Posts Tagged ‘Law Moral Ethical’

David Cameron wants Churches to be allowed to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies.

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Christian Concern have sent out an email alert entitled:

GOVERNMENT TO INTRODUCE ‘EQUAL CIVIL MARRIAGE’ BILL NEXT WEEK

They go on to say:

The Government is expected to announce legislation for ‘Equal Civil Marriage’ next week. It will also publish results of its recent ‘Consultation’ on the issue. It is unlikely that there will be any formal debate on the Bill until the New Year.

There is increasing speculation that the Conservatives want to fast track legislation for same-sex ‘marriage’ in light of the growing opposition to the plans amongst the public and Conservative MPs and so as to bury the issue well before the 2015 General Election campaign.

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Given the fear of some is that these ceremonies will be legally foisted on Churches regardless of their stance on the issue, it’s no surprise to find these ‘assurances’ from David Cameron on the BBC website:

“I’m a massive supporter of marriage and I don’t want gay people to be excluded from a great institution.

“But let me be absolutely 100% clear: if there is any church or any synagogue or any mosque that doesn’t want to have a gay marriage it will not, absolutely must not, be forced to hold it.

“That is absolutely clear in the legislation.

“Also let me make clear, this is a free vote for Members of Parliament, but personally I will be supporting it.”

Will this promise hold out? This is the crux.

I hope Frank Cranmer over on the Law and Religion blog will forgive me for replicating his comments on this very issue:

The Government is presumably relying on the judgment in Schalk and Kopf v Austria 30141/04 [2010] ECHR 218 (16 February 2010): that Article 12 enshrines the traditional concept of marriage as being between a man and a woman and that, even though some states parties have extended marriage to same-sex partners, same-sex marriage as a concept does not flow from an interpretation of the fundamental right to marry as laid down in the Convention in 1950 (para 38).

But what happens where a state has conceded same-sex marriage in some circumstances but not in others? Does the principle in Schalk and Kopf still hold true? Adam Wagner suggests on UKHRB that if equal marriage were to be enacted without provision for marriage on religious premises, that law would be seriously vulnerable to challenge under the domestic equalities legislation or at Strasbourg.

And he may well be right. But perhaps we had better stop speculating and wait to see the actual legislation…

And Frank Cranmer is correct, all we can do at this stage is wait and see.

For a long time there have been religious organisations pushing to allow registering civil partnerships within their places of worship (is this allowed now) and so it is no surprise that some of these same groups would wish to celebrate gay-marriage.

Of course, Traditional Christians will be horrified at such things happening; however, if traditional Christians want freedom to proclaim that homosexual activity is wrong, and to exclude practising homosexuals from their membership, then they should be willing to allow freedom to religious bodies which think otherwise.

UPDATE:

Church of England responds to PM’s same sex marriage statement

Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement on same sex marriage today, the Church of England issued the following statement.

It is important to be clear that insistence on the traditional understanding of marriage is not knee-jerk resistance to change but is based on a conviction that the consequences of change will not be beneficial for society as a whole. Our concern is for the way the meaning of marriage will change for everyone, gay or straight, if the proposals are enacted. Because we believe that the inherited understanding of marriage contributes a vast amount to the common good, our defence of that understanding is motivated by a concern for the good of all in society.

The proposition that same-sex relationships can embody crucial social virtues is not in dispute. To that extent, the Prime Minister’s claim that he supports same-sex marriage from conservative principles is readily understandable.  However, the uniqueness of marriage is that it embodies the underlying, objective, distinctiveness of men and women. This distinctiveness and complementarity are seen most explicitly in the biological union of man and woman which potentially brings to the relationship the fruitfulness of procreation.

To remove from the definition of marriage this essential complementarity is to lose any social institution in which sexual difference is explicitly acknowledged. To argue that this is of no social value is to assert that men and women are simply interchangeable individuals. To change the nature of marriage for everyone will be divisive and deliver no obvious legal gains given the rights already conferred by civil partnerships.

