Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sir James Munby - High Priest of Secularism


Sir James Munby, Head of the Family Division of the High Court of Justice in England and Wales, is a self-regarding, pompous, publicity-seeking pillock.

That is not His Grace's assessment, but that of His Honour Sir Nicholas Mostyn, barrister, judge and keen farmer, who famously named his pigs after Munby following a legal procedural dispute.

But it is a judgment with which His Grace wholeheartedly concurs. For Sir James Munby has delivered a speech in which he asserts that the law of this country is secular, and that Christianity no longer informs its morality or values. In this multicultural, multi-faith, relativist, pluralist state, only secularism can deliver justice that is neutral - i.e., only that which is secular can be truly just. And so out go 4000 years of the social history and religious tradition that defined Judaeo-Christian jurisprudence and developed notions of morality, and in comes the mumbling Munby's mundane reasoning of the supremacy of "secular neutrality".

It is not the task of judges "to weigh one religion against another", he pontificates, for "the court recognises no religious distinctions". And, apparently, "Christian clerics have, by and large, moderated their claims to speak as the defining voices of morality and of the law of marriage and the family".

"Happily for us," Munby avers, "the days are past when the business of judges was the enforcement of morals or religious beliefs."

Except, of course, when it comes to enforcing the state orthodoxy of equality and the inviolable beliefs of secularity. In this new theology, there is no theos: human rights are sacred writ, and salvation is found in the veneration of secularism. Therein lies the true source of freedom and justice.

Except, of course, it is no freedom at all; indeed, it becomes a manifest oppression to Christians seeking to live their lives in spirit and in truth. What are the foundations of British notions of virtue and morality if they are not Christian? What is the basis of English law if not Christian? The influence of the Church in the courts may have declined, but it has not "disappeared". And it is bizarre that Munby posits that the antithesis of the secular state is theocracy: 26 bishops in the House of Lords and a Monarch who is Supreme Governor of the State Church can hardly be compared to the infallible fatwas pronounced by Iran's ayatollahs.

It is interesting that Munby designate himself and his colleagues "secular judges", since he swore an oath "by Almighty God that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth...and I will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill will."

Setting aside that it is a strange secularist that swears by Almighty God: it is of more immediate concern that Munby swore allegiance to the Queen, whose Coronation Oath demands the maintenance of the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law.

Perhaps Munby might remind himself that the XXXIX Articles of Religion as found in the Book of Common Prayer still constitute the law of the land. And Article 37 is quite clear:
The King's Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other his Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign Jurisdiction.
This has not been repealed and so still forms part of the British Constitution through the Act of Settlement 1701 and the Act of Union 1707. The clergy of the Church of England are still required to acknowledge that the Articles are ‘agreeable to the Word of God’ (Canon C15 of the Declaration of Assent). And clergy are also obliged by law to baptise, marry and bury. And as Church courts are courts of the Realm, and Measures of the General Synod have the effect and status of Acts of Parliament, Munby appears to be completely ignorant of the fact that the Constitution remains fundamentally Christian. 


But his speech follows the judgment of Lord Justice Laws a few years ago, who, sweeping aside the centuries-old Anglican Settlement and the constitutional position of the Queen (not to mention manifesting scant comprehension of the Christian faith), determined: ‘The precepts of any one religion - any belief system - cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other.’

Empowered by EU Enlightenment, these judges are becoming judicial activists in their aggressive secularism. The Christian faith is intricately bound with the constitutional and legal basis of British society. Our values, virtues and notions of morality stem from a Judaeo-Christian foundation. It is not for the Judiciary to declare the relationship dead.

It is ironic indeed that we are winding back the clock on the 1689 Act of Toleration and 1829 Roman Catholic Relief Act, and moving toward the reintroduction of a religious bar to holding office. Christian magistrates, registrars, paediatricians, GPs, teachers, nurses and foster parents are finding it increasingly difficult to manifest their faith without risk of disciplinary action, dismissal or prosecution for offending the ascendant secular religion.

Freedom of religion is now universally subordinate to the rights of minorities: laws protecting people from discrimination must take precedence over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds.

And now we have a Royal Charter which amounts to state regulation of the press. Politicians and lawyers have conspired to nullify our ancient and hard-won liberties: we are no longer free.


Happy Reformation Day.

138 Comments:

Blogger Martin said...

What we have is not the freedom of the law from religious influence but the submission of the law to the religion of self, Atheism so-called.

What we have called Political Correctness is being imposed by law and woe betide any who differ from the opinions of the judges.

What will happen is that the harassment of Christians will increase with the result that some will be imprisoned for their faith. Doubtless the claim will be that they are imprisoned for breaking the law, not their faith. Such was the claim of dissenters in the past.

31 October 2013 at 08:26  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Thank you Your Grace for an excellent clear and insightful article.

EU derived law is destroying our freedoms and our traditions. Daily the leaders of the three parties deceive our people by pretending that they are in charge, and still have powers that have been handed over to Brussels.
More obfuscation will pour out as we approach the Euro elections next year, and on it goes. Pompous judges they may be, but they are merely trying to make sense of the mess of the British Constitution, created by self serving career politicians who care not a bit for the true needs of the people.

As one educated initially, in Physical Geography and Geology, I liken our constitution to geological layers with the recent new layers, flowing from the Treaties by which successive British PM's gave away our independence, flowing over, like an outpouring of foreign hot burning, destructive lava, both the ancient underlying freedoms won by the British people and the reasonable accommodations that we hospitably granted one another to create a tolerant society. Gradually the old layers are being subsumed and forgotten below newer, more visible layers, lying on top.
When I ask, will the majority of the people see, through the cloud of deception, to grasp the outline of the ugly truth ?

Only UKIP tells it as it truly is. Vote, donate and assist them, I urge all those who value this country.

31 October 2013 at 08:36  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness! Sir Abraham Haphazard has crossed swords with this Munby creature several times in the High Court - most notably in the case of Regina v Absolute Twats. Sir Abraham represented the Crown, naturally. He was not impressed by a lawyer who buries his Marxist principles under a wig in order to swear allegiance to a Christian monarch just to get a job. Sadly, Sir James's broad behind will grace the judicial bench for some years to come. It is up to the rest of us to ensure there are several sharp splinters there to snag him where it hurts.

31 October 2013 at 09:07  
Blogger Belsay Bugle said...

Munby is not at all unusual in the modern juduciary. In fact he is pretty much representative of it, having been stuffed with just his type over the last two decades.

For many decades Christianity has had very little to do with family law (an exquisite oxymoron), which has been secularly based for a long time - certainly since the Children Act in 1989, and arguably long before that, with divorce reform.

It is not only the influence of EU law that has caused this, but the onward march of marxism which got a foothold after the last war.

It's a long time since the ecclesiastical courts were abolished.

31 October 2013 at 10:17  
Blogger David B said...

Can we have some particular examples of how people are not religiously free?

There are some I can think of - no-one is entitled to go out and kill witches regardless of Biblical instructions that they should so so.

But are there examples where religious people are not free to believe as they wish, and to practice their beliefs within the constraints of what is sensible to be legal?

My view is that there remains far too much religious privilege, excepting people from laws that non-believers have to observe on, let us face it, superstitious grounds.

Killing animals destined for food by cruel rituals, for instance.

The problem as I see it is not too many constraints on religious freedom, but too much religious privilege.

Let us see an end to religious freedom from sensible laws that the non-religious or differently religious have to adhere to.

David

31 October 2013 at 10:53  
Blogger Jane McQueen said...

He is right, and we should actually go further towards total secularisation of the UK. We should erect a wall of separation between religion and the state. As if you look at the religious make up of the UK from places like the British Social Attitude Survey or the polls carried out by Yougov and alike, then you will see that those without a religion are the largest group in the UK.


So why should what is, a minority ideology (christianity) be forced on the majority of the population who do not subscribe to such a way of life? Why should i be bound by your book of stories when i consider it nothing than an old book of stories no different to the writtings of the brothers Grimm or alike.


However, i shall make a deal with you all. You can have your christian theocracy that you all lust after on one condition. That is that you can prove beyond all reasonable doubt with sufficiently testable evidence that 1) your god actually exists & 2) that he actually does believe everything written in the bible.


Until then maybe take some advice from your own book shall we say Romans 14:22 and keep your religious views between you and your "god".

31 October 2013 at 10:59  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack would never dare to call an important judge "a self-regarding, pompous, publicity-seeking pillock." If he did he would be thrown in prison! Once, when he was cross, Jack called a magistrate a prat (he was too) and spent an hour in a cell before being forced to say sorry.

Happy Jack tries to steer clear of the law of the land these days although from time to time this is not possible and he just smiles at the policeman.

Happy Jack wishes everyone a happy October 31st and asks them to remember:

"And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace."

31 October 2013 at 11:07  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness, Ms. McQueen, such vitriol and so early in the day...but why should I, as an endangered minority, be bound by your book of Common Purpose and Political Correctness when I despise every Ingsoc participle of it? I shall make a deal with you: you can have the secular, socialist utopia that you lust after on one condition: That is that you can prove beyond all reasonable doubt that (1) Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were decent secular humanitarians who were in no way responsible for mass murder and (2) secularism is not the first step towards totalitarianism.

31 October 2013 at 11:14  
Blogger bluedog said...

David B @ 10.53 says, 'But are there examples where religious people are not free to believe as they wish, and to practice their beliefs within the constraints of what is sensible to be legal?'

Setting aside the necessity for a simple translation of the closing phrase ('what is sensible to be legal', Good Lord, what does he mean?), do you not remember the BnB owners who were harassed for not wanting homosexuals co-habiting in
their BnB? Or the black couple who could not adopt because their Christian faith was perceived as evidence of their homophobia?

As His Grace says, everything is now subordinate to a certain definition of equality. Multiculturalism has killed the right to freedom of speech. The criminal code has become politicised and so many 'crimes' are now nothing more than the thoughts and actions of those of us who hold views that were once regarded as orthodox.

