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← Christians must choose between religion and obeying law, says equalities chief Trevor Phillips

Christians must choose between religion and obeying law, says equalities chief Trevor Phillips - Comments

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 1 by sunbeamforjeebus

Not often I agree with Trevor Phillips but there is obviously a first time for everything!

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 14:20:14 UTC | #918796

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 2 by Premiseless

Can I hear the symphony of all solutions arising?

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 14:32:06 UTC | #918804

spotlamp's Avatar Comment 3 by spotlamp

At last someone gets it, not often you hear someone from government talking sense. I think I need to sit down after the shock.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 14:32:13 UTC | #918806

mfothergill85's Avatar Comment 4 by mfothergill85

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey told the Daily Mail Mr Phillips' comparison with sharia was "ridiculous".

How exactly?

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 14:32:26 UTC | #918807

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 5 by Steve Zara

Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, said: "Trevor Phillips in the past has argued for respect for Christian conscience. I am very surprised that here he seems to be saying there should be a totalitarian kind of view in which a believer's conscience should not be respected."

But which believer's conscience? Take the example of bed and breakfast owners. There are plenty of Christian gay couples. According to their consciences, sharing a bed is fine. The recent Mori poll has shown that according the consciences of the majority of Christians in the UK, that couple sharing a bed is fine. This even applies to Catholic consciences too.

I note that Nazir-Ali does not mention doctrine, but conscience. In trying to argue this point using conscience he has to now recognise that Christian conscience isn't his to control, and it disagrees with him.

Thanks to the efforts of the RDFRS, we can now say what the Christian conscience says on these matters!

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 14:59:21 UTC | #918827

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 6 by Paula Kirby

Michael Nazir-Ali: "I am very surprised that here he seems to be saying there should be a totalitarian kind of view in which a believer's conscience should not be respected."
Steve Zara: I note that Nazir-Ali does not mention doctrine, but conscience. In trying to argue this point using conscience he has to now recognise that Christian conscience isn't his to control, and it disagrees with him.

Indeed. And you'll also note that he is specifically concerned that "a believer's conscience" is not being respected. He is not talking about the importance of respecting an individual's conscience: just a believer's.

Yet he signally fails to explain why a believer's conscience - given that different believers' consciences lead them to take different stances on the same issues and are therefore demonstrably not objective guides to morality - should be given more respect than, say, mine.

The law doesn't operate on an opt-in basis, and nor should it.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 15:08:52 UTC | #918833

GPWC's Avatar Comment 7 by GPWC

Asked about conflicts between religion and equalities, he said: "The law stops at the door of the temple as far as I'm concerned".

Nice use of the word 'temple', but I'm not sure what he means by this. Surely, the law doesn't stop at the door of the temple. I suppose the Catholic Church have some sort of exemption from sex equality laws when it comes to appointing priests, but as far as other laws go - common law, health and safety etc, I'm sure the law doesn't stop at the door of the temple.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 15:09:03 UTC | #918835

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 8 by Steve Zara

Comment 6 by Paula Kirby

Yet he signally fails to explain why a believer's conscience - given that different believers' consciences lead them to take different stances on the same issues and are therefore demonstrably not objective guides to morality - should be given more respect than, say, mine.

When I read opinions like Nazir-Ali's, I imagine the not unlikely situation in which a Christian gay couple are confronted by Christian business owners who wish to turn away same-sex couples.

It's not the role of the law to decide whose interpretation of Christianity is right. It's certainly not the role of the law to decide whose conscience should be taken into account, and whose should be ignored.

One Law for All is about fairness, including for believers, as it protects believers with minority views from oppression by those of the same faith.

I have said I'm not in favour of secularism. I may be changing my mind.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 15:25:53 UTC | #918845

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 9 by Premiseless

Comment 7 by GPWC :

Nice use of the word 'temple', but I'm not sure what he means by this. Surely, the law doesn't stop at the door of the temple. I suppose the Catholic Church have some sort of exemption from sex equality laws when it comes to appointing priests, but as far as other laws go - common law, health and safety etc, I'm sure the law doesn't stop at the door of the temple.

One could use the principle that all who arrive into a country run by civil life and law, have by default, invited said civil life and law into their temple walls, rather than the reverse, which is what they seem to be arguing for to me.

Furthermore, it strikes me that ALL 'nationals' need be taught some commonly authentic principles upon how we all think and establish what is reasonable in a world so polluted by alternatives.

