Thursday, 29 April 2010

Has one man the right to change the constitution?

I ask the question not because I don't think he has, but because I honestly don't know the answer.

Apparently, according to The Times, in dismissing an appeal by Gary McFarlane, a Christian counsellor working for Relate, against discrimination on religious grounds, Lord Justice Laws has announced that, 'Christianity deserves no protection in law above other faiths [in this country] and to do so would be “irrational”, “divisive, capricious and arbitrary”'.

I find myself wondering whether he has read, or is even aware of, the Coronation Oath taken by Queen Elizabeth II, at her crowning by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1953:
Archbishop: Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?

Queen. All this I promise to do.
Now I am not saying it is right that the Queen should have taken this oath (though presumably it seemed a good idea at the time). Nor am I saying that Prince Charles, should he ever become King, ought to take the same oath (indeed, I cannot see how he possibly could). Nor, indeed, does it matter one whit whether Mr McFarlane is in the right or the wrong.

What I am saying is that this oath surely 'privileges' Christianity in the constitution of England. And I am therefore asking whether Lord Justice Laws can simply say "This is no longer the case" and it is so, with regard to such a profound issue.

I may well have misunderstood many things in this situation. Perhaps others could clarify?

John Richardson
29 April 2010

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38 comments:

  1. Is this what's known as 'judicial activism'?

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  2. I haven't got an answer to this, but boy you really are the master at coming from a different angle.

    Bloomin' good question, which was informative in itself.

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  3. In today's "Telegraph" in the comment section, Michael Nazir-Ali writes' "... the Court of Appeal ... has driven a coach and horses through the ancient association of the Christian faith with the constitutional and legal basis of British society. Everything from the Coronation Oath onwards suggests that there is an inextricable link between the Judaeo-Christian tradition of the Bible and the institutions, the values and the virtues of British society. If this judgement is allowed to stand, the aggressive secularists will have had their way."

    Yet Lord Justice Laws comments in condemning any attempt to seek protection of beliefs under law, as "irrational" and "capricious".

    Since I think, in my humble opinion, his judgement of belief and particularly Christian belief is "irrational", "capricious" and "preferring the subjective over the objective." May be he should judge his own judgements.

    Richard Wood

    East London

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  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  5. Perhaps it does matter a teensy bit whether or not Mr McFarlane 'has a case'...

    I've looked around his professional website, and it seems that he offers sexual therapy/counselling to heterosexual couples, regardless of whether or not they are married.

    And I doubt if Relate would have accepeted a stance of refusing help to unmarried male/female couples.

    So, isn't there the faintest whiff of a double standard here?

    Or does my sense of smell need re-educating?

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  6. Mr Gnome, well done for missing the point of my post entirely!

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  7. Anonymous, like the small print says, "When posting your comments please give a full name and location. Comments without this information may be deleted."

    As I'm feeling grumpy, I've decided to apply this to your post.

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  8. John,

    It sounds to me that the Church of England is not only being dis-established by judical fiat but also being deprived along with other Christian denominations of any protection of the law. The English Church(and I do not mean the Church of England) has entered upon another period of persecution. The secular authorities and the courts may have not yet got around to feeding the Christians to the lions but give them time.

    You are in my prayers--you and all faithful Christians in the British Isles.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Robin G. Jordan,
    Murray, Kentucky

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  9. The Joint Council for Equality and Human Rights of which Ben Summerskill is a member came out with a truly staggering statement, with regard to sex education in schools:

    “In our view there is an important difference between this factual information [about sexual morality] being imparted in a descriptive way as part of a wide-ranging syllabus about different religions, and a curriculum which teaches a particular religion’s doctrinal beliefs as if they were objectively true. The latter is likely to lead to unjustifiable discrimination” (paragraph 67).
    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200607/jtselect/jtrights/58/58.pdf


    “ In our view “ ( Ben Summerkill‘s ) is no view at all but a dogmatic assertion that there are no absolute, objective truths concerning sexual morality, or the dogmatic assertion that Darwinian ideology and homosexual morality are objectively true. This teaches that human nature is essentially good but that if man behaves badly this does not matter because essentially human life is no more significant than a worm and as such is not expected to live up to a high moral expectation. There is no holy God to whom man is answerable. This has been taught in schools ever since the labour party got into government, in 1997.