31 October 2013 at 11:16  
Blogger seanrobsville said...

The learned judge is expostulating through his nether orifice. Secularism is doomed.

Sharia will soon be the law of the land; Rowan Williams himself (pbuh) has said so.

31 October 2013 at 11:16  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

In any case, it is not the C of E (or indeed any of the Christian churches) that wishes to enforce a theocracy on the people of these islands - that is the grand design of the Mohammedans, and I notice you are most careful not to include them in your assault on belief...I can but wonder why?

31 October 2013 at 11:21  
Blogger Jane McQueen said...

Ahh ic Mrs Proudie of Barchester, that argument well then in that case if all secularists will go on to carry out mass murder because some did. Then i want all christians in prison for the protection of children as a lot of christian priests and other people have sexually abused children so thus by using your own logic all christians must be a danger to children and we should lock them up. Now maybe you wish to go turn yourself in at the local police station.


But if you want to look at a secular nation that does not commit mass murder maybe we can look at say France, any of the Scandinavian nations, Canada, Australia, New Zealand there are rather a lot.


So having a secular nation does not mean people are sent to death camps, just like not every christian wants to bugger an alter boy. Drawing on such infantile logic just makes you look a bit of a fool.


Oh and by the way i am not a socialist, i am center right conservative so a socialist state would in my books be as bad as your theocratic state.

31 October 2013 at 11:22  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack read what Jane McQueen wrote and she is very upset and angry about something and this makes Jack sad for her. He says to her: don't be so silly, if someone could prove God existed there would be no need for faith. She should also think about what her life would be like if Christians had not changed things.

Anyways, forgot to mention, if you see a person busking today or asking for help, remember the old saying:

"As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs."

(That was Jack's little joke for today cos he's a silly Fugger)

Off out now to see what's occurring.

31 October 2013 at 11:28  
Blogger Jane McQueen said...

I shall tell you why i have not brought up Islam Mrs Proudie of Barchester, because this is a discussion about a post by a christian complaining about how he perceives christians are being treated. Now to critique islam in such a situation would be going off-topic and would be akin to me asking you "why are you not challenging people on the dangers of eating under cooked pork?"


I have in the past, i will in the future critique islam and all the other sky fairy cults because they are all equally as bad as each other. They all preach "love and tolerance" but yet all have a list of people they don't like and who should be shunned from society.


If you wish to have such a discussion about the problems all religions bring to society, then i am more than happy to have one with you. But prehapse such a discussion is not best placed on this particular one.

31 October 2013 at 11:36  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

Jane.

Please don't take this the wrong way, but your argument contains all of the ignorance, blunt stupidity, venom and intolerance of your cause. You are a drone, a foot-soldier in the service of something loathsomely unpleasant and dangerous.

Start thinking for yourself; actually study the thing you so gleefully criticise and stop regurgitating the fashionable ideas of other people (even if by doing so you are duped into believing yourself considerably smarter than you are).

Have a nice day.

31 October 2013 at 11:44  
Blogger bluedog said...

Jane MacQueen @ 11.22 says, 'But if you want to look at a secular nation that does not commit mass murder maybe we can look at say France, any of the Scandinavian nations, Canada, Australia, New Zealand there are rather a lot.'

You left out the United States. Any particular reason?

In addition, you may find some disagreement on the part of indigenous populations in Australia, Canada and New Zealand with regard to an absence of mass-murder.

31 October 2013 at 11:45  
Blogger John Wrake said...

Y G,

You have hit on the kernel of the matter.

Judge Mumby is a liar, for he has broken his oath of loyalty to the Queen, on which his office rests. In that, he joins himself to large numbers of those holding office in this country, from the Prime Minister and the Privy Council downwards.

It is no wonder that he claims that this is a secular nation, for it is the only justification he can muster for his actions and opinion. Were he to recognise the Christian foundation of our society and our law, he would demonstrate how far he has strayed from the truth.

It is no co-incidence that the New Testament describes Satan as "the father of lies". Being a judge, he should be aware of the importance of paternity.

We need to demand that officers of the state return to the rule of law, and that includes judges. Common Law demands that we do not deceive our neighbour and every liar is breaking that law, whoever he or she is.

John Wrake

31 October 2013 at 11:50  
Blogger David B said...

@Bluedog, who said -

" Good Lord, what does he mean?), do you not remember the BnB owners who were harassed for not wanting homosexuals co-habiting in
their BnB? Or the black couple who could not adopt because their Christian faith was perceived as evidence of their homophobia?"

I don't recall the latter case, but I do remember the former one.

I, for one, do not wish to go back to the days when people with properties to let, or proprietors of businesses, could have signs with 'No Blacks or Irish' on them.

AFAICS 'No homosexuals' is equally the sort of discrimination that people running businesses should not be able to apply in the course of running their businesses.

It is not persecution of Christians, though, since a Hindu or an atheist running a business who wished to exclude people on grounds of race or sexual orientation is equally bound by the law.

Now you may think it bad law, you may wish to campaign against it - fair enough, though I think you would be mistaken to do so.

But I think it would be rather silly to claim that it is anti-Christian law when in fact it applies to people independently of their religious views - and quite right too.

It is when people are excepted, because of religious privilege, from having to obey laws that the population in general have to abide by that I object.

And, as I implicitly said in my former post, that in my view should apply to religion in general, not just Christianity.

David

31 October 2013 at 11:55  
Blogger Span Ows said...

Jane MacQueen, just as Jane has a capital letter so does Christian and Christians; once could be considered a typo but I note up to 10 times or more you constantly write it with a lower case c, such intentional pettiness belittles any little point you may have. The point of separation of Church and State has already occurred; what is happening now is a very good and proven fair and just set of Judeo-Christian systems being pulled apart and replaced with flawed, unfair state-heavy Napoleonic EU jurisprudence and the like. Your obvious hatred of Christianity is your own business but don't try to make out we have the Church running things so we much quash any and everything to do with it.

31 October 2013 at 11:58  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Jane McQueen

How bracing to feel the cold dead spirit of Nietzsche sweep across the board. Perhaps you could expand upon the reasonableness for us of the will to power. We have so much to learn.

carl

31 October 2013 at 11:59  
Blogger Jane McQueen said...

Oh @bluedog we can look at the US is you like, shall we start with the mass genocide of the indigenous people by the christian settlers, that killed over 90% of the native Americans? Arguably the worst genocide in the history of humanity, carried out by christians. Is that a good starting point? Or maybe we could talk about the fact that in several states of the USA you have to be a christian to hold political office of any sort. Or the religious rights campaign to deny basic human rights to minority groups, notably LGBT people and women.

31 October 2013 at 12:10  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear Jane, a fool I may be, but I don't go in for ad hominems...so I shall wear your insult with pride.

31 October 2013 at 12:18  
Blogger Len said...

How ironic that the secularists want to impose their 'religion'(yes 'humanistic secularism' IS a faith based religion) on all and sundry but but also want to deny Christians their religion.
This is the path to a dictatorship.

Hitler rose to power through a democratic system but once in power abolished that selfsame democratic system.

Is this the way we are going?.

31 October 2013 at 12:22  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

As for raising the issue of Islam, it was you who accused us here of wishing to impose a theocracy - I merely countered your point by stating that is not a Christian objective but an Islamic one.

31 October 2013 at 12:23  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

And I feel duty bound to make plain, when considering 'Love and Tolerance,' that the Sermon on the Mount is in no way comparable to the teachings of Mohammed... if you believe that religions are all the same I beg to differ...

31 October 2013 at 12:28  
Blogger David Anderson said...

'"Happily for us," Munby avers, "the days are past when the business of judges was the enforcement of morals or religious beliefs."'

Is he totally lacking in self-awareness, or hugely dishonest? The law has never done anything except enforce morals. The only question is which set of morals, and what ideologies lie behind them.

31 October 2013 at 12:44  
Blogger IanCad said...

jane macqueen wrote:

"--the fact that in several states of the USA you have to be a christian to hold political office of any sort--"

What astonishing drivel!

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof--"

First Amendment ot The Constitution of The United States.

31 October 2013 at 12:50  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

31 October 2013 at 13:04  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

That's a good point David.

When I was a law undergraduate, about 25 years ago, judges were criticised for being too right wing, too white, too Christian, too anti-minority, etc. Most of my fellow students thought this atrocious and vowed to change the situation for the 'better' if they were to succeed in the profession.

Those of us who studied in the same era will remember, for example, the judgements of the legendary Sir Aubrey Melford Steed Stevenson – to whom goes the rare honour of referring to the Sexual Offences Act 1967 as a 'buggers' charter' (he got ticked off for this, even then).

He and similarly minded tough conservative judges were the order of the day and a 'secular judge' advocating the anti-traditional froth that today seems obligatory might well have endured a good kicking from his fellow benchers.

To those who might be interested, a wall-plaque is dedicated to Sir Aubrey in the beautiful CHRISTIAN church of St Mary the Virgin, in Rye.

How times have changed.

31 October 2013 at 13:05  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

I always find it amusing when aggressive atheists use objective morality to criticize religion. (Re: Genocide). For who told him that genocide was wrong? No doubt he will appeal to some system of philosophy to justify his assertion. But he will never be able to establish it with authority. One man's moral philosophy is another man's superstitious nonsense. And the only available means of adjudication between mutually exclusive positions is ... power. Raw naked power. The winner is the moral man.

Stalin or Ghandi. Or Caesar. Or the Tsar. Or Jefferson. Or Burke. Or Robespierre. Take your pick. One is just as reasonable as the other.

carl

31 October 2013 at 13:17  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Seanrobsville

Sharia will soon be the law of the land; Rowan Williams himself (pbuh) has said so.

pbuh: Press Button to Unleash Hatred.

31 October 2013 at 13:25  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Jane Mc Queen,

"a secular nation that does not commit mass murder" includes France ?

Really ! Are you serious ? Do you not know any history ?

Immediately after the secularists gained control of France and they danced on the altars of the Paris churches, there was an orgy of mass killings in the name of the Revolution and their God, Reason.

