex. That puts me in a dilemma.

I am supposed to have a Right to religious expression and freedom of conscience: Article 10 of the European Charter is supposed to guarantee freedom of thought, conscience and religion: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion ... to manifest religion or belief, in worship, teaching, *practice* and observance." And I'm supposed to have "The right to conscientious objection ... in accordance with the national laws ...". Furthermore, Article 22 is supposed to guarantee that "The Union shall respect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity."

I am supposed to have the Right not to have to violate my conscience, and to have a Right to have different conscience to other people. So, provided that it does no real harm to others, I wish to be free to act (or to refuse to act) according to my conscience.

In the UK these rights are generally respected. So if I were a photographer, for instance, and the issue were divorce and remarriage, I would be free to take wedding photos for first marriages but refuse to take them for remarriages (even though I loose out financially, my conscience would say that remarriage is wrong and I would not wish to be involved). But the UK S.O. Regs have made it illegal for me to take photos for first weddings and refuse to take them for first Civil Partnerships. Even though there are lots of other photographers who would be willing to perform that same service, and even though I would be the only one loosing out because of my conscientious objection!

The same applies for most things you might do professionally, or even voluntarily in some circumstances! There is no test of real harm or proportionality - you just have to conform or stop. That is why many Christians feel violated by the way the law has been formulated and, I expect, why +Carlisle says that the government are imposing their 'morality'.

Posted by david wh at Saturday, 16 February 2008 at 1:16am GMT

David Wh

Your argument is flawed because people divorce and remarriage are a genuine moral choice, whereas being gay isn't. Governments cannot allow you to discriminate against people on the basis of who they are.

By that argument, a religious bigot who still believes that God has made black people naturally inferior to white people should be allowed not to take photographs at a black wedding.

Or a Muslim newspaper photographer should be able to refuse to take photos of women politicians if that happens to conflict with his beliefs.

It's easy to see why a Government cannot possibly allow people to do this.

They can continue to have their beliefs in private, but if they're offering a public service they have no right to impose their own beliefs on others.
If it bothers the photographer that much, maybe he's in the wrong job.

If I genuinely object to something it is up to me to ensure that I'm not working in a field where I cannot avoid it. The onus is on me. The state cannot sanction my private beliefs and elevate them above those of other citicens, who, after all, are also equal members of the same state.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 16 February 2008 at 10:03am GMT

Hi David Rowett-

False syllogism , mate. 'A more than average number of lovers of demon-related decor/attire wear black. Revd Smells and Bells wears black. Therefore Revd SnB is a lover of demon-related decor/attire.' Spot the logical flaw.

We all know the stereotype of the 'orrible teen who paints his room black. It wouldn't be funny unless there were a grain of truth in it. It is black as opposed to grey, puce, peach or any other colour. Is that a random truth or a truth with roots and causes?

Posted by Christopher Shell at Saturday, 16 February 2008 at 6:27pm GMT

David Wh: there's no conscience dilemma necessarily involved in your belief that having a same-sex relationship is wrong. You merely have to avoid entering into one yourself. That's fine by me and the rest of us on the liberal side, I'm sure. But you also have to allow the rest of us to make our own conscientious choices, and not treat us differently if they are not your ones. How have you ever survived this long in a country where not everyone makes moral choices you agree with?

Posted by Fr Mark at Saturday, 16 February 2008 at 7:03pm GMT

Erika

If a newspaper employes a muslim photographer who only takes pictures of male politicians, and has other photographers who take photos of women politicians, what the heck is the government doing insisting that he must be sacked?

Posted by david wh at Saturday, 16 February 2008 at 7:23pm GMT

Erika

Obviously I disagree with your logic as well as your example. Firstly, the analogy with race is not sound. Gay is not something you 'are' - it describes your sexual 'orientation' - strongly and mostly unchangeable sexual attraction. Secondly, whatever your orientation, how you behave is your choice - people decide to deny their desires and act in ways they believe are more virtuous all the time.

