Thinking Anglicans

news coverage of SORs debate

Updated Tuesday afternoon

The BBC and the Telegraph have extensive coverage this morning.

Telegraph Jonathan Petre Religions united in opposition to gay rights law
and James Mackay Should religious beliefs bow to gay rights?

BBC Faith rally over gay rights bill. Also the Today radio programme interviewed Lord Morrow, and Lord Mackay with Angela Eagle.

Press Association Protest over gay discrimination law

More significant politically perhaps than any of the above, the Trades Union Congress has published a press release and a detailed briefing paper.

Update In the Guardian, opinion columnist Polly Toynbee has Homophobia, not injustice, is what really fires the faiths.

The Evangelical Alliance has issued this curiously softly worded press release.

Update Tuesday afternoon

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has issued this statement:

On 4 January, the Daily Mail carried a story under the headline of “Muslims and Jews to join gay-laws protest”. The article referred to a statement by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the inference, given the headline, was that the Board of Deputies had been working in concert with groups opposed to the proposed regulations.

The headline – together with the article – unfortunately misrepresented what was a very clear and balanced statement. The Board of Deputies would like to confirm that we have not campaigned with any other groups in relation to this matter and the statement that was given to the Daily Mail (reproduced below) was made solely in response to their request for a comment.

The Sexual Orientation Regulations will provide a further platform to combat discrimination in this country. It must be possible for people to live their lives in the manner in which they choose as long as it does not impinge upon the rights of others. We hope that to this effect the regulations will be framed in such a way that allows for both the effective combating of discrimination in the provision of goods and services whilst respecting freedom of conscience and conviction. These regulations are currently being debated and will be afforded due scrutiny before passing into law.

The Board of Deputies opposes discrimination on any grounds and recognises that the rights of those within our community and in wider society should not be infringed on the grounds of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion conviction or for any other similar reason.

Another report now on the Telegraph website: Gay rights law protesters branded ‘hypocrites’.
And on The Times website: Gay rights laws draw religious protest.
At the Guardian the Press Association report is Church groups to march against sexuality law.
The latest Reuters report is Faith groups protest against gay rights bill.
The BBC has added Discrimination law controversy and Head-to-head: Gay rights law.
Ruth Gledhill has posted on her blog, Christians ‘torch’ SORs.
Ekklesia has published Faith groups are misrepresenting sexual equality rules, say critics. Also Evangelical leader attacks ‘aggressive’ opposition to SORs, and Northern Irish church heads unite in call to end bigotry.

The BBC story linked at the start of the day has been rewritten and headlined Gay rights laws challenge fails:

New rules outlawing businesses from discriminating against homosexuals have been upheld in the House of Lords.

A challenge led by Lord Morrow of the Democratic Unionist Party failed by a majority of three to one.

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Merseymike
14 years ago

This really does give the lie to the nonsense that conservative religionists are not wishing to promote discrimination in the civil sphere against gays and lesbians.

That is exactly what they wish to do.

Quite simply, if they cannot treat all people equally, then they should not be providing public services.

Kurt
Kurt
14 years ago

Bigots of the world, unite!

Prior Aelred
14 years ago

Every time I am ashamed of my country, someone in England comes up with something to make me feel better.

I am not sure this is terribly encouraging.

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
14 years ago

Ah, yes, Lord MacKay. Isn’t he the one who went to the funeral of a RC colleague and was promptly excommunicated by his own ultra-protestant denomination for consorting with such servants of Satan? And did he not accept their punishment? Not exactly the sort of person I’d have chosen as a spokesperson for the Christian faith…. For some reason I’m reminded of the UK 1980’s tussles between Thatcher and Scargill, two extremists locked in combat (for whom read Toynbee, Dawkins etc on the one hand and the sundry ‘Mainstream’ hardliners on the other). The battle was won by the one… Read more »

laurence
laurence
14 years ago

Three cheers for The Board of Deputies of British Jews !!

I this is pretty good coming from the ‘Union’ synagogues. The Reform Synagogues of GB; and the Liberals Synagogues are even more positive –especially the latter, who now have a liturgy for Civil Partnerships.

