Comments: UK Government Stands Firm against Faith Exemptions

The fact that, in this case, "rendering unto Caesar" represents the *more Godly* choice, is a sad commentary on too many faith groups in the UK. Lord have mercy!

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 20 May 2009 at 7:40pm BST

Good news. I hope the Government sticks to its guns.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Wednesday, 20 May 2009 at 9:54pm BST

Legislating tolerance that is intolerant to all who disagree is not tolerance. Welcome to the present evil age.

Joe+

Posted by Joe at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 2:48am BST

"Members of faith groups have a role in making the argument in their own communities for greater LGBT acceptance, but in the meantime the state has a duty to protect people from unfair treatment.” - Maria Eagle, Equalities Minister -

I think this is a very fair statement of what is the Church's responsibility in this area of equal human rights - as well as exemplifying the biblical ethic of Mishpat; peace-bearing justice.
While the Church persists in separating common justice issues from its own sometimes archaic precepts of moral and social justice, there will always be friction between the Church and the World it has been commissioned to evangelise and offer redemption.

To continue to view the LGBT community as somehow intrinsically 'sinful' is to belie the reality of those Christian Faithful who actually belong in that category of human beings - with common human as well as religious rights to all other people.

One cannot but applaud the State's intervention here - in a matter which involves the integrity of so many loving and caring relationships among the membership of the Church, as well as those on the outside looking in - to see whether the Church will again stamp on their sacred ground of being.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 6:11am BST

If anyone wants a contemporary understanding of the case for passage of this legislation - against discrimination of the LBGT community, then do listen to these three excellent speeches; by Giles Fraser. Maria Eagle and Dr. Marilyn McCord Adams. Compelling stuff!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 7:27am BST

this was the second such conference organised by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement who are to be commended for the huge effort getting such varied speakers takes.

Absolutely fascinating to hear Trevor Phillips say that if they had known of the reaction to Joel Edwards' appointment - things might have been different - and, what's this - Joel doesn't hold these views any more ... we need to know a little more about that ...

Very timely considering the new legislation and the reaction of the Church of England, well done LGCM this is the work that really changes hearts and minds.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 8:07am BST

Thank God for that resistance to faith organisations. I had already asked for the help of my MP and will try to follow the debates. This is one of the issues where I do feel very strongly that the institutional faiths have got it wrong and need to he challenged. Una

Posted by Una Kroll at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 8:07am BST

The Church has been damaged because the right to discriminate against gay people has been its core message in public affairs.

As Rowan Williams admitted in his Jamaican address on 11 May:

"...there are some who would say that in this conflict the credibility of Christianity itself is at stake"

Posted by badman at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 11:12am BST

Joe
Tolerance means letting the others live by their own principles provided they don't do actual harm society has to be protected from.

If society stopping you from discriminating against me simply because of your personal ideology is intolerance, then so be it.
Legislation would not be necessary if you didn't think you had the right to interfere with my life.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 11:40am BST

Perhaps the most telling quote is from Canon Fraser: "Homophobia is a sin and its eradication from churches, mosques and synagogues is one of the most urgent challenges for people of faith in the 21st century.”

"Pre-progressive" notions of marriage and chastity are now sins that must be eradicated, not only from the State Church, which is subject to Parliament's direct control, but from all religious organizations. Tolerance is apparently no longer an option.

Posted by rick allen at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 2:49pm BST

Rick
Of course we tolerate your views and will continue to do so.

What we do not tolerate, and what the church shouldn't tolerate either, is that your views of marriage and chastity should be binding for everyone.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 3:40pm BST

rick allen: so should discrimintion on the basis of "pre-progressive" attitudes to black people, women, Jews, left-handed people, etc., etc. also be tolerated in civil society? Isn't that a rather strange argument - "I hold values from a few taboo-ridden centuries back that tell me to carry on stigmatising gay people, therefore I should be specially exempted so as to carry on doing so"?

Posted by Fr Mark at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 5:31pm BST

One gets the feeling they will be wiped out at the next Election.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 7:34pm BST

The exact traditionalistic point so far is that (A) premodern beliefs about gays (nasty stuff all round?) are categorically true.

Plus, (B). Pressure or even force must be used to interfere in the daily lives of gay people, or terrible things will happen. (Just as the premodern fears predict?)

Belief A flies patently in the face of the fact that we really have changed our premodern beliefs already.