People are not born gay - even genetically identical twins from the same womb environment, and brought up in the same house, do not necessarily have the same adult orientation. If one twin is homosexual the chances that the other one is too is between 10% and 50% depending which study you believe... nowhere near 100%. Secondly about 10% of people experience same sex romantic attractions as teenagers, but only about 1 to 3% as adults. Thirdly about 50% of women who say they are predominantly homosexual at age 20 say they are either bisexual or heterosexual in their later 20s. Sexualty is not a "given". I'm not saying it is always a choice, it seems to be acquired thruogh environment and experience (though some people do say they have chosen homosexuality).

As for behaviour, there are many people who choose to follow their convictions or morals and not act according to their desires. There are some famously post-Gay bloggers, and other people who just quietly live celibate lives according to their beliefs.

If we want freedom, the state should keep clear of making laws that do more than prevent real harm.

Posted by david wh at Saturday, 16 February 2008 at 7:41pm GMT

Try applying David Wh's logic to a whole host of possibly genetic related illnesses and it falls over.

For example, not all twins both develop schiozphrenia or multiple schlerosis.

Then there's that chimera twins reported late last year that manifested their hermaphrodite tendencies in different forms.

It's a good idea when stating "facts" to make sure they can be consistently observed.

Otherwise one looks like a grandstanding ignoramous relying on censorship to shut up alternative credible evidence.

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Sunday, 17 February 2008 at 3:12am GMT

David Wh
To say that you are not gay, you only experience same sex attraction is about as helpful as to say you are not black, you only have black skin pigment.

And whether genetic, environmental or whatever (the question doesn’t actually interest me one little bit), fact is that a significant number of people recoils at a relationship with a member of the opposite sex to the same extent you recoil at a relationship with another man. That is unchangeable.
You are able to have an emotionally and physically satisfying relationship with a woman, a significant number of people is able to have that with a member of the same sex.
Why that is the case may be of academic interest but is quite beside the point for the purpose of our conversation.

Of course people don’t have to “act” on this. You could ignore your instinct to love deeply if you like and live a determined life alone. I just completely fail to see why you should do that and deprive yourself of one of the deepest, loving relationships human beings are capable of. I have no intention of throwing away this most amazing God given gift.

I accept that you don’t particular want to give me this freedom because it goes against your beliefs.
But then, your beliefs and potential actions deeply offend my religious convictions. That’s what happens in life.

Incidentally, although I deeply detest the morals of people like you and believe them to be un-Christian in the extreme, I disapprove much more of people who support the death penalty, I find that the greatest moral outrage possible. But it wouldn’t occur to me to ask for legislation that makes it possible for me to treat these people anything other than equal to me. Equal, just with a different set of moral priorities and beliefs.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 17 February 2008 at 8:39am GMT

Cheryl, But all identical twins share the same race and gender!! At most genetics and womb environment seem to predispose to sexuality, but so do home environment and developmental experience. That is not the same as being a "given", and does not explain why some people choose to abstain from their disposition on moral grounds.

+Carlisle is just questioning those parts of the discrimination legislation that oblige people to act in agreement with a particular view on sexual morality, and disregard their individual conscience. That is completely disproportionate to any issues of balanced rights or of real harm.

Article 52 of the European Rights states that: "Any limitation on the exercise of the rights and freedoms recognised by this Charter must be
provided for by law and respect the essence of those rights and freedoms. Subject to the principle of *proportionality*, limitations may be made only if they are *necessary* and genuinely meet objectives of general interest recognised by the Union or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others.

The UK government takes a particularly Liberal view of the meaning of the words "necessary and "proportionality"!!

Posted by david wh at Sunday, 17 February 2008 at 9:17am GMT

David Wh wrote: ” I am supposed to have a Right to religious expression and freedom of conscience: Article 10 of the European Charter is supposed to guarantee freedom of thought, conscience and religion: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion ... to manifest religion or belief, in worship, teaching, *practice* and observance." And I'm supposed to have "The right to conscientious objection ... in accordance with the national laws ...". Furthermore, Article 22 is supposed to guarantee that "The Union shall respect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity."

Oh, oh! That was a slip… Hardly spontaneous, though…

But rather repeated so often that it must be intentional. Propaganda, Lies, Spin.

“I am supposed to have the Right not to have to violate my conscience, and to have a Right to have different conscience to other people. So, provided that it does no real harm to others, I wish to be free to act (or to refuse to act) according to my conscience.”