    “Liberalism is now totalitarianism,” “There is no place for those who don’t agree.” OK?


    A Christian would re run the statement:

    In my view there is an important difference between factual information ( About sexual morality) being imparted in descriptive way as part of wide ranging syllabus about pagan religions and ideologies that promote fornication, adultery, homosexuality, sado- masochism, exhibitionism, anal-oral sex, rimming, frotteurism, felching, fisting, necrophilia, coprophilia, fetishism, incest, bestiality, zoophilia, hypoxphilia, transvetic fetishism, orchiectomy (gelding), apotemnophilia and acrotomophilia, and a curriculum that teaches these philosophy’s as if they were objectively true . The latter is likely to lead to unjustifiable discrimination. Indeed it is. It discriminates against Christians.

    David Skinner

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  10. Interesting.

    That section in the Coronation Oath relates to the Queen's title of Defender of the Faith (Fidei Defensor.) This was orginally bestowed on Henry the eighth by the Pope in 1521. Ironically, Henry later broke away from Rome but Parliament (I think) confirmed his title, but with the understanding that it now related to his defence of the Catholic church (as opposed to the Roman Catholic Church) - the now Church of England.

    Prince Charles a few years back announced that, when he becomes King, he would be "defender of the faiths" to reflect multi cultural Britain. This was later amended to say he would be "defender of faith" (minus the definite article!) If Charles wish were granted, it would require Parliament to amend the 1953 Royal Titles Act which came into force for the Queen's Coronation.

    However, the real "power" which the Queen wields is actually quite limited. In 2003 the power wielded by Royal Prerogative was put down on paper for the first time. In it we read that,
    " the Queen accepts ministerial advice, whether she agrees with it or not."
    Technically, the Queen is still "Defender of the Faith" and that is emphatically Anglican, but it is, I think, a dubious suggestion that the judiciary is obliged to defer to her in the passing of laws related to a clash between civil right and religious rights, or the claim of Anglicanism to be given extraordinary privileges. Ministers are accountable to Parliament and not to the Monarch. Laws have, of course, been recently passed giving the Church of England specific exemptions from the law of the land, but it seems clear that it is not felt that these privileges should extend into the secular realm. The Queen's role as Defender of the Faith does not translate to a country which is a theocracy, the role and title simply does not have that scope or legal force.

    As I understand it, ministers are accountable to Parliament and not the the Monarch

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  11. I would like to make it clear that the adjective "interesting" was intended in reference to the main post and not the long list of practices, such as rimming, frotteurism and felching, posted by Anonymous.

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  12. "As I understand it, ministers are accountable to Parliament and not the the Monarch".
    Actually, ministers are ultimately accountable to the electorate, not to anybody else, or to any oganization.

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  13. "... or the dogmatic assertion that Darwinian ideology and homosexual morality are objectively true."
    Er, Darwin is objectively true, and been proven time and time again by scientists all over the world. That's the point.

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  14. Other than EU and international law, the supreme form of law in the UK is parliamentary statute and legislation passed in pursuance of statute. We have no constitution and no oaths which are superior to statute law, and have not had since at least the 17th century.

    Lord Justice Laws was enforcing the Employment Equality Regulations, which were passed by authority of an Act of Parliament. If they conflict with the Coronation Oath (itself established by an earlier statute), then the oath is voided to the extent of the conflict. Thus Laws was upholding the constitution and the law, not changing it.

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  15. just accept the inevitable, the church and all religion is doomed, it does not need enemies it is in self destruct mode, out of touch with the people out of touch with reality,doomed to extinction like the dinosaurs, the church reminds me of the lemings, they know what is coming but just carry on as if nothing will, good riddance church, good riddance religion, a better world it will be without them

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  16. Anonymous....

    parents and teachers are already accountable to their pupils. They are both responsible for them and responsible to them, no matter how the latter behave - like my friend, Peter Harvey who cracked under the strain.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/columnists/article-489358/Children-judges-The-final-proof-moralitys-turned-head.html

    But don't worry at the present rate Christians and their influence in Britain will disappear and then it will become a truly Marxist paradise.

