Freedom of Religion

Will Theresa May restore religious liberty by adopting reasonable accommodation?

Theresa May is an Anglican, and her faith appears to be sound and secure (ie, it doesn’t fade in and out like Magic FM in the Chilterns). A few articles have pondered the precise cut of her Christian jib: Giles Fraser was first off the mark, with a tender dissection of her High Church upbringing, with its “unflashy service, community, warts and all, and personal sacrifice”. For him, she is the real thing: “her faith feels entirely convincing to me,” he observes. More discursively, not to say vaguely, James Macintyre talks of her being “a quiet Christian from the heart of middle England”. That tells you a lot. Then there’s Harriet Sherwood‘s churning of everything we already knew, garnished with a quote from ubiquitous Anglisceptic Linda Woodhead: “She is a genuinely devout Anglican, and has real convictions about the common good, duty, service – those traditional Anglo-Catholic virtues.” And then there’s Theo Hobson, the Speccie‘s resident disestablishmentarianist, who is reassured that the Prime Minister is “a good, solid, unashamed, unflashy Anglican, whose allegiance has not wavered since childhood”. It isn’t clear how exactly he knows this. Perhaps he judges whole lives by stony faces and determined inflections:

But when she actually says anything about her faith, she doesn’t come across very well. She sounds nervous of saying the wrong thing, which is fair enough, as horrid bloggers are waiting to pick and sneer at her words.

And so he proceeds to pick and sneer at her words, referring to her “dry sociological comment”; of sounding “slightly ungracious”; being “a bit of a moaner”; and of making Christianity “sound rather grim and joyless”. He muses: “Perhaps she has been badly advised to sound coldly dutiful if asked about religion.” This is precisely the sort of picky, sneery thing that really horrid bloggers say, made all the more sneery because it impugns the faith of her adviser Jonathan Hellewell LVO, whom the Catholic Herald notes is “the first SPAD with a faith brief to work directly for a PM”. Yes, Theresa May cares so much about matters of religion and belief that she has appointed an eminently qualified and knowledgeable Christian to guide her in these matters: “Intensely religiously literate, he is politically astute, organisationally effective, discreet and senior.” But, for Theo Hobson, the advice amounts to having to sound “coldly dutiful”. He probably thinks that’s clever, but it is simply cynical picking and sneering at someone who doesn’t express their Anglican faith with such happy-clappy disestablishmentarianst zeal as he does. The CofE is a broad church, Theo, and some Christians are serious about their faith and the mission of their church. They can’t help it.

And then the National Secular Society chipped in, lecturing the Prime Minister not to “abuse her position to promote Christianity” after she mentioned to The Sunday Times that her faith has helped shape her outlook. Funny, isn’t it, how extremist secularists twist a sincere expression of Christian faith to some sort of abuse of others. She shouldn’t “impose” her views on secular society at large, they bark, when all she said is that her faith helps her to cope with difficult decisions. “It’s about, ‘Are you doing the right thing?’,” she explained. “If you know you are doing the right thing, you have the confidence, the energy to go and deliver that right message.”

When journalist sounded “moral” (God forbid), the Prime Minister added: “I suppose there is something in terms of faith, I am a practising member of the Church of England and so forth, that lies behind what I do. Ultimately, if you’ve (looked at the evidence) and you believe it’s the right thing to do , then you should go and do it — but sometimes it is difficult.”

Only an extremist secularist or hard logical positivist could find fault with that. Cue Stephen Evans, the NSS campaigns director, who duly protested:

“Many people lean on their faith during trying times and it’s no surprise that Theresa May is no different. However, the Prime Minister would do well to remember that she governs on behalf of everyone, including those of minority faiths and of course the majority of citizens who are not religious. While it is fine for Theresa May to have a faith, what she mustn’t do is abuse her position to promote Christianity or impose her own religious values on others.”

The level of religious illiteracy here – and specifically the ignorance of the role of the Established Church and the expression of Anglican Christianity – is astonishing. And so is the sheer illogicality, not to say unreasonableness of his pomposity. “While it is fine for Theresa May to have a faith..” How unutterably generous of him. But, tell us, Mr Evans (for we Christians are manifestly a bit dim), how exactly may the Prime Minister ever mention her faith without promoting it? And may she not do so without you policing her discourse and warning her of the boundaries (according to you)? Is the mere mention of Christianity an “abuse” of her position? If not, when does it become abuse? As Prime Minister, doesn’t every law she advocates and initiates constitute in some part the imposition of her values – values which stem from her Christian faith? She said quite unashamedly: “I am a practising member of the Church of England and so forth, that lies behind what I do.” How do you distinguish her “religious values” from what you would (presumably) call secular ones? Is it that feeding the poor and housing the homeless are ‘secular’ values because you happen to agree with them, but (say) permitting religious bodies the freedom not to perform same-sex weddings is a religious value because you disagree with it?

What about the freedom not to bake a cake with a political slogan? Is that a religious value or a secular one? Does it depend if the slogan is religious? What if it’s religiously political, or politically religious?

Does the National Secular Society not understand that Christians are called to walk in spirit and in truth, and that Theresa May doesn’t reserve her faith for Sundays? Why shouldn’t religious belief play a part in the political process?

For the NSS, of course, faith is corrosive of reason: all faith is poison and all faiths are part of the same delusion. They belong in the home and in the privacy of places of worship. They should find no expression at all in the public sphere.

At PMQs last week Theresa May was asked a question by Fiona Bruce MP:

Comments this week by the equalities commissioners about not being worried about talking about Christmas at work were important, because many Christians are now worried, even fearful, about mentioning their faith in public. Will the Prime Minister therefore join me in welcoming the recent Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship publication “Speak Up!”, which confirms that in our country the legal rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech to speak about one’s faith responsibly, respectfully and without fear are as strong today as ever?

To which the Prime Minister responded:

My hon. Friend raises an important issue which matters both to her and me. I think the phrase that was used by the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship was “the jealously guarded principle” of that ability to speak freely, as she says, respectfully and responsibly about one’s religion. I am happy to welcome the publication of this report and its findings. Of course, we are now into the season of Advent. We have a very strong tradition in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech, and our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of. I am sure we would all want to ensure that people at work do feel able to speak about their faith, and also feel able to speak quite freely about Christmas.

Her response received both praise and sneery criticism. The Telegraph ran with “Christians should not fear..”, while the Independent accused her of “dog-whistle tactics”:

After telling the media that it was God who was guiding her plans for Brexit during the weekend, it was perhaps unsurprising that the Prime Minister spoke passionately on the issue of religious – or, to put it more specifically, Christian – freedoms. But rather than paying lip service to her dedication to Jesus, perhaps she should step out into the country and consult the people being hurt by her Government’s economic incompetence and tragic mismanagement of the NHS. Perhaps, after all, that’s the more Christian thing to do.

What are ‘Christian’ freedoms? How do these differ from religious freedoms? The problem (of which the Prime Minister doesn’t appear to be aware) is that it’s perfectly in order for Christians to talk about tinsel of their faith: it is very hard – if not impossible in the public sector – to express a personal opinion on Christian morality, especially sexual morality, or the sanctity of the nuclear family, or Holy Matrimony, without being labelled a ‘bigot’ or a ‘phobe’ and summarily disciplined or sacked. And don’t, whatever you do, convey the impression that salvation is found in Jesus alone, because that’s just racist.

“I am sure we would all want to ensure that people at work do feel able to speak about their faith,” says the Prime Minister.

Tell that to Daniel and Amy McArthur of Asher’s Bakery, for whom the Christian faith is not simply a matter of speaking, but being. What freedom is it if one may speak about the Christian faith but not live it; if one may talk about truth but not walk in it?

Enter Res Publica and their report ‘Beyond Belief: Defending religious liberty through the British Bill of Rights‘:

Beyond Belief argues that in a climate of fear and distrust of religion, more needs to be done to protect the freedoms of people of faith, and the best way to do this is to press ahead with a British Bill of Rights and include the freedom to express religious belief within it. It is vital that the Government urgently introduces legislation that supports and protects religious beliefs and practices, and the new British Bill of Rights offers a rare opportunity to achieve this goal. ResPublica believes that it should be used to introduce a principle of ‘reasonable accommodation’ into the law. This would better balance the deep-held religious beliefs of certain elements of society with other interest groups, and ensure that all religions and belief systems can feel respected and protected in the eyes of the law.