You seem to have no knowledge of the history, philosophy and actions flowing from the establishment of secularism as a country's legal guide.

Secularism is a faith with its own codes of conduct.

Please consider this. Once humanity declares God is dead, humans set their own rules. Then the dominant group with the most influence, unafraid of any "judgement" after death, do what they wish with those that they dominate. Examples include Robespiere, Hitler, Lenin, Pol Pot and so on.

I would ask to consider this too, from where exactly will your ideal secular country draw its morality upon which are based its laws ?




31 October 2013 at 13:40  
Blogger David B said...

Carl, at least secularists don't think genocide is right, as opposed to those who think the God of the OT was amoral arbiter.

Remember how he was not only in favour of genocide, but made exceptions in the case of young girls to pleasure the troops?

David

31 October 2013 at 13:41  
Blogger OldJim said...

David B

But of course, your reply is crowded with quite questionable assumptions.

You're right, all of us here would be quite disgusted with a sign that read "no Blacks or Irish" outside a hotel.

Even here, whether the most ideal way to deal with the issue is to legislate against it is another matter. Responsible citizens avoiding patronising the business, after all, would achieve the same effect, without the heavy boot of governmental authority being invoked, and without the mal-incentives and distortions that could potentially introduce.

But that's an aside.

The question you seem to be suggesting is at issue is whether "homosexual person" and "black person" and "Irish person" are equivalent. You're right: they are. Denying a room to a gay person is the same as denying a room to a black or an Irish person: a disgusting act of prejudice.

But denying a double room to two homosexuals is not like denying a room to a black person or an Irish person.

It is like denying a double room to two unmarried persons. That is the appropriate analogy in this instance, and surely you can see that.

In which case, what you are really saying is that hotel staff must accept your sexual mores or get out of the business.

Very well. Just be aware of what it is you are really doing. It is nothing like legislating against discrimination against black or Irish people. That ill thought out nonsense cheapens the worth of the victory that was won with the end of discrimination, and it allows you moderns to feel pompous about what is actually a much more questionable legislative agenda.

You might argue: "and how many b&bs were preventing unmarried heterosexuals from sleeping in the same room?"; you're right that it should go both ways. But if you accept the legitimacy and right to legality of the one, you must accept the legitimacy and right to legality of the other. I am sure that men are more often thrown out of bars for being aggressive than women. That doesn't mean that the law is discriminatory against men and that bars should be prevented from chucking them out by legislative force. Provided that in principle, women could equally be chucked out if they were an equal risk, the law is sound, even if the application of the bar's rights is uneven.

Likewise you might argue, "What if the homosexual couple were married?" But then we open the gay marriage can of worms. Suffice it to say here that that legislation was not in effect at the time of the case of which we are speaking.

31 October 2013 at 13:50  
Blogger John Thomas said...

There is no such things as not having a religion or faith. These people believe in the religion of Secular Materialism which is as intolerant as any fundamentalist, militant, or non-rational faith that has ever existed.

31 October 2013 at 14:03  
Blogger Len said...

The secularist 'reason' that the Christian moral code system is out of date and unreasonable.The secularists argue that they can have a moral code based on 'reason.'
Well...If I am hungry and need food to sustain life have no' money and decide to 'just take it' is that reasonable?.From my point of view certainly (if I have no other moral code to arbitrate)So theft in this case to use reason(alone) would be acceptable if we have no moral absolutes.

How can we have a law with applies to everyone with no moral absolutes?.Of course we could refer to the Ten Commandmants but that would mean acknowledging God who gave them to us in the first place?.

31 October 2013 at 14:10  
Blogger OldJim said...

The argument turns on to what extent you think that sellers are permitted to use discretion in provision of goods and services. If an art dealer can choose to sell a piece to an aficionado rather than a collector, if a gun shop owner can choose to withhold guns from a dodgy character, then it probably follows that a B&B owner should have the right to determine who can stay there if it can be reasonably construed as a genuine appeal to conscience.

Of course you can reply "But someone might conceivably reject members of an interracial marriage from staying in the same bed out of conscience" -- and you might well be right, and you might be right that in this case the state has business in preventing that -- again though, a lover of liberty might prefer that this were prevented by other individuals conscientiously refusing to stay at that B&B, until it closed or changed its mind.

But even if we agree that in some circumstances we can legislate against conscience, we should presumably want to do so as sparingly as is possible.

Is this one of those sparing instances? Or is it a deliberate imposition of one of a few competing legitimate moral views?

Or perhaps you would prefer that sellers did not have independent discretion over who buys their products, and mere money should be left to do the talking all alone?

31 October 2013 at 14:12  
Blogger Jon said...

Old Jim, I still don't think its an especially strong case of your persecution at the hands of "secularists" (incidentally, another tribe conspiring against you. Is this the only way Christians can achieve any sort of unity?!)

Has anyone been stopped from worshipping, prevented from reading the Bible, praying? No. They've been prevented from treating some of their customers differently from how they'd treat other customers. Quick - batten down the crypts - the secularists are coming for the wafers!

Leaving aside the fact that people can make up (and since religious types can't all be right, huge numbers must have!) their own religions, a religious exemption from compliance with the law is carte blanche to all sorts of tomfoolery. Or is the (heavy boot of the) State now to regulate what makes a proper religion, and if so, how would that feel to those whose religions aren't legally recognised?

31 October 2013 at 14:14  
Blogger Jon said...

Len, with respect, it's not that the Christian moral code (whatever that is - doesn't it rather depend which bits of the Bible you choose to ignore?) is out of date. It's that it can't be solely relied on in a society where the majority don't regard the fundamentals which support it (Yahweh as the only God, and Jesus as his son) as being true.

Short of a massive revival in Church attendance, you won't be able to change legal minds by quoting the Bible at people who don't believe it. Nor should you, in my view.

31 October 2013 at 14:17  
Blogger OldJim said...

Jane McQueen

You start your first post with

"We should erect a wall of separation between religion and the state"

a reference to the political philosophy of Thomas Jefferson.

You go on later to note the

"mass genocide of the indigenous people by the christian settlers, that killed over 90% of the native Americans"

presumably referring to this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson_and_Indian_removal

I'll leave it that. I think that it is sufficient commentary upon itself.

31 October 2013 at 14:22  
Blogger IanCad said...

OldJim wrote:

"It is like denying a double room to two unmarried persons. That is the appropriate analogy in this instance, and surely you can see that."

Excellent! I shall remember that.

31 October 2013 at 14:26  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hello Jane McQueen,

I think that the first amendment to the American constitution forbids the establishment of a state religion and confirms the free exercise thereof, or something to those words and I don't think it is allowed for a religious test to be applied for office. Now to me America has somehow managed to strike the balance between freedom of religion and not having a theocratic state.

31 October 2013 at 14:33  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hello Jon,

With all due respect, religions are not the only ones to 'pick and choose' or discriminate their texts and beliefs as atheists/secularists do so too.

Alas, it seems that secularists in this country think that secularism should be about promoting a particular world view and goes out of its way to prevent the free expression and action of religion thereof. We see this all the time here- for every secularist who arguments about human rights of gay couples (a fair point), we then get the same group attacking religion which doesn't affect them in any way shape or form, which is exactly what an atheist or a secularist says they want, the example being the numerous discussions on male circumcision and Kosher slaughter on these comment threads (the most recent on a thread below).

As far as Judaism is concerned male circumcision & Kosher food shouldn't be of bother to anyone but Jews. Jews are not out to force people to eat in a particular way, [any Kosher food has to be labelled as such] or to circumcise the newborn, they are matters for Jews only. And yet the secularist wishes to stick oars in and say that human rights - previously universal- no longer matter, as others thing such as animal rights become more important.

In fact male circumcision morphs into 'child abuse' and Kosher becomes 'barbaric', thus - and this is a neat trick that previous anti-semities did- to de-humanises those that do these things, Jews stop being British citizens who happen to practice Judaism, but 'child abusers' and who treat animals in an 'evil' manner.

So can we all at least stop pretending that atheists and secularists are cuddly teddy bears wanting to bring peace and enlightenment to all, which they are not out to do.

31 October 2013 at 14:44  
Blogger David B said...

A lot of interest in Old Jim's well considered posts, and indeed, much to agree with.

I don't see anything in them, though, that goes against my point that anti-discrimination legislation which applies to everybody should not be viewed as anti-Christian, or indeed ant--religious, in itself. It is anti-discrimination.

His point that if invoking the law can be avoided, by moral 'suasion or public criticism or something, is a good idea I can happily agree with, if has the desired effect.

But back to the particular instance of the b&b.

I can agree that discrimination against one person on grounds of race is not quite the same as discrimination against a couple on grounds of whether one approves of them (legally and with consent) sleeping together.

I can agree that there is something to the analogy of the two homosexuals being like an unmarried couple - but to me it also has something about it that would make an analogy to a married couple of different colours fit the bill as well.

It is about disapproving of people sleeping together on religious grounds, and religions, Christianity included, have been known to justify such racism. The Mormons, some Hindus, regarding caste as much as race, and was it not pretty much widespread for white Christian South Africans and people from the southern states of the USA to seek out Bible verses to allow them to rationalise their prejudices on religious grounds? I don't suggest that these particular B&B proprietors would have disapproved of, or refused to serve, a married couple of mixed race. I do maintain that a general exclusion from having to obey laws on grounds of religious belief would allow such a thing.

So whatever the rights and wrongs of that particular instance - I don't like the idea of religious belief giving people a passport to avoid laws that apply to everyone else. Because people can, and have, claimed religious sensibilities to justify all sorts of things currently against the law.