    Enjoy


    David Skinner

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  17. The Church of England IS privileged in this country. One example is that it is exempt from certain aspects of the recent equality laws.

    The Coronation oath places on the Queen a responsibility to,
    "preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches...all such rights and privileges AS BY LAW do or shall pertain to them."

    So, I assume the oath does not give the Monarch the right to waive the law, it certainly does not establish a theocracy - as referenced in Judge Justice Law's speech. Monarch, Church, and Christian subjects, must act within the bounds of the law.

    Nobody has commented on the likelihood anyhow that the title will ultimately become the "defender of faith". This suggests the unease, even within the Royal Family, about a Monarch who does not equally value the many faith traditions of his or her subjects.

    Sure, the Government is "ultimately" answerable to the electorate. However, all of the main parties are keen to display their pro-gay credentials, as seen in their answers to the question about the Pope's visit during the TV debates.
    There is no sense of the main parties needing to woo the conservative Christian vote in this election.

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  18. From Shaun Robson, Yorkshire.

    Some of these people commenting above are clearly either deranged or living on another planet. Especially the bloke (or woman) who takes this issue as an excuse to list every deviant and dangerous sexual practice he has ever heard of (and he/she has obviously researched this very thoroughly because I've never heard of many of these practices and I've met a lot of dangerous deviants in my time - professionally of course).

    Of course this whole issue is just another excuse for the whingers (and the unpleasantly aggressive evangelists) among the christian faithful to get back on their favourite hobby-horse and play the poor, hard-done-by victims yet again. The song is becoming threadbare and irritatingly boring and repetitive so give it a rest, please. You are not being persecuted merely because your religious beliefs are no longer imposed by law on the rest of us.

    If you cannot live in a secular society then you have two choices. You can either emigrate to a place where religious belief is accorded the respect you clearly think it deserves (like Iran perhaps) or you can arm yourselves and prepare for the logical, violent, result of your insistence that society must frame its laws and regulations around your own irrational beliefs and prejudices.

    I can happily live alongside devout Christians, or devout Moslems, or Jews, or Hindus, or Druids (a tribal caste actually and not a religion as such - but who cares...?), or Satanists or Zoroastrians or Buddhists or animists or worshippers of the Magic Soup Dragon....etc. In fact some of my very best friends are christians. I am quite happy to tolerate their varied beliefs and superstitions, however irrational, anti-scientific and downright loony they may be. Where I draw the line, and where any multi-cultural and multi-faith society must draw the line (or condemn itself to endless religious and communal strife, injustice, discrimination and ultimately confessional apartheid, violence and bloodshed) is the point where any faith group seek to impose their own religious beliefs on civil society as a whole.

    I will gladly live in peace with my Moslem neighbours as long as they do not try to impose (usually at the behest of reactionary and bigoted Imams) so-called "Islamic" principles of gender separation, religious separation and official recognition of Sharia law on the society that I live in - and that society includes them and their families. I will gladly live in peace with my christian neighbours (if I have any - I really don't know) as long as they accept thast the society we share together is, and must be, strictly secular. Secular society is the only protection that religious minorities (which oif course includes the various types of christianity in modern Britain) have and the fact that some demented believers seem determined to destroy it and so invite religious conflict and strife back into the everyday political mainstream merely indicates that some Turkeys will, if sufficiently swayed by their irrationality and "divine revelation", vote for Christmas.

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  19. To the anonymous who said "we have no constitution", this article on the Constitution of the United Kingdom would appear to disagree.

    To (most of) the rest I say, despite the comments I am not much the wiser! Suem gave it a go, the person who said we have no constitution came closest to a legal account (but was so wrong on the constitutional issue I doubt her/his competence). Most other posts are off topic.

    Incidentally, when I was a Polytechnic Chaplain, the production of a written Constitution for Great Britain was a favourite project of the Marxist sociologists - which made me immediately suspicious of it.