Is ‘reasonable accommodation’ a religious value or a secular one? Best not ask the NSS: they’ll just say it’s a cloak for homophobic bigotry. Of course, the principle already exists in law: Roman Catholic doctors aren’t obliged to carry out abortions; turbaned Sikhs aren’t obliged to wear crash helmets, and so on. Why should employers be able to compel employees to behave in ways that would unreasonably (don’t ignore that word) contradict their sincerely held religious beliefs? What manner of legal reasonableness is it which coerces bakers to make cakes promoting vice, crime, sin or evil? Might Theresa May adopt the utterly reasonable proposal of reasonable accommodation, or will she shuffle sideways for fear of offending the National Secular Society and Gay Rights lobby and Equalities industry who are all waiting, with Theo Hobson, to pick and sneer at her words?

Will Theresa May restore religious liberty to the extent that Christians may once again follow their consciences, even at the cost of displeasing those who believe that Caesar trumps God and rationality must coerce the world of faith? May they not coexist and complement one another? We’re not talking about religious or secular extremism, but moderation; a genuinely reasonable balance between the power of the law and the rights of those who are subject to it. Might we at least have a civil discourse about the Christian ethical foundations which shed light on the moral principles underpinning the proposal for reasonable accommodation, without nasty journalists waiting to pick and sneer at our words, and secular lobbyists shunting our faith off to the private sphere under the guise of tolerance and the elimination of discrimination?

  • David

    This is a truly excellent article that raises some of the most pressing questions of the day. Thank you Your Grace for it.

    I suspect that whether these questions are properly answered, sensibly allowing reasonable accommodation, or not, will determine whether our country becomes even more bitterly divided culturally, or learns to live together in a reasonable harmony. In past ages we found ways for Roman Catholics, Via Media Anglicans and Non-Conformists to all live together without constantly spilling blood and spitting venom at one another. Surely we can now, post-Brexit, address another major shift in our cultural allegiances ? Clearly it is to the common good (slipping into a deeply Christian idea) to achieve this.

    I believe that Mrs May is sincere in her faith but she is also part of an establishment that is now riding roughshod over the sincere beliefs of many in a number of faiths. For did she not with Cameron work, at the encouragement of the EU, to redefine our age old, common sense definition of marriage and thereby bring division, discord and strife upon the heads of many ? Since then we have seen the excellent Catholic Adoption Agencies forcibly closed, people sacked and family businesses put in the legal firing line. Great indeed is the chaos that she is personally responsible for forcing on Churches, the ramifications of which are yet to be resolved.

    She is as guilty as any in the establishment of spreading discord. Perhaps now, whilst praying to God in her local church, she will realise that she is responsible for returning us to a measure of harmony. I do hope so, and I hope that she has the courage to see improvements through. Sadly her past lack lustre performance in the Home Office, the effects of which feed through to us even recently, reminds me that her record is mainly one of failing to address difficult issues. But as a Christian, and a conservative Anglican one at that, I continue to walk in faith and hope. Over to you Mrs May.

  • Coniston

    ‘The level of religious illiteracy’. This is the heart of the problem. Religious illiteracy is rampant, especially among the liberal intelligentsia, but also, surprisingly, among many churchgoers who do not really understand the orthodox teachings of Christianity (succinctly stated in the creeds). And as for some bishops…..

    • David

      Indeed. Amongst most of the liberal intelligentsia there seems a huge ignorance of both rigorous philosophy and all theologies, not to mention their own history. Much education is little more than force feeding of secular assumptions often invoking Cultural Marxism. Careful analysis and genuine thought is often sadly lacking.

      • Mike Stallard

        And replaced by safe spaces and deplatforming.

  • her faith helps her to cope with difficult decisions

    They Work for You analyses some of the results of Mrs May’s coping: ‘Consistently voted for allowing marriage between two people of same sex’ and ‘Consistently voted for the Iraq war’. The first throws Christian teaching out the window and the second has brought unimaginable suffering to her fellow Christians in the Middle East.

    Then we get: ‘her faith appears to be sound and secure’, ‘her faith feels entirely convincing to me’ and ‘She is a genuinely devout Anglican’. Taken together with Mrs May’s voting record, such comments make Christian faith look either hypocritical or meaningless.

    • Mike Stallard

      The Vicar of Bray…

    • Ivan M

      Makes one wonder what the value of a profession of Anglicanism is? It seems pretty clear that on the level of practical politics, faithful Christians of all stripes have been taken for a ride by these establishment Anglicans. These people ought to reflect on the dire consequences for taking the Name of the Lord in vain.

  • Oisín mac Fionn

    No sensible discussion can be had about the ethics of any religion until a sensible basis for its claims can be established.

    Until Christianity can present sensible, rational evidence for the veracity of its claims, it’s no more worthy of serious attention than any other religion or fantastic story.

    The same reasonable accommodation that’s currently made for believers in Dumbledore and Voldemort, or Captain Kirk and Mr Spock, is all they can expect. This essentially means indulgent tolerance as long their beliefs don’t harm anyone else, but firm discipline if they do.

    These are the only terms on which secular society can accept religion. Dialogue is all very well and fine, but you can’t talk sensibly to someone who offers his unsupported opinion as sufficient reason for believing in things for which no evidence exists and which violate everything we know about how the world around us works.

    • John

      There are plenty of learned authors you can read who are able to commend the logic and reasonableness of the claims of Christian belief. Alister McGrath, John Lennox and CS Lewis, all Oxford professors (two in natural sciences moreover), are a good place to start. Grouping together such eminent minds with the fantasies of Harry Potter and Star Trek are what we have wearily come to expect from the dismally small membership of the NSS.

      • Old Nick

        Personally I find the Gospels rather convincing. But what do I know, I am only a Roman historian.

        • Mike Stallard

          I have often pondered this.
          Assuming the facts are more or less correct as told in the Gospels (for the sake of argument), then we have to ask this question: How could you publicise them other than the way they were publicised – word of mouth, remembering stuff, going round telling people and forming groups, checking carefully and discarding the unhelpful stories and accounts (lots of them). We cannot expect the people of the first couple of centuries to use e mail, air transport and social media!
          And pagan, gnostic and Mithras and Persian religions seem to me to be quite different in tone and texture.

          • Old Nick

            It has always seemed to me significant that the primary – and most common genre in early Christian literature was the letter. The earliest evidence for it is, after all, the epistles of S. Paul. Mithras certainly did spread through the army and trade – the largest concentration of Mithraea is at the port-city of Ostia. Proper paganism strikes me as primarily local – though given that many Latin-speaking cities were coloniae, and so had constitutions and therefore public cults, based on those of the City of Rome itself there was a certain uniformity to this localness. I suspect Gnostics were primarily little local study groups and it was only with rare specimens (Marcion, Valentinus) that the spark ‘jumped the gap’ and spread beyond the immediate local circle – my favourite example is Hermogenes of Antioch, written against (lost) by Theophilus of Antioch in the 2nd century, who JUST managed to jump the gap to Africa – only to get dumped on by Tertullian. Christianity won because it was incompatible not just with private gnoses etc., but because it took on and defeated the civic cults, whose strength was precisely that they were not based on belief, feeling or anything emotional, but on the fact that they worked keeping Nature (earthquakes etc.) at bay

      • Oisín mac Fionn

        The work of writers like CS Lewis can be summed up in two words.

        Confirmation bias.

        Take Lewis’s “mad, bad or God” proposition. It sounds logical until you realise there’s a fourth option. Jesus was either mad, bad, God, or misinformed.

        Jesus may have believed himself to be the son of God because of indoctrination from childhood by a mother anxious to acquit herself of charges of sexual immorality. And he wouldn’t have been the first or last child raised to think of himself as “special”.

        None of this would make him either mad or bad. It certainly wouldn’t make him God. It would merely mean he was labouring under a misapprehension.

        Lewis fails to address this possibility because he omits any line of argument that can place his predetermined conclusion in jeopardy. If he’s the best fidei defensor you can come up with, no wonder your religion has seen catastrophic decline in all countries where people are educated to think critically.