David



31 October 2013 at 15:00  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Your Grace,
Pleased to see that you have picked this up as a post. Further to all the Anti that has been written above, I can't help thinking where their logic is taking them.
Opposed as they are to a Christian Morality forming the basis of our society and legal system, no one has suggested any alternative that might nearly replace the present system.
Their is no 'Bible' of secularism thus it is left to any individual to create their own codes of life according to their own thinking. This can only lead to a disaster and conflict between disparate groups.
Christianity has been a part of this land for 1800 years or thereabouts. Whilst with hindsight we can see that at various times, followers have not behaved as we would see the scriptures interpreted now. However, a sound code has been applied that all have conformed to.
Now, as you say, certain pompous individuals believe they know better and impose their own beliefs as being better than that which has gone before.
It is my belief that even if one does not have a personal belief in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, if you follow God's principles as laid out in the scriptures, then you will receive god's blessing because he has promised it. All except eternal life which can only come from being born again. Thus, we have the way the truth and the life in our faith from which there should be no averring for the sake of humanity at large and this has a proven record.

31 October 2013 at 15:16  
Blogger OldJim said...

Well, Jon,

Here is the historical context, as I see it. And you are quite right to note that different Christian groups are in quite different positions in relation to it.

It used to be a safe presumption that the framework in which legal institutions in this country operated would be broadly a protestant Christian one, with some toleration for diversity of view.

This meant that for Catholics, for example, the legal presumptions and the requirements of faith wouldn't exactly line up -- Britain allows for divorce, the Church does not -- but whilst society might not be organised along Catholic lines, there would be no coercion to violate one's faith -- no-one need choose to divorce.

A Catholic understood that British law reflected his faith in broad outline, but that on some matters he might be expected to go the extra mile.

By contrast, a Protestant could typically expect British law and his faith to line up quite as close to exactly as could ever be possible.

With the coming of the '60s, this underpinning was abandoned in favour of a more "pluralist" approach, which said that the state could be a neutral arbiter, allowing a wider range of activities; many pieces of legislation were put forward by Roy Jenkins and others that were widely considered contrary to Christianity. Listing only from the accomplishments of Roy Jenkins, from his wikipedia page, for example:

"He refused to authorise the birching of prisoners

was responsible for the relaxation of the laws relating to divorce,

abolition of theatre censorship

and gave government support to David Steel's Private Member's Bill for the legalisation of abortion

and Leo Abse's bill for the decriminalisation of homosexuality."


In bold are the ones I consider most grave; a considered attitude to the whole from a Christian perspective will be quite mixed, and you might be surprised by the leniency and reasonableness of some of it, but presumably you will not be surprised to learn that a Christian would consider some or many of these to be flawed in part or in toto.

A Christian might nonetheless see some merit in some or all of these pieces of law -- they might limit injustices, they might be inappropriate things for a legal system to be enforcing, and so on.

And the point is that again, whilst all or some of them unquestionably undermined the Christian foundation of law in relation to society, none of them compelled anyone to act contrary to conscience. They merely allowed for a "lower standard" to be legally permissible, and might at worst tempt Christians to act in a way that they otherwise wouldn't if the behaviour would be additionally penalised by law.

31 October 2013 at 15:20  
Blogger OldJim said...

This, you might be able to understand, would be scary enough for the protestant, who has not been led to expect this sort of thing from the British State. But for the Catholic, the situation hasn't changed quite so drastically. They have psychological and moral infrastructure in place to self-police as a community (this was gravely damaged in the '60s too, but that's another matter, and our own fault)

Coming to the present and the more recent past, the real fear now is that more recent public legislation and court rulings have gone further. If you must pretend not to hold mainstream traditional Christian views in order to adopt, or accept extra-marital sex in your home to run a B&B then the state has ceased even to pretend to be merely a pluralist neutral arbiter. This is not to mention things like one's having to accept same-sex marriage to be a registrar or policy X or Y to be a civil servant -- whether things can be expected of public sector workers is far more contentious. I am referring wholly to the state's attitudes to private activity. It has dropped the idea of its independence of ideology, and adopted a new one of its own, and one which can be used to coerce Christians on points of conscience.

Imagine living in a pacifist country, being brought up to understand that all killing was wrong, and then being told that your country was to go to war. This might upset you enough, but what if there began to follow hints and murmurings that you might be yourself conscripted. This is broadly the Christian position today.

So the fear is threefold. First, there is dislike of the fact that the wider society can no longer be expected to function according to Christian norms. Second, there is concern that individual Christians may more recently face coercion on particular points of conscience. Third is the fear that this latter points to a trajectory -- that eventually this coercion will become pressing, immediate, and regular.

And your reference to "religions" in aggregate doesn't help matters. We are not used to being regarded as another set of beliefs. We have good cause to see ourselves, and the country has historically seen us, as quite unique. This is, or if you prefer was, a "Christian" country. It was never a "religious" country. What does this word "religion" mean, when it doesn't refer to one set of beliefs in particular?

31 October 2013 at 15:20  
Blogger Ars Hendrik said...

Hello Integrity - interesting post, though not sure what you mean by "All except eternal life which can only come from being born again". Can one earn God's blessing but not eternal life?

Thanks.

31 October 2013 at 15:20  
Blogger Martin said...

Of course the 'equal' treatment of LGBT persons is based upon the presumptions that these are intrinsic to these persons and not the result of behaviour or mental aberration.

I know of no evidence to suggest that such are intrinsic to the person and certainly not that they are in the same way as ethnicity.

Why we should accept the religious views of some that LGBT 'persons' are worthy of rights I do not know.

31 October 2013 at 15:28  
Blogger OldJim said...

David B

Thank you for the courteous tone evident in your reply.

If I held such a broad view of "religion" as you appear to do -- any set of unfalsifiable beliefs held by a community purporting to be religious -- then I daresay that your objections might be decisive.

I simply don't. I think the mark of a civilised society would be one that gave scientologists in their private lives as much leeway as was possible; but I do not think that the State is obliged to treat scientologists as it would treat Christians, Jews or Muslims.

Again we end up very confused, of course, because you will naturally end in insisting that there are no good means to distinguish "religions" one from the other, and that they must all be treated the same, and I will end up saying that from my religious perspective the relative worth of scientology and of Judaism is manifestly apparent, and not only that, but that a great many of your ostensibly "neutral", religion-independent values would in fact be quite different if you had been brought up in a scientologist instead of in a Christian culture. You'll allow me that if that is true, either you must renounce them, or accept that Christianity and scientology aren't quite the same kind of thing. The question is only whether I can get you to allow that your values and views have in fact been determined by Christianity in this way.

As to "biblical" attacks on interracial marriages, the problem is not insoluble. We need only ask: were interracial marriages prohibited by Christianity in general? The answer is a resounding no. The medieval world knew nothing of it, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the largest Christian bodies, never knew of it; it was in fact only found as a post-hoc justification of existing inequalities, that arose in the very culture-bound conditions of the colonial modern world.

When we look at homosexual relationships, the situation looks quite different. The prohibition is not only found in cultures which are attempting to justify an existing cultural practice. The prohibition has historically been found wherever there was Christianity.

That is enough for me to demonstrate from an internal Christian perspective that there is not a sufficient parallel.

31 October 2013 at 15:38  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Jane McQueen.

Thank you for illustrating the axiom that society without Christianity gradually becomes mean-minded and hard-hearted. Surely to goodness ( a word that derives from the word "God" incidentally) you understand that "lust" is an unnecessarily provocative word (or was its use Freudian I wonder) when writing on a Christian blog, as it is one of the 7 deadly sins, aka Pride, avarice, lust, envy, greed, anger and slothe. But maybe these are outdated and no longer cause devastation, massive unhappiness, and mayhem when unleashed upon society??

If you think that way you are living in cloud cuckoo land with a pair of blinkers on to boot, collecting dodgy dossiers of your own favoured statistics which fail to "hold the mirror up to nature" and bear no relation to observable reality.

Actually most of society are pale Christian flavoured, though few have collected the fulness of their inheritance. Then there is a small but exceptionally- even psychologically worryingly- loquacious very small % of hard faced angry atheists who jump up and down all using the same usually pretty inane phrases like "sky fairy" and "clown" and who like to patronise Christians, many of whom are substantially brighter than they are.

I have known quite a lot of Christians who not only got Oxbridge and Ivy League firsts but top firsts, and yet these people, some of whom cannot even capitalise properly, have the embarrassing nerve to try to portray the faith as outdated and only for idiots, while being considerably less bright themselves.

Their hero Dawkins, is fine with debating respectfully, well relatively respectfully, at least politely. other academic figures, such as Professor John Lennox who disagree with him. He respects their intelligence and proficiency but is baffled by their faith. That is at least honest, but impoliteness and abuse are not.

31 October 2013 at 15:40  
Blogger Jon said...

Hi Hannah, the rights to freedom of worship etc. are in no way infringed by the advance of secularism up to the point that has happened so far, unless Christians fear a creeping advance against them (which some here seem to).

None of these issues is easy - we are weighing relative freedoms (in the case of the B&B owner, to operate their business according to their own principles, in the case of the gay couple - to share a room as a heterosexual couple would ordinarily be allowed to). In this case, these freedoms are mutually exclusive, but to decide one way or the other isn't about the religion of the B&B owner, or the sexuality of the gay couple. It's simply weighing two conflicting freedoms in my view, and establishing the best route forwards. Different people will take different views. As others have pointed out, and I alluded to, allowing religious exemptions from laws is a slippery slope. What if the KKK were to allege that they were a religion and enshrine the persecution of black people as part of their religious rights? It's utterly extreme of course, and I'm not saying that's what the B&B owners did, but you see my point. Who decides what religions get to supercede laws which apply to everyone else?

31 October 2013 at 15:41  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Jane
And do you have some strange antipathy to capitalisation? The tradition of capitals is not without reason and I for one find it distracting and uncomfortable reading text without them

31 October 2013 at 15:45  
Blogger Jon said...

OldJim, thanks for your post. I think your pacifist analogy is interesting, and strikes a chord with me.

(Off topic, but I am not sure that the UK has ever been a particularly Christian place has it - or at least not for a long time? There have been some outstanding men and women of God, for sure, but the populace at large seems rather uniquely disinterested in big ideas like communism or fascism and doesn't seem to get too excited about religions (songs of praise is hilarious if you've ever been to a baptist church in the southern USA!). Do you think the civil war knocked it out of us?)