We no longer think that gays cause crop failture, or a whole list of other unnatural disruptions which common sense and religious and folk thinking attributed to non-reproductive sexual behavior in past centuries. Our simple legacy equation was sodomy=heresy=sin=nature violated.

So far as I can tell from listening, the basic core equation hasn't really changed for antigay believers. We've fiddled quite a bit with the details - crop failure is out - but many of us are heatedly clinging to the legacy negative core. An eternal revelation, allegedly; but what about all those fiddled premodern details that hardly anybody claims to believe any longer?

Belief B is now pitched as tolerance for antigay religious believers, along with protection for premodern nasty notions about them, and on occasion a take-me-for-granted privilege to tell them to get out, should any gays be brash enough to accidentally walk in the customer doors of a traditionally God-fearing business or school or social service or clinic?

Wow. We're expected to fall for this?

Everybody tolerates the antigay believers. Nobody says we should stop letting them in the doors of our local businesses or refuse them if they need social services or education or medicine. The serious and really gnarly catch? It is that such businesses or social services or schools or medical clinics (which tolerate the antigay believers) probably also let the gay folks come in. You know, those same gay folks who are categorically not supposed to be allowed to walk in the door and do business or get services, per the especially negative premodern bad religious conscience and revelation.

Then the traditionalistic believers want to yell, I can't come here if those (dangerous? dirty? defective?) gay people can come here, too. ????

What a tangle, what a mess. Going to be very hard to fine a pure, uncontaminated, traditionally antigay place to get donuts in the morning. The bottom line? We apparently still have a fierce need to have such pure, uncontaminated, traditionally antigay places which do not, ever, sell donuts to gay folks.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 8:58pm BST

Perhaps churches should be forced to call Muslims as priests and Hindus as deacons, too, huh? How can you not see, Erika et al, that many Christians view this as a moral/religious matter? As I understand the legislation, no one is saying you can't be gay, they're just saying churches (and ONLY religious groups) should be able to say, "a gay lifestyle is inconsistent with our religious concept of moral purity."

I could see churches saying the same thing about the use of beverage alcohol, gambling, or other morally ambiguous issues. No one has to agree with the religious institution's position. But people of faith should be permitted to practice their faith in a manner consistent with their beliefs. Is that too much to ask?

Do you really believe that gays have a special right to force their beliefs and practices on EVERYONE else? That just seems like blatant hypocrisy to me.

Americans have a lot of problems that are often embarrassing, but on this matter I'm certainly glad I live in a country with true religious freedom. Tolerance must protect those who differ or all you'll have is just another form of tyranny. Politically correct tyranny, to be sure, but tyranny nonetheless.

Joe+

Posted by Joe at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 8:59pm BST

Everyone here knows - for what it's worth - which side I'm on. Nevertheless, Giles Fraser's typically lazy formulation crystallises everything I find problematic about this man and about a certain type of 'liberalism' that he champions. Of course, "homophobia" (itself a sloppy term) is a sin. The question is: what constitutes homophobia? It is open to conservatives to respond: we do not fear/hate homosexuals, we love them and welcome them but we think that actual homosexual activity is wrong. I don't agree: but they can argue this, and it is not 'per se' homophobic.

Posted by john at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 9:13pm BST

Joe, there is a big difference in "disagreement" and then denying somebody a job/membership/ratification because of how God made them.

It's like what Giles Fraser said in his speech, you can make all the jokes at the "terraces" (stadiums?) with the "good 'ole boys" (blokes? mates?) during ball games, to act on them is a whole 'nother thing altogether!

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 9:19pm BST

Whew, thanks to all those who gave talks at the LGCM Conference. Wish I'd been present.

GF, thanks for saying, antigay stuff isn't special high religious principle; it's mechanic garage and bar and football pitch (mainly male?) prejudice, pure and simple. Are you listening, Canterbury?

ME, thanks for being willing to do hard, direct work, standing as equality minister. Putting a duty on the book is not the whole job, just the beginning of the job. Job LGBTQ? Bravo.

MMcC, thanks for working so brilliantly on the critical scholarship needed to frame wider cultural, historical, scholarly perspectives on these hot button issues. Speaking clearly to Radner, Goddard, Akinola, Benedict? You go. Empirical hypothesis testing? You go. Taboos dressed up as moralistic pseudo-reasoning? You go. Human rights? You go. Change, corrections as part of innate goods? You go. Salvation-redemption as unnatural adoption? A gift? You go.