drdanfee
drdanfee
14 years ago

Diagnostically, the SOR’s provide a keen instrument for teasing out fear, ignorance, and presuppositional inferiority – all based on what is claimed by believers to be core religious allegiances. To get a taste of how this sort of thing goes, just go back a bit in history and read what the Lords were saying once upon a time about the abolition of slavery. The tone is eerily familiar. Return of the repressed? Return of the depressed? That is conscience for you, apparently, in its ConsEvs forms – except that of course, many believers find the whole rightwing business disconcerting even… Read more »

laurence
laurence
14 years ago

Mr Burt added that it seems clear Christians will not have a universal view about the regulations, but he hopes they will understand the need for Also 3 cheers for the TUC ! They are so rarely consulted these days. Since their breaking. Also some cheers for Joel Edwards and the Evnagelical Alliance. Also for their Council member, the MP Alastair Burt who wisely called for tolerence. Well I’d ahve said ‘tolerance’is pretty much the name of the game. A good place tostart atleast. :- He called for ‘balance and tolerance in the debate.’ “I, for one, would not be… Read more »

Richard III
Richard III
14 years ago

What does homosexuality have to do with practising one’s faith or religious expression unless we are talking about having the right to openly engage in bigotry and homophobia. Christians who engage in such behavior need to go back and re-read the Gospels – Jesus apparently didn’t find homosexuality to be such a sin that he found need to openly comment on or condemn it.

Thomas Renz
Thomas Renz
14 years ago

Dan Fee claims that gay “couples [are] officially defined as filth by current [Roman Catholic] church doctrine”? I wouldn’t mind a reference for that.

Alan Harrison
Alan Harrison
14 years ago

Mynsterpreost wrote: “For some reason I’m reminded of the UK 1980’s tussles between Thatcher and Scargill, two extremists locked in combat “ I’m not sure this helps illustrate the point you’re trying to make, Mynsterpreost. I see absolutely nothing “extreme” about a trade union official trying to ensure that an employer behaves in accordance with an agreement – in this case the “Plan for Coal” setting out the procedures to be followed in closing a colliery. The miners’ strike – and its aftermath for about a decade – was marked by many occasions on which predictions by Mr Scargill were… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
14 years ago

I am often critical of Ruth here.
This time she is spot on.
Well done Ruth!!!

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

The Telegraph article made me think of something. What would happen, do you think, if a gay run business decided not to offer service to Christians? One could argue conscience in the matter. Would Consevos be willing to be turned away from some businesses because the owners have deep seated disagreements with the morality of their religious lifestyle choice? After all, being gay does not require any kind of lifestyle, contrary to the propaganda of the Right, while religion certainly does, and being gay is not a choice, while we certainly choose our faith. I’ve never heard anyone discuss the… Read more »

Pluralist
14 years ago

predictions by Mr Scargill were routinely condemned… subsequently either vindicated or shown to be understatements… AH

Yes, but he was no tactician, and went to extreme methods that played into Thatcher’s hands. It was not public opinion that mattered (so much, the miners carried much sympathy) to Thatcher though, it was stocks of coal and police deployment.

The foolish tacticians of the moment are the Christian right, liable to lose battle after battle in the public arena, and one reason why they keep trying to eat other, disagreeing with them, Christians

Cheryl Clough
14 years ago

Things are getting a bit hysterical. I am glad to see some people going “Er, excuse me, could we just clarify how and what and why we said what we did?” Yet another example of power mongerers trying to pass one’s yoke onto other people and presuming that they won’t speak out that they have been unknowingly co-opted. The religious people are worried about their right to discriminate against GLBTs? Put a clause in the legislation that registered organisations are precluded from requirements to service certain groups, provided they submit a declaration of who they are going to be excluding… Read more »

Eileen
14 years ago

Here are some of Benny’s recent words on the topic, as Italy is apparently contemplating similar legislation. While not doctrine, it does express the Pope’s concerns…The article is from a biased source, but still…

http://www.gcn.ie/content/templates/newsupdate.aspx?articleid=1711&zoneid=9 Pope’s Renewed Anti-Gay Message

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
14 years ago

Alan, I can’t believe that part of Arthur Scargill’s intention was not to embarrass seriously the then Tory government (and I supported the miners in their grievances). But the tactical errors he made (like starting the strike when coal stocks were at an all time high), quite possibly because his zeal for his position outweighed his tactical sense, led to much more suffering in the communities, presented Mrs T with an easy victory and subsequently was a useful card in her anti-union activities.

I lived in the North East at the time….

Simon Sarmiento
14 years ago

JCF Lord Lester of Herne Hill is a leading liberal barrister, who has been described as “the founding father of human rights law” in Britain. He is also a Liberal Democrat peer, and I have no doubt he asked these questions earlier in order to get the Government on the record ahead of this debate. It is common practice in the British Parliament to put either oral or written questions down for the government to answer, in order to get those answers in the record. Indeed the government often, no very often, has its own backbenchers ask questions for this… Read more »

Merseymike
14 years ago

Good to see that the attempt to annul the regulations has failed.