The Arrogance.

In Reality and International Law (from 1648) Freedom trumps Right. A “Right to expression” as you claim you are supposed (by whom? I wonder) to have in your great arrogancer, would negate and annihilate the very real Freedom of Conscience Article 22 is there to guarantee.

The Freedom to manifest religion is in the abstract; always Conditional: carefully circumvented by the Principle of Ordre Public from 1648 (Treaty of Westphalia).

Bottom Line: Public order may not be disturbed under any circumstances – not by any “expression”. This includes prayer calls from Minarets, as well as church bells from church towers, or the occasional Menorah in the public square…

This is the lasting effect of the European Religious Wars.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 17 February 2008 at 9:37am GMT

David Wh
“That is completely disproportionate to any issues of balanced rights or of real harm.”

Even granted that you might feel distress or distaste at having to accept that some people, somewhere, share same sex relationships, and assuming you might actually be a photographer who may one day be asked to spend a couple of hours taking photos of a happy couple and their smiling assembled friends and family, and that this prospect fills you with unease...

Can you please explain to me why the harm done to you during those 2 hours is to be valued as deeper and more important than the harm done to people who simply want to love, but who are being pushed out of their church, told that they are not Christians, told that they are so unspeakable morally weak and evil that no self-respecting Christian should have to come into contact with them. And you claim this right not only in your church, where you have some right to argue for your religious beliefs to be prioritised, but for all LGBTs everywhere in society and in all spheres of their public and private lives.
There is actual and real psychological damage done to LGBT people here. It’s not for nothing many many still feel they can only survive in the closet.

How can you possibly ask the Government to brush aside that real harm done to people who simply want to love like everyone else, but to prioritise your sense of “God doesn’t really like this and I certainly don’t”.

If you look at actual harm done, then the harm you and those like you do to LGBTs is much much greater than the harm these people do to you.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 17 February 2008 at 11:45am GMT

Erika,

I did not say that no self-respecting Christian should come into contact with LGBT people. I have LGBT friends - one in a longterm partnership. I'm quite happy to be in contact with everybody, even people *you* would think were sinners - as Jesus was!

What I said was that I do not wish to be obliged to act in agreement with someone else's view on sexual morality, and to be told to disregard my own conscience. I *don't* want everyone to be legally forced to live according to my moral views... I don't manage to live up to them either!

ps I don't think that, if I were a photographer, my refusal to photograph at a 'gay marriage' would significantly damage anyone's psychology! Even if someone had hurt feelings that is not damage. I'm used to getting disapproval and open criticism - not nice but it's the price of other people's freedom.


Posted by david wh at Sunday, 17 February 2008 at 6:57pm GMT

David Wh
I’m glad that you have lgbt friends. I must admit, I have yet to manage to be friends with someone who disapproves of the core love in my life and I admire you and your friends if you can be genuine about your friendship.

I grant you, not having taken my photo by you is not going to do me any lasting harm.
It’s the principle that causes the harm. Because it won’t be just you. I will have to phone every hotel nervously checking in advance whether they will let me a room. I will have to check carefully before any camping holiday that they will not throw us and our children off the site when they realise in the morning who has checked in. I will have to make sure that every new employer knows about my private live because they might just not want to employ me. I have to be careful in hospitals, they may not wish to treat me. I have to be very very careful when I send my children to a CoE school. As it is, there is danger of them getting bullied because of their mother’s love.

In a church environment, this is already happening. My partner and I enter every new church very carefully, trying to discern how open we can be about ourselves, who might offer to pray for our healing, who might accept us, who might have stern words and even suggest that we don’t fit. It is not a happy experience and, yes, it does real harm.

You see, once you allow exemptions for any kind of religious groups to discriminate in all spheres of public life, I no longer have to worry about your working preferences alone, but those of every potential religious objector in the country.

For you, it’s still only 2 hours of your professional life. For me, it becomes virtually every aspect.