        • Anton

          There are plenty of good apologetics arguments and arguers. Josh MacDowell is my favourite. But I see no reason to summarise them when your fallback position if the going gets rough is that you don’t believe the accuracy of the gospels. Dialogue that is constructive can proceed only from a mutually agreed start point.

          Late in John’s gospel Jesus accepted worship from Thomas as “my lord and God”; remember that these were Jews to whom ‘God’ meant Jehovah.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            The fact that one of the gospels tells us that Jesus believed in his own divinity proves nothing except that the author(s) of that gospel wanted us to believe this.

            Did Jesus exist to believe in his own divinity?

            If he did exist, did he hear Thomas’s remark and acquiesce to it? Was it said when his attention was engaged elsewhere? Was he having a snooze? Did he mishear and perhaps, allowing for the peculiarities of a language I’m not familiar with, understand something along the lines of “my lord and Father”? Or “my lord and Master?”

            We weren’t there so we can’t know.

            All we can do is rely on second and third hand statements written by those who were trying to establish the reputation of their messiah as a living God.

            How impartial is their witness? Can it even be properly referred to as “witness” at all? It reads more like hagiography. It reads like much of Lewis’s œuvre: starting with a predetermined conclusion and working out a story to fit.

            Ever read “Girl With A Pearl Earring”? A work of fiction reated as a plausible backdrop to a mysterious painting. Written years after the events it describes are supposed to have happened. Highly embroidered yet intended to be credible.

            Sound familiar?

          • Anton

            Exactly. You argue using the Bible and then dispute the Bible when it suits you. That’s inconsistent.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Sigh. Sometimes it’s like explaining something to a small and willful child who thinks his picture book about fairies proves that fairies exist.

            You can tell him they don’t and he won’t believe you because the fairies are right there on the page in front of him so they must exist. He wants to believe in them, so he accepts the arguments for their existence in his book because they confirm his bias.

            To convince him you then have to pull those arguments to pieces and show why they make no sense. For example, wings need solid muscular support in order to support the weight of the being they’re attached to in flight. So if fairies could fly, their ribcages would have to jut out in the manner of a bird, or they would have to be possessed of an insect’s carapace, which means that in neither case would they resemble tiny humans, but would look either avian or insectoid.

            Using the poorly thought out details of a myth to debunk that myth is in no way inconsistent.

        • The Explorer

          Because ‘Mere Christianity’ was originally a series of half-hour broadcast talks, none of the arguments can be developed in detail. Lewis was, of course, aware of your perfectly-valid fourth option; as we see in more leisurely writing such as ‘Fern seed and Elephants’.

        • A “misinformed” Jesus because he was “indoctrinated” by a neurotic, emotionally abusive and, quite possibly, mentally ill, young mother? If so, he would be delusional and therefore fit into the category of “mad”. Problem is, Jesus’ words and actions, or those of His mother, show no evidence for this secular psycho-babble narrative.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Jesus claimed to hate his mother. Does this mean she was controlling and neurotic? We can’t know for sure because we weren’t there. But what loving son tells people he hates his mother?

            But mad or not, Mary’s possible mental illness would not necessarily have been hereditary. And if Jesus had been raised to believe himself divine, but was otherwise mentally stable, it would not be accurate to call him delusional. Misinformed and operating under a sincerely held misapprehension, perhaps. But not mad.

            Many kings have considered themselves to be divine or semi-divine without being mad. The Dalai Lama is considered as a living deity by many and perhaps even by himself, but doesn’t appear to be off his rocker.

            For the purposes of supporting your argument, you have to exaggerate hubris into madness when they are not at all the same thing. By doing this you demonstrate exactly what I outlined earlier: you rewrite the script to fit your predetermined conclusion and alter or discard any part of the story that doesn’t support what you’ve already decided is true.

            This is the real face of religion. Thank you for demonstrating it so clearly.

          • ‘Jesus claimed to hate his mother’. O puleeeze! If this is the level of your argument and narrative interpreting skills then you are either mad, bad or seriously misinformed. How can we reason with someone so benighted?

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.”

            This may well explain why Christians are so full of hatred and contempt. It also casts a very stark light on the character of this Jesus person. Bit of an egomaniac, wasn’t he? His followers had to have eyes for him and him only. He couldn’t stand any kind of competition.

            Yes, such a man probably would have hated his own mother. And if he could see what an idol the Catholics have made out of her, jealousy would probably make him detest her any more. Thou shalt have no God but me, eh?

            A divine narcissist. The whole religion is founded on self-absorption, vanity and pride.

          • You clearly do not understand the idiom. Compared to our love for Christ all other devotion must pale. In fact, of course, love for Christ enables us to love parents and spouses etc more than we would otherwise do. The empirical evidence is the relative stability of devoutly Christian families compared to non-Christian ones.

            If God is God, by definition he must be first. Your hate blinds you to the blindingly obvious. Perhaps if I knew you I may understand it more. But I don’t know you and what you say simply sounds silly and nasty.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            A recent study by the Barna Research Group throws extreme doubt on [the myth that Christian families are more stable]. Barna released the results of their poll about divorce on 1999-DEC-21. They had interviewed 3,854 adults from the 48 contiguous US states. The margin of error is ±2 percentage points. The survey found:

            11% of the adult population is currently divorced.

            25% of adults have had at least one divorce during their lifetime.

            Divorce rates among conservative Christians are significantly higher than for other faith groups, and much higher than Atheists and Agnostics experience.

            George Barna, president and founder of Barna Research Group, commented:

            “While it may be alarming to discover that born again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce, that pattern has been in place for quite some time. Even more disturbing, perhaps, is that when those individuals experience a divorce many of them feel their community of faith provides rejection rather than support and healing. But the research also raises questions regarding the effectiveness of how churches minister to families. The ultimate responsibility for a marriage belongs to the husband and wife, but the high incidence of divorce within the Christian community challenges the idea that churches provide truly practical and life-changing support for marriages.”

          • Born again and evangelical are very wide bands in the States embracing many with very superficial notions of what it means to be a Christian. Consequently Barna’s statistics are unrepresentative of authentically conservative evangelicalism.

            In the Christian circles I move in divorce is still very rare.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Yes, of course! How stupid of me! You and your fellow members of whatever micro-denomination you belong to are the world’s only true Christians, aren’t you? Everyone else is a fake.

            I mean, how can they be Christians if they get divorced? Divorce is public proof of grievous and unrepentant sin. So cast them out and shun them. They may cry “Lord! Lord!” and prophesy in his name, but he doesn’t know them, does he? And Barna shouldn’t either. Don’t they know that only the people you approve of are real Christians?

            Hmmm, thinking about it then … are any of these remaining Christians overweight? If so, what is obesity if it isn’t public proof of unrepentant gluttony? Cast them out! Shun them! They cannot be true Christians if they’re fat.

            By the time you’ve gone through the catalogue of sins and stripped everyone but yourself of the title of Christian, you will be the Church. And your religious delusion will be complete. Anyone whose behaviour shows Christianity to have a less than perfecting influence in his life will no longer be classified as a Christian, which will simplify Barna’s task considerably the next time they do a survey. All they’ll need to do is come to you, because whatever you say will be true for 100% of Christians.

            Of course this won’t be an overnight process. You won’t have to get rid of various groups of sinners until Barna decide to research that particular sin. You’ve already ditched the divorced so you can claim Christianity keeps you married. But I hear Barna are preparing a study into obesity, so you’d better get ready to push the fatties overboard otherwise you won’t be able to claim that Christianity keeps you slim.

            I’ve had a sneak peek at Barna’s plans over the next few years: prepare yourself to expel liars, cheats, adulterers and fornicators before the end of next year. Murderers and thieves by 2019. Publicans and Pharisees by 2020. Sowers of discord the following year. Come 2025 you should be the only Christian left and when the press gets hold of the results of their latest study into patterns of divorce, you’ll be able to turn your religion’s decline right around.

            “0% of Christian marriages now end in divorce!” will be the headline. “It’s a miracle!” they’ll say. “Proof positive that God exists and acts in Christian’s (sic) life.”

            And there we’ll have it: the ultimate gospel according to confirmation bias. Don’t like what facts and figures say about your faith? Easy, just change them until they provide the support you’re looking for.