Our society, if anything, ought to be addressing a future freed of the shackles that present us, right now, with such diverse and morally opposing views as to what we teach our children as 'acceptable' and equitable and preserving their rights to freedom of thought.

If you care to look at the appalling diversity of what todays children are taught is 'proper' under the inner workings of the Trojan Horse of multi faith, it will not take you long to realise our prisons are part filled with psychologies synonymous with said religions tenets that somehow get a get out of jail free card to boot. Surely this cannot be a fair and equitable provision in the education of the collective young of the UK, that then risks many of them falling foul to such misplaced ideologies years henceforth?

Lines need drawing, for our sanity, that both defer and reign in the widening speculations of faith and its entrepreneurial grapplings to assert power.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 15:36:39 UTC | #918851

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 10 by Neodarwinian

Michael Nazir-Ali: "I am very surprised that here he seems to be saying there should be a totalitarian kind of view in which a believer's conscience should not be respected."

Moot point. It is not the believers conscience anyway. That conscience had been heavily overlaid by religious ideology to such a level that one, in the refereed instances, can not do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 15:51:50 UTC | #918864

danconquer's Avatar Comment 11 by danconquer

Comment 7 by GPWC :

Asked about conflicts between religion and equalities, he said: "The law stops at the door of the temple as far as I'm concerned". Nice use of the word 'temple', but I'm not sure what he means by this. Surely, the law doesn't stop at the door of the temple. I suppose the Catholic Church have some sort of exemption from sex equality laws when it comes to appointing priests, but as far as other laws go - common law, health and safety etc, I'm sure the law doesn't stop at the door of the temple.

Yes, I did notice this too. This question is going to be tested very soon when full gay marriages become a legal reality. When it comes to weddings, supernaturalist organisations are offering a service to (usually paying) members of the public, but crucially it is a service which is recognised by the state. If the ceremony is to continue enjoying legal recognition, then it will have to comply with singular legal requirements. The only way they can justify refusing to perform gay marriages will be if they effectively become 'private' clubs. They are welcome to do this, in my view, but in which case their marriage ceremonies will no longer merit any official legal recognition, and they will not be able to offer them to paying members of the public. I am looking forward to the showdown over this.

I am waiting to see how the more partisan, hypocritical gutter media cover this story. No word from the Daily Mail on this story yet. They are always attacking those muslims who demand legal privileges, but only a few days ago they passionately defended the Cornish B&B Bigots who were essentially demanding that they should enjoy just such a privileged exemption from the law. They are "decent" people apparently; a term usually synonymous with those who abide by the law, rather than flout it!

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 15:52:39 UTC | #918865

danconquer's Avatar Comment 12 by danconquer

Nazir-Ali - along with most of the CofE these days - are staunchly, and correctly, opposed to racial discrimination and are rightly supportive of the legal measures we have which prevent providers of goods and services from exercising their prejudices in the public and commercial sphere.

But he has never - as far as I'm aware - ever given a satisfactory explanation for why he doesn't think the "consciences" of those people doesn't require defending.

Does this not prove that it has nothing to do with opposing 'totalitarianism' and everything to do with reinforcing sex-obsessed scriptual dogma?

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 15:57:05 UTC | #918868

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 13 by strangebrew

This is about the only cogent thing I have ever heard Trevor Phillips actually say! At least it was on a topic that deserves such a slap down...well done Trev!

Tickles me that the ecclesiastical's all break their knicker elastics tying to argue the indefensible by ignoring the points raised, and insert weasel words to dodge the axe. They are desperately clinging to a hope that is diminishing by the day...god is dead..in fact he never lived...they have neither the wit nor the will to accept the simple truth.

The house of Yahweh is imploding around the ears of the terminally vacuous, they are suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous reality and the implacable rule of law.

Now they realise that even past minions to the cause are deserting the sinking ark..'The end is nigh' indeed.

It would be a fitting bonus to see a few Vatican crows get summarily busted and hauled into court on human rights and child abuse cover ups...that would be only just...and the only way a civilized society should react in the 21st fucking century.

The 'glamour' is fading for theists...I smell it in the air and I taste it in the water...much that once was is no more...sunshine is breaking through the overcast, and rationality is winning for the first time...it will not be the last not now...the spell is breaking and shattering into shards.