Ask those lgbt friends you have how secure they would feel in a society in which the state allowed people to discriminate against them. The answer might surprise you.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 18 February 2008 at 7:47am GMT

David Wh

And it goes beyond same sex discrimination. In a recent post you asked why a Muslim photographer refusing to take pictures of women could not be employed by a newspaper.
Again, there is no reason why a large paper might not be able to accommodate this. But if you lay down in law that this kind of chosing what you will and won’t do on religious grounds is acceptable, more and more people will want their share of being allowed to discriminate.
I had some fun last night imagining the roster of our small local newspaper:
Joe: will do wedding photos but no civil partnerships. Note: asks him before covering village sporting event whether he’d be happy to photograph winner if that person happened to be an out partnered gay.
Angie: will interview hunt saboteurs but will not write a balanced article about hunts because she doesn’t talk to the participants.
John: a committed environmentalist, will report protests against airport expansion plans but will not cover major event run by airport managers.

It is absolutely right that all these people should have their deeply held religious/philosophical views. It is also absolutely right that they should not be allowed to impose them on the public.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 18 February 2008 at 7:49am GMT

David Wh

And finally, before I you think I’m exaggerating, a real life example. Last year we built an extension. Should the parish council have been allowed to veto our project because they don’t believe in our way of life? Should the responsible person in the planning office have been allowed to refuse to assess our planning application?
The main contractor employed a variety of trades: bricklayers, builders, carpenter, roofers, plumber, electrician... should any one of them have been allowed to refuse to work on our project? Should the water and gas people have been allowed to refuse to switch the meters halfway through the project, causing long delays and extra costs? Should the carpet fitters have been allowed to turn round when they realised who lived here, holding up the whole project? Or should I have had to declare my living arrangements to each person in advance to give them right of refusal?
And if they’d refused, then what? Carpet Right has a rota of fitters for each day, my fitting day slotted into what the main contractor required for the smooth running of the main building project. Should we have had to delay and incur more costs (and uncertainties for the main contractor) until Carpet Right could have checked with all its fitters that they wouldn’t balk at an all female bedroom and then offered us a fitting date according to when the non-objecting fitter was available?

Thank God I live in a country where this is not allowed!

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 18 February 2008 at 8:17am GMT

Actually David, if you'd read my posting, not all identical twins have the same gender. There's an example where one chimera manifested in one form and the other in another.

Not all souls with schizophrenic ancesty manifest schizophrenia.

Michael Jackson would have us believe that not all the souls of one race manifest that race (an issue the Australian Aboriginals also have).

Some souls can choose to "abstain" from their congenital risks e.g. schizophrenia by avoiding high-risk lifestyles e.g. abstaining from hallucenogic drugs. Others disposition is so high that it doesn't matter how "pure" or "ideal" their upbringing and choices, the schizophrenia still becomes manifest.

The same applies to homosexuality. For some the desire is so strong and defined that no amount of "purity" or "ideal" upbringing can hide or deny their desire.

If their desire is that strong, it will be made manifest, the best we can do is make sure it is with a mutually consenting partner and not through rape or abuse of a minor or vulnerable.

Remember, my theology disapproves of domestic violence and considers that a husband can rape or violate his wife. If your theology does not acknowledge the need for genuine mutual consent, then it is no wonder you are confused about homosexuality.

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Monday, 18 February 2008 at 9:49am GMT

Erika,

Did you really encounter many real problems like the one's you described before the SORegs enforced conformity?

Anyway aren't you forgetting +Carlisle's point, that you are obliging others to pay the price for your freedoms?

To the specific points you described:

I'm not talking about employers.. Employing someone hardly constitutes approval of their lifestyle (don't forget that a conservative Christian has very narrow views on *all sorts* of behaviours, as well as other relational and practical moral issues!). However, I would not want to be silenced from expressing my beliefs about what my staff are doing wrong, within reasonable limits!

I wouldn't be too miffed if the Jewish council of Britain didn't want to employ me, given I think that everyone needs to become Christians and I like eating bacon! But I would think it reasonable that employers indicate on adverts if there were reasons why only certain people could be considered.

Similarly, people who provide services but have genuine conscientious problems providing them in certain situations could be allowed to follow their conscience provided they make clear in their advertising that they have a particular ethos, and provided they pass such enquiries to a similar service provider.