We believe that redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships will entail a dilution in the meaning of marriage for everyone by excluding the fundamental complementarity of men and women from the social and legal definition of marriage.

Given the absence of any manifesto commitment for these proposals – and the absence of any commitment in the most recent Queen’s speech – there will need to be an overwhelming mandate from the consultation to move forward with these proposals and make them a legislative priority.

We welcome the fact that in his statement the Prime Minister has signalled he is abandoning the Government’s earlier intention to distinguish between civil and religious marriage.  We look forward to studying the Government’s detailed response to the consultation next week and to examining the safeguards it is proposing to give to Churches.

A few good links

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

A Reluctant Sinner - By setting up a Twitter account the Pope is like a general leading from the front — The virtual world is a battleground

Independent (Owen Jones) - Tragic deaths that demand a better response than I witnessed

Bishop Nick Baines – Cutting Edge

Seattle Times - Russia wrestles with hysteria over end-of-the-world prophecy

BRIN - Faith of the Faithless

Fr Stephen Smuts -An Archdiocese of the Internet?

Law and Religion UK - Opinion polls on assisted dying

Thomas Creedy - Postmodernism, Evangelism, Apologetics and the Future of the Church

The biblical World - Evangelism in a Globalized World: 1 Thess 1:4-8

The Emotionally Sensitive Person - Looking at Loneliness: Survey Results

A few good links

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

The Biblical World - Keep the Chi in Xmas

Opinionated Vicar - Mental Health double standards – new findings

Turning the Page - 14 Reasons why Angels would make terrible Mental Health Workers

Law and Religion UK - Church responds to Assisted Dying Bill Consultation

Rachel held Evans - 5 Things You Don’t Have to Leave Behind When You Leave Fundamentalism

Accepting Abundance - What is The Soul?

Experimental Theology - The Holiness of Pain

A few good links

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

First up two posts on Prisons Week: GodandPolitics and Opinionated Vicar

Accepting Abundance - Explaining Reason: Atheism or Christianity?

Everyday Theology - Inflatable People: The Holy Spirit and Creation

Terry Mattingly – Commandments for believers who blog

ReligionDispatches - Denzel’s Profane Preaching: A Religious Movie for the Rest of Us

Beyond Blue - What Doesn’t Kill You … Well, It Still Really Sucks

What’s Wrong With The World - Drunk with reverence

A hearty congratulations to Mental Health Cop

Adrian Smith v Trafford Housing Trust

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

I haven’t been online for a few days so forgive me for being behind the curve on this one.

Back in October last year Trafford Housing Trust demoted Adrian Smith and slashed his salary for comments made on his private Facebook page – in his own time – stating gay weddings in churches were “an equality too far”.

Adrian Smith has rightly won his legal case against Trafford Housing Trust.

Law and Religion UK have some useful case notes and Harry’s Place have published Peter Tatchell’s comments:

“This a victory for free speech and fair play. Although Adrian Smith opposed religious same-sex marriages, he supported the right of gay couples to get married in a civil ceremony in a register office. He is entitled to his view and should never have been demoted. I am glad that my statement in support of Adrian was used in his legal case and that he has been vindicated,”

A few good links

Monday, November 12th, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

Ekklesia - People’s Review of the Work Capability Assessment (#realWCA) published

Law and Religion UK - Religion and Law Weekly – 12th November

The Preachers’ Blog - On the offensive: Burning poppies and the threshold of offence

Borrowed Light - The Googlization of Bible Study

Bad Catholic - Infinite Love

Black, white and Gray - “I can’t believe I did that”: The Role of Shame in Happiness

Tribunal dismisses Catholic Care appeal and are prohibited from discriminating against gay couples in adoption services

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

For the last five years Catholic Care has been seeking exemption from equality laws which would force it to provide adoption services to gay couples.

Catholic Care sought exclusion from the 2007 sexual orientation regulations and began legal action to change its constitution so it could continue helping married couples only. The Charity Commission refused to give consent to this, and today we have the outcome of the fourth appeal against the Charity Commission decision.

