Friday, July 11, 2008

A victory for religious liberty over Labour's equality agenda

In a rare victory for the ‘religious bigots’ against the enlightened, reasonable and progressive homosexualists, Miss Lillian Ladele, a Christian registrar from Islington, has won her case against Islington Council who bullied and threatened with dismissal because of her refusal to conduct civil partnership ceremonies for homosexuals. After 16 years of loyal and excellent service, she was duly dismissed, and so took Islington Council to court on the grounds of religious discrimination.

In its unanimous judgment, the employment tribunal found that was directly discriminated against by Islington Council after she asked to be allowed not to perform civil partnership registrations. The ruling said that Islington council ‘placed a greater value on the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community than it placed on the rights of Ms Ladele as one holding an orthodox Christian belief’.

This is a highly significant victory for religious liberty which has considerable implications for other individuals who find themselves in similar positions. The law now recognises that gay rights should not automatically trump religious rights. Although the case sets no binding legal precedent, it will oblige employers to give serious consideration to the religious views of employees.

The Christian Institute writes: ‘The tribunal confirmed that the various acts of direct discrimination committed against Miss Ladele by Islington Council on the grounds of her religious belief included: failing to consider her for promotion; deciding to discipline her and threatening her with dismissal; concluding she had committed gross misconduct; failing to redress allegations that she was ‘homophobic’ and labelling and treating her as homophobic; disregarding her concerns about her treatment; and failing to apply its anti-discrimination policies to homosexual colleagues who were mistreating her. The tribunal also accepted that Islington Council had been able to deliver a ‘first-class’ service to homosexual couples seeking civil partnerships, without Miss Ladele’s involvement. Therefore, the Council’s decision to require Miss Ladele to perform civil partnership registrations, contrary to her conscience, was an unlawful act of indirect religious discrimination.’

This is a commonsense decision. Freedom of religious conscience must be protected in law as it has been for centuries.

But Cranmer is a little puzzled.

If public servants, who are paid by taxpayers to deliver public services, are able to pick and choose to whom they deliver those services, why are the Roman Catholic adoption agencies, also in receipt of public funds, not similarly able to exercise discrimination on the grounds of their orthodox Christian belief?

Or is it simply that most of them simply caved in like cowards before any cases were brought to court?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to see someone standing up for their beliefs.
An example to the invertebrate clergy!

11 July 2008 at 13:15  
Blogger Alfred the Ordinary said...

Good to see an individual standing up bravely.
A thought. Does this now give the right for Islamic council workers to refuse to serve Dhimmis because of their religious views?

11 July 2008 at 14:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sets a very dangerous precedent , how will Cramner feel when the Muslin checkout operator refuses to sell him alchohol, or their Jewish counterpart wont handle bacon?
What of the Lady who has won her case, having decided that she will live up to the Biblical ideal concerning homosexuals will she be living the rest of her life according to strict biblical strictures. I�m not sure off the top of my head the New Testament requires by way of Religious and Ritual observance, but if she�s going to live by the rules of the Old Testament, get a head scarf on now for starters.

11 July 2008 at 14:37  
Anonymous wrinkled weasel said...

I probably helped that she was Black and a Woman.

Take heart that the liberal aetheist left will ultimately eat themselves because soomer or later, all the minorities they love and adore will fight each other.

Sit back and watch the fun.

11 July 2008 at 15:28  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

disagree anon 14:37 it was the law that set the dangerous precident .

i take it you are a libertarian ??
if so do you not believe that i am free to do what my faith says i should ??

i think your grace, they havent quite worked out what is a service (that can be regulated) and what is belief (that can only be challenged)

11 July 2008 at 15:29  
Anonymous Stonemason said...

Jobrag 14:37

Muslin ? ......... a type of finely-woven cotton fabric , introduced to Europe from the Middle East in the 17th century . Its first recorded use in England was in 1670.

Do you mean Muslim, .......... a Qur'an wielding "person", often though not always from the Middle East, occasionally called "rag head" because of the headdress worn. Cannot understand other faith's because it is not allowed, Mohamed said so. Doesn't like dogs either, filthy creatures, though they don't spit in the street, dogs that is.

11 July 2008 at 15:31  
Anonymous Matthew Barker said...

This woman refused to do HER JOB. It does not matter whether this was due to religious belief, laziness, or an irrational fear that performing a civil parternership would cause bananas to fall out the sky in large numbers.

If She does not want to do her job in full, she has no right to have it.

11 July 2008 at 16:02  
Anonymous WalterBoswell said...

Was she working for a private enterprise? - no. Then do the job assigned to you and serve the people who pay your wages or leave and ket someone else do it.

11 July 2008 at 16:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11 July 2008 at 17:18  
Anonymous WalterBoswell said...

Osama, is that you? Saw you kid on the news the other day. Chip of the old block eh?

11 July 2008 at 17:46  
Anonymous Stonemason said...

Is anonymous 17:18 shouting at everyone, not cricket my old chum.

I seem to remember the words "render unto ...", taxes or laws its much the same, you cannot have it both ways anon.

Personally I see it much as a "conscientious objector" during times of conscription, eventually we agreed that there are personal issues that should be taken into account, a persons faith is one, the other point is the council applied a law retrospectively to conditions of employment, badly done I think.

