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From the diaries by Jeff
Citing your values to overturn your values; that’s precisely what a court in the UK has done. They’ve cited the values that the country was founded on — Judeo-Christian ones — to rule against holding to those values.
There is no place in British law for Christian beliefs, despite this country’s long history of religious observance and the traditions of the established Church, two High Court judges said on Monday.
Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson made the remarks when ruling on the case of a Christian couple who were told that they could not be foster carers because of their view that homosexuality is wrong.
The judges underlined that, in the case of fostering arrangements at least, the right of homosexuals to equality “should take precedence” over the right of Christians to manifest their beliefs and moral values.
In a ruling with potentially wide-ranging implications, the judges said Britain was a “largely secular”, multi-cultural country in which the laws of the realm “do not include Christianity”.
Is Britain’s government “largely secular”? Yes, it is, as are all Western democracies. Our own founding fathers in the US did not set up a theocracy. But this by no means suggests that the government should take no position that happens to coincide with a religious view. Laws in our country against murder, theft and extortion are rooted in Christian morality; the Biblical ideas of the intrinsic value of each human being, and the values of justice and fairness. Further, we have death penalties, when we do have them, for only the worst offenders, and for the same reasons.
While other countries may have similar laws, this is more than a law issue. Our culture itself was shaped by these same Judeo-Christian values. I’ll make the obligatory disclaimer that it has been implemented by fallible human beings, and it’s not always been in a manner consistent with itself. Still, this foundation has produced the freest, wealthiest, healthiest and, yes, most tolerant countries in history. Millions of immigrants and refugees are trying to get into Western democracies all the time because of the results of holding to those values.
In fact, the judges unwittingly note this foundation in their ruling.
“Although historically this country is part of the Christian West, and although it has an established church which is Christian, there have been enormous changes in the social and religious life of our country over the last century,” they said.
It was a “paradox” that society has become simultaneously both increasingly secular and increasingly diverse in religious affiliation, they said.
“We sit as secular judges serving a multicultural community of many faiths. We are sworn (we quote the judicial oath) to ‘do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill will’.”
The irony is clear. These judges are citing an oath, that has been proscribed by the government influenced by the Judeo-Christian culture, to rule against people exercising their Judeo-Christian beliefs. You won’t find an oath like this in countries where you can be persecuted for believing the “wrong” religion. This value of fairness to all, regardless of who they are, is thanks to, for the most part, the Biblical beliefs of the Johns family, the ones trying to become foster parents.
Is it, therefore, “fair” to only allow people with the right beliefs and religious affiliation, approved by the government, to become foster parents? Will the court make the same ruling for Muslims and Jews who feel the same way? Apparently, society’s shifting standards win out over a basic, fundamental right of freedom of religion.
However, when fostering regulations were taken into account, “the equality provisions concerning sexual orientation should take precedence” over religious rights, they said.
And thus, the more homosexuals, or any group with a protected status, can convince governments that they must have special rights to override basic human rights, the more the foundation is chipped away; the very foundation that made this society what it is today, with our without an established Church.
Some Anglican church officials say essentially the same thing.
Speaking personally, Canon Dr Chris Sugden, the executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream, said the judges were wrong to say religion was a matter of private individuals’ beliefs.
“They are treating religion like Richard Dawkins does, as if Christian faith was on a parallel with Melanesian frog worship,” he said.
“The judgment asserts that there is no hierarchy of rights, but itself implies there is one in which the right to practise one’s religion is subordinated to the secular assumptions about equality.”
Gays use to say that they didn’t want special rights, just equal rights. This is another example of special rights that cut to the very core of the free societies they live in. This is a huge step in the wrong direction.
Doug Payton blogs at Considerettes.