Simon Morden
Simon Morden
14 years ago

So far, so good. A hefty majority in the Lords for the SoR, the Board of Deputies coming out in favour of them, Faithworks’ rather special communication, even a less than full-on comment from the EA. I’d like to believe this was an outbreak of common sense, if not actual repentance. I still can’t quite get my head around the idea that some Christians are standing up *for* the sin of Sodom, whilst the supposed sodomites are pointing out how wrong we are. There’s a certain bitter irony involved. The Christian Institute are up in front of the beak in… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
14 years ago

Ford, in the mainland UK, the situation you describe is dealt with under Part 2 of the same Equality Act 2006, which prohibits discrimination in the supply of goods and services on the grounds of Religion or Belief. That part of the law is already on the statute book, but does not come into effect until the SO portion also does, planned for April 2007. You will not be surprised to learn that the Part 2 regulations also have exemptions which allow religious bodies to discriminate on the basis of Religion, even though the general public cannot do so. So… Read more »

Alan Harrison
Alan Harrison
14 years ago

Not really on topic, perhaps, but I would to some extent agree with the critique of “Scargill’s” tactics. Reason for scare quotes: it was customary at the time for the right-wing press to attribute to Mr Scargill decisions of the executive, at which he normally presided but did not have a vote, even in the case of decisions taken in his absence! At the same time, it’s difficult to see what else the NUM exec could have done. When an employer breaks an agreement, expecially by sacking people, a trade union can ultimately only fight or surrender. That said, I… Read more »

Craig Nelson
14 years ago

I can only record my thanks to Simon and Thinking Anglicans for excellent and informative coverage of this area.

An excellent result for common sense and a sense of fairness to all groups in society.

Also a warning of the darker forces in society that are read to go in for extremism and scapegoating that inhabit many of the religious.

There is a real cause for concern as to what religion is becoming within our society today.

Dave
Dave
14 years ago

I think that it is fair to say that the SORegs are designed to *exclude* people from providing services (even at their own expense), or education, or accommodation etc – unless they are prepared to do it in a way that appears to treat homosexuality as equal to heterosexuality. (NOT just homosexual individuals as equal to heterosexual individuals). Given that it is known that most religions disapprove of homosexuality, the Regulations could have been less hard-edged! For instance in the SORs NI the only exceptions for private individuals are for things that are more-or-less totally within the private home, whereas… Read more »

Gerry Lynch
14 years ago

Ah, how nice it is to come from liberal Northern Ireland where the SORs, supported by our regional Assembly, came into force last week and the bigots (and yes, ‘Lord’ Maurice Morrow is a bigot in all sorts of ways) had to run over the water to look for succour from the House of Lords. And lose. 3-1! I was interested to read reports of the Bishop of Down & Connor’s New Year’s sermon (i.e. Catholic Bishop of Belfast) in the Irish News last Tuesday where he, of course, said that he was opposed to discrimination and in favour of… Read more »

JCF
JCF
14 years ago

Three cheers that the law was upheld. Hallelujah! Good on ya, Blighty! 😀

Cheryl Clough
14 years ago

Simon

Thanks for the posting to Ford where you noted that “You will not be surprised to learn that the Part 2 regulations also have exemptions which allow religious bodies to discriminate on the basis of Religion, even though the general public cannot do so.”

If that is the case, then why is there such an emotive response to this legislation? It does not seem rational.

laurence
laurence
14 years ago

I see that the Bishop of Worcester voted against the motion to annul the regulations and that the Bishops of Chester, Rochester, Southwell, and Winchester voted for discrimination

Simon Morden
Simon Morden
14 years ago

Cheryl wrote: “why is there such an emotive response to this legislation? It does not seem rational.” It’s because it’s not rational, coming entirely from the emotions. Folk like the Christian Institute are not exactly renowned for their reasoned arguments – which is as fine as it goes: the rational choice is not always the correct one, and we’d be poorer for excluding our emotional response from our decision making. Sometimes all we can say is “Hear I stand. I can do nothing else.” It’s principled, but it might just be wrong. What we can’t do is replace our reason… Read more »

laurence
laurence
14 years ago

‘It does not seem rational.’ Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 10 January . It isn’t these ‘religionists’ are anything but rational; and of course, a bit thin on ‘true religion and undefiled..’ Gerry Lynch : ‘Then a few pages afterwards in their “x years ago” slot they covered the sermon of his predecessor in 1938 who said that if there was a just war in the world it was that being waged by General Franco and the youth of Spain against the scourge of godless Communism.’ Yes, this quotation is atimely reminder of the repression of Churches, and their… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