It is a pleasant and riveting sight.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 16:13:03 UTC | #918881

Mr Blue Sky's Avatar Comment 14 by Mr Blue Sky

Perhaps it was a Freudian slip and refers to the masonic links of higher orders of politicians and public servants who control from behind the doors of their temples and pretend that the GAOTU (Great Architect of the Universe) does not really influence them rather than it being a reference to a Jewish or other place of worship.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 16:34:13 UTC | #918892

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 15 by rod-the-farmer

religious rules should lose sway "at the door of the temple"

Hmm. Is that for inbound, or outbound ? I agree with the idea that your beliefs cannot be extended outside your religious property. Sort of. There may be circumstances where I would require time to reconsider. But the issue of outside laws (the laws of the society as a whole) forcing themselves inside your religious entity. Now that I can more easily imagine. While there is a long tradition of people seeking sanctuary inside a church building, I wonder how the law deals with a criminal act committed inside a church ? Sexual assault of a minor, just picking something at random, you understand. Does the law allow police to enter the church to apprehend the perpetrator ? How about if this is happening during a religious ceremony ? Are they allowed to interrupt ? Funny if true, given they seem to have agreed they will not enter a church to apprehend an illegal immigrant. Is that sanctuary business enshrined (pun intended) in common law ?

So, we may be left with the idea that religious "law" applies only at the door jamb. That would work.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 16:53:25 UTC | #918901

gr8hands's Avatar Comment 16 by gr8hands

"Sanctuary" should be abolished worldwide. It gives tremendous power to those who invoke it, and is the very height of inequality -- putting any church above the law.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 21:59:14 UTC | #919013

rationalmind's Avatar Comment 17 by rationalmind

There is a poll on there. Perhaps certain bloggers will find that interesting? It is good that the telegraph have at least covered it.Nazir Ali gets mentioned again! Who next Stephen Green?

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 22:17:09 UTC | #919020

MyGoatyBeard's Avatar Comment 18 by MyGoatyBeard

This headline makes it appear as though Christians are not following the adoption laws, but I'm not convinced they are - unless somebody knows differently? My understanding is that the Catholic adoption agencies are closing, not continuing to run outside the law.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 22:18:51 UTC | #919022

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 19 by Peter Grant

Christians who argue they should be exempt from equality laws are no different from Muslims who want to impose sharia law in the UK

That's actually a very good point!

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 22:22:43 UTC | #919024

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 20 by Jos Gibbons

Am I the only one who thinks the title of this article falsely implies Phillips used words he never did? Maybe this is how all right-wing reporting "works".

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 22:29:07 UTC | #919025

Roedy's Avatar Comment 21 by Roedy

I find it strange that Christians feel imposed on when they are criticised for encouraging bullying of children labelled gay. They seem to think such bullying is a virtue.

Then there is the notion that gays have gone far enough with partnership laws. They must not attain full marriage because they are second class citizens in the religious view. They must be kept in their place. They must never get the idea they are as worthy as Christians are. It is very much like segregation of blacks.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 22:32:51 UTC | #919027

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 22 by Rob Schneider

No... that photo caption has it all wrong... Just expand the temple to include "everywhere" and then there is no "public law." It's so easy.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 22:40:00 UTC | #919033

hemidemisemigod's Avatar Comment 23 by hemidemisemigod

That's the problem with any religion. It's the law of the land versus the law of your god or gods. It's a court sentence versus eternal damnation. No contest!

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 22:47:39 UTC | #919036

Chica1's Avatar Comment 24 by Chica1

“We are a democracy in which Christianity is established in the Church of England and a nation profoundly influenced by this faith in its Catholic and Anglican heritage. We need lawmakers to respect this heritage and seek accommodation wherever a strongly held faith seems to clash with new legislation.”

Nobody is trying to deny the past, but that does not mean that things must go on unchanged. Besides many of those Catholic laws have been changed because they were deeply unfair, for example votes for women, blasphemy laws, sodomy laws, slavery laws...the list goes on.

Neil Addison, a barrister and director of the Thomas More Legal Centre, said: “The EHRC is so obsessed with equality that it has lost sight of freedom. It would prefer people not to do good, rather than to do good on their own terms.” The comments were “inflammatory”, said Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre. “These comments are deeply illiberal. They are intolerant,” she said. “Trevor Phillips fails to understand the nature of faith and what inspires faith and what makes agencies like Catholic adoption agencies so selfless.”

How can a barrister so fundamentally misunderstand the meaning of the word equality, after all what is freedom if we do not have equality? If people really wanted to do good they would do it within the law, if they're not within the law is what they are doing 'good'? Asking for equality is the opposite of intolerance. Asking for an exemption from the law because of your deeply held prejudices is intolerant, who was it who said 'hate the sin not the sinner' surely that could apply here.

