European Commission 'lobbied Parliament’ to pass Equality Bill
Now Mark Harper MP has accused the European Commission of lobbying Parliament on the run-up to this week’s vote. An amendment had been proposed to the Equality Bill by Labour MP David Drew which would have protected the religious liberty of churches and would have safeguarded the right of religious organisations to restrict the appointment of key staff to people whose conduct is consistent with their historic traditions and interpretation of Scripture.
The amendment was defeated by 314 votes to 170.
Mr Harper quoted the European Commission as saying: “We welcome the proposed Equality Bill and hope that it will come into force quickly.”
He observed: “The European Commission has no business telling the Parliament of the United Kingdom whether we should pass legislation.”
Mr Harper appears not to understand the political implications and legal obligations of our membership of the EU: it is most certainly the business of the European Commission to tell the Parliament of the United Kingdom what legislation it may or may not pass. The Treaty of Lisbon is quite clear: European Union law is superior to and takes precedence over all forms of national law, national authorities are required not only to observe all forms of European Union law; they must also implement and give effect to them in the respective Member States.
But Cranmer is just a tad puzzled now with regard to which church positions may be restricted to those whose ‘private conduct’ is consistent with the Bible’s teaching on sexual ethics. Presently, leadership positions may be reserved for the purposes of ‘organised religion’, which includes jobs like that of a youth worker.
But under the Equality Bill the Government is specifying that exemptions can only be made for posts which mainly involve leading worship or explaining doctrine. The Bill’s explanatory notes make it clear that this protection ‘is unlikely to permit a requirement that a church youth worker who primarily organises sporting activities is celibate if they are gay, but may apply if the youth worker mainly teaches Bible classes’.
In what church does the youth worker primarily organise sporting activities?
Cranmer is all for healthy bodies, but churches are by definition primarily concerned with theological enlightenment and spiritual development.
A church that is not is not a church. It could not even be termed an ecclesial community.
How can a church determine if its youth workers are celibate if they are gay, or if they are gay at all? Certainly, after the declaration of Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, Roman Catholic gay youth workers may be particularly keen to emphasise their sporting prowess.
But why, if the equality exemption may apply to the youth worker who teaches Bible classes, did the Bishop of Hereford lose the discrimination case brought against him by a gay youth worker?
The law is no longer an ass; it is a rainbow.