Anyway - my main point was more ably made by David B - I'm uncomfortable with religious exemptions because defining a religion ought to be beyond the scope of the state - it should be a matter for personal conscience.

I'm interested in your statement "it was in fact only found as a post-hoc justification of existing inequalities, that arose in the very culture-bound conditions of the colonial modern world." I see a lot of that in the comments here!

I don't accept that the Church can wash its hands of things done and justified in its name after the fact, though. It must face up and repent! We all know that the OT is riddled with stuff that used to make me squirm when I read it. And there's much more recent stuff than that!

If we are prepared to accept that Christianity, or at least the Bible, has been used in the past to justify some pretty difficult moral positions, surely you can see that, having shifted on inter-racial marriage, the age of consent (how old was Jesus' mother?), slavery, and education for women (1 Tim 2 v 12?) many people expect (and hope) that the Church will do the same for gay rights. I know someone will reference Wilberforce and others who fought the good fight on some of these issues, but we know there were Christians on the other side, and they all cited each issue as an existential threat to the Church.

The Church has cried wolf before, and I'm afraid if secularism is creeping and the State is looking to regulate Christianity out of existence (though I'm not sure why it would - why would it want to?), the Church has only itself to blame that its warnings will be categorised in the same place as when it last found itself on the wrong side of history.

31 October 2013 at 15:56  
Blogger Jon said...

One more thing, Old Jim. Do you suppose that the B&B owners asked to see the marriage certificates of everyone who stayed with them? I bet they didn't. In which case, I'm afraid, their defence is shot to pieces.

Sorry - one extra thing, you reference that Christians could be tempted to act in a way contrary to the faith but permissable by law - this reminds me of differential laws in some countries (but ironically only Muslim ones) like in Malaysia, where if your birth certificate says you are Muslim, you can't convert, but if it doesn't you're free to do what you like!

I'm rather surprised you would prefer the state to enforce Christian belief amongst Christians, instead of the Holy Spirit!

31 October 2013 at 16:01  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Jane also.
"A book of stories no different from the brothers Grimm". Well we can instantly tell two things from that. First you certainly have no English or foreign literature qualification beyond O level or GCSE, nor an R.E. one. On this board you will come across people who have theology degrees (not me) and a degree of humility and readiness to be corrected are part of the game.

There are different types of literature in the Bible. I am no expert so this is off the top of my head and s.o. will probably improve the list.

Law
History
Wisdom Literature
Poetry
Gospels
Epistles
Prophecy
Apocalyptic Literature

Each one needs to be "read" in a slightly different and sensitive way, with an appreciation of its historical context and its relation within the whole.

None is to be read in exactly the same way as the Brothers Grimm I would strongly suggest. The closest to that would be the parables, but even they use a different degree, length and hue of analogy.

Theology requires sensitivity and care not just to be treated with the gung ho bravado of a steamroller

31 October 2013 at 16:09  
Blogger non mouse said...

Well said, Lucy (15;45)! Seconded.

I've also come to an empirical understanding, of late, that dullards are not too good at ... well, 'comprehending' anything much brighter than themselves. 'Twas thus for a long time, I think!

Happy Reformation Day, then, YG! May your light shine on regardless --- and may you have a Happy All Saints' Day also.

31 October 2013 at 16:12  
Blogger non mouse said...

Btw Lucy: I meant 15;45 and 15:40.

31 October 2013 at 16:14  
Blogger DAD said...

Jane McQueen writes:-

But if you want to look at a secular nation that does not commit mass murder maybe we can look at say France, any of the Scandinavian nations, Canada, Australia, New Zealand there are rather a lot.

What about state sponsored abortion? Is that not mass killing?

31 October 2013 at 16:22  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ David B

Surely the owners and changers of the bedsheets are due some ownership of what they will allow upon them, or are we to be hard-hearted towards their sensibilities?

I know of one hotel where a (heterosexual) person was given a lifetime ban from ever going there again because of the state the bed was left in, used as a loo, deliberately, and left for hotel staff to clear up.

IF such activity is predictable it is entirely fair to ban them beforehand, and I think the B & B owners were very unfairly treated- probably by people who never get their hands dirty doing anything practical at all, let alone change their own sheets.

31 October 2013 at 16:26  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear Jane, you are remarkably silent...may we have your next pearl of wisdom? I have lots of popcorn ready and waiting and there's nothing on the magic lantern...

31 October 2013 at 17:25  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Lucy Mullen @ 16.09

Nicely put. Well said.

Now being more than two thirds through my Christian Theology degree, I can honestly say that, having previously taken degrees (several decades ago ) in statistically based Geography with Geology and then immediately afterwards a Masters in Town Planning, I have found Theology to be appreciably more demanding intellectually than anything I've tackled before. And that is after the enhanced mental flexibility that working with a wide range of different professional groups gives.
I can see that to be really proficient at theology takes sustained, serious study for decades !
From the theological foothills,
David.

31 October 2013 at 17:30  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Saints preserve us ! Feisty jane mcqueen is back…

Such sport to behold, what !

Well then, your rant about Christianity being a minority religion ? Surely not, with 33 million identifying at the last census in the UK. But of course, they are not proper Christians you will tell us. Rather like Hermann Goering when faced with concerns by his generals about their Jewish heritage: “I decide who is and who isn’t a Jew.” The man said. Funny how concerns about religion brings out the worst in people – out of you, for example. We can only wonder in awe that should you and your ilk one day come to power, what you would have done with us. It won’t be pretty, that’s for sure…

And what have we here. Or the religious rights campaign to deny basic human rights to minority groups, notably LGBT people….

There is no campaign, madam. The nearest you get is the common purpose of Christian faith schools to keep out types who want to talk about ‘diversity’. Which is queer speak for desiring that anal intercourse between two or more men, and the diseases resulting thereof, must never, ever be criticized because someone somewhere believes his imagined human right to publicise his degenerate existence is being compromised…

…and woman.

Oh spare us your feminist rot. There’s precious little left of the old order to wreck, madam Even you must realise that…





31 October 2013 at 17:51  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Ars Hendrik @ 15:28
Life is a mixture of good and bad. King David wrote; Why do the wicked prosper? There is no science in this, but God gave his people commandments and rules, and those who follow those rules will be blessed in all ways but salvation can only come through the cross.
At the time of judgement, those who have not heard of Jesus will be judged according to their inner spirit and sense of righteousness that is implanted in all men, but ignored by many.

31 October 2013 at 18:00  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

David Hussell'
I have enjoyed your comments since you came to the site and am glad to see your resolve to understand scripture even more.
Beware; not all who study the scriptures, as Jesus said, will come unto me so that they may have life. Knowledge without understanding is a bad place to be. We must all allow the Holy Spirit to shed its light upon the words so they become truth, not just words on paper.
God bless you valour.

31 October 2013 at 18:08  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear dear Inspector, how timely is your sally into the fray...would you care to share my popcorn?

31 October 2013 at 18:19  
Blogger grumpyoldcl said...

Jon,
The Court already accepted in at least the last two hearings that the B&B owners did also refuse unmarried heterosexual couples and did not discriminate on that basis, so their case is not shot to pieces at all.

The difference between a B&B and a hotel is that a B&B is a home. Therefore the Courts are declaring that a Christian cannot even practice their faith in their own home. It is an abuse of the UN declaration of human rights. It is a very destructive judgement.

31 October 2013 at 18:21  
Blogger grumpyoldcl said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

31 October 2013 at 18:21  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Mr Integrity,

Thank you.

And yes all must accept leadership from The Holy Spirit, since knowledge without the wisdom that comes only from God, is but an empty thing.

31 October 2013 at 18:31  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

My dear Mrs Proudie, it’s been a few years since the Inspector received the ‘green light’ if you catch this man’s drift...

{AHEM}

31 October 2013 at 18:41  
Blogger Jane McQueen said...

Ahh it always comes down to that one, that if you don't believe is some form of deity then how you can you extract any form of morality from life. Well I hate to tell you but morality and philosophy existed in the world long before any of the abrahamic faiths.


And arguably the most profound moral principle comes from the teachings of Confucius and as a result had nothing to do with religion, though most religions have tried to incorporate it in to their works.


If you personally can't work out what is right and wrong without the threat of eternal torture for doing the wrong thing; then i suggest that it is you who lacks a moral compass and not those who don't believe in some deity or another.


Morality itself is, like your god, a construct of humanity and the decision of what is right and wrong comes from the simple principle of does allowing person A to do X cause any harm to another person; and if it does not then its something that we let people do.


Plus we also have to accept that morality is relative and will change with society, and the prime example of this is slavery, women's rights, rights of LGBT people and so on. As there are no moral absolutes, even killing another adult human is acceptable in certain situations.

31 October 2013 at 18:45  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Chilling stuff Jane. One senses you are actually more annoyed now than the last time you were here. That’s a bit scary...

31 October 2013 at 19:03  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Jane.
Ah yes, your "prime example" of slavery- changed at great personal cost and not a little opprobrium by that Christian gentleman Wilberforce, and the evangelical Clapham Sect, also swimming agianst the tide. What if there had been no Christians with tender social consciences to swim against the tide?

Answer: more human misery.

As for your take on the 10 commandments I disagree with ever taking a human life, except by mistake in self-defence and in extremis.

The original early Church position was to be willing to die for your faith but never kill for it.

31 October 2013 at 19:09  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Hannah: "we then get the same group attacking religion which doesn't affect them in any way shape or form"

Obviously I'm an exception to that here because I haven't attacked Judaism at all but I have debated religious mutilation and ritual killing of animals which are two practices practiced in Judaism and, as it happens, Islam. We're allowed to debate such stuff in the UK. In fact, we should insist on it periodically to exercise our rights.

31 October 2013 at 19:14  
Blogger John Thomas said...

"at least secularists don't think genocide is right" (somebody, here) - no, they just get on and do it. Weren't Hitler and Stalin much the same as what we now call "secularists"? What about those behind the abortion megaholocaust - believe in God, do they, in most cases?.?

