EU forces Government to put gay equality over Christian conscience
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination (Lev 18:22).
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them (Lev 20:13).
The New Testament says:
Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor 6:9f).
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another (Rom 1:24).
The Qur’an says:
Lut: he said to his people: "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? "For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds" (7:80-81).
Of all the creatures in the world will ye approach males. And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay ye are a people transgressing all limits!" (26:165-166)
Please note, this is not a post about the divergences between Hasidic/Orthodox/Haredi/Masorti and Reform/Reconstructionist Judiasm; or between Orthodox/Protestant/Roman Catholic and Liberal Christianity, or between Sunni/Shi’a and Sufi Islam. And Cranmer is fully aware of the hermeneutic complexities, exegetical difficulties and the debates over the Sitz im Leben of all of these passages. Sexual ethics is not the point.
It is a post about national sovereignty.
Whatever one’s interpretation of the above scriptures, the European Commission has just subordinated the Christian conscience of the United Kingdom to the Divine Right of Europa, religious conviction to the infallible proclamation of secular orthodoxy.
Perhaps it was only a matter of time.
The spirit of Factortame is alive and well as once again Her Majesty’s Government is forced to amend a sovereign Act of Parliament in order that it might conform to a higher-sovereign EU directive.
There are now so many sovereigns that it is difficult to find the head that wears the crown.
Readers and communicants will recall that Labour’s Equality legislation granted religious groups certain exemptions when it came to employing homosexuals ‘so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion's followers’. Some agreed, some disagreed. The majority view prevailed: that is democracy.
But the EU has decreed that such exemptions are incompatible with their directive prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of a person's sexual orientation. The Guardian informs us: ‘The ruling follows a complaint from the National Secular Society, which argued that the opt-outs went further than was permitted under the directive and had created "illegal discrimination against homosexuals".’
Again, Cranmer has no argument with the National Secular Society in expressing its view: in a liberal democracy they have every right to argue their case in the public sphere. But to read that the Commission have heeded the ‘reasoned opinion’ of its lawyers that the view of the NSS may be imposed upon the professing Christian majority is of immense concern. The Government have been told: ‘exceptions to the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for religious employers are broader than that permitted by the directive’.
So sort it.
It is interesting to note that The Guardian then talks of ‘a furore among church groups’ and how this is preferable to the ‘backlash from the commission’.
The furore among church groups will be as nothing compared to the furore among mosque groups, but (of course) The Guardian does not want to go there.
The ‘significant victory for gay equality’ and the ‘serious setback for religious employers’ may be of little consequence or a cause of no concern among many supine church groups, but there are other rather more convicted religious adherents for whom a ‘backlash from the commission’ is of no consequence at all.
Peter Tatchell may be right (again) that this intervention by the European Commission is ‘a big embarrassment for the British government, which has consistently sought to appease religious homophobes by granting them opt-outs from key equality laws. The European commission has ruled these opt-outs are excessive’.
But this is not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing over the rights and wrongs of sexual ethics. It is an ‘embarrassment for the British government’ because it is manifestly no longer sovereign: there is a higher moral power. Even this hyper-cautious, equality-obsessed, anti-Christian Labour Government could not legislate sufficiently in the realm of equality to satisfy the rabidly-secular beast in Brussels.
As the NSS director Keith Porteous-Wood observed: “Now the government must demonstrate its commitment to equality, rather than continuing to jump to the church's tune."
Equality is the new religious orthodoxy. Its god is Europa; its creed is the rights of man.
It is no longer possible for religious groups to preach their beliefs or to sustain a distinct identity. By legislating to protect and promote the rights of particular groups, the Government is faced with the delicate but important challenge of not thereby creating the conditions within which others feel their rights have been ignored or sacrificed, or in which the dictates of personal conscience are put at risk.
The rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well meaning.