As for joining religious organisations, you can't separate religion from beliefs, values and behaviours. If I went to a mosque, why should I feel wronged when they tell me I should believe in Allah, pray separately from my wife and believe my parents are infidels? If I want to join a very conservative church, why should I feel wronged if they tell me to ask my wife to cover her head in church, stop watching TV and give 10% if my income to the church? Nearly everyone who becomes a Christian soon finds that they have a lot that they are supposed to regret, repent of and change. If they don't want to they can't expect the church to change! *All of us* have to look for ones that are suitable for us.


ps I don't see why a Christian building contactor would see her/his conscience violated by fitting cupboards in your bedroom. There is a difference between providing services to an person and providing services which appear to approve of a behaviour (eg fitting out a gay bar, or a hindu shrine, or an animal testing lab).

Posted by davidwh at Monday, 18 February 2008 at 1:32pm GMT

Cheryl

Such exceptional chimeras just show that in very marginal cases there could be some discussion about which side of the line a particular individual is.. and that this is incredibly rare.

I don't think that you have disproved the general rule that genetics (and occassionally womb environment) is the only source of "givens".

The whole point of what I was saying is that sexual orientation is demonstrably *not* a given. It seems to be primarily based on childhood / teenage environment and experiences - especially to do with parents and close family.

Sexuality isn't even 'fixed' - though I know from my friends that it is not something you can change at will! Many people experience different sexual attractions, especially during teenage - but also later in life.

It is dishonest to equate sexuality with race or gender. You might be able to show that it can be equated to acquired traits which you grow up into and go deep into your psyche: like culture and religion.


ps Of course I believe in mutual consent. What I was saying is that mutual consent is not the definition of morality... Adultery is by mutual consent but ruins many marriage relationships and, in Africa particularly, leads to many innocent women (mostly) dying of AIDs!

Posted by davidwh at Monday, 18 February 2008 at 2:00pm GMT

David wrote

"I don't think that you have disproved the general rule that genetics (and occassionally womb environment) is the only source of "givens"."

The use of the word "rule" is interesting. It is a hypothesis, an assumption, a paradigm.

Some live inside cloistered community that discards empirical evidence that conflicts with their paradigms. That is why some souls still genuinely believe that the earth is only 5000 years old and that dinosaur fossils were planted as a joke.

When one encounters a soul so committed to their paradigms, no amount of talking or reasoning will change their opinion.

However, the dialogue is still useful where there are witnesses. Observers can contemplate the arguments, evidence and reasoning and make up their own minds.

God brings rain on both the righteous and the sinners, there are times the righteous suffer to bring glory to God (e.g. Job), there are other times where the wicked act with impunity (so God's contempt for what they are can be made fully manifest e.g. Habbakuk 1:6-11).

There is something deceitful about saying that you have some friends who are gay but then advocating restricting gays basic rights to less than what you would have for yourself. There is nothing wrong with constraint and temperance, there is an issue of imposing a burden upon another that you are not prepared to shoulder yourself. That's why I don't go off at honest Catholic priests - while they advocate celibacy for GLBTs, they also carry the same burden themselves. Mind you, the dishonest ones (e.g. pedophiles or takers of sexual favours) are fair game.

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Monday, 18 February 2008 at 7:19pm GMT

Cheryl
"That's why I don't go off at honest Catholic priests - while they advocate celibacy for GLBTs, they also carry the same burden themselves. Mind you, the dishonest ones (e.g. pedophiles or takers of sexual favours) are fair game."

It is still a burden they have freely chosen as part of their vocation. That is not the same as imposing it on a whole group of people, most of whom will not have that calling, just like most of heterosexuals doesn't.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 19 February 2008 at 7:46am GMT

"As for joining religious organisations, you can't separate religion from beliefs, values and behaviours."

This is priceless.

You may have noticed that this is a church at war largely because many many of its members do not believe in discriminating against lgbt people and imposing their own narrow morality on them.
The problem is, and always has been, not your theology but that you will only allow yours to stand as the only valid way of reading God and experiencing Christ.

I have not joined an organisation, David, I have followed the call of the living Christ in my life, and I shall follow him to my last breath.
That, and that alone, is what makes me a part of the same group of people you belong to.