TP, thanks for being a diligent commissioner. As the old folk saying goes, Showing up, Trying to tell the truth. Churches change, people change, families change? You go. Church leaders fallen behind the community's real ethical discernments? Imagine that. Including trans issues? Thank goodness, thank God.

PP, thanks for calling the appropriations of religious narratives what it is, theft and meanness and sly deception. Imagine that.

IS, thanks for the written word and global angles. Kyrgyzstan? Rainbow information? We really are everywhere on the planet.

DL, thanks for lifting up IDAHO. News, anger, hope? Yes.

ADS, thanks for bringing in a global and Muslim academic perspective. Islam not necessarily patriarchal? Awakening at the very moment all the colors shine? Hmmmm.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 10:52pm BST

Trouble is, trouble that won't go away is, you can still claim to believe negative things about gay folks; but you will shortly shift to saying that you cannot understand embodied sexual orientation according to nothing but the received ancient categories (which know nothing of that idea, sexual orientation). Next, you have to focus on condeming sex behavior; backgrounding the modern mysteries of sexual orientation as such.

Still yet, it's no intellectual solution. You are now just shifted over a bit, still needing to explain exactly what is wrong with these sex behaviors when two men or two women do them, but probably not wrong when a man and a women do them.

From here the paths diverge, none of them very comprehensive or intellectually satisfactory. Several options lead backwards - reaffirm selective parts or the whole ancient legacy - sex, gender, embodiment, males first, males only, nearly the whole lot (excepting notably, having more than one wife let alone a tent full of additional concubines, plus parental child abuse privileges are still unsavory).

Combined with backwards, selective options also pick parts of modern knowledge. Changed attitudes towards divorce and remarriage; or even better, towards the status and roles of women in western democracies (inevitably linked to our changed views of children and parenting?) - these show just how much gets picked or chosen.

The most vigorous condemnations now involve, (1)unsupportable, unfactual allegations that gays are defective and/or damaging to themselves and others because of being gay, while carefully avoiding any hint of applying anything like the same framework when considering being straight in connection with all the faults and foibles of straight life. The jig is up, and nearly all can see it: when gay goes wrong, it's always because somebody is gay; when straight goes wrong, it's never because somebody is straight.

Plus (2) irrational claims that being able to make babies is some irreducible proof and symbol of some higher pattern of moral or religous life, when in fact all the facts tell us that nobody is innately more ethical or closer to God just because they fertilize an egg with a sperm, or hang out romantically with the opposite sex.

It is what you do after these givens that counts, ethically and religiously. Ditto, for gay people, then.

Shake the legacy packages, and the irrational bombs go off, so far every time; except when the whole thing goes dud, and no bang happens at all.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 11:15pm BST

"I could see churches saying the same thing about the use of beverage alcohol, gambling, or other morally ambiguous issues"

And this is related to being born gay via what type of logic?

"Do you really believe that gays have a special right to force their beliefs and practices on EVERYONE else?"

Like the bumper sticker on the back of my bedroom doors says-"Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are NOT 'Special Rights'".

"...but on this matter I'm certainly glad I live in a country with true religious freedom."

I'm glad you live in the same country as I do, as of yet, I don't have the "special" right in my state to a civil marriage (unlike Great Britain, with it's supposed lack of a 'written' constitution), so it looks like some countries are more "free" than others, but here in the "Land of the Free", some citizens are more "free" than others. You see here in our country, freedom of religion means that anything that calls itself such can legislate it's beliefs into state statute, not to mention running contrary to our constitutional law against governmental establishment of a religion (and implying it's beliefs). Boy, don't you feel more free already? Only an "American" could be so arrogant as to believe that they are so much better than the rest of the world just because of our flawed implementation of a piece of paper.

You can have your "church", or "club" or whatever you want to call it; you can smear my brethren silly with self-righteous pronouncements and quotations of selected scripture, not to mention the jokes, but I'll be damned if you are going to allow it to legislated in my government (you types have been doing exactly that, but you know as well as I do, it will not last).

Bravo to the other side of the Atlantic for having the ethos and fortitude to do the right thing.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Friday, 22 May 2009 at 12:03am BST

Of course you cannot legislate tolerance - only tolerant behavior. Who knows how many generations of tolerant behavior are required to achieve tolerance?