The tribunal has the rights of it.

11 July 2008 at 18:10  
Blogger Cranmer said...

This woman refused to do HER JOB

Mr Barker,

She had been an employee for 16 years and the conditions of her employment then changed. Do you really believe employees should have no protection in such circumstances?

11 July 2008 at 18:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11 July 2008 at 18:31  
Anonymous Gerry O'B said...

Nurses and doctors in the health service are permitted to refuse to participate in any procedure involving abortion if they object to abortion on religious or moral grounds. The court is simply granting the same protection to this registrar.

11 July 2008 at 18:34  
Anonymous Jen erik said...

To use Augustine's example, if a pacifist took a job as a captain of a fishing boat, and subsequently the owners mounted nuclear missiles on it - would he then have a case for refusing to sail? Because in his mind the job he took on is morally different from the job he's being asked to do.

So, if she was originally employed to marry only different-sex couples, and then the rules changed, does she have the right to say - I'll do the job you employed me to do, I'll fulfil the terms of my original contract - but I can't take on these new, additional responsibilities because of my faith?

11 July 2008 at 18:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If standing up for your beliefs is"not cricket"then its no cricket for me,
time a few radical christians blew the cobwebs of the old boys network!
Perhaps you have nothing worth standing for?

11 July 2008 at 18:39  
Anonymous Andrew Lilico said...

Your grace,

Whilst I am fully in support of the principle that religious freedom must be protected, I am a but mystified by certain aspects of this case. What conflict or even tension would there be between conducting a civil partnership ceremony for homosexuals and orthodox Christian belief? And if there would be such conflict or tension, how would that differ from the conflict or tension between orthodox Christian belief and the conducting of civil registration ceremonies for remarried divorcees or for marrying adulterers - which presumably this lady must have conducted many times?

11 July 2008 at 18:42  
Anonymous Stonemason said...


You see your Faith in a battle with the viperous inhabitants of the council chambers in Islington, I think you have become hypertensive where there is little reason.

The radical christian methinks might use this valuable precedent to light a bonfire, excuse the reminder your grace, under the feet of the refuseniks of the church, spineless has been used hereabouts.

But maybe there were fiscal opportunities discussed in secret by the party or parties involved, suspicious I am at times.

11 July 2008 at 18:53  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Dr Lilico,

Marriage is not an exclusively Judeo-Christian institution; it is a union observed in all cultures, and ‘seems to exist by nature’, as Aristotle observed.

The question as to whether homosexuality is ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ arises because nature is perceived to have a prescriptive, normative force, such that what is deemed ‘natural’ is necessarily good and therefore ought to be. But everything that falls outside the ‘normal’ boundary is construed to be unnatural and abnormal, which may constitute sufficient reason for homosexuality not to be.

Paul spoke of acts which are 'para physin' (against nature), which no marriage of man and woman would be.

Scholars differ, however, on the enduring hermeneutical significance of Paul’s argument that homosexual acts are ‘contrary to nature’. The main riposte is that Paul’s words are not applicable to persons of homosexual orientation, but apply to heterosexual people unnaturally ‘exchanging’ hetero¬sexual relations for homosexual ones. Thus 'para physin' means ‘contrary to their nature’, with the sense of ‘unusual, or different from what would occur in the normal order of things’.

The 'against nature' argument does, however, explain the difference between the scenarios you posit.

11 July 2008 at 18:58  
Blogger Chantelle said...

This is surely a legacy issue - if your duties change, and now contradict your moral/religous code, you have every right to object. If you are a new employee, you have to be happy with the job description, before you accept the job. So anyone who works for a supermarket has no right to refuse to sell alcohol fags etc, as this was part of their role when they accepted the job offer.

11 July 2008 at 19:47  
Anonymous edward tattysyrup said...

What does entering into a civil partnership say about what civil partners get up to in bed, which is presumably what our heroine objects to? Nothing per se...

There is little sex after marriage. Why should civil partnerships be different?

11 July 2008 at 20:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11 July 2008 at 20:47  
Anonymous Rebel Saint said...

There is also the not insignificant matter of her treatment after raising her objections. The "tolerance bigots" basically bullied, maligned, and harassed her in a way that they would never have allowed for any other minority group.

It is a shame that it is just on this issue that she felt she ought to make a conscientious objection. I would have thought that falsifying the birth certificates of those who've undergone sex changes was equally as objectionable.

11 July 2008 at 22:42  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

Lets hope the tide is turning and that being forced to agree with something you totaly disagree with has ended.

11 July 2008 at 23:10  
Anonymous Andrew Lilico said...

Your Grace,

I need no convincing of the conflict between homosexual practice and Christian belief - that much seems straightforward. But I can't see how your argument excuses the registrar in the case in which she oversees a civil marriage of adulterers. Whether "natural" or not, a remarriage of adulterers is clearly contrary to Christian doctrine. Yet presumably this lady has overseen many such ceremonies. Why did she not refuse, if there could be conflict between a civil ceremony and Christian practice?

