Promoting human rights or policing human thoughts?
February 17, 2012 Leave a comment
The place of religion in society seems to be getting a lot of column-inches at the moment and accordingly we were long overdue a round of self-promotional pontificating from the Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (I had to look that up) Trevor Philips. Mr Phillips tends to get the abbreviated title of “equalities chief” in the press and until now I didn’t know what that entailed. He has given us the benefit of his views on the matter of Christians seeking to be exempted from certain of the equality laws on the grounds of conscience. Particularly he has in his sights those who offer services, but conscience does not allow them to give those service to (in this case) homosexual couples. So take for example the owners of a bed and breakfast who were given a criminal record for refusing to allow a homosexual couple to share a double room (recently losing an appeal against their conviction) as well as Catholic adoption agencies which have chosen to shut down because they would not allow homosexual couples to adopt (they were refused an exemption and so would be breaking the law if they continued). Over to Mr Phillips:
Once you start to provide public services that have to be run under public rules, for example child protection, then you have to go with public law and institutions have to make a decision whether they want to do that or they don’t want to do that. You can’t say because we decide we’re different then we need a different set of laws. To me there’s nothing different in principle with a Catholic adoption agency, or indeed Methodist adoption agency, saying the rules in our community are different and therefore the law shouldn’t apply to us. Why not then say sharia can be applied to different parts of the country? It doesn’t work.
(These are his exact words (16/2/2012) – I transcribed them from here [one for the insomniacs])
This is preposterous reasoning and fails to see the key difference between what Christians in these situations are asking for and what something like sharia law would demand. In fact, the way the current equality legislation appears to be set out is more akin to sharia law than anything these demonised adoption agencies or hotel owners are seeking. What is the difference?
Christians in these circumstances are not asking for a law to be re-written, they are asking for freedom to offer their services in a way which does not contravene their Christian conscience. This is not to seek to impose anything on anyone, but only seeks freedom for the individual. It is my view that this does not need to contravene any law, that is provided the law doesn’t stretch beyond the realms it should. How very different from sharia law – just take a look at the oppression which this places upon poor souls stuck under such regimes. For example, the current case of journalist Hamza Kashkari shows the penalty for apostasy (conversion from Islam) in action – it is an imposition of religion upon its subjects. Moreover it is a system of law which would be completely contrary to many of the laws in the UK. Is this really comparable to an adoption agency not being willing to give children to homosexual couples? No, the issue starts when the sort of laws entering the statute book have sharia-esque flavours. Christians are not rebellious against the law, it is that the law has migrated into the realm of not just dictating reasonable human behaviour, but now dictates to society what it should or should not think. It has the terrible whiff of trying to set up a totalitarian regime – one stray thought and you’re toast! There’s none quite so intolerant as a liberal…
Th apostle Paul encourages Christians to pray for their secular leaders “… that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (1 Timothy 2:2). Therefore, one thing for which we must pray is that the trend of introducing legislation which legislates against conscience would end. I would hate to see laws which imposed my religion upon others, yet it seems to be a primary means of convincing us all of the merits of political correctness. Much prayer needed…