            Thank you for revealing your tactics on this blog. Now others can see the true face of Christianity as revealed by the world’s only true Christian. And a real eye-opener it’s been, too.

          • More mindless vitriol. More bigoted caricaturising. More ignorance of Christian faith.

            Galatians 5:19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

            1 Corinthians 6: 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Sigh! What’s the point of quoting excerpts from your book of myths at me?

            Two can play at that game:

            “There shall, in that time, be rumours of things going astray, erm, and there shall be a great confusion as to where things really are, and nobody will really know where lieth those little things wi– with the sort of raffia-work base that has an attachment. At this time, a friend shall lose his friend’s hammer and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers that their fathers put there only just the night before, about eight o’clock. Yea, it is written in the Book of Cyril that, in that time, shall the third one…”

            Zzzzzzzz…

          • Since your previous comment questioned my parameters of who may be defined as a Christian suggesting it was narrower than it ought to be I cited a couple of biblical texts that support my contention. There are many more.

            Once again your response is supercilious and sophomoric.

        • Andrew Holt

          Thank you for the image of Jesus “labouring under a misapprehension. ” It not only bought a smile to my lips but gave me an indication of where your theology originates, “The Life of Brian.” If I am wrong in having put my faith in Jesus’ gospel and oblivion awaits after my death, there will be no regrets on my part. I know whom I have believed, to coin a phrase.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            There are times when I seriously doubt the intellectual capacity of Christians to understand some pretty basic concepts.

            If oblivion awaits us following death then of course you will have no regrets. Regret is contingent upon existence. If you no longer exist, you can regret nothing.

            Perhaps what you mean is that you will have no regrets about following Jesus before you die. In that case I can only assume that you belong to the demographic that Christianity is designed to serve: straight or asexual, boring, conformist, uxorious or naturally ascetic individuals who think themselves ever so much better than their less “perfect” brethren.

            Following a faith that imposes a strict and narrow moral “norm” is easy for this kind of person. Disapproving of others who find it more difficult or even impossible to adhere to these restrictive standards comes naturally too. As the self-selected role model for all humankind, you get to make the rules, don’t you?

            If you’re not one of these people then it’s not credible to claim that you will have no regrets about following Jesus. If you’re straight and Catholic, what if you fall in love with a divorced woman and your faith forbids you from having a relationship with her? Are you seriously telling me you’ll have NO regrets about that? If you’re gay and have to spend your entire life in a state of virginity, will you have NO regrets?

            You can certainly make that claim, but you won’t be believed. You’ll be viewed as just another religious obsessive for whom honesty is less important than rigid dogma. If Christianity says you have to be blissfully happy about renouncing your desires, then blissfully happy is what you’ll be – or at least is what you’ll try to give the impression of being. This kind of self-fulfilling prophecy runs counter not only to truth, but also to human nature. It turns Christians into liars and their faith into a laughing stock.

          • Andrew Holt

            No. I simply meant that if, when I die there is oblivion, regrets will be impossible. I am sad that you assume Christians are by nature straight, boring, uxorious, conformist and ascetic by nature and disapprove of those who are not these things. If that is your experience of Christians, I am sorry. Jesus was none of those things and indeed appeared to be attractive to men, women and children who felt themselves to fall far short of the strict and narrow moral norm.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            One would expect a religious prophet to have some form of charisma.

            Perhaps that and his revolutionary message that all were loved by God is what made him popular with the excluded. If he existed at all, he probably would have developed a following among those who lived on the fringes of society. A bit like Che Guevara.

            But none of that makes him the son of God. Nor does it make God real. Before any opinion can be formed as to Jesus’s divine paternity, it must first be established that such a thing as a god exists.

            Where’s your proof of that? If you can’t provide any, everything you claim about Jesus has no solid basis and becomes mere supposition.

    • Coniston

      If you genuinely want to know the necessary relationship between the Christian religion and reason, apart from the authors mentioned by John above (and also Michael Polanyi, John Polkinghorne and many other distinguished scientists who are Christians) I suggest you try the following:
      Philosophy: The Quest for Truth and Meaning by Andrew Beards
      Reading Alasdair’s MacIntyre’s After Virtue by Christopher Stephen Lutz
      Fides et Ratio: On the Relationship between Faith and Reason by John Paul II

    • David

      I returned to Christianity because of Science and Reason. This is a blog not a tome, but very briefly my knowledge of probability theory and science led me to reason that the odds against conditions emerging, conducive for intelligent carbon based life forms, and our species eventual emergence, are so incredibly tiny that something else was at work. I concluded that randomness was an unlikely nursery for creating us. Then I started on an epic examination of all the world’s philosophies and faiths, which led by a winding road to my Christian faith. Many of the publications of Cambridge’s “Faraday Institute of Science and Faith” shed light on the interface between science, Reason and faith.

      • Oisín mac Fionn

        When you consider the scale of just the observable universe and the compelling evidence for the existence of countless galaxies and countless planets, the odds against life existing don’t seem quite as staggering as you make them out to be.

        Whatever they are however, the fact that life does exist means that it was generated – randomly or not – therefore whatever the odds are, we beat them.

        Yay for us.

      • Cressida de Nova

        To deny the existence of ‘something else at work’ denotes lack of intelligence or some type of mental defectiveness. It is barking mad to claim that randomness created all this wonder about us.

        • Sarky

          It’s also barking mad to suggest an invisible deity did it.

        • David

          Yes, and many simply do not wish to acknowledge that there is any other intelligence, as subconsciously they know that it may limit their own sense of being a little god. To be at the pinnacle of life and intelligence appeals to their vanity.

    • Translation:
      God and nature ‘made’ me homosexual. God ‘hates’ homosexuality as an abomination so He must ‘hate’ me. Bad God. You don’t exist. Go away. And to Hell with all those who remind me that God exists.

      • Oisín mac Fionn

        Bad God? No. Bad man invoking a spook to frighten those he wants to dominate and control.

        That’s the reality of evangelism. Obey or God will punish you forever.

        Ok then. I’ll obey just as soon as you give me compelling proof of the existence of this God of yours.

        BTW you’ll also have to prove that you are his spokesperson on earth and that everything you say really is his will.

        Ball’s in your court. Pity your racket is made of hot air and not much else.

        • “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

          You’ve shown enough poison and hatred on here for Jack to not want to waste his anymore of his time. You were raised a Catholic and appear to be informed about the Church’s teaching and doctrines. So you will know the arguments about the existence of God. That is, if you paid attention during your expensive education. Did you?

          At the end of the day, it is God who wakes us up, prompts us to accept Him and offers the grace to do so. Make up your own mind.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            At the end of the day it is the individual believer who, by means of circular and self-supporting argument and the suppression of inconvenient facts and evidence, convinces himself that God exists.

            In this he is aided and abetted by other individual believers, who are eager to reinforce their own delusions by feeding off others, or who see an opportunity for gaining dominance and power within a hierarchy of belief.

            Those who, like you, exhibit narcissistic and manipulative personality traits, are especially attracted to religion because of the opportunities it provides to control and dictate to others and to be the centre of attention.

            You’re never happier than when they’re hanging off your every word, are you? Except maybe when they resist and you can hurl threats of divine (i.e. you amplified) retribution at them.

            You missed your calling. You should have been a priest. Although perhaps even the priesthood would have balked at such naked self-interest and its total lack of compassion and charity. Which probably explains why you’re not a priest. They wouldn’t have you, would they?

          • Let’s see:
            “Those who, like you, exhibit narcissistic and manipulative personality traits, are especially attracted to attacking religion because of the opportunities it provides to … be the centre of attention.”
            This describes you to a tee. Google psychological terms “projection” and “shadow self”.

    • No sensible discussion can be had about the ethics of any ideological claim or fad until a sensible basis for its claims can be established.

      There, fixed it for ya.

      • Oisín mac Fionn

        Goes without saying.

        Religion, ideological claim, fad … what’s the difference?

        • Admittedly none, if self-awareness is out of your reach.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            So no explanation, just an ad-hom insult, eh?

            Religion at work. Believe because I tell you to.

          • Don’t flatter yourself; merely rhetoric at work, believe me. Are you sitting down for this one? Smelling salts on hand? Here we go: Scratch the rather shallow surface and your secular humanist claims are just as good at lacking any “sensible basis” as any religious belief out there. Hence my concern over your potential loss of self-awareness.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            More unsubstantiated claims from one of the usual suspects, I see.