Next, I'm not convinced that, even if we thought ordinacy crucial (which I do not), your ordinacy argument would get us any further than believing that homosexual acts, and by extension homosexual union, would be wrong. But that is not the same thing as saying that the state should not permit them. And even further removed from the idea that a state functionary ought not to participate in such a union. It may be wrong to gamble, for example, but are you suggesting that a Christian magistrate, considering a repossession order on someone that has gambling debts, should refuse to issue such an order on the grounds that gambling is wrong? Smoking might be wrong, but would you think that a policeman should not attend a robbery at a tobacconists?

I don't see what your case is, here, really, I'm afraid.


12 July 2008 at 01:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you know Christopher Glamorganshire? What's the latest?

12 July 2008 at 02:01  
Anonymous Daniel said...

Mr Barker,

She had been an employee for 16 years and the conditions of her employment then changed. Do you really believe employees should have no protection in such circumstances?

That is a terribly weak argument. People's jobs change all the time; if they don't like it, they leave. There were no changes to terms and conditions, one would imagine, there wouldn't have been any need to.

Sorry, but yet again, this is outright bigotry on the behalf of the religious. And not even consistent bigotry at that - as Mr Lilico points out - why has she not been refusing to marry people who have committed adultery, or people who have stolen, disrespected their parents or coveted their neighbours brand new car for example - all acts condemned in the Bible?

Answer - because, as usual, Christians pick and chose which bits of scripture suit them, when it suits them - and then play that up to suit their own religio-political agendas.

I should, however, point out, that I would not in anyway support the bullying or harassment of this lady - but if you can't do the job you are being paid for, as required by the law, it's time to move on.

Hopefully, this madness of a decision will be reversed on appeal by Islington Council. I keep my fingers crossed.

12 July 2008 at 04:28  
OpenID yokel said...

@ Anonymous / Jobrag 11 July 2008 14:37 who said... This sets a very dangerous precedent , how will Cramner feel when the Muslin checkout operator refuses to sell him alchohol, or their Jewish counterpart wont handle bacon?

Bring it on. This Nation has self censored for far too long. We have given up many of our ways in order to accommodate the stranger within our gates, and the stranger has made no reciprocal accommodation. Instead they have merely asked for more subservience. This applies not only to the Muslims, but also all the other recipients of the Left's Political Correctness largess. The time has now come when we the silent majority must stand our ground.

12 July 2008 at 09:17  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Dr Lilico,

The Christian is not bound by Law, but by grace. If the NT establishes anything, it is that the individual's conscience is to be guided by the Holy Spirit, and its outworking is to be examined in the light of Scripture and Church tradition. The third pillar is, of course, the application of reason.

The Church of England ‘affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better or worse, till death do them part, of one man with one woman’. This has its basis in the OT, where YHWH says: ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’ (Gen 2:18). It continues: ‘for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh’ (v24). Although these verses do not purport to define marriage, they do describe its origin, and are therefore crucial for understanding the Bible’s teaching on marriage, which is both heterosexual and monogamous.

There is a clear ethical issue in how best to apply millennia-old biblical teachings to modern society. On the one hand, there is a danger of making the biblical teaching irrelevant by emphasising the change in and uniqueness of contemporary society, and on the other, the danger of insisting that the OT or NT speaks to every circumstance, ignoring or refusing to acknowledge societal change. When the NT speaks of marriage, it is in very different social circumstances with very different consequences from anything that we in our day will meet. Therefore to apply a prohibition to our world would be a misunderstanding, for it was intended for a significantly different setting. If the passing of two thousand years is sufficient justification for re-visiting the teaching and seeking modification, it is a hollow victory to get rid of the problem of time, if in its place we have a problem of change which is every bit as insurmountable.

Instead of framing laws, Jesus stated principles, and made them so few and broad that no-one could overlook them. The Church should view the NT not as case laws, but as paradigms of how to apply the gospel to our own day. The ‘principles’ view is very attractive in modern life. Who would not want to support a cohabiting couple with children, simply because they are ‘not married’? What pastor can in good conscience recommend prioritising marriage when a couple are struggling to feed their children? But by permitting cohabitation in all circumstances, the tendency is to look for other reasons to allow it. The principal caution is against falling into a morass of subjectivity, to which this debate readily lends itself.

12 July 2008 at 11:42  
Anonymous Gerry O'B said...

Sam Leith in today's Telegraph:

It is easy to feel sorry for Miss Ladele. She finds herself in the position of a devout apprentice at a halal butchers which, under new management, starts up a thriving sideline in pork charcuterie. She signed up, in good faith, for a job that involved marrying men to women.

Rather than throw her toys from the pram when her job description changed, she attempted to come to an accommodation. For 15 months, she swapped shifts with colleagues to avoid presiding over civil partnerships for gay couples.

It sounds to me as if Islington council could have been more delicate in its dealings with her, and perhaps have found a compromise. I am well prepared to believe that Miss Ladele's life was not much fun as she was presented with a choice between her faith and her job.

But Islington received formal complaints about her refusals. And regardless of her personal convictions, the job of a registrar does now involve presiding over civil ceremonies for gay couples.

So you can well see why the council, which needs to make the best use of the tax money contributed by residents of all sexual and religious stripes, was exasperated by having a registrar on full pay who refused to do part of her job.