As for the rest, I give up. I have tried to explain to you what real harm you and your brand of Christians are doing to real people, you have consistently told me that I have no right to feel it, or that I am wrong when I believe I'm experiencing it.

Maybe it's time you sat down with your lgbt friends and had a proper listening conversation about what their lives are like.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 19 February 2008 at 7:53am GMT

Cheryl

I was using the word "rule" as in "rule of nature" - you know, like gravity. And I was not advocating that "gay rights" be restricted to less than those I enjoy. What I said was that I agree with +Carlisle's premise, because the law should not be used to compel *anyone* to act against their conscience unless there is an issue of real harm. Using law to stop people being "wrong" is oppresive (I think you would agree with this if you think about it in other contexts!)

As for dishonesty and burdoning of my lgbt friends.. Firstly I pity you if you can only be friends with people whose life you agree with in every way, secondly more than half choose to live according to Christian morality, and finally the burdon is not mine or yours to give or take away. It is God's. If you want some of the reasons for believing this, check my original post on this discussion.

Posted by david wh at Tuesday, 19 February 2008 at 11:42am GMT

"discriminating against lgbt people and imposing their own narrow morality on them"

Erika

+Carlisle was speaking out about the government imposing its narrow morality on Christians... the exact counterpart to your assertion.

There is huge harm being caused by sexual issues in society at the moment, but it's almost exclusively being caused by promiscuity (and lack of commitment):- people getting sick, infertile and dying, families being broken up, single mothers having to bring up children alone, relationship breakdowns, depression, mental health issues etc etc etc. I'm having to support people whose lives have been messed up by this societal degradation. I try to love people like Jesus did, whether or not I approve of what they did or do, and like him I do want them to "leave [their lives] of sin".

One thing I thing I've observed from lgbt people is that many feel a dissonence within themselves. One 't' I know says they felt it before they were reassigned and they feel it now! Some things were resolved, new things were de-resolved, the dissonence remains. Maybe that is what drives the need to not feel criticised or disapproved of ... Conservative Christians get this type of message all the time but kind of get used to it. The only way to stop it would be oppresive to people and religions who we disagree with.

As for following Christ, how do you do this apart from obeying His commands? what more authentic source of His commands is there than the canonical New Testament? And isn't self-sacrifice at the heart of the Gospel?

I pray God will grant us both more grace to love those who are different from us, and the heart to grow out of who we are into who he is.

Posted by david wh at Tuesday, 19 February 2008 at 12:23pm GMT

"It is dishonest to equate sexuality with race or gender. You might be able to show that it can be equated to acquired traits which you grow up into and go deep into your psyche: like culture and religion."

Sorry, but I have to butt in here. Sexuality is complex, based on nature and nurture. It is also, for the vast majority of people, fixed in early life, whatever you need to believe. You can ignore fact for the propaganda of the Pseudorthodox if you choose, but we Christians are followers of truth, supposedly. There are those who change, but how many of them are, by their life experiences, messed up people, whose sexual identity has been distorted by those life experiences? How many of them are there? Is it not dishonest to proclaim this "change" as something to be striven for when the vast majority of people will only bring on themselves dispair, perhaps to the point of suicide?

It is, however, dishonest, to imply, as you do here, that religion, while not inborn, is somehow a deeply ingrained part of our psyche. If that were the case, what would be the point of Evangelism, unless you are claiming that only Christianity can be so ingrained? Religion is a choice. While the Pseudorthodox claim they are the only ones requiring some change of life from religion, we all actually agree that choice of religion requires some lifestyle changes. Indeed, my religious choices give a certain structure to my day, tell me that there are certain times of the year when I may only eat certain things, and enjoin a code of behaviour to which I must try to pattern my life. In this way, religious choice is far more a lifestyle choice than sexuality, which is neither a choice nor a lifestyle, can be said to be. So, in fact, it is religion that is the lifestyle choice, not sexuality, and not nearly so ingrained in one's psyche as a result. Yet you argue for the legal protection of your religious lifestyle choice, while falsely claiming sexuality is a "lifestyle choice", and therefor ought not to have legal protection!

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 19 February 2008 at 3:43pm GMT

Ford

I didn't say that sexuality should not have legal protection! Where did you get that from? I was saying that ALL protections should be written to allow for *reasonable* conscientious objection of others (a la +Carlisle) taking onto account any risk of *real* harm.