            Tell me, what do I believe and why does it lack any sensible basis?

            This should be good: what beliefs will you invent for me, or just lazily assume I believe “because all secularists do”?

          • I shouldn’t have to tell you about secular humanism, its foundation in Renaissance philosophy and its tarting-up and reinterpretations of Plato, Aristotle, Gareco-Roman ethics and aesthetics, etc. Secularism as a return to Pagan thought, for better or worse. Suffice it to say that your convictions about ethics and even the nature of the universe and the human condition have no more empirical basis that that of other religions. I thought you knew that.

    • Mike Stallard

      You might like to read this twice – I must admit I had to:

      And strange tell among that Earthen Lot
      Some could articulate while others not:
      And suddenly the more impatient cried –
      “Who is the potter, pray, and who the pot?”

      Omar Khayyam LX.

    • How many times do you have to be reminded that reasonable grounds for faith in Christ exist. Evidence is supplied. You may not accept it that is your prerogative. Millions have found it convincing. Statements like ‘believing in things for which there no evidence exists’ reveals just how prejudiced and blinkered your opinion is.

      • Oisín mac Fionn

        No evidence exists. Only assertions.

        Show me any tangible, physical proof that Jesus existed and that the events described in the gospels actually happened. I would accept contemporaneous independent and corroborating eyewitness accounts, but unfortunately there are none.

        Contemporary physical evidence that Christian ritual isn’t all just hocus pocus would also be acceptable. How about a detailed analysis of a consecrated host showing it to be both a wheat-based food product AND human flesh? Or some proof that what Christians call a soul actually exists.

        No evidence means no plausibility. It’s as simple as that.

        • Malcolm Smith

          In that case, I would suggest you go over to the essay I wrote on the subject:
          http://malcolmshome.blogspot.com.au/2016/11/why-i-am-christian.html
          It is obviously impossible to include the full range of evidence for Christianity in a single, short essay, but hopefully it will point you in the direction of future research.

  • Andrew Holt

    How many members does the National Secular Society have? I don’t know why anybody in public life should even bother to listen to such an unrepresentative minority. Except out of politeness of course. Like politely listening to an aged relative with dementia on a visit to the care home!

    • David

      Yes. For unless you are trying to make a mint with your books becoming enthusiastic, if not evangelical, regarding atheism strikes me as a pretty cold business unlikely to get many marching in there streets.

    • James Bolivar DiGriz

      “The National Secular Society boasts about 7,000 members – the same number as the British Sausages Appreciation Society”
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9078434/Its-time-for-Christians-to-fight-back.html

      • Merchantman

        Which day do they meat on?

  • Andrew Holt

    Incidentally Oisin, try an Alpha course, there might be one in your area.

    • Dominic Stockford

      No, please don’t. Try a Christianity Explored course, far more meaty and well-founded.

    • Oisín mac Fionn

      Moonbase Alpha? Do you dress up in cool 70s space costumes and play with ray guns?

  • carl jacobs

    Accommodation is all well and good. What is needed is a willingness to suffer loss because of a lack of accommodation. That would have far more impact.

    • The problem is that one needs first to decide where to draw the line before accepting loss and resisting it.

      “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

      As Christians, we believe God has designed us and wills us to live in a certain way. We have particular views about the importance of marriage, children, family and community, all shaped by our beliefs. In addition, because we believe in creating a fair and just society, we have a vision for the role of the State in promoting the common good.

      All the above means we must defend religious freedom. And this includes being able to speak about one’s faith and exercise one’s conscience at home, at play, and at work. The rub, of course, is that this also applies to all other faith groups, and those without faith, and Jack isn’t sure this is possible without significant concessions.

      As Jack said, where does one draw the line? Over baking a cake? Reserving bed and breakfast to married, same sex couples? Declining to offer counselling to same sex couples? Not “marrying” homosexuals? Refusing to participate in abortion?

      • An excellent opportunity for English common sense and jurisprudence to make a splash in legal history again, Jack. The question is whether complex tinkering or just reversing layers of human rights legislation and freeing up individuals and business to refuse personal service without even having to provide an explanation will bear the best results. Being a minimalist, not to mention a simpleton, I have more confidence in the latter.

        • Jack’s preference is the latter option too. However, secularist humanism is so deeply embedded in Western culture that it is unlikely to happen. It’s just unfashionable not to support “gay rights”, accept the “transgendered”, see abortion as a woman’s “reproductive right”, to

          • David

            “We’re past the tipping point”
            I agree. And as you say, which is the best way to prepare for the next Dark Age ?

          • Anton

            Read and inwardly digest the Bible!

            Personally I am hoping for a crash of the financial system. This would perforce end the tax-and-benefits system which actively subsidises immorality and its consequences, and also sloth. That would force people to take responsibility for their lives again. Unfortunately they have become so de-moralised that only a repressive government could then keep law and order. This is grim but I believe it is the least bad option from where we are now. (Consider the alternatives…) Keep a few weeks of food in store and a few hundred pounds in low denomination banknotes.

          • David

            Be careful what you wish for !
            The suffering could be awful.

          • Indeed. Lead us not into trials but deliver us from evil…

          • Anton

            I know. The alternative is a worse judgement in a generation’s time, namely Sharia. Whatever happens, we deserve it.

          • CliveM

            “Whatever happens, we deserve it.”

            Speak for yourself!

          • It’s actually inevitable is we stay on our current path. However, one shouldn’t hope for it or for the chastisement and suffering it will bring. We should work to restore sanity in our affairs whilst accepting this may not be possible. It seems to Jack, the chaos predicted by so many Catholic mystics and visionaries is coming.

          • Don’t need to be a mystic or visionary to predict chaos. It has been the prophesied story of history and is to be the hallmark of its end.

          • Secular humanism is not bound to specific political fashions, though, and Gay or “transgendered” rights don’t have to impinge on general rights. These are distractions from the issue of judicial over-reach involving compelling any speech or personal service performance.

          • “Secular humanism is not bound to specific political fashions, though,”

            Oh, but it is – the promotion of self-love and the right to do as one chooses. This is no basis for people designed to know God, to love Him and others and to live together in solidarity and community with one another for both our earthly and heavenly happiness. Isn’t that our vision of Jerusalem?

            “and Gay or “transgendered” rights don’t have to impinge on general rights.”

            Oh, but they do. The very world view on which they rest is an impingement on the right the believe otherwise and to express this in word or deed in one’s private or public life.

          • Secular humanism, is just a philosophical position which strives to remove theology from moral or political decisions. You can agree or disagree, but the point is that it does not necessarily promote specific measures or result in specific results…any more than Catholicism promotes wild superstitions about witches and the obligation to hunt them down and burn them. I’m not making theological positions here, just reminding that irrelevant distractions distract from achievable objectives. Minimalism and simplicity.

          • Anton

            Secular humanism, is just a philosophical position which strives to remove theology from moral or political decisions.

            No, it seeks to replace it by the view that man is competent to handle his own affairs. The evidence includes communism and two world wars…

          • Right. A spotty record at best and we can bicker over how much damage secularism has wrought in comparison to deism. A fun and potentially endless discourse, but in the context of the above debate, seems to me there is nothing in secular humanism which prevents a reform of religious rights. I’ll go further and suggest that if the debate is framed only in religious terms, the project is a dead duck.

          • There is a big difference between Christianity and Judaism. Christians are called to evangelise and publicly proclaim the Good News and draw people to Christ. We are also called to build societies on the foundation of the Gospel. Where we differ from Muslims, who also have this belief, is in our choice of methods. We want to use reason as well as revelation. Secular humanism seeks to coral religion and keep it out of the public services and out of the political discourse.

          • That’s all very well, Jack. Yes, Christianity and Judaism are different. And some of us try to have our way and build on our scriptural foundations.

            But humanism doesn’t just seek to coral religion and keep it out; it has done a smashing job doing so, and it’s a certifiable miracle it hasn’t wiped us all God-botherers out yet! Now, if you think that Theresa May, Parliament, the courts and the nation are amenable to a religious freedoms reform approach based on the Gospels…or the Torah or Talmud, for that matter… rather than shitty humanism, go right ahead and write the bill. I thought you were hoping for results, though; my mistake.