Miss Ladele is not simply in the position of a private citizen who, since 1950, has had a sign in the window of her boarding house saying "No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish", and then falls foul of liberal legislation. She is, as a registrar, a representative of the British state.

In 1967, that state took the decision that it was no longer any of its business what two adult men or two adult women do with their private parts in the privacy of their own home. In the past couple of years, and not before time, it took the decision that devoted homosexual couples were entitled to the same legal status that married heterosexuals enjoy.

There is a problem there, of course. In some ways, the introduction of civil partnerships for gay couples - since their tax breaks and privileges are extended exclusively to couples in a sexual or at least romantic relationship - can be argued to be retrograde: it makes what we do with our private parts, once again, the business of the state.

But that is no more than a debating point. Nobody sensible wants or expects the institution of marriage to be disestablished - and as long as it exists and is recognised by the town hall, and as long as gay people pay the same taxes as the rest of us, there is no case for making it the exclusive preserve of heterosexuals.

And, it's worth remembering, the change in the law to establish civil partnerships did not presume on the prerogatives of religion. If your faith forbids you to see man and man joined in matrimony, you're under no obligation to marry them in your church.

But, equally, your church has no right to presume on secular rights and privileges extended to those two men by the commonwealth in which you have an equal share. This is a case of rendering unto God what is God's, and unto Islington council what is Islington council's.

That is why I am uneasy about the tribunal's complaint that Islington council "took no notice of the rights of Miss Ladele by virtue of her orthodox Christian beliefs".

The suggestion seems to be that rights in law are conferred on her "by virtue" of her Christianity - that a special protection should be extended to her prejudice because it is superstitious in character.

That's rubbish, and pernicious rubbish. Bigotry is bigotry, whether or not it hides behind the skirts of the Almighty.

If I decide that I won't have black people in my house because I think they smell, that is no more or less admirable - and deserves no more or less protection in civil law - than refusing to register a homosexual union because I think God disapproves.

This nonsense lies behind the cant notion that religious belief should be "respected". It should not. It should be tolerated. You're entitled to believe whatever you damn well like about the disposition of the universe.

But you should not expect a pat on the head because the conclusion you reach is religious in character. This exact understanding of the term "respect" is what gives us the political party of that name - and the respect it extends to illiberal clerics under the flag of anti-imperialism.

So, as much as your sympathy goes out to Miss Ladele, it is worth bearing in mind that there are some much uglier and nastier people - with similar feelings about the relationship between church and state - who will look on the finding of this tribunal with a smile.

12 July 2008 at 12:12  
Anonymous Jenny said...

Chantelle said...
This is surely a legacy issue - if your duties change, and now contradict your moral/religous code, you have every right to object. If you are a new employee, you have to be happy with the job description, before you accept the job. So anyone who works for a supermarket has no right to refuse to sell alcohol fags etc, as this was part of their role when they accepted the job offer.

There have been other comments which were along these lines too, notably Daniel's last post. But this isn't true! The law protects minority workers (disabled, those holding a religious belief, or racially different from the indiginous population) even BEFORE they are appointed. The law requires that any job advertised does not unfairly discriminate against them either directly or indirectly. Therefore it is not possible for the NHS, for instance, to demand that anyone commencing work now must take part in abortions. Prospective employers have been fined for asking for 'energetic' people to apply, since this is indirect discrimination against older workers (what they really mean is they want a young person, but they haven't said so). You would be able to say that the candidate must be able to climb stairs, if for instance you wanted a home help for an elderly person in a house, because this would be necessary to the job. It's fair to discriminate against a wheelchair user in this instance, since they would never be suitable for the job even if reasonable adjustments were made. But as the ET pointed out in this case, what Islington Council failed to do was make the reasonable adjustment of letting this lady conduct the celebrations of heterosexual couples and leave their presumably adequate staffing cover to pick up the ones her religion said she couldn't do.

It is not just a question of allowing this lady to keep the job she had when she started; the law is so weak on that point. If she were the only person employed to conduct ceremonies the law would allow Islington Council, should she have objected to performing same-sex partnership ceremonies, to sack and re-hire her (usually done in reality by putting them on four-weeks' notice of the change in contract) under the new terms and conditions. She could refuse only by resigning, and Islington Council would've won in the ET because they would be able to say they were required by law to offer the service and they had no other method of delivering it except through her. I forget the exact wording but essentially employers can change your contract in this manner if they can show that it was necessary in order to continue to operate.

In an organisation the size of Islington Council, there will be many workers whose jobs have required adjustment in order to enable them to carry out their duties, and it should be no different for Christian workers.

12 July 2008 at 12:17  
Anonymous Jenny said...

I forgot to say, that Muslim and Jewish workers do already refuse in many cases to serve alcohol (in the case of Muslims) or pork in supermarkets and so long as they say so politely and without pulling faces or making a fuss, then this is fine with me. Even if they go home and walk the dog.

12 July 2008 at 12:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Miss Ladele had worked for a bank that started a “Pink Pound” department to target services at gay couples, and she refused to work for that department, how many people who support her now would still support her? That is in essence what has happened Miss Ledele refuses to supervise CIVIL proceedings between gay couples, has anyone asked her to bless the happy couple NO, do the proceedings over which she presides have any religious content NO. If you support her stand because you think that homosexuals are second class citizens who shouldn’t have any kind of recognition in our society at least be honest about your motives.

