Thursday, March 08, 2007

"This is London"

The British government officially released the wording of its planned attack on religious freedom sexual orientation regulations. As expected, no opt-out for church schools or social-service offices. By the end of the month, as I explained below here and here, this law will make Catholicism, any other serious form of Christianity, and Islam all illegal in Britain. As this article from Manchester Evening News puts it bluntly, using a type of business that has always been exempt from discrimination laws in the US (for now):
A ban on [Bed & Breakfast] owners refusing gay couples a double room is set to come into force in mainland Britain next month under new rules published today.
It looks like I was wrong below when I said this was the equivalent of passing a committee; it's more like the committee has finished "markup" of the bill (but the point I was making stands; once the ruling party decides what it wants, it almost always gets it). More disgracefully, the Cabinet's Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly, described and this article and many others as a devout Catholic:
I am proud to bring forward practical new protections for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
There's obviously limits to what a subordinate can say, and Lord knows I detest moralists and should never question anyone else's faith or public standing. But still, the enthusiasm is ... unseemly. Swallow it if you must. Don't be "proud" of it.

No reaction from Britain's bishops that I can tell so far (correction of course welcomed). Still, I found this recent letter from Bishop Philip Tartaglia of Paisley in Scotland (PDF file), which warned of things to come.
We also need to be attentive to the wider issues. We cannot but sense that something sinister is happening. For the first time in the modern era in this country, the Catholic Church is facing the prospect of being forced to act against her faith and against her convictions, or else face legal challenge and possible prosecution. This is a deeply disturbing turn of events and it is not yet clear what kind of precedent this may set for other areas of the pastoral and social activity of the Catholic Church. ...

I am convinced the Church needs to be prepared spiritually to face this new, unexpected and unwelcome threat to our freedom and well-being. ... Our normal and preferred way of working is to cooperate with the authorities for the common good. So we are eprhaps still inclined to deny that government is acting unjustly toward us. ...

Finally, this unfortunate episode may well herald the beginning of a new and uncertain time for the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom.
We already know from other fields that religious-discrimination law will give way to pro-gay thought control in practice, as shown by this case where judges are refusing conscience exemptions to British civil servants. It's important in this case to note that Andrew McClintock was not asking to contravene Caesar's gay-adoption law, but only to be excused himself from certain cases, which would then be handled by others. That isn't protecting homosexuals from discrimination (no gay person would have been affected), but discriminating against Christians in the name of forcing them (us) to approve of homosexuality, i.e., deny Christ.

Caesar even had the gall to tell McClintock he didn't suffer religious discrimination. One could (could) say that he did and that's good, or unfortunate-but-necessary. But saying "no religious discrimination" is bonkers. Or rather only makes sense under a conception of religion as completely privatized, and thus marginalized, while Caesar defines all. The LifeSite quote ends with this quote from Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham:
It is simply unacceptable to suggest that the resources of faith communities, whether in schools, adoption agencies, welfare programmes, halls and shelters can work in co-operation with public authorities only if the faith communities accept not simply a legal framework but also the moral standards at present being touted by the Government.
One might call it "a dictatorship of relativism," the first word from Bishop Nichols and the latter from Bishop Tartaglia's letter.

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