          • Jack thought his comments made clear he doesn’t expect any such thing from the temporal powers but it doesn’t stop one trying.

          • Jack’s comments made it clear that he’s into gratuitously venting and and heroically tilting at wind mills. But fair enough, we’re here to have some fun, not to change the world…which doesn’t listen to old white males like us anyway.

          • ‘We are also called to build societies on the foundation of the Gospel’. I’m not clear where this comes from HJ. The only society we are called to build is the church. Only it is or can be founded on the gospel.

        • dannybhoy

          “Being a minimalist, not to mention a simpleton,”
          Fishing for compliments rather than affirmation, I fancy…

          • Busted!

          • dannybhoy

            Hah!
            I thought as much.
            I will read and reply to your email tomorrow young sir.
            Since attending that ZF seminar in London I have experienced a Christian mini version of the 10 plagues..
            1) It was held on a Sunday -I missed church
            2) I had a slow puncture resulting in a flat tyre
            3) We weren’t allowed to park near the venue, even though it was a Sunday, so we had to walk the equivalent of a Shabbat day’s journey times three to find safe parking..
            4) I was late
            5) My backpack kept trying to strangle me
            6) We had to buy lunch
            7) When we came out it was cold and getting dark, and I had to remember where car was parked.
            8) Had to pump up tyre and limp to next destination
            9) Had to buy new tyre next morning
            10) Internet went down when I finally got home….

          • You are a religious man, Danny, built for and indeed in need of faith-affirming and calorie-burning trials and tribulations. What can we learn from all this? One, that you should always have one of those cheap electric air pumps or at least a can of tire sealant in the trunk …pardon me, boot (why boot?). And two, that few challenges in life compare with losing Internet connection. No stress or rush over repplying, btw. I’ll even allow you to play here before doing so.

            Perhaps there is a three; as we’re getting longer in the tooth, it’s a good practice to assign the task of remembering where we left the car (or the shopping cart in supermarket) to the wife.

          • IanCad

            Why trunk?

          • Makes more sense, as in suitcase, the place you put your stuff in. I guess “boot” makes sense too; the the usual place you boot or kick British union-made cars when they don’t start.

          • CliveM

            “the the usual place you boot or kick British union-made cars when they don’t start.”

            You’re so 1970’s Avi!

          • To the memorable whine of Mrs Fawlty, “I kneauw, Clive, I kneauw!”

          • IanCad

            I can’t top that Avi. Very clever!

        • David

          Keeping away from your exchange with dannyboy, my preference is also for the latter option, as it is simplest.

    • Perhaps, if martyrdom alone is the desired objective. If the cake cases in the US, where the objectors were pauperized by the courts, are an example, willingness to suffer will do next to nothing to improve the situation.

      • carl jacobs

        You do not see with spiritual eyes. In any case, if you’re not willing to stick your head above the trench line, you aren’t likely to ever take the hill.

        • Or maybe my “spiritual eyes” see things yours don’t see, given our vastly different religious outlooks. Nevertheless, while you are demonstrably right in that displays of suffering can at times sway positions, this hasn’t happened in this case. I’m ready to be surprised at a groundswell of popular sympathy for little bakeries, but would put real money down on a sharp constitutionalist judge or two in your Supreme Court, for example.

          • carl jacobs

            You do not see what I see because you are focusing on the temporal.

            Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha 2 Kings 6:15-17

            That is always true. No matter the circumstance. No matter the outcome. No matter the consequence.

            I’m not necessarily advocating that suffering will sway positions. Neither am I asserting that a good outcome is dependent upon any particular court decision or some kind of political victory. Nor am I asserting that martyrdom is something to be quested after. It is something to be accepted if per chance it should be required.

            We do not necessarily see the benefit of faithfulness. But it is there. It is always there.

          • You do not see what I see because you are focusing on the temporal.

            Wrong (http://avibarzel.daportfolio.com/gallery/930369#13).

            The Torah itself focuses on the temporal. It tells us, in great detail, how to interact socially and commercially, the ways in which to worship God, even what to eat and not to eat, and how.This is not accidental. It’s the basis of a program…an interaction between God and humankind… whose primary goal is to drag humanity away from a world of superstition filled with imaginary spirits and arbitrarily governed by semi-mad charismatics. A war manual against Paganism, the challenge of every nation in every generation. Faith is not just a conviction, or a fatalistic submission; it’s a product of unbending loyalty to God and His instructions on one hand, and the sweetest reward of a life properly and effectively conducted, on the other.

  • Busy Mum

    A penny for the Cardinal’s thoughts as he sits behind the woman who acknowledged, in the Protestant Mother of Parliaments, without a hint of shock or regret, the fact that Britons are afraid to discuss Christmas.

  • dannybhoy

    We will never have a truly Christian nation in this world, but what we can have and should aim for is a nation which officially and sincerely acknowledges the authority of Christianity in the area of morality and principles. That we can and should pray and work towards.

    • David

      Wise advice.
      Certainly Anglican churches pray weekly for The Queen, Mrs May and other ministers. Many pray individually as well.

    • The problem is that Christian morality and principles cannot be separated from their spiritual foundation – our belief in Christ and in the Gospel message. One can present Natural Law arguments in favour of the pursuit of Christian virtues, but scientific evidence and proof will be demanded. And in our human and social sciences, dominated by liberal progressives, this evidence will not be accepted. Heck, Christians themselves cannot agree on some fundamental issues around marriage between a man and woman only, abortion and contraception, or euthanasia.

      • dannybhoy

        ” One can present Natural Law arguments in favour of the pursuit of Christian virtues, but scientific evidence and proof will be demanded.”
        Of Christianity probably, but not all faiths Jack, not all.. And in any case Christianity in this country has been intensely scrutinised, and whilst its national influence has waned, and attention has focussed more on the ‘humanitarian aspects of the Gospel, the Church remains. The essential Gospel message of repentance and reconciliation and sanctification remains the same.
        “The kingdom is within you” said Jesus, and that kingdom lights each man and woman. It has always been the way that the saints surrendered to and energised by the Holy Spirit. will influence society for the better.

        • Yes, if it pleases God. Our Gospel of hope, love and eternal peace, must continue to be proclaimed and preserved even if dark times are ahead.

          The problem is, that the “essential Gospel message of repentance and reconciliation and sanctification” doesn’t remain the same within the Church of Christ. Truth is being distorted.The concept of “repentance” is under fierce attack. There are Christians preaching a message of universal salvation and unlimited mercy and love (which God is) and wanting to side-step the entry to this through true sorrow for one’s sin and a determination to turn away from old paths. Follow your conscience is the message.
          False shepherds exist in all the Christian denominations and their influence is growing. The “noise” of secular humanism in medicine, psychology and the social sciences, and its penetration into the Church, is such that the influence of the Holy Spirit diminished unless or until God determines otherwise. Actually, thinking about it, it’s always in the Hands of God, whatever the season.
          Our job seems to be to decide on a course of action now that prepares us for a future in a world without faith in the One, True, God, and an abandonment of the understanding of how we were created to live for both our welfare here on earth and our future in the life to come.

          • dannybhoy

            Your points are valid Jack. Even in what would be considered evangelical circles we see a weakening of the concept of discipleship and discipline/self denial by laying hold of God’s word and the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.
            And yet and yet; God will not leave Himself without a witness (Acts 14).
            He never tells us how many people make up ‘a remnant’, nor does He ever suggest that the faithful in their generation will be overwhelmed.
            Psalm 8
            “When I consider your heavens,
            the work of your fingers,
            the moon and the stars,
            which you have set in place,
            4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
            human beings that you care for them?”
            Our confidence is in God Himself, and God is just so great He is beyond our understanding, but His very greatness leads us to worship and to confidence that He is in control.

          • In such a world we overcome by the blood of the lamb and by the word of our testimony and by not loving our lives unto death; by gospel faith, gospel witness and gospel loyalty.

    • The only Christian nation God is seeking to build is the church. It is his holy nation.

      • dannybhoy

        Read my first para again. The point is that this country and the US have influenced their own nations and sent out missionaries all across the world. We need a revival and re-dedication.