31 October 2013 at 19:21  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Sub Saharan Africans were practising slavery for eons before Christians arrived there. And incidentally, treating their ailments with dried powdered ten year old boys’ genitals...

At least we made them wear clothes while they were about it...


31 October 2013 at 19:25  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Speech: "Although historically this country is part of the Christian west and, although it has an established church which is Christian, we sit as secular judges serving a multi-cultural community of many faiths, sworn to do justice ‘to all manner of people’."

That bit captures something quite important for me. We live in a pluralistic society where division is not between the moral and the immoral, but between the differently moral as well. Who's to say that one sincerely held set of morals and beliefs trumps another except by reference to other shared rules of behaviour?

31 October 2013 at 19:38  
Blogger David B said...

@John Thomas who said -

"(somebody, here) - no, they just get on and do it. Weren't Hitler and Stalin much the same as what we now call "secularists"?"

No, quite the reverse. Secularists want no governmental preference for one religion over another, for religion over none, or no religion over religion, and a rule of law applying to all independently of religion.

Secularists can be religious or not, of the left or right, black or white, straight of gay....

Hitler and Stalin were both totalitarians, and as such have far more in common with people supporting theocracies than with secularists.

I trust that, after considering this, you will be honourable enough never to promulgate that sort of pernicious nonsense again.

David

31 October 2013 at 19:39  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear DanJ0, I believe the answer you are seeking is something like 'Our Gaff, our rules.' Does that help at all?

31 October 2013 at 19:42  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

John Thomas: "Weren't Hitler and Stalin much the same as what we now call "secularists"?"

Yes, you're right. There's barely a hair's breadth between Hitler or Stalin and myself. I've often been inclined towards adopting a dodgy fringe too on a bad day but managed to resist so far.

31 October 2013 at 19:44  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Mrs P: "Dear DanJ0, I believe the answer you are seeking is something like 'Our Gaff, our rules.' Does that help at all?"

Yes it does help. I shall ask the next British Citizen I see for advice. I'm off for a night out in my local city of Leicester tonight so I shall report back later on the result.

31 October 2013 at 19:46  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Jane
I think you underestimate the profundity of the teaching, in teaching, in life, and in death and resurrection, of Jesus Christ. It is beyond what we can tell you of it. In order to begin to understand the Scriptures you need to read them, let them sink in to you, learn about them, try to live them, fail, succeed, fail, and fail again, go back to them, understand more, read what others have said, listen to sermons, recapture some of what you knew and forgot, let that sink in, try to live them again, and so on, and so on. Life, experience, including religious and sometimes mystical experience, reason, tradition, and scripture all bounce off and illuminate each other.

"But truths, on which depends our main concern...
Shine by the side of every path we tread
With such a lustre, he that runs may read." (William Cowper- "Tirocinium")

31 October 2013 at 19:56  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Good Lord ! A fellow was in Leicester in February, visiting friends. Went to the MacDonald's near the clock for a cup of coffee. Travelled by train. Marvellous station front in the city. (And yes, the Inspector IS made of money to travel that way)

31 October 2013 at 19:57  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Danjo
But most totalitarians have a set of morals, and yet I don't think you would hesitate to say that censorship of the free press was wrong, with which I would agree, and Hitler was nothing if not sincere, but both you and I and the vast majority here would agree that he was sincerely wrong.

I am really unconvinced not only by the desirability of being "secular" nor on the neutrality of it, which you will not be surprised to know that I think is a myth that needs dismantling, but also that it has one identifiable meaning at all. I suspect that many secularists hold very different views on morality- on issues such as heirarchical structure, work-family-rest balance, abortion, euthanasia and death, complementary medicine in relation to normal medicine, rights to self harm, drugs and alcohol, and a host of other issues. I suspect that actually far from any overarching agreement they would hold an even wider net of views than Christians, or those of the Jewish faith, as Lord Neuberger- no less-is.

I remain unconvinced that many are secularists, and think this Judge is probably rather out on a limb, and not very high up the tree at that.

31 October 2013 at 20:13  
Blogger bluedog said...

Jane MacQueen @ 18.45 says, 'And arguably the most profound moral principle comes from the teachings of Confucius and as a result had nothing to do with religion, though most religions have tried to incorporate it in to their works.'

Confucius lived between 551 and 479BC at the other end of the Eurasian land-mass to Greece where democracy was established in about 550BC. It seems highly unlikely that philosophical or religious ideas would have been transmitted in any coherent form between these two poles. Thus certain ideas about morality developed independently at different locations, not forgetting the codex developed by the Jews in Israel over the same period. It should be obvious that the development of Athenian democracy implied a society with a high degree of internal trust, and hence morality.

As we know, Christianity descends from Judaism but includes a great deal of Hellenic thought. It is becoming fashionable in the West to hold up China, with its extraordinary economic success, as some sort of broader exemplar. Earlier generations were attracted to Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia for similar reasons. But in terms of the timing of enlightenment, the West is no Johnny-come-lately. This is particularly important in countering the more-gushing admiration of China such as that espoused by George Osborne following his own return. The Chinese are surprised to be told that Greeks were democrats when Confucius was still a babe in arms, just. It is part of the Chinese conceit that their civilisation is the oldest. It isn't.

31 October 2013 at 20:15  
Blogger Nick said...

So the famous Ms McQueen returns
Oh I forgot...it's Halloween!

Secularism is just as much a religion as any other, except it's god is man himself. Secularists consider humanity to be its own best judge. If you have no external benchmark against which to assess your own life, you are stuck with the man-made one. Since man's judement is never truly fair or impartial, and is always coloured by current fashion, as in the case of Mundy, that judgement will never be consistent.

Atheism ,like most man-made artefacts, has a shelf-life. If Mundy thinks we are enterring some kind of golden era of godlessness, he is wrong. With no restraints on acceptable behaviour, society is in for a very short orgy of self-indulgence, followed by the hangover to end all hangovers.

31 October 2013 at 20:18  
Blogger IanCad said...

Well, good to see you come back again Jane after such a serial drubbing.

Maybe I misunderstand, but surely you are not suggesting that Confucius predated Abraham?
The Pentateuch was written by Moses some eight hundred years before the Man from Sinim came along.

You seem to fear the Christian religion.

Perhaps our perversion of the Word of God is coming back to hurt us.
You refer to a state of eternal punishment and torture that awaits those who transgress the whims of an arbitrary God.

Such a slander upon the character of God is the result of the unbiblical concept of an ever burning Hell.

That notion is entirely the work of wicked or misguided men.

We serve a God who dwelt among us in the form of His Son, Christ Jesus.
He has shown us the way.
We may choose or reject Him. Or, He may call us anyway.
All we can do is to hang our heads in shame at what we have done to devalue His name and His creation.

Mock On! Jane. The Hound of Heaven may catch you yet.
And you will rejoice.


HG reminded us that today is Reformation Day.
Here is a link to some music appropriate to it.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hayaK67Ogx0

31 October 2013 at 20:18  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

31 October 2013 at 20:26  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Lucy: "I suspect that many secularists hold very different views on morality- on issues such as heirarchical structure, work-family-rest balance, abortion, euthanasia and death, complementary medicine in relation to normal medicine, rights to self harm, drugs and alcohol, and a host of other issues."

I think the well-known phrase "No shit, Sherlock!" is apposite here. That's rather the point, really.

31 October 2013 at 20:26  
Blogger graham wood said...

Jane. You could do no better than to follow Lucy's advice
@ 1956.
Have you for example, in an open spirit of genuine enquiry in a quest for truth ever read the Christian scriptures, and specifically the Gospels and their witness to the person,life,death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
After all, it would be entirely dishonest to condemn something without first examining the evidence for it first
Would it not?

31 October 2013 at 20:27  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hello Danjo,

Gosh, that was a quick night out...

Incidentally I wasn't thinking of you in my post above, but as you mention it I can agree that you have the right to discuss and attack anything you like, even religion. Just as I have the right to defend my religion against nonsense of which using the terms 'religious mutilation and ritual killing of animals', which as I said above changes the reference of debate and dehumanises the people whose religion includes male circumcision and Kosher slaughter. I don't expect to force you to be circumcised or to eat Kosher foods. I just ask you to respect the right for Jews to do so. I cannot see the issue for a liberal here.

31 October 2013 at 20:38  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hello Jon,

To be honest I would like to think the days of 'no blacks, irish or Jews' was long gone, including 'no gays'. As for the KKK example, food for thought. I am busy at present, so may or may not respond in greater detail later, depending on how this thread proceeds.

31 October 2013 at 20:41  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Hannah: "Just as I have the right to defend my religion against nonsense of which using the terms 'religious mutilation and ritual killing of animals', which as I said above changes the reference of debate and dehumanises the people whose religion includes male circumcision and Kosher slaughter."

It hardly dehumanised them. Those things are morally dubious but the effect of banning them would be more damaging than accepting their practice, I think.

31 October 2013 at 20:57  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack thinks it is silly that people like Elton John can father children by borrowing a woman's body with nothing being done about it. Yet people who follow Jesus are not allowed to adopt because they believe certain sexual things are wrong. At his age and with his weight problem, it should not be allowed. And the children have two daddies too and this must be confusing. All very odd. Then there's that aging floosy Madonna who can adopt babies too because she has so much money. This all seems very selfish to Happy Jack.

Happy Jack thinks that maybe Christian people have been too kind to some people and now they are taking advantage of this.

31 October 2013 at 21:01  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hello Jane,

Trying to mull over your latest post and to add to Bluedog and others.

If there are no 'moral absolutes' why are you giving us one in the form of the golden rule or the harm to others principal? In essence as you admit these ideas are a part of both Christianity and Judaism. But I guess as there are no moral absolutes, then these ideas can be abandoned if their is a popular will to do so?

Secondly if morality is relative and changes with society, what do you think if in 50 years time morality shifts back and suddenly decides that slavery is OK, women's and LGBT people's rights revert to 100 years ago; I guess this would be acceptable as there are no absolutes. History isn't a straight line of progression, you see, just look at Germany 1933...

