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January 30, 2007

Religious Freedom Diminished in the UK

Agencies run by churches in the UK can no longer practice what they preach.

Roman Catholic adoptions agencies yesterday lost their battle to opt out of new laws banning discrimination against homosexual couples when Tony Blair announced that there would be "no exemptions" for faith-based groups.

The Prime Minister said in a statement that the new rules would not come into force until the end of 2008. Until then there would be a "statutory duty" for religious agencies to refer gay couples to other agencies.

Why can't that "statutory duty" be good enough? Why is government coercion trumping religious freedom? Predictably, the results of an attempt at "fairness" will chase off the principled.
Last week the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, warned that the agencies would close rather than accept rules that required them to hand over babies to gay couples.

One wonders if, in some quarters, that's the whole objective. I mean, given a situation where there are choices, and there usually are, why would a gay couple seek out the Catholic Church for an adoption agency when there are others that have no qualms about it. It's kind of like the standard answer you hear when folks complain about the content of TV programming. "Just change the channel", the Left dismissively says. But when it comes to their preferences, they won't "change the channel" themselves--choose a different agency--and instead insist that government sanction their choices and force it upon everyone to accommodate it.

Posted by Doug at January 30, 2007 01:07 PM

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"Last week the leader of Catholics in England and Wales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, warned that the agencies would close rather than accept rules that required them to hand over babies to gay couples."

What good does just closing do? By closing, the Church is allowing this sort of trampling of religious freedom to go unquestioned. The Church--supported by the Vatican I would hope--must stand and fight. Mustn't they?

I guess maybe I'm just idealistic, but it seems to me that this sort of thing is something worth fighting for. When religious institutions are forced into something that goes directly against their beliefs, the church MUST resist the demands. I say stay open and simply violate the law. Civil disobedience worked in the past, didn't it?

Posted by: jeff at January 30, 2007 01:40 PM

The church at least has some time to consider this action, if petitioning the government fails. A lot can happen / change between now and 2009.

Posted by: Doug Payton at January 30, 2007 02:19 PM

Well, it's probably due to the fact that 99% of priests feed dog food to the children they're keeping in cages awaiting adoption.

That's what the word on the street is:


[a hopefully obvious stab at a previous link to other fictitious "news" - last time I bring it up.]

Posted by: Dan Trabue at January 31, 2007 07:15 AM

I think you're still hung up on the messengers. For whatever reason, you seem willing to completely ignore the credentials of folks who are covered.

Posted by: Doug Payton at January 31, 2007 08:15 AM

Where does the civil government draw the line?
Islam has some rules about stoning to death for certain marriage problems. Women couldn't get divoriced in Catholic Ireland. In christian and Islamic traditions the wife had no property rights through marriage. All of these issues raise religuous freedom questions.

Posted by: Mike at February 1, 2007 03:05 AM

Speaking just for Christianity (unofficially, of course), the property rights thing may be an Old Testament civil law for the nation of Israel and not a moral code.

Regarding divorce, God says He hates it, and promises His help for those considering it. That a civil government allows it doesn't mean it should be considered a good option. And that a representative civil government disallows it because that's what the citizenry wants isn't stepping out of bounds.

Both of these examples are not the same thing as the issue here. In your examples, believers can still stay true to their faith refrain from divorce if that's what they believe. What's happening in the UK now is that the civil government is telling the church what to do in direct violation of the church's own beliefs and teachings. That's where it becomes a religious freedom issue.

Posted by: Doug Payton at February 1, 2007 02:42 PM