Friday, April 30, 2010

Perhaps Lord Carey should just shut up.

I assume Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, believes he is defending Christianity. An alternative perspective would be to suggest that he is bringing it into disrepute. This dinosaur of English Christianity is likely to find himself on the wrong side of morality and the wrong side of history with his special pleading for the "rights" of Christians. Or as Dr. Christian Troll would say: It’s vital to understand that the reason God tortured His Son to death was so that Christians could today display a mean-spirited lack of compassion to everyone lacking their own sinless self-righteousness. HERE

A couple of weeks ago he intervened in the case of nurse Shirley Chaplain, who had been told that she could not wear a cross on a chain in a medical environment for health and safety reasons. I posted on this HERE

Today, in the High Court, Lord Justice Laws, dismissed a Christian marriage guidance counsellor, Gary MacFarlane's challenge to his sacking for refusing to counsel gay coulples. He alleged unfair dismissal on the grounds of religious discrimination.

Dr. Carey warned of civil unrest. I look forward to the day when the provisional wing of the Church of England, the Mothers' Union, takes to the streets with petrol bombs in defence of a Christian England, but I digress.

Lord Justice Laws noted in his summing up: In a free constitution such as ours there is an important distinction to be drawn between the law's protection of the right to hold and express a belief and the law's protection of that belief's substance or content. The conferment of any legal protection upon a particular substantive moral psition on the grounds only that it is espoused by the adherants of a particular faith, however long its tradition, however long its culture is deeply unprincipled. It may, of course be true but the ascertainment of such truth lies beyond the means by which laws are made in a reasonable society. Therefore it lies only in the heart of the believer, who is alone bound by it. No one else is, or can be so bound unless by his own free choice he accepts its claims.

Lord Carey saw this as another sign of the courts' trend to downgrade the right of religious believers to manifest their faith in what had become a deeply unedifying collision of human rights. The judgement heralded a secular state rather than a neutral one... and says that the sacking of religious believers in recent cases was not a denial of their rights even though religious belief can not be divided from its expression in every area of the believer's life.

The Christian legal centre who supported Mr MacFarlane's case commented: It seems that a religious bar to office has been created, whereby a Christian who wishes to act on their Christian beleifs on marriage will no longer be able to work in a great number of environments.

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, noted that the right to follow a religion was a qualified one and must not be used to legitimise discrimination against gay people who are legally entitled to protection against bigotry and persecution....The law must be clear that anti-discrimination laws exist to protect people not beliefs. He further accused "fundamentalists" of trying hard to undermine the laws that protect people from discrimination and seeking to create a hierarchy of rights that places Christian dogma over the rights of people to fair treatment.

Derek Munn of Stonewall added: You can not refuse service to a person based on thier gender, race or disability, and you can't on the basis of their sexual orientation. People delivering public services mustn't be able to pick and choose who they will serve on the basis of personal prejudice.

This case comes after a series of court defeats by Christians who say they have been badly treated because of their beliefs. They include Lillian Ladele, a registrar sacked by Islington Council after she conscientiously objected to presiding over civil partnership ceremonies.

When her case reached the Court of Appeal Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls, decided that she had broken the law. The court ruled that the right to express a strong Christian faith was secondary to the rights of individuals not to be discriminated against under equality legislation.

Lord Neuberger said that the European Convention on Human Rights which protects the right to religious conscience, could be invoked to defend only those beliefs which were worthy of respect in a democratic society and are not incompatible with human dignity.

Melanie Phillips writing in the Daily Mail said that such a ruling came very close indeed to criminalising Christianity. She said: If putting Christian belief into practice is outlawed it won't be long before Christian believers find themselves outlawed. What a ridiculous statement and, with respect, only one that an employee of such a champion of civil liberties as the Daily Mail could make.!

The issue here is not the beleagured nature of Christianity in modern Britain, it is the nasty and insidious claims of some Christians to be above the law when it suits them. Christians are not persecuted here: if they think they are, they have no idea what religious persecution is. It is the unwarrented sense of entitlement that comes with a changing environment some Christians can not adapt to that is the real issue and Lord Carey - and those of his ilk - do nothing to enhance the reputation of the church when they align themselves to this paranoia.

There are certain duties that come with certain jobs. If an individual can not with good conscience perform those duties they are in the wrong job.

Lord Justice Laws said We do not live in a society where all the people share uniform religious beliefs. The precepts of any one religion - any belief system - can not by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other. If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy which is, of necessity, autocratic.

I have yet to understand the rationale behind why some Christians believe they should be treated differently to other people. Let's be clear: this isn't Christianity. It certainly isn't any manifestation of Christianity I wish to be associated with and yet, because I am a Christian, I run the risk that people will assume that this madness is also my position.

You're retired George. Get an allotment eh?