  • Mike Stallard

    As a Catholic, I expect persecution – not least from within the Catholic church. Isn’t that what our faith is all about? Islam simply cannot accept this: the cross is simply unthinkable: God does simply not let his loyal prophet suffer!
    So no resurrection: just a terrible Day of Righteousness – and no God is Love either.

    • “As a Catholic, I expect persecution – not least from within the Catholic church.”
      Care to elaborate?

      • Mike Stallard

        Unlike every other religious body in the world which all demand sainthood upon entry – well almost! – the Catholic Church is a school for sinners. Of course, cardinals, bishops, priests and lay people are all sinners and we start the mass by remembering that. It is a commonly repeated theme. And there is a lot of sin in our congregation too! WOW! A mean, vindictive priest can hurt a lot of people too. We have had that as well.
        And there are a surprising number of children, young parents, middle aged and old people too who are astoundingly courageous and also very faithful.
        We don’t expect too much and, when we get a really good priest (as we had until he died) or a really good bishop – a real high flyer who was cut off in middle age by cancer – I regret that a lot of Catholics are quite surprised!
        I have been both an Anglican and a Catholic. Being a Catholic is much more fun.

        • Jack doubts you’ll be persecuted as a member of the Catholic Church. There will be times you question a priest’s orthodoxy or his understanding of Church teaching. Some parishioners will “feel”uncomfortable with Catholic doctrine and not want certain topics mentioned. Others will want to be “welcoming” of all people and want to them to “feel” included, even though their “irregular lifestyles” excludes them from the full life of the Church and her sacraments. Then there’ll be others urging a priest to be very “traditional” and preach against modern moral sins. A priest has to navigate these stormy waters and hold to the Catholic faith whilst reaching out to all those currently unable/unwilling to live by the Churches “rules”. He has to seek and try ways to find the lost sheep, as well as tend to his flock.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Catholicism is all about persecution. ? Being a Catholic is more fun? Anglican converts are becoming scarier, Jack. Although the transition must be difficult having to face and accept the truth . I wonder if one can ever rid oneself of the Protestant baggage, the entrenched, intrinsic manipulation and expedient application of sometime ‘truth’.
            I like your comments about the role of the priest. Although if he tries to keep everyone happy he falls into the more politically correct role of an Anglican priest
            (never upsetting anyone)

          • This is also going on in the Catholic Church, Cressida. It’s not just converts who struggle with the Catholic faith. Actually, many converts are more Catholic than some cradle Catholics. There are senior clerics pushing for more “pastoral” approaches to sin which seem to rule out sincere repentance or any serious attempt to change one’s lifestyle. Primacy of conscience, even when it contradicts objective truth, is being pushed by some Cardinals and Bishops – including, it seems, the Pope. As you know, God will forgive any sin if there is true sorrow and a desire to change. The Church facilitates this and the work of the Holy Spirit, through pastoral work, access to and worthy reception of the sacraments and spiritual counselling.

          • Mike Stallard

            I think you are all being too clever!
            Being a Catholic is fun! We have a Parish Hall which has been refurbished and which used (once) to be a magnet for people to come to. We had our taps pinched by the Russians, the curtains put up by the Poles and the Lithuanian Dancing Girls too. We also had a lovely church with a priest who really enjoyed his “holiday” in the parish. He was a Sikh convert. I even tried (and failed) to learn Polish. We had English lessons which were free.
            Theology and so on never comes up really. Every now and then there is a row and we all have a chuckle. Sometimes people walk away and never come back (a lot of that recently).
            But the Mass is offered regularly, funerals and the occasional weddings happen. The days of obligation are observed. Every now and then we get a pastoral letter from the Bishop away in Norwich.
            It is just being an Anglican way back before the whole Church of England came to bits.

          • Cressida de Nova

            I have heard of this Protestant /Catholic almagamated anti-intellectual trivial pastiche that passes for Catholicism in far too many countries . For the record a Catholic can never be too clever. The pursuit of excellence in every facet of one’s life is an obligation ,a form of prayer and a testament to the Creator. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam is the motto of many Catholic schools.

          • Mike Stallard

            Thank you for your opinion on this matter.

          • Cressida de Nova

            This is not my opinion. This is a tenet of your newly acquired faith.

          • Interesting, you never mentioned Christ once in that post. Have fun. Sounds like your a cultural Anglican looking for a comfortable home.

          • Mike Stallard

            Happy Jack, I agree. But I did mention the Holy Spirit twenty or so times.

          • Jack can see no mention of the Holy Spirit, just chuckles, fun and Lithuanian dancing girls. Not that Jack is against enjoyment but we started this exchange because you claimed:

            “As a Catholic, I expect persecution – not least from within the Catholic church.”

            Is it the dancing girls who are giving you a hard tough time?

          • Mike Stallard

            Now this is part of the persecution – they evaporated! And I fully appreciate the crossing out!

            PS As you know, things come in phases. At the moment, we are going through a tough time in our parish. I won’t go on. But it is not pleasant – loyal followers in tears in the Mass, a man angrily tearing off his dog collar in public, a loyal old lady who struggled on to the bitter end mocked cruelly…

          • Goodness! Not modernists v’s progressives, is it?

          • Mike Stallard

            No, we have done that already.
            This one is an Anglo-Catholic Priest convert who is doing the “declaring Canon Law” bit – which he makes up as he goes along. We had the real thing in our local CoE Parish church – and in two years, he emptied it. It had been a really good working parish before that. Now we have got the same thing…

          • What is “declaring Canon Law”?
            Canon Law is binding on all Catholics.

          • Mike Stallard

            What I mean is he declares what he decides to do and then says it is Canon Law when it isn’t. Luckily Canon Law and the Catechism makes it really easy to check…

          • Can. 519
            The parish priest is the proper pastor of the parish entrusted to him. He exercises the pastoral care of the community entrusted to him under the authority of the diocesan Bishop, whose ministry of Christ he is called to share, so that for this community he may carry out the offices of teaching, sanctifying and ruling with the cooperation of other priests or deacons and with the assistance of lay members of Christ’s faithful, in accordance with the law.

          • Mike Stallard

            Jack, I very much admire your help, but I am going to stop now because I do not want to reveal stuff which is better left unsaid. But thank you very much for your interest.

          • Jack will treat the matter as confidential and reveal it to anyone else.

          • Mike Stallard

            I repeat: thank you very much for your interest.

          • Cressida de Nova

            Well …converts used to enjoy that reputation of being more scrupulous than cradle Catholics. No longer I’m afraid.. If a cradle Catholic has enjoyed a proper religious education ( and I really do think that is the crux of Catholicism) there should be no struggle at all with regard to understanding Catholicism.Accepting it is a different matter. Catholicism can never be redefined . We know that it would be sinful and morally wrong to accept any debasement or corruption of the tenets even if it comes from the hierarchy or the Pope I would have thought that Catholics would be the least likely to be intimidated by Cardinals or Bishops because we all have been chaptered and versed in the’ dos’ and’ donts.’ There is no secret rule book reserved for those who are more equal than others.

    • bluedog

      What is this ‘Swinging Sixties’ you refer to?

      • Mike Stallard

        If you can remember the sixties, you weren’t there…
        I am so glad you and I share the same quotation!

  • Dominic Stockford

    Whilst Mrs May has indeed ‘supported’ Christianity, she has so far only supported celebrating and mentioning Christmas. It would be an uplift to all Christians if she could set about supporting, publicly, those such as the Ashers who are trying to live their faith and have done no harm to anyone in making the effort.

    • Mike Stallard

      Dream on…

    • She’s the Prime Minister – not the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

      • dannybhoy

        Agreed. Furthermore she is a ‘churched’ prime minister of a secular and multicultural nation, and needs the prayerful support of Christians.

      • Busy Mum

        Yes, I would. The RCC has no business to be addressing this nation.

        • Not into freedom of speech then, Busy Mum?

          • Busy Mum

            That’s beside the point.

        • dannybhoy

          You surprise me Busy Mum. The Catholic Church more often speaks up for Christianity than our Anglican Church. I may not accept their theology but we unite with those who honour God.

          • Busy Mum

            I agree that the RCC often makes a much better outward show of supporting Christian morality than does the CofE. But is this in order to honour God? Or to honour their Church?