I think it's also time for some people to face that a lot of fears about how this will change society are a bit unfounded. Most people, given the choice, don't want to take a job where people think they are defective scum. Note: I said given the choice, sometimes there aren't any available, one must pay the bills associated with a place to live and food on the table.

Joe, I really feel your leaps to the areas of gambling and alcohol, etc. are based on some very strange fear. For example - if a teetotaling church hires an alcoholic and that person gets drunk during the day, or has erratic attendance due to hangovers and overly-long lunches - well, they'll probably be fired for performance issues.

There are all sorts of logical explanations and examples of societal and theological changes given here. All met a lot of resistance. But somehow, the Holy Spirit keeps on working for change until it comes about.

p.s. Robert Ian Williams, usually the health of the economy is a better indicator of who will win elections these days. Just look what happened in the U.S. in November 2008.

Posted by Lynn at Friday, 22 May 2009 at 12:20am BST

There's a part of me that sympathises with John's point of view; I mistrust institutions and ideologies even when they happen to be ones I agree with.

But 'faith communities' brought this on themselves. The immediate response of the Diocese of Hereford to the Reaney case, for example, was to say that they would be imposing new doctrinal tests on applicants for posts as Youth Workers. A good way of catching the queers out, without overtly singling out the queers.

Except anyone with half a brain knew exactly what was going on and, laus deo, in these islands in the year 2009, back-door discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation is no longer socially acceptable.

Let's move from the abstract into the practical. Should the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools, which employs more than half of school teachers here in Northern Ireland, be able to refuse applicants jobs because of their sexual orientation? Like hell it should. And if the churches want to plead individual liberty now, they should have thought of that over the last 50 years when, by and large, they systematically opposed every single reform to give equal rights - indeed, at the start, any rights - to gay people.

Hell slap it up them.

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Friday, 22 May 2009 at 1:48am BST

Choirboy, you're ramblings almost made sense. Let me get this straight, I think churches ought to have the right to decide moral issues without government interference THEREFORE I must be against civil unions for gay people. WHAT? No, I think the (US) government should get out of the matrimony business altogether. It's a religious matter. Civil unions on the other hand are the right of the state and in our representative republic each state should have the right to decide if they want to recognize gay unions. I, in fact, would support civil unions for homosexual couples.

Nevertheless, what I am against is government enforcement of a morality that conflicts with a church's own theological reflection. Do you follow?

Now, Lynn, the leap of logic from gambling to gay sex is not a large one. Let me try to simplify for you. Some Christians see gambling as a moral issue and thus forbid their members, and those who work for them, from gambling. You might think that's silly. "How dare churches forbid people from participating in a harmless recreational activity!" you might remark. "What a crazy hermeneutic!" you might also say. And you might be right.

However, doesn't a church have the right to form its values through theological reflection apart from government interference? And is it too much to expect people who work for them from respecting their beliefs?

LIKEWISE, some Christians (and Muslims and some Jews) find gay sex to be morally repugnant to their religion. Thus they forbid their members, and those who make a living from the free-will offerings of their membership, from participating in such activities. And similarly, you might think that's also silly. "How dare a church forbid expressions of sexual satisfaction!" you might remark. "What a crazy hermeneutic!" you might also say. And, again, you might be right.

But, again, doesn't a church have the right to come to their own theological conclusions apart from government interference? Or must the government now be in charge of dictating dogma?

Do you see the connection? It's not complicated. It's about the government staying out of religion. I know that's an Enlightenment benefit never experienced in the UK, but it works pretty well in the US.

Posted by Joe at Friday, 22 May 2009 at 3:20am BST

"Do you really believe that gays have a special right to force their beliefs and practices on EVERYONE else?" - Joe, on Thursday -

No, Joe, we don't - that's only your perception!
Nor do we want you and yours to force your beliefs and practices on us.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 22 May 2009 at 3:47am BST

"One gets the feeling they will be wiped out at the next Election." - Robert Williams -

Exactly who are 'They' here Robert?

If you mean your fellow Roman Catholics, I don't think that is likely. After all, this legislation is about non-discrimination, is it not?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 22 May 2009 at 5:21am BST

"Legislating tolerance that is intolerant to all who disagree is not tolerance. Welcome to the present evil age" - Joe, on Thursday -

I think that the word you really should be using here, Joe, is 'anti-discrimination' - which is rather different from 'tolerance'. The weight of meaning is very different. The LGBT community, for instance, are not looking for tolerance, they are looking for non-discrimination - a very different thing.

