I always find clashes between the law, specifically equality laws, and the Church fun. It really hammers home just how out of date and close minded religious leaders are. The latest example comes from the UK, where Church groups are running scared or new proposed equality laws that would force them to equally consider sexually active homosexuals (I shouldn’t be surprised that they are particularly concerned about “sexually active” homosexuals rather than all homosexuals given the clear hang ups religious organisations have with sex and sexuality) and transsexuals. Simon Sarimento asked in The Guardian:
Is this campaign just wanton scaremongering by religious extremists as a cover for retaining the right to irrational prejudice? Or is the government really trying to narrow existing law so as to curtail the exemptions from employment discrimination law to which religious organisations are entitled under the law?
Interesting, no? Interesting not because the British Government is looking to clarify these laws (some might say extend), but rather because the exemption for religious organisations in the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations Act 2003 existed in the first place.
The best part of this debate is, by some way, the statement issued by three Bishops on the matter for the Church of England. The statement, entitled “Churches must not face further restrictions” could be a work of comedy genius, but instead it’s a rambling, contradictory and bigoted response to a law that should do no more than provide equal rights. Even the title is telling. The Church sees this potential change as “restrictive”, despite the fact that any normal person would be hard pressed to describe the law as anything other than removing extant restrictions imposed by the Church. Are they talking about the Church being restricted from imposing their own restrictions? If so, do they have any concept of just how ludicrous that sounds?
As if that wasn’t enough to make you dismiss them out of hand as a group of outdated hypocrites, they also throw in this:
At stake is how we, as a liberal democracy based on Christian values, strike the right balance between the rights and responsibilities of different groups to be protected from harassment and unfair discrimination and the rights of churches and religious organisations to appoint and employ people consistently with their guiding doctrine and ethos.
I think that’s pretty clear. On the one hand you have those fighting for “the rights and responsibilities of different groups to be protected from harassment and unfair discrimination” and on the other side you have the Church. When that’s the argument you’re trying to make, there must a point where you look in the mirror and wonder why you want to discriminate against fellow human beings for no reason other than a 2,000 year old book tells you to (or is it just because they fear change)?