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  20. We don't have a written constitution in the way that, for example, America does. The extent of Royal Prerogative was only formally written down in 2003 (I believe.) I suspect the Queen's Coronation Oath would have little weight, if it were to be applied as a lever to influence decisions in the courts, but I am no expert and I might be wrong.

    Another factor to consider is the recent proposal to disestablish the Church from the State. Rowan Williams has effectively said he has no problem with this ( Church of Wales was disestablished in 1920.) Phil Woolas says it is the only just solution in a multi faith society. I think, given these issues being mooted, any attempt to use the Queen's position as Supreme Governor and her Coronation Oath to influence judicial decision making, would cause outcry. I do not think the Queen would be party to it and would be advised strongly against it.

    I am no expert on these issues, but they are all points that I think might be relevant.

    A very pertinent post. I must say I have not seen the matter considered from this perspective anywhere else in the blogosphere or in the media generally.

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  21. Justice Laws seems to be calling for special treatment for secularists' religious beliefs - he's basically calling for the establishment of secularism and (going far further than every 'Christian' in this country calling for a theocracy (which must be a number countable using fingers), and most Muslims who want Sharia Law here) by removing things like the Act of Toleration and things that allow dissent from the established religion tolerated, rather than faced with legal proceedings.

    Justice Laws rightly condemns the imposition of Christian beliefs on those who don't belief them - missing the point hugely that such a thing doesn't happen and that no one is asking for that at all, but lobbying against tyranny and getting amendments to totalitarian bills - but he fails to see that he is seeking to impose his religious beliefs on those who disagree.

    It's hypocritical, irrational, devisive, capricious and arbitary to impose such an 'atheocracy' on us - it's not just Laws that's doing it, but laws that have been passed (thankfully weakened by amendments coming from the Lords) by the Government (sadly at best we might see a stemming of the tide from next week, but not roll it back).

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  22. From a letter to a ('liberal' Evangelical priest friend last week...)

    Yesterday I was reading the story of Gary McFarlane, the Relate sex counsellor who claims he was wrongfully dismissed when he was sacked for refusing to give sex counselling to same-sex couples on the grounds his religious beliefs did not permit same sex relationships. He lost his appear at the High Court and I noted the BBC had reported Lord Cary had asked for a judge with a ‘proven sensitivity and understanding of religious issues’ to hear the case. Obviously, we both know that truth and what the media report can, and often are, at odds. However I do find these cases which that vile organisation, The Christian Institute, often has a hand in, concerning ‘discrimination’ of Christians, are often little more than an attempt at cheap morality and (not unlike Bonheoffer’s Cheap Grace) say more about the person’s intolerance and attention seeking than anything as sublime as the Christian Gospel. It is curious how so much effort is given over by many vocal Christians into claiming they are either victims or saviours of the modern world.

    Mr McFarlane would have been asked at interview whether he had any problems about working with same-sex couples. I was offered a placement with Relate in 1994, when training as a social worker, and was asked, even then, whether I would have any issues about working with same-sex couples. So I wonder if this guy is just playing the Christian discrimination card because he’s hoping for a pot of compensation money? Or because he was sacked for another reason and just wants to cover up incompetence with piety? Or because of the attention? I am sure McFarlane and Susanne Wilkinson (the B&B owner who refused a middle-aged gay couple a double room earlier this year) have provided services they refuse to a gay couple to unmarried heterosexual couples. If they were so devout in their claim of upholding conservative Christian values, they would only provide sexual counselling services or double rooms to married couples. This clearly doesn’t happen and so we can safely assume that a degree of prejudice and ‘cheap morality’ is taking place here. I, for one, am happy for a B&B owner to discriminate on the grounds of religion – but I want proof only married couples have been allowed to stay in double rooms; I doubt this could be found – or not as easily as prejudice and bigotry, not to mention a salacious mind (just because two men share a bed doesn’t mean they’re going to have sex does it?) . Similarly, I know from my brief association with Relate, that a third of couples using the service are unmarried (that was in 1994, so we can assume a higher proportion now). I’m sure there are Christian counselling organisations McFarlane could work for, if he is so concerned about his Christian values – they would pay less, but at least his ‘integrity’ would remain intact.