And, Do have a nice day. (Evil be to him who...)

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 22 May 2009 at 5:28am BST

Joe
since the gays "special beliefs" you refer to are simply equality with anyone else, nothing special, yes, I do think we have the right in a civilised society to expect that people get it.

You seem to confuse tolerance of ideas with the permission to discriminate against those you disagree with.

Posted by ErikaBaker at Friday, 22 May 2009 at 6:46am BST

Joe
"It's about the government staying out of religion."

Yes, and I don't see any government initiative to legislate who the church must baptise and who it must marry, do you? Or what you have to believe about the Trinity.

And it doesn't forbid you to preach that homosexuality is wrong, just as it doesn't forbid you to preach that gambling is wrong.

I see no government initiative that forces you to have a gay priest in your parish, or that compels you to conduct same sex blessings.

Your right to discriminate within your own club is still intact.

What are you complaining about?

Posted by ErikaBaker at Friday, 22 May 2009 at 9:25am BST

"WHAT? No, I think the (US) government should get out of the matrimony business altogether. It's a religious matter. Civil unions on the other hand are the right of the state......"

So what is preventing us from splitting the two? What's preventing us from getting rid of the indirect subsidy to taxpayers ("Married filing Jointly" on your 1040)? Who do you think and what lobby fights against this? Get real.

Tell that to your buddies who supported Prop 8 in California, along with all the attendees of pole barn "churches", that are the only new buildings being built at present in my depression-ridden state. I think you're the one rambling around in a dreamworld.

People who call themselves "Christian" have actively railed against any sort of organized and sanctioned stable relationships of the LGBT community (and succeeded in 1996 with "DOMA"). That's legislation of a group's view of morality. That's a fact, and not rambling.

But leave it up to the Britons to see the fallacy of religious types that legislate their myopic view of morality and cut it off with laws that apply to everybody, nobody excepted. That might be another view of morality, that is equal fairness to anybody, despite how they were made under God. And that morality has triumphed in the United Kingdom.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Friday, 22 May 2009 at 1:33pm BST

Joe,

Rest assured that your original comment was clear but unconvincing, and there was no need to "simplify" your statement. I am unimpressed with the fundamentalist tradition of circulus in probando, and your additional swirls added little to the argument.

Posted by Lynn at Friday, 22 May 2009 at 3:16pm BST

Gerry,

Thanks. My point was a narrow one: I just think Giles Fraser argues badly and that this does liberal Christianity a disservice.

I entirely agree with your point about Northern Ireland (where I was born and raised - though haven't worked there since 1979). In fact, Northern Ireland is a main factor why I'm against all faith schools - don't suppose I'd ban them but I certainly argue against them. Note that Giles Fraser supports them. Of course, the main reason Christians - and others - support them is anxiety about the possible collapse of their faith. The anxiety is pretty rational, but one shouldn't skew wider societal needs in the interests of one's particular faith.

Cheers,

John.

Posted by john at Friday, 22 May 2009 at 8:38pm BST

What strange words 'homophobia' and 'transphobia' are. Why?
(1) 'Homophobia' translates as 'fear of that which is the same'. The same as what? Likewise 'Transphobia' is perhaps 'fear of that which changes from A to B'. Well, many things do that. It is a large indicator of pansexualisation that it is assumed that whenever one is talking about *anything* at all being the same, or *anything* at all changing, one must be referring to sexual or homosexual matters. (After all, what other topics exist for human discussion?)
(2) Why does the meaning 'fear' get turned into the meaning 'hatred'? They aren't the same thing, though they are both bad things. Is there some rationale, or has this process been unthinking?

(3) What is liable to prevent thinking people taking 'homophobia' discourse seriously is any assumption (and there is plenty: witness BAAF) that the only possible reason that one might oppose the practice of homosexuality is fear/hatred. Yet there are any number of reasons, and (more importantly) not all of these are emotionally (as opposed to rationally) based. Yes, people do get bullied merely for being different from the majority; and yes, many do fear the unknown. But the fact that it is perfectly possible that one might oppose homosexuality for rational rather than emotional reasons (indeed, 'emotional reasons' is an oxymoron, and I suspect 'religious reasons' is too) is so obvious that if anyone involved in this conference fails to factor that in, then they have failed at stage one.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Wednesday, 27 May 2009 at 12:24pm BST

Hi drdanfee-
You haven't yet, as far as I know, responded to the point regarding the acknowledgement of homosexual orientation by Aristophanes and Plato.