31 October 2013 at 21:03  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hello Danjo,

Well, we can both agree the effects of banning circumcision and religious slaughter are negative. In respect of the language I don't see male circumcision as 'mutilation'. I could appreciate the bit about slaughter of animals, but to me I have more understanding for vegetarians who simply don't eat meat as they don't want animals slaughtered full stop (forgetting, alas, that farm animals are only around now, because humans breed them to eat and use for wool, leather etc ).

PS- did you go to the last plantagenant or the barely mow? I prefered 'the Craddock', in Knighton.

31 October 2013 at 21:10  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Hannah: "In respect of the language I don't see male circumcision as 'mutilation'."

I do.

"PS- did you go to the last plantagenant or the barely mow? I prefered 'the Craddock', in Knighton."

It was merely another one of those tricky rhetoric thingies as I had no intention of going out. Leicester is famously multi-ethnic, you see. I was merely making my point in a roundabout way for politeness.

31 October 2013 at 21:16  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hello Danjo,

Of course you do, but that's one opinion among many. Bless you for sharing it with us.

31 October 2013 at 21:20  
Blogger Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh said...

Many thanks to Archbishop Cranmer for drawing attention to what is surely THE central battle faced by Christians in our day, ie that of exposing humanist secularism's self-styled "reason-based neutrality" for the casuistry it is. The very dogma by which it polarises rationality and faith ironically betrays a failure to acknowledge (let alone critique) its own covert faith-basis. Consequently, humanist secularism cannot begin to comprehend the incisive insight proferred by a number of commenters above that it itself is a religion. Moreover, it seeks to insulate its powerbase in time-worn Orwellian fashion via self-serving revision of terminology, such as Dawkins' smirkingly crass definition of faith as "believing that for which there is no evidence".

If I might mention a resource or two: Jonathan Chaplin has an excellent 80-page pamphlet available online, published by Theos, called "Talking God: The Legitimacy of Religious Public Reasoning". There is also a pertinent YouTube video of Chaplin delivering the Lawyers Christian Fellowship Ethics Lecture ("Talking God: A Christian Voice in a Secular Society?") in Edinburgh, back in February of this year. These can be linked to from:

http://tinyurl.com/nr7y2v9

A main challenge for Christians is to begin to appreciate the distinction between confessional dogma and creational normativity. Thus in the context of His Grace's post we could ask ourselves not simply "What is Christian law?", but indeed "What is law?". Jonathan Chaplin is influenced by the late Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd, who was Professor of Legal Philosophy at the Free University of Amsterdam until 1965 (he died 1977). Happily there has been a flurry of cheap paperback editions of many of Dooyeweerd's books recently, eg his "Encyclopedia of the Science of Law" (Paideia Press 2012). One should not be misled by the term "Encyclopedia". It is in fact a linear exposition, described by General Editor D.F.M. Strauss as "a magnificent introduction to Dooyeweerd's entire philosophy". The following might summarise Dooyeweerd's prime preoccupation: "it is necessary to make the autonomy of theoretical thought a critical problem and no longer to pass it off as a scientific axiom." (Herman Dooyeweerd, New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Prolegomena, pp 36-38)

31 October 2013 at 21:25  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Danjo
Sorry- it would have been clearer had I inserted the words "from each other" after different views.

I was suggesting that there is no identifiable common set of values or principals that can be called secularist, even less something called "pluralist". How do you balance a hardline Muslim's religious disapproval of dogs with the indigenous British adoration of all things canine? A near impossibility I would think.

I wanted also to make the point that the top Judge, Lord Neuberger, is the brother of Rabbi Julia Neuberger, and as far as I know also a man of faith.

31 October 2013 at 21:50  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hello Jon,

Having thought about this, I'd say that in Judaism there is a concept of Dina De Malkhuta Dina,'the law of the land is the law of the land'. I think that sets out the issues as far as my faith is concerned with faith verses secular (non Jewish law).

I'd say if there were ever a prohibition against male circumcision or Kosher slaughter (banning it in the UK would be different to banning the import of said food), then, if any legal or parliamentary vote went against us, we'd probably have to leave the UK and Europe.

I guess America and Israel would benefit from the brain drain of the British and European Jewish population, because as a general rule we are not Tesco check out chicks, who can be bullied around by Welsh atheists, but an educated people, so if on a point of dogma people want Jews to leave then so be it .

Not that I can see this happening in the UK, as The Speaker of the House of Commons is nominally Jewish; the head of the supreme court is Jewish, alongside numerous academics, scientists, chemists, doctors, journalists, teachers, bankers, business people, entertainers, engineers or all the kind of people you need to compete in a world economy...

31 October 2013 at 22:05  
Blogger Martin said...

No, I'm afraid Christianity did not arise out of Judaism, tho' Judaism was a container for Christianity for a while and the children of Israel will accept their Messiah.

And Christianity has nothing to do with Hellenic thought, that scrabbling in the dark of men who didn't know God.

As for God having 'whims', of course he does not since He is the eternal, unchanging One. His command to Man was quite simple, quite unequivocal that even a child may understand.

Yet Man chose to disobey, knowing He disobeyed. Hell eternal exists for no one who hates God enough to wilfully disobey could willingly be in God's presence.

31 October 2013 at 22:25  
Blogger seanrobsville said...

@ Martin
"As for God having 'whims', of course he does not since He is the eternal, unchanging One"

Anything that can produce a change must itself be changeable.

31 October 2013 at 23:05  
Blogger OldJim said...

But, seanrobsville, you don't seem to me in that link to have done anything like demonstrate your assertion that "anything that can produce a change must itself be changeable"; all that you have done is link us to a text that insists that we must dispense with the Socratic school and their successors as a bunch of dilettantes and charlatans, and instead make a return to the eternal fire of Heraclitus.

Colour me unconvinced. I'm not sure you fully grasp the implications of what it is that you are proposing.

31 October 2013 at 23:36  
Blogger OldJim said...

Jon, Danj0, David B, I'll be right back with you tomorrow.

31 October 2013 at 23:37  
Blogger seanrobsville said...

@OldJim
If God decides to do something, then God after doing that action has changed from his prior state in that he now has a memory of having carried out that action. (assuming of course that He doesn't suffer from absentmindedness or amnesia, which one wouldn't expect of an omniscient being).

31 October 2013 at 23:54  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack thought Seanrobsville knew more than he does.

Occasionally Jack has what he calls “turns”. These can happen if he doesn’t eat or sleep properly. When this happens Jack writes things down in his private book. This one he has decided to share.

Now Happy Jack has not been to college to study all this and so he doesn’t know all the fancy words to use. This much he knows and this is what Jack wrote.

“God just is - forever. He doesn’t think and make decisions like people. He doesn’t mull over options and make choices. He is a permanent, instant idea that just happens and keeps on happening. The idea and God are one. He doesn’t have a today, yesterday or a tomorrow. He is just now. And everything that happens is just now for God. He is everywhere at once. He is in all times at once. His idea is everywhere and in every time all at once.”

Happy Jack has shortened it because it goes on a lot longer but this is the main bit. Now, if Jack is right, how can God change? He cannot. Happy Jack is sure Old Jim will be able to explain this far better than Jack and if he thinks Jack is wrong he will say so and why and Jack will pay attention. But Jack just knows he isn’t wrong about this.

1 November 2013 at 00:48  
Blogger David B said...

Hi Jack

That's an interesting conception of God.

Unless there is a lot that you haven't mentioned it looks to me like a God conception that is consistent with what I would call a God-As-Ground-Of-Being God conception, also consistent with the more Einsteinian position that I view as a God-As-Deep-Laws-of-Physics God conception, and also consistent with a Deist position and indeed consistent with a Pantheist position.

These conceptions though, strike me as inconsistent with a God-As-Generally-Understood position, by which I mean a God with some or all of the characteristics of being aware of and concerned about the thoughts and deeds of people, a God who will judge said thoughts and deeds, a God who is at least sometimes prepared to intercede in the world as a result of prayer or some other ritual practice, a God who is jealous - that is to say doesn't like people worshiping false Gods, a God concerned with what people do with their genitals, with whom, and, indeed, in some cases, concerned whether bits of genitals are ritually cut off or not. In other cases a God who demands that He (why He?) that he is be lived for, is to is to be died for, is kill or torture people for.

It is what I term the God-As-Generally-Understood God conceptions that I concern myself with, thinking them as I do out of touch with reality, and, even though they might sometimes be a source of comfort, and sometimes lead people to act better in the world than they would otherwise, I generally see as on balance being more a source of bad than good.

The other God conceptions I mention in the first long para of this post I see as not so much wrong as confusing, and likely to enable belief in the more primitive and superstitious, and, indeed, often evil, sorts of God conception from the the second part of the post - the sort of God who leads people to burn people at the stake, or to fly planes into buildings.

David

1 November 2013 at 05:52  
Blogger Anthony Joseph said...

That's half an hour of my life I'll never get back.

1 November 2013 at 08:30  
Blogger bluedog said...

Martin @ 22.22 says, 'No, I'm afraid Christianity did not arise out of Judaism,'

Silly me for thinking that
Jesus was Jewish on his mother's side. And for not realising that the people of the kingdom of Galilee were in the main, not Jewish. And that Jesus had no knowledge of the Jewish faith and was never called 'rabbi'.

Furthermore, 'And Christianity has nothing to do with Hellenic thought'. In which case, in what language was St John's Gospel written, if not Greek?

1 November 2013 at 10:18  
Blogger IanCad said...

So right bluedog.

The Hellenistic mindset influenced the writings of Augustine, whose errors remain with us yet.
The Reformation is not over!

1 November 2013 at 11:00  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack doesn't know about all of that David B and what all those complicated words mean. Jack was just saying that God cannot change. Now you're asking what this all at once and unchanging Idea that Jack thinks is God is like. And that's what people argue about all the time and try to use words to explain. If you are a Christian then you'll believe that God told Moses about Himself and also came as Jesus to show Himself even more to us. If you're not a Christian then you'll have a different opinion. We have to make up our own minds about all this.