12 July 2008 at 14:45  
Anonymous Jenny said...


Me. Although the situation is not exactly on a par, since it doesn't necessarily ask the worker to sell services which promote the relationship, unless they were selling mortgages.

No, she was not asked to bless gay couples, but she was asked to confer on them a special status that recognised their relationship (not the individuals; they are not second-class citizens) as being acceptable to her, which as a Christian, is against her conscience. There probably are some people who think that homosexuals are second-class citizens, but this is not what Miss Ladele said or implied. As a registrar, it would have been Miss Ladele's job formally to announce that the partnership has taken place, and it is only this which she could not countenance. There is no suggestion that she was bullying or harrassing or discriminating against homosexual colleagues, in fact, it was quite the reverse.

12 July 2008 at 15:10  
Anonymous Daniel said...

but she was asked to confer on them a special status that recognised their relationship (not the individuals; they are not second-class citizens) as being acceptable to her

No. She wasn't. She was asked to confer on them a status to their relationship that was acceptable IN LAW TO THE STATE. Ms Ladele's feelings on the matter are her own. She was not being asked to consecrate the marriage in the eyes of God, in fact quite the opposite - since we are specifically forbidden from entering into such a relationship - this is entirely the secular equivalent, and she should be carrying out her SECULAR duty.

What this tribunal has done in fact is confer a special status on her superstition; one that says it ranks higher in authority than that of the state and her employer - and in doing so, it has shown this woman up for the bigot she is.

In a civilised, secular society this ruling is a disgrace - she is not a minister of the church, her conscience in these matters should not even be entering into the debate.

Just when Gay people start, finally, to receive some acceptance and dare one say it, love, from society we get kicked in the teeth by superstitious demagogues again.

It is the religion of hate doing what it does best, controlling peoples lives like it has been for the last 2000 years - when are you people going to wake up and smell the coffee; and when are we going to be treated like Human Beings rather than political footballs to be sacrificed on the alter of religious expediency and bigotry.

Roll on the appeal.

12 July 2008 at 15:24  
Anonymous oiznop said...

"In a civilised, secular society..."

Which happens to be Christian by law, with a Head of State who is Head of the Established Church, with prayers which open parliamentary proceedings, bishops in the legislature.

It's NOT secular. It might be in character, but it's NOT by law.

12 July 2008 at 15:39  
Anonymous Daniel said...

Which happens to be Christian by law, with a Head of State who is Head of the Established Church, with prayers which open parliamentary proceedings, bishops in the legislature.

It's NOT secular. It might be in character, but it's NOT by law

Yes, and mores the pity.

The sooner we boot out the Queen and associated hangers-on, disestablish the Church (and stop giving it taxpayer subisidy) and kick the Bishops, bigots and so-called "noblemen" out of the House of Lords - the better and more civilised we'll be.

There is no rationale for having an unelected second chamber other than making sure the proles "us" are kept away from the levers of power.

The so-called democratic systems in this Country are an anachronism in the 21st Century and do nothing but entrench power in the wealthy and the already influential.

12 July 2008 at 17:25  
Anonymous Fran said...


I hear what you and others are saying about the duty of state employees to administer the law. It's true that Ms Ladele wasn't asked to administer a blessing in God's name on homosexual couples, and if this were the only issue, then I'd be inclined to agree that she should do her job or move on.

But it's clear from your and other comments - including those written by Sam Leith in the Telegraph article - that this was not the only or even the main issue.

The words 'superstition', 'homophobia' and 'bigotry' were used to characterise Ms Ladele's position. This demonstrates that the real target is not Ms Ladele's attitude towards homosexual sex (for it is an action to which she objects, not a person) but her faith. Because you do not share her faith you dismiss her views as superstition and smear her as a bigot. It is apparently inconceivable to you that someone could, with integrity, take a different view to your own.

Thus you identify yourself with the growing band of self appointed thought police who insist they are entitled to tell the rest of us what and how we should think.

Is this really your intention?

12 July 2008 at 20:59  
Anonymous Daniel said...

Thus you identify yourself with the growing band of self appointed thought police who insist they are entitled to tell the rest of us what and how we should think

Damn straight.

Believing that certain individuals are sinners because they don't share your legal, non-harmful sexual proclivities is bigotry. No more. No less. Lets' not dress it up here.

I presume Ms Ladele thinks I shall go to hell, to be tortured for all eternity at the hand of the Devil because of an accidental combination of biology and circumstances. Do you, Fran? Do you think I should suffer for all eternity because I cannot help who I fall in love with? Do you think I should live a life of isolation, fear and self-loathing because I cannot help who I am - any more than you can help whether you are right or left handed. Do you think it is right that I should not be afforded the civilities of my fellow citizens?

I can see why it came to pass in the sociologies of ancient societies, I can see why some would see it as important to prevent Humans doing what they had been doing long before Jesus Christ's time - but that does not make it any more right or relevant today.