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  23. Dear 'Problem' - very interesting, but completely off-topic, like several other posts here!

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  24. Dear Ugley

    Well I wasn't going to get myself involved in the twaddle of the Coronation oaths... Disestablish the CoE. Something like 97 out of 100 people DON’T attend a CofE church regularly on a Sunday morning and yet we as a nation are supposed to live under its yoke and doff our caps to its privileged position in our ‘constitution’ and individuals because they have dog collar.

    The trouble with privilege is that, by its nature, it is not something earned. Perhaps what you should be asking is whether or not the Church of England (and the oath pertains to the CoE, not Christianity per se) has earned any right to privilege in the England?

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  25. Dear Prob - yes, but still off-topic. (As you say, "perhaps you should be asking ...".)

    We may dislike the constitution. The question is whether one man can change it - or indeed, has changed it, or perhaps misunderstood or misrepresented it. Or maybe, like I said, I've not understood something here.

    PS I'm sorry but I'd clean forgotten your first name and hadn't time to look through past comments to find it!

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  26. John

    Yes, I see where you are coming from... But, if you have ever had any experience with legal matters, you will know that often one man (or woman) often changes our laws. Parliament writes legislation in an ambiguous style - so it can mean more than thing – for obvious reasons. A great of law is actually case law, that which is establish in court or from Law Lord rulings. Although a PhD candidate in theology and religious studies now, over my left shoulder at present are several feet of book shelf dedicated to social work law, from my many years as a social worker. A quick glance over my shoulder and a good two or three of these tomes are obsolete, even though I only bought one of them 18 months ago. Case law changes how statutes are understood and enacted; this is usually caused by the ruling of one woman or man.

    It is the same with the McFarlane case. Actually I think Lord Justice Laws should have stuck to the matter in hand, rather include religion – but that was McFarlane’s defence and so the judge was forced to make some comment – perhaps he should have chosen his words a little more carefully. The reality of such cases is they are usually thrown out of court because the clamant has contractually agreed to provide services to all regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation etc. when they signed a contract of employment which stated the employee would abide by the organisation’s equal opportunities policy – it is the reason why the Islington registrar (thankfully) ultimately lost her case because she had signed to say she agreed to uphold the council’s equal ops policy. Hence religion is almost a red herring here and perhaps it would have been better for Justice Laws to state this plainly, the matter was not about religion but contractual obligation. This was the case with the Islington woman – I don’t have the weblink off hand, but you can read the legal ruling on line and religion isn’t really mentioned, the final decision was based on the fact the registrar had legally agreed to provide services to the general public regardless of their race, gender, disability etc. etc. The fact she then claimed religious conscious for not enacting this policy was immaterial, she had agreed that she would abide by the policy and the reason she was disciplined was because she refused to do so. A lesson to anyone of a particular religious persuasion – read what you sign and think about the implications of agreeing to certain policies. If you’re going to work for an organisation that provides services to the general public, then you can’t pick and choose whom you are going to serve and whom you will ignore.

    It is, as is usually the case with such matters, a great deal of fuss over nothing. The man failed in his contractual obligations – that is what the judge should have said and not mentioned religion. But what the heck – good on you, Justice Laws!!!!

    Regards:

    Steven

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  27. Steven, as you say, "perhaps it would have been better for Justice Laws to state this plainly, the matter was not about religion but contractual obligation."

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  30. John

    Yes, perhaps this would have been the sensible answer... But then McFarlane himself was using religion as his defence; he had already passed through lesser courts etc. stating he had some ‘special’ status that exempted him from fulfilling his contractual obligations; again and again he was told this was not the case; despite this, his arrogance kept him going – believing he was somehow above the law; that he was a special case. So Lord Justice Laws had his hand forced.