Simon, Thanks. I figured there must be some sort of legislation, the scenario was hypothetical. All the same, I’d like to see someone try it and see if the aggrieved parties would press the case to claim a right they would deny to gay people. And Dave, “Not that many people would actually want to discriminate” if this is the case, why are they fighting so hard and screaming so loud? Seems a bit much to stage a protest, on a workday and thus lose time at work, to demand a right they don’t expect to use. Do they merely… Read more »

Gerry Lynch
14 years ago

the repression of Churches, and their siding with the rich, the landowners, the Francos, the Pinochets against the poor, the marginalised, the Oscar Romeros At the danger of wandering waaaaaay off topic, I think that’s a little harsh in the case of Chile where Catholic social democracy played a significant role in the opposition to Pinochet and in building what has become Latin America’s most prosperous and robustly democratic state since his demise. I’m not sure you’re being entirely fair in the case of Romero, either – he was, after all, head of the RC Church in El Salvador when… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

Except that the Liberation Theology which was the fuel for the kind of movements you are talking about in Latin America was suppressed by the Pope, and seems to have found a home in what Anglo-catholic presence there is in those respective countries. I am told that immigrants from Latin America to the US will often attend Anglo-catholic churches rather than RC ones because of this, and that the rise of Evangelicalism in Latin America can be at least in part attributed to this perceived betrayal on the part of Rome against God’s “preferential option for the poor”. Indeed, the… Read more »

laurence
laurence
14 years ago

Thanks Gerry -points taken. You are quite right on Chile and Romero. (Though I don’t think he was much supported by the wider denomination in life, ws he? ). I tripped myself up in my haste to condemn (and generalize). Not the first time I’m sure.

Glad you are on the ball . Thank you.
laurence

laurence
laurence
14 years ago

Ah Ford on the ball too ! Thanks. I do feel this to be the case. ‘preferential option for the poor’ is an expression that makes me thrill. I do feel it is, for me , at the heart of gospel. Especially if combined with ‘God’s’ — however we understand G-d. I sense this what the world is waiting for… ( but then I’m probably not that reliable, as an ole piscean infp, dreamer ) … I was very heartened by the BBC program from Helen House children’s ‘hospice’ / “home from home” last night. Sister Domenica spoke of the… Read more »

Pluralist
14 years ago

[ps The main cases where I can think that I would want to treat homosexuals different from heterosexuals would be in providing services, education etc that might be used for facilitating or promoting same-sex sex.] Dave (Apollos..)] Does the legislation require that churches purchase double beds? These could replace the pews. Good idea for the 9:30 am on a Sunday, though, because then worshippers can even arrive early (like the night before). By the way, single beds will also be needed for times of menstruation (Leviticus 15:19-24) and giving a sign of Peace will have to be via semaphore. Although… Read more »

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
14 years ago

In that practically ANYTHING might be useful in facilitating/promoting same-sex sex (mobile phones, semaphore flags, bungee ropes, custard, whoopee cushions), I suggest that all faithful Christians should immediately retreat to the Nubian desert and live solitary lives….

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

It is those exemptions which are *not* covered that are more a matter for concern. Two examples:
(1) The Christian teacher not in a specifically Christian school;
(2) The Catholic adoption agencies.

Merseymike
14 years ago

Quite right too.

Gay people have the right to adopt children, thus individual adoption agencies should obey the law.

Christian teachers need to be aware that their role is not to inflict their opinions about gay people upon their pupils. Being gay and having gay relationships is perfectly legal, perfectly acceptable in the law. Their religious opinion should stay in the church, not be brought into secular education

drdanfee
drdanfee
14 years ago

Wow I do like that phrase, the gift of spiritual courage to dwell in the unknowing … Thanks loads. Presumably a ConsEvs religious believer who is teacher in a non-religious or religious school need not be forced to be the sole faculty sponsor of a Gay-Straight Students Alliance, nor allowed to block the forming of the student group, either. Perhaps such a teacher can join in anti-bullying and suicide prevention and violence prevention efforts, in his or her own school? Remains to be seen in particular cases, what the ConsEvs conscience of the teacher will permit or support. Often the… Read more »

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
14 years ago

(1) The Christian teacher not in a specifically Christian school; Hm. Such a school follows an agreed syllabus of religious education, in which the school is expected to teach that (eg) Islam is a valid religious tradition, or as valid as any other. This, of course, is heretical and anyone engaging in such false teaching or condoning/tolerating it within the institution within which they work is guilty of a serious, perhaps even a mortal sin. But I don’t see Christian teachers running screaming out of schools because their institution teaches things against their faith. So why is the gay issue… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

Because they have accepted, at times grudgingly, that they can’t insult Muslims like that. Now there are those who consider this to be anti-Christian persecution, but I will charitably claim they are a lunatic fringe. So, they accept you can’t tell a Muslim she worships a false god, but you can tell a gay person he is disordered and can’t have a normal human relationship. With anybody. Or that he is sick, or a child molestor, or has a shortened lifespan, or is naturally more promiscuous than his straight classmates. But we’ve seen today the latter statements can be backed… Read more »

laurence
laurence
14 years ago

the gift of spiritual courage to dwell in the unknowing …

Thanks loads.
You’re welcome. It is good the way you have rendered it. I shall note it.
We really need such courage and grace.