Why should I be told (in the precedent that this judgement sets) that my life is worth less than that of anyone elses? That's what it amounts to - a public servant can pass judgement on me, and though her post is funded by the taxes I pay - she will not treat me as an equal, regardless of how she feels.

This whole "thought police" thing is such a curveball. There are no greater thought police in the world than the religious. You must behave like this, like that, this is a sin, that's a sin - Oh, but this not, because we decided it's not. Come on!

Indeed there is no greater thought Police(wo)man than the idea of the Judeo-Christian God. This is something that monitors everything we do/say/feel at every moment of our lives - and this is after insisting that we are all born sinners because we are human and that we can only be "saved" through Him.

If I said to you that God had appeared to me and told me that I must not talk to people with Ginger hair, would you deny this as a truth - would you respect my right to this belief, would you fight for my right not to "serve" Ginger people in my job? Why would my truth revealed to me, but of any less relevance, nay sanctity, than that which was written down after St Paul.

You Fran, are like me, an Atheist. I take it you do not believe in Thor or Hercules or Zeus? Why is the mythology of one God, to be taken as any more the truth than the mythologies of tens if not hundreds of Gods that have gone before Him - and if it should be the case, why should I, someone who does not share those beliefs be persecuted by someone who does?

12 July 2008 at 22:17  
Anonymous Fran said...


"Believing that certain individuals are sinners because they don't share your legal, non-harmful sexual proclivities is bigotry. "

No. It's not. It's a different world view to the one which you choose to hold. Refusing to acknowledge that another can, in integrity, hold a different world view to your own, is bigotry.

"This whole "thought police" thing is such a curveball. There are no greater thought police in the world than the religious."

Really? It seems to me that atheists are the experts in legislating against refuseniks. China, the Soviet Union, Albania, Cambodia - to name but a few. Orwell was not lampooning religion when he invented the term 'thought police'.

Your presentation of Christians is a product of your imagination, far from the rich, diverse, infuriating but fruitful reality with whom we in the Church actually engage.

And yes, I am a Christian - one who disagrees with another Christian on the question of civil partnerships for homosexual people. Perhaps that could provide a starting point for your review of what living as a follower of Jesus might mean.

12 July 2008 at 23:44  
Anonymous Daniel said...

Fran, the fact that you can't address a single one of the questions put to you speaks volumes.

You have no answers for me, yet you profess that God is on your side - come on Fran, answer me - shall I go to Hell? Shall I be condemned by this servant of God, through an accident of biology and circumstance?

13 July 2008 at 00:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This fascinating mess is an utterly predictible/predicted consequence of High Moral Tone's cynical and misnamed 'Racial and Religious hatred Act' 2006 [cynical because it was intended as a sop to Muslims who resented being 'targeted' under HMT's various anti-terror legislation and misnamed because it does not deal with racial hatred at all].

Just how far are the faithful to be allowed to claim a modern lay equivalent of 'Benefit of Clergy'?
What would be the position of a Registrar who claimed that his/her faith condemned 'miscegenation'? (His Grace's communicants will, of course, recall that all three of the South African Dutch Reformed Churches, at various times, claimed biblical/theological justification for racial segregation.)

More generally the precept of rendering unto Caesar etc. is becoming fraught: it is already acceptable for employees to dictate to their employers precisely what part of their jobs they deign to carry out and which parts they will avoid; we seem to have now reached the point where civil servants may refuse to allow some members of the tax paying public services to which they are legally entitled. Logically the next stage would be to withold a portion of one's taxes on the grounds that it is unconscionable for, say, gay men to be treated for vd.

von Hayek

13 July 2008 at 00:50  
Anonymous Daniel said...

No. It's not. It's a different world view to the one which you choose to hold. Refusing to acknowledge that another can, in integrity, hold a different world view to your own, is bigotry

Just one more thing. If you're right, then God created me. Then why did He make it so people hate me? Why am I (God's creation) so wrong? Why should you all be so against me living a complete and happy life?

13 July 2008 at 01:03  
Anonymous David said...

An utterly stupid verdict and symbolic of the way that fundamentalists want to shove their pie-in-the-sky beliefs down everyone's throats and continually demand 'exemptions' and 'exceptions' from anything that seems like hard work.

If the woman in this case didn't like her job, she should leave.

And let us be clear, if ever there is a conflict between the rights of gay people and the rights of the 'religious', then the rights of gay people should win out every time. This is because...

1) Sexuality is not a choice, but religion is.
2) There is not a shred of evidence anywhere that God exists anyway.

A belief in God should be treated in legal terms as on par with a belief in Santa Claus since there's about an equal amount of evidence for both.

A sad day as so-called 'religious rights' squeeze the liberty of others because of the way they were born.

Still, hopefully it will anger people enough to quicken the move to separate Church and State.

13 July 2008 at 05:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenny said

As a registrar, it would have been Miss Ladele's job formally to announce that the partnership has taken place, and it is only this which she could not countenance.

Presumably as a registrar Miss Ladele has announced that divorcees and non Christians, who would not be allowed to marry in her church, have been joined in partnership. Why could she do her job for these people but baulked when it came to gays?

13 July 2008 at 05:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Cranmer, you've flushed out the militant shirt-lifters this time.