To say it is absent in all ancient literature is quite a claim, since one would need to have all ancient literature at one's fingertips before making such a claim.

Of course, any such acknowledgment by the ancients would not (to mix metaphors) be dressed up in the cultural baggage of the 21st century west. How could they have known what our cultures and concepts would be?

But it doesn't follow that ours are superior or that theirs are inferior (nor vice-versa).

Posted by Christopher Shell at Thursday, 28 May 2009 at 1:09pm BST

"the fact that it is perfectly possible that one might oppose homosexuality for rational rather than emotional reasons"

Indeed so, Christopher, but it is a very rare phenomenon. I cannot remember ever seeing it, though I may. It certainly doesn't seem to exist among "Christian" opponents of gay people. Oh, they all protest loudly that they "hate the sin, love the sinner", but their subsequent words and actions prove otherwise in short order. Can you give me one example of a Christian opponent of homosexuality, and we are talking about modern people now, whose opposition to homosexuality is not based on more on bigotry than fact?

"Why does the meaning 'fear' get turned into the meaning 'hatred'?"

Because fear breeds hatred. Why do you think Jesus tells us not to be afraid?

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 28 May 2009 at 3:39pm BST

If anyone wants a contemporary understanding of the case for passage of this legislation - against discrimination of the LB GT community, then do listen to these three excellent speeches; by Giles Fraser. Maria Eagle and Dr. Marilyn McCord Adams. Compelling stuff.

--------------------

Mario

mls

Posted by mario at Friday, 29 May 2009 at 12:02am BST

Honest people want to seek the truth and dishonest people wish to avoid it. ITo that end they will hand-pick speakers to put a cross a particular perspective which affirms their existing position, rather than wishing knowledge to be advanced by challenging cut and thrust or even dialogue of any kind.

Looking at the choice of speakers, the word 'unbalanced' is an understatement. So which type of conference was this? Honest or dishonest? Academically respectable or demagoguery?

Posted by Christopher Shell at Friday, 29 May 2009 at 2:54pm BST

Christopher: how does this compare with any conferences organised by proponents of the conservative position on the gay issue then? Are you suggesting that they are ever 1) balanced or 2) academically respectable?

Blackwell's bookshop in Oxford had a great pile of books on The Gay Issue in its Theology section when I last looked: I couldn't see a single one seriously arguing for ongoing ecclesiastical homophobia as an academically respectable position.

Posted by Fr Mark at Friday, 29 May 2009 at 5:07pm BST

"Looking at the choice of speakers, the word 'unbalanced' is an understatement. So which type of conference was this? Honest or dishonest? Academically respectable or demagoguery?
- Christopher Shell -

Here you go again, Christopher Shell, stating the obvious. If you were to be organising a public conference on a particular subject about which you felt a particular passion, would you invite oppositional speakers? If so, one wonders why you would call a conference to advance your cause.

Surely you are not oblivious of the fact that any conference organised by *Global South*, *ACNA*, *FOCA, or other anti-Gay sodalities in the UK, Canada and the USA has exactly the same culture - of inviting only anti-Gay speakers. Let's get real here!

Another point, surely, is that the ACI, FOCA, ACNA and other anti-Gay conferences all claim the same academic credentials as those of pro-Gay stance? Or am I way out on this presumption? I suppose uncritical use of the word *Balanced* can really be unbalanced by virtue of insistence on one's own point of view. Is that not the truth?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 30 May 2009 at 1:01am BST

Hi Fr Mark-
Homophobia academically respectable? It is not academic in any way: it is something emotional not rational.

Remember that bookbuying is partly down to a store's buyers, ideology, image they want to project to known customer base, etc..

Hi Fr Ron-
Your comment puzzled me. If lack of balance is a fault - and you don't disagree with that, surely - then how could it be less a fault among one party than among another?

There are of course circumstances - such as, so far as one can see, the abortion issue, where the very reason for the sharp divide is that there is bound to be a sharp divide, for human-nature reasons, between what is right and what we want. But everyone knows that the two (what is right and what we want) are not by any means equally academically respectable.

But your most obviously untrue remark is that on order to advance one's case one must silence opposition. On the very contrary: If one is seen to be silencing opposition, one has scored an own-goal, since a 'conclusion' not based on a balanced analysis of the data is not worth the paper it is written on.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Saturday, 30 May 2009 at 9:23am BST
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