An Upper Tribunal has upheld a ruling by a lower tribunal, which ruled against Catholic Care and in favour of the Charity Commission earlier this year.

Put simply, once again Catholic Care’s appeal against the Charity Commission has been rejected; therefore, they are prohibited from discriminating against gay couples in their adoption services.

You can access the full judgement here.

I don’t have the knowledge to know if there is any further legal recourse available for Catholic Care. It’s hard to imagine them fighting on, but I thought that before.

UPDATE: The Religion and Law blog and Digital Nun have both commented on this case.

UPDATE II: UK Human Rights blog have now posted analysis.

UPDATE III: Law and Religion UK Blog have commented – They mention the possibility of the Court of Appeal.

A few good links

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

UK Human Rights Blog – The thorny issue of religious belief and discrimination law (again)

Christian Post – More Brits Believe in Aliens Than in God, Survey Claims

The Spectator – Can you trust a Christian?

The Depressed Moose – The Case For Social Media

Christian medical Comment – The real meaning of the tarot – ‘the Wheel of Fortune’

Herescope – CA$H COW$ & FAT CAT$: The Cult of Evangelical Leadership, Part 2

Law and Religion UK – Religion and Law – Continuing threads

Christian Swiss B&B owner Susanne Wilkinson ordered to pay £3600 damages to gay couple

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

On a Friday evening back in March 2010 Swiss B&B owner Susanne Wilkinson turned away a gay couple as it was “against her convictions” for two men to share a bed.

Michael Black and John Morgan reported the matter to Thames Valley Police.

At the time Mrs Wilkinson argued that as the property was a guest house as well as a private residence – as opposed to a hotel – she had every right to turn the couple away.

The human rights organisation Liberty acting on behalf of the couple argued that as the B&B provided services to the public, it was unlawful to discriminate against a person on the grounds of that person’s sexual orientation.

A judge today has agreed with Liberty and ruled against Mrs Wilkinson ordering her to pay £3600 damages on the grounds of hurt feelings in accordance with equality laws.

The Christian Institute defended Mrs Wilkinson and today their spokesman Mike Judge is still arguing the private residence angle:

Yes, Mrs Wilkinson’s B&B is a business, but it’s also a family home. The law should be more flexible in allowing people to live according to their own values under their own roof.

A couple of points are worth noting.

I remember at the time folk raising the question of whether Mrs Wilkinson also refused unmarried heterosexual couples. Well according to Christian Today:

The judge accepted the sincerity of her Christian beliefs and that she had also refused to allow unmarried heterosexual couples from sharing a double bed.

It’s also worth noting that Mrs Wilkinson claims to have been besieged with abuse:

[Mrs Wilkinson] asked for police protection after the story was first covered by the media, due to a string of death threats. ‘We had thousands of pieces of hate mail and very abusive phone calls. I had a hand-delivered letter put through the door saying that my house would be burned down,’ she recalled.

‘I had to call the police. They were very concerned and patrolled the lane we live on for five months and checked on us regularly.’

The judge has given Mrs Wilkinson leave to appeal and so we’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, I’m sure there will be legal analysis and implications etc posted online, and if I see anything interesting I’ll update here with links.

Mehdi Hasan: Being Pro-Life Doesn’t Make Me Any Less Of A Lefty

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

I’m not a huge fan of Mehdi Hasan (Political Director Huffington Post) but his article on abortion today almost elicited a round of applause from me.

Listening to fellow pundits on the left react with rage and disbelief to the support by the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, for halving the abortion time limit to 12 weeks, I was reminded of the late Christopher Hitchens. “[A]nyone who has ever seen a sonogram or has spent even an hour with a textbook on embryology knows that emotions are not the deciding factor [in abortions],” wrote the Hitch in his column for the Nation magazine in April 1989. “In order to terminate a pregnancy, you have to still a heartbeat, switch off a developing brain . . . break some bones and rupture some organs.”

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