Friday, July 11, 2008

Daily Mail Heaven: Christians:1 Homos: 0

Much rejoicing in Daily Mail-Land today over the Christian Registrar who has been backed by a tribunal after 'refusing to marry gays'.

She even had her photo on the Mail front page. She isn't white but, my dear Mail readers, you can't have everything and you have to clutch at straws when we're all going to hell in a handcart.
Not that anyone was forcing this woman to marry 'a gay' herself. Nor even to 'marry' gays to each other since the Government assured us that a Civil Partnership was not a 'marriage', the churches having declared a monopoly on that concept.
She was simply being asked to officiate at a secular, legal ceremony as part of her duties as a Registrar.

When I worked in the public sector I once had to tell a member of staff who held religiously-based anti-gay prejudices that they were perfectly entitled to hold such views but that, between the hours of 9 and 5, they had to put them on one side, adhere to the organisation's policies and be non-discriminatory in their dealings with the general public.
It's part of the impartiality and professionalism of being a public servant.
Similarly, when you work in local government you have to have good working relationships with politicians from political parties you detest. Personally, I never found that a problem. And if I had refused to take phone calls from Tory politicians I would have been out the door before you could say P45.

The decision on the Registrar sets a worrying precedent. People working in the public sector have many dealings with gay people, both individually and with some notional 'gay community'. Some councils have gay and lesbian panels or forums which their officers may be required to attend to explain and discuss policies that impinge on gay people. The same is true of local health authorities.
Are employees to be entitled to opt out of such engagement on religious grounds?

At the heart of this is the assertion, obviously accepted by the tribunal, that religious belief is in a different category from any other deeply held belief and should enjoy unique privileges that are recognised by law.
I can see no justification for this.

Let's consider a non-religious deeply-held belief. If you are a vegetarian, don't go and work in a butcher's shop. Simple.
But it may be that the Registrar was already in post before Civil Partnerships were introduced and was faced with a change of circumstances that she couldn't accept.
So let's continue the analogy.
You are a vegetarian working in a vegetarian restaurant. The restaurant is sold and turned into a steak house. The new owner agrees to retain existing staff. You say you will happily cook and serve vegetables but you won't cook or serve meat. The owner says that's impractical and suggests you move to another job.
Is this unfair? A disregard for your beliefs?
I think most people would say: tough shit. Life's a bitch. Move on. Get over it.

In the case of the Registrar, the issue isn't actually that she's a Christian. It's that she's a particular type of Christian. For there are many Christians who accept gay partnerships.
So is the law to give exemptions to every arcane, minority belief within a religion? There's a prohibition in the Old Testament on wearing clothes of mixed fibres. I don't know whether any Christians adhere to that but if they do could an employee of Marks and Spencer take them to a tribunal for making them selling a cotton/polyester garment?
We don't actually need to create hypothetical examples. We've already had the case of Muslims in supermarkets refusing to sell or handle alcohol. But then some Imams said they were mistaken and that they were only prohibited from drinking it. So the general lunacy is only compounded by the level of disagreement within the different religions.

Meanwhile, nobody is at all concerned at the extent to which the non-religious have religion rammed down their throats. Think of all the kids in 'faith schools' whose parents pretended to be religious to get them admission. Or, that old bugbear of secularists, Thought For The Day on the Today programme, which has sometimes included offensive anti-gay rants.

Coverage of the General Synod and the forthcoming Lambeth Conference is out of all proportion to its interest to most of the population.
But I must admit that I enjoyed the report from the former that, when the vote went in favour of women Bishops, young male ordinands in the gallery sat and wept.
Oh, how I laughed!
I'd pay good money to see footage of those little twats crying into their cassocks. I wonder if it's on YouTube?


At 7:23 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Did I hear someone say they were glad that religious beliefs were being treated equally with gay beliefs? Or did I dream that tosh this morning?

At 7:48 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

geoff: I think you probably did hear such tosh.
See my most recent post (Sunday).


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