1 November 2013 at 11:53  
Blogger John Wrake said...

Now it is clear why jack is Happy Jack.

Good morning, brother.

1 November 2013 at 12:31  
Blogger seanrobsville said...

The dangers of dehellenization: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dehellenization

1 November 2013 at 13:09  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack says a very good afternoon to you too, brother John Wrake.

1 November 2013 at 13:25  
Blogger Mike Stallard said...

I am almost convinced that I shall have to paint this little chap in the nude. At the moment, I am painting a lot of little people in the nude. Memento mori.

1 November 2013 at 16:10  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness Mr Stallard! That could lead you into a lot of trouble, mark my words!

1 November 2013 at 16:13  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Happy Jack suggests to Mike Stallard that he should wear an apron whilst painting little people.

1 November 2013 at 17:46  
Blogger Len said...

At least happy Jack

1 November 2013 at 18:06  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Lucy: "I was suggesting that there is no identifiable common set of values or principals that can be called secularist, even less something called "pluralist"."

Why should they have? I expect most if not all of us advocate a secular State because we think that combining monotheistic religion and political power is not a good thing. I dare say many of us are advocates of liberalism too for the related reason that decisions should start at the individual and that certainty is actually quite problematic as far as ideas are concerned. We only have to look around here to see lots of certainty, only from competing religious positions.

"How do you balance a hardline Muslim's religious disapproval of dogs with the indigenous British adoration of all things canine? A near impossibility I would think. "

For starters, substitute disapproval for ritual uncleanliness and consider Jewish views of menstruating women as ritually unclean too. However, as people here who have been to Muslim countries will probably agree, dogs are generally not treated well. I dare say that's cultural polution as Muslims are required to treat animals with consideration.

So, back to the question. What's the actual issue? I know people who dislike or are afraid of dogs but who are not Muslim too. Disliking dogs is hardly illegal. It's a preference. There's no balancing needed. Of course, if a Muslim gets a taxi license and he refuses to carry a guide dog in his vehicle then that's a breach of the license. If Muslims are concerned about ritual uncleanliness regarding dogs in their taxis then perhaps texi driving may be inappropriate for them. As far as I know, there's no legal exception available for Muslims on this.

1 November 2013 at 18:30  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Hello again Len. Happy Jack thinks a hat would be good too and possibly socks, now the weather is getting colder.

1 November 2013 at 18:39  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Lucy: "I suspect that many secularists hold very different views on morality [...]"

Back to this. The famous Hart/Devlin debate referred to in the speech in the article throws light on this. Fundamentally, the debate was about the relationship between morality and the law. It is famously difficult to separate the two but the law now is about ethics i.e. rules of behaviour, wheras morals are more about reasons. We can have shared ethics which have different moral reasoning behind them for individuals, and we clearly do. I have no wish at all to have the laws made which refer to one god or another for their justification. People who want something like that are staggeringly arrogant and anti-social as far as I am concerned, and they can well and truly bugger off to my mind.

1 November 2013 at 18:39  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear DanJ0, you are indeed a thoughtful lad, and that is to your credit of course. But it seems to me that, in the last part of your last post, you pour scorn on the cultural heritage of your country and people, for indeed our laws and sense of morality have been shaped by Christianity for more than a millennium. I also worry that, following our last exchange re: 'our gaff our rules' you think ill of me. My point was that no nation can continually bend it rules to facilitate the prejudices of each ethnic group that chooses to settle there - there has to be one set of laws for all citizens. Equality before the law means equality. But I have lapsed into seriousness...my apologies.

1 November 2013 at 21:42  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

My dear Mrs Proudie, unfortunately the gay tail wags the hapless animal. Perhaps a votive candle each Sunday may help...

1 November 2013 at 22:03  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Ah Inspector, I find comfort in your kind words...sometimes I do feel rather vulnerable in this online vortex of cut and thrust debate...one tries to bring a little humour into the proceedings and...well, like good seed on stony ground it withers and dies. I have always found you a cheery and stalwart fellow...so have recommended you for the vacant prebendry of Midsomer Slaughter, which of course is in my Lord's gift. we can do a deal on Holy Orders, no worries.

1 November 2013 at 22:20  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

And, as Sister Martha Lesbia of the Convent of St. Harman says, 'Where's the votive candle?' to which we all reply...

1 November 2013 at 22:22  
Blogger OldJim said...

Jon

"having shifted on inter-racial marriage, the age of consent (how old was Jesus' mother?), slavery, and education for women.. many people expect (and hope) that the Church will do the same for gay rights.."

I won't go through these one by one, I will just note that there is a lot of historical, contextual and doctrinal specificity I would insist on if we were going to get into this. I think the presentation you have given in this paragraph is crass and simplistic. I would also note, again, that you are flat out wrong on interracial marriage, at least as far as the Catholic Church goes.

I will instead limit myself to noting here that, on each point you raise, the Church is prohibiting something that was once permissible, or obliging one to do something that was once optional.

Prohibiting the once permissible:

- A fourteen year old cannot now marry.

- A person cannot now sell a deed to their own future labour; nor can another person buy it.

Obliging the once optional:

- Women must now have greater access to education.


None of this is like gay marriage, which is the rendering moral of that which has always been held to be immoral. It doesn't go from "morally neutral" to being given a determinate moral status. It's going from one determinate moral status to the other, or at least from one determinate moral status to neutral. That makes what you claim to be expecting quite unique from the other cases, and accordingly unrealistic even if I were to accept the rest of your perspective.

Interracial marriage would be a parallel if you could demonstrate that the Catholic Church had said contradictory things on the subject historically. But you can't, because it hasn't.

1 November 2013 at 22:38  
Blogger OldJim said...

Happy Jack

Your outlining of the nature of God was very neatly put. Your subsequent defense of the compatibility of this conception with the fact of revelation was also to your credit. I get much pleasure from reading your contributions.

1 November 2013 at 22:42  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Hello Old Jim. Happy Jack is chuffed his comments on such a big, big subject were well received by you. He thanks you too very much for saying so.

1 November 2013 at 22:58  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear happy Jack, what a lovely lad you are. It is always heart-warming to come across a fellow who was brought up properly with good manners. You put forward a very cogent argument on the nature of God, but forget to state equivocally that He is English. This knowledge inspired our greatest men, such as Cromwell and many a general and headmaster, to go on to great things. I hope you will go on to great things...

1 November 2013 at 23:10  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Mrs Proudie, why thank you for your kind words. Happy Jack does not want to do "great things" he just wants to be himself, sing his songs and bring a little sunshine into the lives of people he meets.

1 November 2013 at 23:22  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

My dear Mrs Proudie, one must decline your kind offer of an incumbency, as one is a Christian soldier first and foremost, and must have his right hand free for whatever. The Saracen is about, don’t you know...


1 November 2013 at 23:38  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear dear boys, then if I cannot compliment one to do great things, or offer preferment, then at least I can invite you to the Palace for a slap up high tea and conversation...Archdeacon Grantly has promised to attend and will grace us with a reading from Bishop Berkeley and Mr. Slope will sing a selection of West Country sea shanties, something he picked up when cruising.

1 November 2013 at 23:45  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

By the way Mrs Proudie, if you are typical of the English feminine rose, everything this man does is well worth it...

1 November 2013 at 23:45  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

So long as Happy Jack can bring his guitar and sing a few songs, Mrs Prodie, then he happily accepts your invitation. You should know that Happy Jack knows one or two songs he learned at sea that might not meet with full ecclesiastical approval.

2 November 2013 at 00:24  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Mrs P: "My point was that no nation can continually bend it rules to facilitate the prejudices of each ethnic group that chooses to settle there - there has to be one set of laws for all citizens."

There's a number of implicit assumptions in there: that there's some sort of social stasis, that someone owns and manages our culture, and that there is an indigenous culture and a number of ethnic sub-cultures. I think all of those are invalid assumptions.

There isn't a body of cultural ownership to which minority groups come cap in hand and ask for favours. Our citizens of Indian heritage own and control our culture as much as our citizens of a British heritage. There's an intangible social contract between all of us, contributing to a current British culture made up of all sorts of bits and bobs as it always has.

Of course, there are those who hold a Blood and Soil view of cultural ownership, some of whom regularly visit the area down here, and think they have a special claim and position. Well, reality tends to intrude for those people I think. We have a rights-based culture to suit our plural society and to mitigate the potential tyranny of the majority, as it's sometimes called.

2 November 2013 at 08:35  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Dear DanJ0, I am ticked off again it seems. I don't agree with you of course, but hey ho. I don't remember being asked whether I wanted a pluralistic society which accommodates so many minority groups (but I concede the point that neither were the Indians asked if they wanted to be art f the Empire) and I fear that the tyranny of the majority has long been replaced by the tyranny of minorities.

2 November 2013 at 14:31  
Blogger Jon said...

Sorry, Old Jim, but your last post is rather odd. You're setting up a series of rules by which the Church can change its mind which appear rather abstract.

What is uncontested is that the Church has changed its mind (subject to all the caveats you'd like to raise, which don't really matter that much). Once you accept that the Church has changed, we need to ask this one thing. Did God change his mind on these issues? And if so, how do we know? Or are we just allowed to make stuff up now?

I fear you are in a trap of your own making. You are allowing the Church to decide for you what's moral without recourse to the book you say guides the Church. Because either the Church is building its house on sand, or on rock. If it's on the rock of Biblical infallibility, I really don't see how it can disavow the verses in the bible it now finds unpalatable, neutral or permissible when they weren't to begin with.

Or it has built its house on the sand of the shifting interpretations of a set of old men with very little in the way of life experience.

Carl always asks how atheists determine their morality without objective reference to a static point. It's an odd question if you've ever used a compass (magnetic north MOVES, Carl) - but everything is still relative to it. I just didn't expect to hear a relativistic justification for catholic doctrine.

4 November 2013 at 11:03  

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