13 July 2008 at 09:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No anonymous, not shirt lifters, but people who believe that the Christian church is generally a force for good in society and don't want to see it damaged by bigots justifying their small mindedness behind a veil of faith.

13 July 2008 at 13:14  
Anonymous Daniel said...

Well, Cranmer, you've flushed out the militant shirt-lifters this time

Well, we can see the mindset here can't we? I am militant because I dare to challenge the views of Christians and ask for equal treatment under the Law.

As for shirt-lifters, that's the language of the 1970s and shows you up for what you are - a bigot.

Still waiting for Fran's answers by the way.....if you're reading this, Fran - do tell me about my damnation under your "loving" God, I'm fascinated....Cat got your tongue?

13 July 2008 at 13:31  
Anonymous Using 1970s language and therefore evidently a bigot said...

"Shirt-lifters". People engaging in unnatural practices should keep quiet about it and not force other people to notice them.

13 July 2008 at 13:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^ What like Christians who believe in fairytale Gods you mean? That's not natural - they should be sanctioned under the Mental Health Act.

I completely agree that those who are weak and require some unfounded belief in something that doesn't exist should stay quiet and not bother the rest of us.

13 July 2008 at 15:11  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

It may help to cool the temperature if I say that many of those whose understanding of sin includes homosexual practice would no doubt accept that they and many others will be standing on the crowded side when the sheep are separated from the goats, at which point, the only hope any of will have is divine grace.

All too often people demand justice when what most of need is mercy

13 July 2008 at 15:25  
Anonymous Andrew Lilico said...

Though some contributions here are becoming a little over-wrought, it does seem to me that Daniel asks a fair-enough question which is too rarely addressed, and so I shall have a go. Here is his question:

>Do you think I should suffer for all eternity because I cannot help who I fall in love with? Do you think I should live a life of isolation, fear and self-loathing because I cannot help who I am - any more than you can help whether you are right or left handed.<

The Christian answer is two-fold, one part of which he clearly already knows. That first part is that Christianity does *not* say that being attracted to members of the same sex is sinful. (There are those that suggest that the fact that some people have such experiences/tendencies is the consequence of the presence of Sin in the world - a point of view with which I disagree - but Christianity does *not* take the view that being attracted to "the wrong" person is sinful, any more than it is sinful to be tempted in any other way.)

This much Daniels knows, and is unsatisfied by as a response, as indicated by the second part of his question: "Do you think I should live a life of isolation, fear and self-loathing because I cannot help who I am". Daniel does not think it acceptable for Christians to say that it is not wrong for Daniel to want to have sex with a particular man, but it is/would be wrong for him to actually have sex with that man.

On this point, Christianity is clear: Christianity forbids us from having sex with all sorts of people we might want to have sex with, and that applies to those of heterosexual as well as homosexual inclination. For example, you might become infatuated with your friend's wife. And if you were to continue in that infatuation and not seek a way to move on, then indeed Christianity would restrict you to "a life of isolation, fear and self-loathing". You aren't allowed to have sex with her. That's that. Christianity is like that. It isn't overwhelmingly interested in our feelings or inclinations. We have all kinds of inappropriate desires - I personally am inclined towards laziness, greed, avarice, over-consumption of alcohol, and many other things. If all I did were to resist or suppress my desires, then indeed my life might be one of "isolation, fear and self-loathing".

But Christianity also equips us, through the saving work of the Cross and the power of the Holy Spirit, to overcome those desires that might lead us into sin. Expressed in more commonsense terms, it would also be also plain daft to dwell on things we can't have. If you want to have sex with your friend's wife, you would be well-advised to avoid thinking about her, perhaps well-advised to avoid contact with her altogether (depending on circumstance).

Similarly for those Christian men that desire their friend's husbands. There are all sorts of methods developed through the millenia to help. These things may or may not be necessary. Some of us may find that we find members of the same sex attractive on occasion, but find it presents no particular problem to get past. I don't think we should assume that homosexual inclinations need "treating", any more than we should assume that someone who didn't like beef or was very afraid of spiders would need "treating".

Our non-standard inclinations are only a problem if they are a problem. Usually, they aren't, and there is no need at all to think that the only alternative to indulging our desires to wrong actions is "a life of isolation, fear and self-loathing".

13 July 2008 at 16:07  
Anonymous Andrew Lilico said...

Your Grace@11:42

I agree with you that it is a great mistake to think that Christian belief must "move with the times", and I agree that homosexual practice (including homosexual union) in incompatible with Christian belief and that cohabitation is (at least) problematic to fit with Christianity.

But I still lack answers to my questions about the judge honouring the gambler's contract or the policeman protecting the tobacconist's property rights. Would you think it plausibly incompatible with Christian belief for a judge to honour a gambling contract or a policeman to protect a tobacconist's (or perhaps we should have a purveyor of pornography's) stock? I don't yet see what difference you believe there is between these cases and that of the civil registrar.

13 July 2008 at 16:16  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Dr Lilico,

In neither of the examples you give are there thousands of years of human experience, divine revelation or church tradition.