Wonderful radio 4 tonight — Vietnamese Buddha. About the zen monk Thikh Nhat Hanh. A deeply spiritual and moving program of Thay’s return to Vietname at age 74 odd, after a 40 year exile imposed on him. I think Christians and Churches need his teachings desperately.

DO listen on the bbc radio 4 listen again site.

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

The only way of getting accurate information and a high educational standard is to have free debate and freedom of conscience on these issues. Each person must be free to say what they believe to be the case so long as (a) they back this up with argument which is aware of the arguments brought by those who disagree with them and (b) they indicate where they are in a minority, and/or mention that significant contrary minorities exist (if they do). Minorities should be calculated *internationally* rather than nationally, unless we are to be solipsistic (everyone is British or a… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

‘Their religious opinion should stay in the church, not be brought into secular education’: Hurrah! This encapsulates the fundamental dualistic fallacy: The education in question is not just education of liberal humanists’ children. In fact, there are more Christians’ children being educated than those of lhs. So why should not the proportion of Christian education be in proportion to the number of Christians being educated? Do we want a liberal humanist absolutism in education? If it is truly education at all, there should be no kind of absolutism. What is a ‘religious opinion’ anyway? We all have opinions on plenty… Read more »

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
14 years ago

“So why should not the proportion of Christian education be in proportion to the number of Christians being educated?” Because it is not the job of the publically funded school system to teach religion of any kind. Of course, teachers are human beings and entitled to their religious beliefs, and those beliefs will influence how they teach and even what they are comfortable teaching, but teaching of their, or anybody’s, religion is not their responsibility. And “liberal humanists”? Come on. A lot of Christians don’t want their religion taught in school either. It isn’t the good Christians versus the humanists,… Read more »

Merseymike
14 years ago

State education is secular. Simple as that.

There is a place for religious education, but not religious indoctrination.

Personally, I would abolish all faith schools without delay.

laurence
laurence
14 years ago

I incline to that view mike, I must say. And yet, I did, myself, enjoy the school asemblies at state Junior and then Comprehesive schools. I loved all the singing. I loved the delay of more onerous –and often less worthile things than singing. But then it was mild and solid I found and gave the days and weeks a rhythm. I found this enriching as a personal and cultural level. The hymns tended to have a unitarian kind of theology, and hymns with Jesus in, had him as Friend, brother , example, kind adult and I did (and do)… Read more »

laurence
laurence
14 years ago

continued from above post : — For me, the great draw-back would be separation of children and young people into ‘ghettoes’, and hindering friendships across the board and social enrichment and cohesion. But to have one’s own culture and language, including religous expressions in music and poetry; and diurnal and seasonal rhythms is incredibly valuable, at the level of aesthetics and soul. (Esp. as we are less in touch perhaps, with agriculture, nature, the seasons. I am happy to see ‘secular’ versions and equivalents, too, like say –the Last Night of the Proms, the FA Cup, Christmas, the New’s Day… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
14 years ago

Ford & Mike – I am not sure either how you are defining ‘religion’ (was there ever a vaguer word?) or why you think there is such a clear dividing line between what you refer to as ‘religions’ and other ideologies held to just as zealously/dogmatically/absolutely and without appeal to evidence: liberal humanism, communism, relativism, postmodernism – you name it. You are saying that in education these systems should be everything, and Christianity should be nothing? (A bit unbalanced – to say the least.) That is so out of proportion to the proven value of the respective systems. After all,… Read more »

Pluralist
14 years ago

The religious parts of school assemblies are asking schools to do something many of them find uncomfortable and irrelevant, and the “broadly Christian” basis of them does lead to a kind of unitarian assumption that laurence mentions. There is a kind of the State accepting parents passing the buck of religious involvement to it. RE, locally derived – not part of the National Curriculum – but compulsory, can be justified but not when it is compulsory. I justify it as teaching abstract thought which students have to start to acquire as they get into teenage years; the trouble is so… Read more »

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