Questionable Motives

January 26, 2010

Is this what is meant by religions promoting fairness and equality?

Filed under: Christianity,Faith,God,Law,Liberty,Religion,rights and freedoms — tildeb @ 3:28 pm

To hear many Christian apologists, one might think that it was their religion that championed such enlightenment values as equality and freedom to the fore of Western civilization. That’s a lie. Christianity has had to be dragged kicking and screaming away from its righteous and pious grasp on political power and beaten into submission by law to take its place in the modern secular liberal democracy. But the fight is not yet over.

From Britain comes this appeal by the Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter and Chair of the Church Legislation Advisory Service, and Rt Revd Peter Forester, Bishop of Chester. Note that they are all men. This appeal is regarding the Equity Bill that threatens to subject the Church of England to – gasp – the same kind of equality ‘enforced’ on businesses and public services. Shocking, I know. Let’s read how these men phrase their concerns regarding the secular value of equality their faith supposedly champions:

“This Monday, as Peers meet to consider the Government’s Equality Bill, they will be asked to vote on an issue of great importance to Christians and all people of faith. At stake is how we, as a liberal democracy based on Christian values, strike the right balance between the rights and responsibilities of different groups to be protected from harassment and unfair discrimination and the rights of churches and religious organisations to appoint and employ people consistently with their guiding doctrine and ethos.

“The Christian Churches, alongside many other faiths, support the Equality Bill’s wider aims in promoting fairness in society and improving redress for those who have suffered unjust treatment.”

“However, unless the present drafting of the Bill is changed, churches and other faiths will find themselves more vulnerable to legal challenge than under the current law.

Note how these religious men assume that the secular liberal democracy is based not on secular values and secular law, which is the truth, but on this ill-defined notion of ‘Christian values’. The truth is already being twisted here. Then they ask that we recognize that individual equality should be submerged in favour of rights and freedoms for ‘groups’, a set of rights for these groups that are in need of ‘balance,’ which is code for special rights for special groups like…. oh, I don’t know, maybe churches because they are very special and deserve exemption from anything as dirty and mundane as a level legal playing field. Something as dirty and mundane as equal legal rights is properly viewed to be harassment and discrimination! In the minds of these men, not being granted special dispensation to maintain discriminatory practices is… wait for it… discrimination! But let’s be clear, they reassure us, this church is all for promoting fairness and equality… in a ‘wider’ sense… so wide, in fact, that churches and other special interest groups under the banner of religious belief can avoid the equality law altogether so that they can continue unimpeded to discriminate all they want, exempt from prosecution under secular law.

I think it’s time to get ready for more kicking and screaming because these biased, bigoted, bullying, and chauvinistic theologies are not going to ‘champion’ any advancement in secular law that promotes equality and respect of individuals; they will do as they have always done and fight such progress tooth and nail.


  1. It’s the Church of England, no one takes it seriously anyway… men in funny hats, arguing about who is allowed in the club and who is not – and worshipers pretending that they are not indoctrinated like the Catholics, only they are.

    Silly nonsense – and I think most of the UK public see through Church these days – we have so much cultural diversity in the UK now, that religion has to give – it more or less has done. Certainly my experience over here is that people pay lip service to the Church, they use it as a nice pretty setting to get married in – but other than that they could not give two hoots about it. The only people that seem to care are the ‘old’ people but they are dying out and as they do, no one is taking their place – because people are better informed.

    I see these debates now as the death throes of the Church of England, failing attendances (apart from a few exceptions) – failing public respect for its leaders and politics. It is unfashionable, anti-social and mocked – in England I would go as far as to say it is un polite to mention religious faith in public. Which is music to my ears.

    My only fear is that it leaves a void in which Islam and other fanatical religious beliefs can festoon and foster.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — January 28, 2010 @ 10:53 am | Reply

  2. You raise a really good point: what may appear to be an innocuous exemption for one of the more liberal churches in law can be the precedent needed for a much more militant and intolerant religious group to claim equal legal exemption and get it from the secular government who wishes to avoid the legitimate charge of intolerance aimed at one specific group.

    People need to remember two points: the first is to always remind one’s self that rights and freedoms belong to individuals first and foremost and that we individually lose these rights and freedoms when they are assigned improperly to groups, and the second is that the worthiness of whatever specific group at which the special dispensation has been aimed is not what’s at issue; it is the dispensation to exempt from equal application of the law on religious grounds that must always be challenged. If these points are forgotten and exemptions are allowed on the basis of group membership, then – as you write – the door will have been opened for the loss of equality between individuals under the banner of religious tolerance… the opposite intention of the bill.

    Comment by tildeb — January 28, 2010 @ 1:36 pm | Reply

  3. […] have commented on this Pope’s meddling in secular law and public policy before (see here, here, and here). And I use the word ‘meddling’ quite on purpose to counter the lie commonly […]

    Pingback by Why is it a criminal act to support Britain’s Equality bill? « Questionable Motives — February 2, 2010 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

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