    Sorry to go on about this, but it seems so obvious to me, that it is a clear case of whining Christian wants to excuse his prejudice by recourse to ‘religious belief’ (though as I noted above we don’t hear of him complaining about having to counsel non-married clients, which hints at the unsavoury nature of his piety); or if not this, then just a little self-glorification that is at the heart of many a martyrdom (there’s no such thing as altruism, we only do something if there is something in it for ourselves, even if that something is just being able to feel better about ourselves). It is the conceit that is at the heart of soteriological religion (‘I’m so sinful only God can save me’/’I so special God died for me’) that is manifest here. Anyone with an ounce of spiritual perspicacity knows this: it is impossible to do anything without there being some taint of self-interest. It is a sad truth that much of what we believe God wants us to do, is really what WE want to do – usually as a means of brokering some equilibrium between our inner and outer world (outwardly this can appear a selfless sacrifice, but its motive will always be self-reflexive and this denotes its true meaning – even Mother Teresa ‘got something out’ of what she did!). I am sure I have used this quote before & I am in danger of wearing it out, but it is SO true:

    ‘We must be for ourselves in the long-run; the mild and generous are only more justly selfish than the domineering...’ from Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

    So, on reflection, Lord Justice Laws was correct to mention religion; it is the best means of stopping this waste of time and money the devout (aka The Piously Selfish) seem intent to inflict upon the legal system. It seems to me, that there is more self-glorification than religious conscience in these cases. McFarlane would have counselled unmarried couples, Lillian Ladele would have married people she knew were sham marriages (a common occurrence in London boroughs) – or marrying divorced people (something Jesus, with the exception of adultery, Jesus forbade). Did we hear them use these clear violations Biblical morality in their tribunals? No, it was the queer-card they used in the hope of inciting age old prejudice and basking in the cheap morality of condemning people for something that doesn’t affect themselves.

    As an aside, on Friday I visited my doctors’ surgery and I saw a female Muslim locum doctor, who was complete with hijab. I had gone with a problem concerning my knee and so she needed to examine me. Did she say ‘Oh I’m a Muslim woman, I can’t examine a man; my religion forbids it!’? No, she asked a male colleague to come in for a 2nd opinion and to be present while she examined me. If McFarlane had said his religious beliefs forbade him to provide counselling to anyone other than a married couple, he would have had integrity. But no, he had to go for the cheap morality of queer-bashing. For that very reason Lord Justice was more than correct to refer to religion in his summing up. The person who defiled religion here was McFarlane and he and unfortunately many well reasoned and un-bigoted Christians, gained the reward of the opprobrium of Christianity. As Jesus notes, when people do things for their own glorification – they have their reward (cf. Matt 6: 2).

    Regards:

    S.

    (sorry had to repost twice due to confused verbs and spellings! - I'm not the brightest of people in the language department - an ITA child, a victim of American Liberalism!!)

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  31. Steven, given that this long post is (again!) off-topic, given the language you use about Mr MacFarlane, and given the comparatively temperate language you use about your observant Muslim doctor, I wonder if you realize how much of a personal anti-Christian agenda this seems to represent.

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  32. Dear Revd John

    My point about the Muslim doctor is that she got on with her job, despite her religious observance; she didn’t refuse to see me because I am man – in fact she even compromised conservative Islamic values, by being alone in a room with me. As for McFarlane – this is NOT off the topic as it is my answer to your comment. As is evident again and again with Christians who play the objection to homosexuality card, McFarlane lacks integrity because he does not take his ‘conservative Christian stance’ to its logical conclusion in not counselling unmarried couples and making this one of the reasons for his grievance. He stops just about around the same place as prejudice begins by playing the queer-card. A fat compensation payout or receipt of glory from similar minded Christians is probably what motivates someone like McFarlane. If the likes of McFarlane had really given the matter some thought they would see that it is all or nothing: you either provide a service for the general public (as is Relate’s mandate) or you go and work for a Christian organisation that doesn’t need huge subsidy from the state to carry on its ‘religious philanthropy’ (and alas, non-state supported Christian welfare organisations, as my research demonstrates, are few and far between...).

    It is not an anti-Christian agenda to note the problems of belief – indeed if you read my comment carefully , you will see I am stating that people like McFarlane (and, in parenthesis, those that advocate for them) are what cause problems for Christianity – and perhaps (on topic again) contributed to the judgement given in this case.