On a separate note Catholic adoption agencies are not 'selfless' if they were selfless they would be adoption agencies, open to all. They existed to swell the number of Catholics by only placing children with families who would bring them up in the way they prescribed. If they were selfless they would continue working, under the new laws placing children with homosexuals, placing children in loving homes while making it clear they had an objection to doing so, but not stopping because they were dedicated to doing what they were doing, they would not close their doors, like a child having a tantrum.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 23:11:13 UTC | #919052

snail-12's Avatar Comment 25 by snail-12

Wow the poll on that article is currently a little depressing. It could do with Pharyngulating.

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 23:25:31 UTC | #919056

rationalmind's Avatar Comment 26 by rationalmind

Comment 7 by Chica1 :

“We are a democracy in which Christianity is established in the Church of England and a nation profoundly influenced by this faith in its Catholic and Anglican heritage. We need lawmakers to respect this heritage and seek accommodation wherever a strongly held faith seems to clash with new legislation.”

Nobody is trying to deny the past, but that does not mean that things must go on unchanged. Besides many of those Catholic laws have been changed because they were deeply unfair, for example votes for women, blasphemy laws, sodomy laws, slavery laws...the list goes on.

Neil Addison, a barrister and director of the Thomas More Legal Centre, said: “The EHRC is so obsessed with equality that it has lost sight of freedom. It would prefer people not to do good, rather than to do good on their own terms.” The comments were “inflammatory”, said Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre. “These comments are deeply illiberal. They are intolerant,” she said. “Trevor Phillips fails to understand the nature of faith and what inspires faith and what makes agencies like Catholic adoption agencies so selfless.”

How can a barrister so fundamentally misunderstand the meaning of the word equality, after all what is freedom if we do not have equality? If people really wanted to do good they would do it within the law, if they're not within the law is what they are doing 'good'? Asking for equality is the opposite of intolerance. Asking for an exemption from the law because of your deeply held prejudices is intolerant, who was it who said 'hate the sin not the sinner' surely that could apply here.

Well in any job there are those who are less competent anyway. Who knows. You always have to allow for the paper bending quotations as well.

The real issue here isn't about freedom of religion it is freedom of bigotry. It is bigots who want legal consent for them to be bigots. We know now for definite, because of the recent survey, that most christians don't agree with this stuff.

What is really stupid about this is that there are actually thousands of different religious groups each with their own beliefs. I'll be there is, or has been, one somewhere that has had something daft to pick on to discriminate for.

Let's say we had a new group and they believed that ginger haired people were evil or brought bad luck or people over six foot or under five foot. If we allowed people to follow religious "conscience" (there's an oxymoron) then that group could discriminate against redheads. In a rational sense it is just another normal variation in human phenotype, like being black or gay or whatever.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 00:02:59 UTC | #919065

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 27 by Steve Zara

Comment 4 by Roedy

Then there is the notion that gays have gone far enough with partnership laws. They must not attain full marriage because they are second class citizens in the religious view. They must be kept in their place.

One thing I really can't stand is being tolerated. It gets me really worked up. Well, as much as I ever do get worked up. When I hear that someone is tolerating the gays, I don't feel gratitude but I get irate.

Gays are like a bad smell, or an annoying itch, something to be tolerated, because it's not worth making a fuss, or scratching will make us worse. We are full, equal members of society, or at least should be. We should not be tolerated as a group, we should be loved, hated, admired or despised because of who we are as individuals, just like anyone else, because we are just anyone.

We will know when full equality has been achieved when we fade into the foreground, when we have become boring. I don't think that will take long. Another generation, perhaps, and that's it.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 00:16:13 UTC | #919068

mmurray's Avatar Comment 28 by mmurray

"Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars"

Why don't they just read their own damn book.

Michael

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 00:42:54 UTC | #919075

Viveca's Avatar Comment 29 by Viveca

Comment 11 by mmurray :

"Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars" Why don't they just read their own damn book.

Michael

My thoughts exactly. But what about those Holy Books that say no such thing?

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 00:52:16 UTC | #919079

Warren-S's Avatar Comment 30 by Warren-S

First, women were regarded as subhuman. Then it was the non-whites, now it is the bi and homosexual community. When will society wake up and get rid of the biggest obstruction to the progress of civilisation?

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 00:53:24 UTC | #919081