The judge would not be honouring the gambling contract, but enforcing the gambler to honour his debts: that is obliging him to bear the consequences of his actions. By protecting the tobacco, the policeman is not condoning smoking, but respecting ownership and property rights. Neither of these compares to the perceived corrupting of an institution which Christians (and others) believe to have been instituted by God for mutual support and the begetting of children.

The difference has already been explained: the requirements of the job changed. If the Christian policeman found himself twenty years hence being forced to protect a house in which 8 and 10-year-old children were engaged in prostituion (the state having legalised brothels and lowered the age of consent), he (or, more likely, she) may well request a conscience opt-out, viewing the practice as state-sponsored paedophilia.

Is not such an opt-out what Christian doctors have over abortion? Are you suggesting that doctors who find abortion abhorrent should be obliged to provide the 'service' simply because the state has decreed it to be permissible?

The issue is one of individual conscience. There may be some Christian registrars who have no problem with performing such ceremonies, but the state must permit 'space' for those whose conscience believes it to be leading people into sin and causing their brother to stumble.

13 July 2008 at 16:34  
Anonymous Andrew Lilico said...

Your Grace,

Oh, I agree that religious conscience should be protected. And I also agree that space should be made, even in the case of public positions, for the exercise of religious conscience. My only doubt was whether this is really a case of *Christian* conscience. I think it would clearly *not* be a Christian point of view to think that remarrying adulterers was okay but conducting a civil partnership ceremony for homosexuals was wrong. I don't believe that Christianity offers any singling out of homosexual sex for opprobrium - homosexual practice is merely forbidden because all sex outside of lifelong covenant partnership between one man and one woman is forbidden. And I don't think that Christians emphasize this point enough.

13 July 2008 at 16:54  
Blogger Cranmer said...

It is a case for Lillian Ladele's conscience, and that, according to 1 Corinthians 8, renders it a permissible objection.

His Grace is now puzzled that you concede that Christian doctors must have space not to perform abortions, despite being employees of the state, while Christian registrars may not have space to not perform what are, to all intents and purposes, 'gay marriages'.

13 July 2008 at 17:34  
Anonymous Andrew Lilico said...

Your Grace,

Youd food sacrified to idols argument is a good one, and I think represents an answer to one of my original questions. What it says is that, even if there is no intrinsic problem with a Christian presiding over a homosexual civil union (my contention), it might be that we should refrain from doing so if *that* would make it seem as if Christians thought that homosexual civil unions are good and hence encourage waverers into becoming practicing homosexuals.

And don't get me wrong. I have not, at any point, suggested that Ms Ladele's conscience should not be respected. All I have suggested is that *if* a Christian believes that presiding over a homosexual civil union is intrinsically wrong (or improper for food-sacrificed-to-idols reasons), and hence wishes to invoke conscience to avoid presiding over such a ceremony, that Christian should *also* refuse to preside over remarriage of adulterers (or indeed most other cases of remarriage). Otherwise it is not Christian conscience that is being invoked - a Christian must object to all these things - but mere prejudice against homosexuals (which a Christian should not endorse). The sins of homosexuals are not more scarlet than those of anyone else - to suggest anything else is to have long-since departed from Christian orthodoxy.

13 July 2008 at 18:40  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Except if that conscience is more disturbed by Paul's 'para physin' reasoning. It is not necessarily 'bigotry' to find a union of adulterers natural and one of homosexuals unnatural.

The issue is one of holiness, as Mary Douglas expounded in her enlightening work 'Purity and Danger'.

13 July 2008 at 18:47  
Anonymous Daniel said...

Except if that conscience is more disturbed by Paul's 'para physin' reasoning. It is not necessarily 'bigotry' to find a union of adulterers natural and one of homosexuals unnatural

Holy crap! Adultery is one of Decalogue is not. Homosexuality isn't!! Why would one, in following Christian Scripture, find one less acceptable than the other? I'm at an absolute loss on that one.

It seems to me that in Your Grace's reasoning we arrived right back at picking and choosing which bits of the scripture you follow and which you don't.

I think I'd have considerably more respect for Christians if they just came right out and said it "homosexuality disgusts me"

OK. Fine. I won't try to change your mind. Just let's not dress it up in the morality of the Bible, because the reasoning for doing so has been clearly demonstrated here to be abject nonsense.

13 July 2008 at 19:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Just let's not dress it up in the morality of the Bible."
St Paul is pretty clear on the subject, and his writings were in the Bible the last time I looked.

13 July 2008 at 23:08  
Anonymous Fran said...


You ask the impossible of me: questions about your personal eternal future are the province of the Almighty, who alone is entitled to pronounce upon such matters. Any Christian who presumes to do so commits the sin of passing judgement upon another person.

Christians are commanded only to love their neighbours as themselves - even if that neighbour perceives them as an enemy and treats them as such. So the only response I can give is that of the writer of Genesis, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25

You talk about being hated - although I'm not entirely clear from your posts why that should be. I'm sorry to hear it though, and would be sorrier still if the hatred had come from Christians.

But noone, neither you nor homosexual people nor any other group, can claim a monopoly on being hated - as His Grace's post about Egyptian Coptic Christians demonstrates all too clearly.

Apparently we both know what it is to be hated. So let's be good to each other.

13 July 2008 at 23:18  

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