    As often seems the case with Christians when someone raises a criticism about the nature of religious belief, it is translated into the victimisation of religion. If you have read any John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Athanasius’ Life of St Anthony, Catherine of Sienna, Anthony Bloom, Archimandrite Sophrony, Fr Benson SSJE, Richard Foster or even Adrian Plass there is common theme that much of our religious belief and its resultant actions are often clouded by self-seeking (regardless of Marx, Durkheim and Weber’s take on the subject). The notion of ‘Conversion of Life’ found in Catholic, Orthodox and Patristic theology concerns itself with this – in essence the relationship for a Christian believer between kairos and chronos and how an individual is to work out her/his salvation in time and space. An acknowledgement that you can rarely do a good thing in itself (if you do, it is probable you won’t know about it) and that all one’s motives etc. are to a greater or lesser degree motivated by self interest is a good starting point.

    Forgive me if I am wrong, but it seems you are suggesting Christianity and (and spirituality for that matter) should have some privileged position, excluded from criticism or observation?

    I’m certainly not anti-Christian, nor, as far as I can see, is what I have written in the above – that said, people see what they want to see, I suppose... Particularly when it suits their self-interest...

    Regards:

    S.

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  33. Steve, the topic is (was) the constitution of this country and its historic relationship with the Christian faith, not has Mr MacFarlane acted with integrity.

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  34. Steve, you have also regularly, and imaginatively (if I can put it that way) ascribed the basest of motives to Mr MacFarlane, eg, "A fat compensation payout or receipt of glory from similar minded Christians is probably what motivates someone like McFarlane."

    I'm not sure I should allow that on this blog.

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  35. I did qualify it with qualify it with the adjective 'probably' I didn't make an accusation. - But let's face it, when someone gets that upset about someone's morality, there's usually a good deal of transference going on.

    What the heck, delete the post - I live only 30 or so minutes drive from Ugley - I must drive through it one day. And have a look at you, I'm sure you won't be hard to miss perched so high on the Moral High Ground...

    Happy blogging!

    S.xx

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  36. Steven,

    "when someone gets that upset about someone's morality, there's usually a good deal of transference going on"

    "I'm sure you won't be hard to miss perched so high on the Moral High Ground"

    Hmm.

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  37. Can't see how this judgement changes the constitution, or even affects it. The Queen's oath basically sets out part of her job description - she's agreeing to let CofE Bishops and Clergy get on with their day jobs without interference from her, despite her nominal position as head of the Church. This case doesn't concern the internal arrangements of the CofE, so not relevant to the Oath.

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  38. Oh fuck off you sad, old queen. Looking at this blog, you have a time-share in Narnia, you’re so far in the closet.

    Jesus is an excuse for you to make a martyrdom of the failure of your life to provide you with a loving and last relationship.

    I swallowed the Evangelical line, hook line and sinker, until I realised it was just a convenient means of not having to take the risk of a relationship, while at the same time claiming the moral high ground within the increasingly socially isolated world of Evangelical Christianity – a little kudos is sometimes sufficient reward for emotional abstinence or failure. Is Evangelical Christianity the salvation of the world or just a theistic view of modernity? Because it didn't exist pre Enlightenment, we can safely assume the latter. Certainly it is NOT objective truth.

    The issue of homosexuality (in some shape or form) makes up a disproportionate number of the postings on this blog. Sometimes 'The lady doth protest too much, methinks' - Go and rejoice in the emptiness of your self imposed martyrdom. As with many an Evangelical (or ‘High’ Mulsim (after Gellner’s typology)) it seems the object of your devotions is yourself, though in an idealised form. Religion is a convenient means of making emotional and sexual failure into some form of sanctified victory, when all it is, is self-protection veiled in cheap virtue couple with making the best of a failed life.

    Regards:

    S.

    (P.S. It’s ‘Steven’ – tho’ I note it has been shortened to ‘Steve’ by yourself, here, and other Evangelicals – perhaps arrogance is part and parcel of the Evangelical ‘package’ – it seems more than likely after reading this blog...)

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