The studies I had in mind on changes of experienced sexual attractions during development were done by researchers in relatively liberal societies (New Zealand and Denmark) not just by american "pseudoorthodox propagandists". Check the figures yourself if you don't believe me - it sounds like you will be surprised.

I don't know how much sexual identity is distorted by people getting 'messed up' - as you call it. However, broken parental relationships during childhood did seem to have an influence (statistically). Again, University research studies /papers are available online.

I wasn't saying that sexual orientation and religion / culture are identical in term of how deep they go into our psyche, but they are all deep. Hence few people change religion after the age of 30 (from- or to-). And I think that many people are now realising how deep Islam, as well as Christianity, goes into young people's psyche (and worry about what that might mean in a mixed society). Have you never experienced confusion or anger at other people's religions or cultures ? Or do you just rationalise such phobias by assuming that "we" are right and "they" are wrong?

And there is a difference between your sexual orientation and your "lifestyle choice". The book +Carlisle was launching has the stories of several people who have chosen to live according to Christian morality, at some cost to themselves no doubt.

ps Maybe you haven't experienced how deep religion and culture go because you haven't lived outside your own culture and religion?

Posted by david wh at Tuesday, 19 February 2008 at 11:52pm GMT

David Wh

The problem is that you appear to think you are the arbiter of what Christian morality is and what it means to live according to Christ's will for us.

I so dearly wish people like you could accept that there is a genuine way of holding a different view. There is enough excellent pro gay theology around to make it possible to see that those who believe that Christ calls them into a faithful loving same sex relationship are not immoral and rejecting his teaching.

That recognition and courtesy would do much to soften the tone of the debate.

After all, I believe you are deeply wrong in your views and that much of what you say here does not reflect the Christ I know. But I would not call you immoral or claim that you are deliberately not following Christ's teachings.

You are following them as faithfully as you understand them, you are a deeply committed Christian.
So am I.
We just see this issue differently.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 20 February 2008 at 8:44am GMT

"Have you never experienced confusion or anger at other people's religions or cultures ? Or do you just rationalise such phobias by assuming that "we" are right and "they" are wrong?"

All the time, pretty much every time I argue with an Evangelical! I take the attitude that it is my sin that makes me feel this way. Unlike them, I do not deny their faith just because we disagree. I even acknowledge they may be right and I may be wrong. The overwhelming body of research into sexuality does not support the idea that sexual attraction can change in any significant number of people, and indicates attempts to change it often does great psychological violence to a person. That you feel the need to cite research done in "liberal" societies suggests to me that you believe social science research like this reflects not observation of reality, but justification of societal opinion, an attitude I have seen here before in conservatives. As to religion going deep in society, I grew up in a place that was undergoing a massive cultural change, from more traditional to modern. I know very well how deep religion goes in people's psyche, likely better than you. When I was a kid, one "belonged" to a Church, in much the same way one "belonged" to one's home town. Even those who never darkened a church door knew what religion they were. In our culture until very recently, one's religion was something one was pretty much born into. My father still comments on people who mow their lawns on Sunday, we didn't play cards on Sunday, or knit, or cut paper. My grandmother set three places at the table at the same time on Saturday night so she didn't have to set the table, which was work, on the Sabbath. We bake bread with three "buns" in the pan, as an aunt indicated to me "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost". Many here still preface statements of future actions with "Please God..." as a matter of course. You really need to stop reacting to me based on your stereotypes of what a liberal is. I can't even say I'm a liberal, actually. I just know I could never be an Evangelical.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 22 February 2008 at 5:46pm GMT

Well played Ford

It reminds me of a story shared to me in my early years. There was a university lecturer who was very confident in his teachings, and he went on one day about morality and making hard choices. He confronted a particular student on this and asserted that they had no idea what they were talking about and how would they think they would survive in Austwitzch.

The student pulled back the sleeve to show the Austwitzch tatoo on their arm.

Obviously, the student won the debate and the arrogant lecturer was discredited. Fortunately that particular lecturer had humility and never tried that kind of cruel strategy again.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Friday, 22 February 2008 at 7:51pm GMT
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