          • dannybhoy

            They see themselves as the official, Christ sanctioned Church, with the Pope as God’s official representative. So if we look at it from that perspective, it is their responsibility to speak out on behalf of Christendom. Let’s also acknowledge that it was the Catholic Charles Martel, who with his allies saved Europe from invasion and subjugation back in 732AD
            http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/martel.html

            So from my point of view whilst I disagree with some Catholic theology and the way the Church is structured, we have to acknowledge and support the good things done by the Catholic Church. It’s kind of like squabbles within a family being put aside in the face of an external threat. We should be wise and choose /prioritise our battles and disputes, so that at the end our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified by our unity.
            Increasingly it seems to me that Salvation through Christ is what should unite the various parts of the Body of Christ. Then, as our Lord and Saviour, we will answer to Him for the things we have done in His Name.
            What do you think?

          • Busy Mum

            Whereas I agree that individual Roman Catholics and other Christians would identify Islam as shared external threat,and secularism even more so, I think the Vatican and Islam would identify Protestant Christianity as a shared foe. Many of the arguments surrounding Islam today (notably that it is an entire religious and political system) are identical to the apprehensions of Protestants about Popery in the past. I would also suggest that theology should take precedence – I get very frustrated by the National Curriculum’s constant portrayal of Christianity as a lifestyle rather than a faith. And the RCC has been very successful at making sure everybody knows how they live (in theory).

            The Vatican is noticeably quiet about condemning other non-RC ‘Christians’ for embracing licentious behaviour. If the Vatican was genuine in its standing up for Christian morality, it would be distancing itself from the collapsing CofE. Yet paradoxically, the more liberal the CofE becomes, the closer the ‘union’ becomes and I think this can only be interpreted as the Vatican watching with satisfaction as England abandons everything which enabled her to stand against Rome. History reads as one long campaign by the Roman church to make England submit to her authority and I think it is a grave error to imagine that this aim has ever been abandoned by the Vatican.

            The Vatican also claims Peter as a Catholic! As with the Protesant martyrs, I would say yes, he and they were catholic, but not Roman Catholic.
            I do not know enough about Martel to state an opinion as to whether he was more after honour for God or for himself. A quick skim through my biographical dictionary certainly shows that his son was instrumental in establishing the temporal power of the Bishop of Rome. I note that both Martel and his son were illegitimate (or the results of approved polygamy) so I imagine that any Roman Catholic veneration of these Frankish leaders is a result of their contribution to the Pope’s power base rather than than admiration for any saintly lifestyles.

            Salvation through Christ, yes. Salvation through the Roman Church, no.

          • dannybhoy

            “and I think this can only be interpreted as the Vatican watching with satisfaction as England abandons everything which enabled her to stand against Rome.”
            But let’s accept that England/the CofE is responsible for its own spiritual downfall, no?
            “I do not know enough about Martel to state an opinion as to whether he was more after honour for God or for himself.”
            My point is though that he stopped the Islamification of Europe; and that allowed the Christian Church to survive. Just as we might say that during ww2 not all the Allies were pure in motive or concerned for the survival of Great Britain. Some governments had hidden agendas, just as some soldiers were atheists, communists, reluctant participants or on the fiddle! But all contributed in some way to winning the war that preserved our freedom..
            That’s not an argument for situation ethics or ecumenicalism, but it is an argument for getting our priorities right when faced with a danger that threatens us all. :0)

          • Busy Mum

            “But let’s accept that England/the CofE is responsible for its own spiritual downfall, no?” Absolutely – as I said, England has abandoned everything which enabled her to stand.

            True – Martel stopped, or rather postponed, the Islamification of Europe – and this was God’s means for looking after His church. And Europe will have to give an account to God for every year of Christian blessing since then, England even more so. Woe unto thee Bethsaida and Chorazin – woe unto thee England – for if the mighty works etc etc. The greater the blessing the greater the accountability…..

            Priorities, priorities…..I guess this is what Jehoshaphat’s line of thought was when he agreed to join forces with Ahab. ‘Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord?’. If we are prioritising without reference to what God would want us to do, and attempting to face a danger by ‘putting our trust in princes’, it’s bound to go wrong in the end. But it’s what we all do naturally…. try and save our own skin!

          • dannybhoy

            Luke 14:31-33 (KJV)

            “Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.”

            Priorities, priorities…!

          • Busy Mum

            And Asa cried unto the Lord his God and said, Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power; help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude…let not man preveail against thee. 2 Chron 14

            If God be for us, who can be against us?

            The priority is to make peace with God, rather than the devil, even if in doing so, we lose all that is temporal…for what does it profit a man to gain the whole earth, but in doing so to lose his own soul?

            Got to dash out on child-chauffeur duty!

          • dannybhoy

            “The priority is to make peace with God, rather than the devil, even if in doing so, we lose all that is temporal…for what does it profit a man to gain the whole earth, but in doing so to lose his own soul?
            The reality dear Busy Mum, is that in the world in which live, move and have our being, we rely on others to keep us healthy, employed, safe, protected and entertained…
            There’s no escaping that our lives as Christians are wrapped up in and interdependent with the rest of society.
            Have a good weekend.

    • dannybhoy

      I’m not sure what else you want from her Dominic. We live by the rule of law and it is up to the Church to speak out on behalf of e.g. the Ashers. Theresa May is our current Prime Minister charged with running our country to the best of her ability. She -and her husband- need our prayers and encouragement.

  • CliveM

    A pertinent question would be, would the civil service allow her? Or MP’s? Or the Lords? Or the Courts?

    There are a lot of barriers to such a change.

  • jsampson45

    The weasel word here is “reasonable” which as far as I can find has not been defined here. What does it mean? Who decides what it means?

    • That people should be free to exercise their conscience according to their faith convictions?
      However, the problem then is that this has to be balanced with the competing convictions of others and the welfare of society and all its members.

      • jsampson45

        In that case I would want to know what benefit can accrue from this discussion.

        • Apart from examining the issue through discussion, what alternatives have you in mind for us?

          • jsampson45

            For what purpose?

          • Um, this is a discussion forum?

          • jsampson45

            Indeed. But not all discussions are profitable. If a thing does not exist, no amount of effort will find it. If they throw out the only answer – a Christian consensus – I do not think I have a duty to find another one.

  • John

    Yeah right, Theresa May, like Tim Farron, fall over themselves to support ‘gay marriage’. When push comes to shove Christian politicians who are ambitious for power fear being labelled homophobic more than they fear the Lord.

    • petej

      They get called far worse than that in the press every day. You are perhaps correct to say that they voted against their own religious faith, but I doubt it was motivated by fear of being called a name. Plenty of MPs voted against same sex marriage so it would have been easy for them to follow suit.

    • Dominic Stockford

      It was indeed Theresa May who pushed same-sex marriage through Parliament (from behind the scenes, but definitely her).

  • bluedog

    ‘Why shouldn’t religious belief play a part in the political process?’

    It must do. Christian belief and practice is deeply woven into the DNA of the British state. We should never be allowed to forget that The Common Law, always under attack from the EU, is a tapestry of judgements that derives from Christian values and morality. It was in England and Wales as well as in Ireland that this great legacy was built, and then carried to the four corners of the earth. Ironically, the secularists, atheists and fellow travellers are the beneficiaries of this carefully ordered society that they so love to deride.

    • David

      Well said Sir !

    • As an aside, and without grabbing credit for a uniquely British Christian contribution to modernity, bluedog, I’d like to mention that for some odd reason British Common Law bears an uncanny resemblance to halakha, i.e., Jewish or rabbinic law. Both Common Law and halakha stick out in their contradistinction to statute laws, which are based on written codes, as with the Mosaic decalogue, biblical laws, Hamurabi’s code, Roman statutes, etc. So yes, well-observed; in rejecting and attacking their Christian past, secularist are vigorously kicking off the legal and ethical underpinnings which evolved to protect their historically unprecedented rights to religious (and a-religious) freedoms…there’s never been a statute law to protect such! A rather droll slapstick act, no?

  • Alison Bailey Castellina

    Mrs May is not only running the country, she is managing the trials of Article 50 and Type 1 diabetes which she got at 57. Type 1 normally develops before you are 40. That’s far more than most of her sternest critics could cope with. She says that God is guiding and strengthening her. She has His infinite resources to draw on – but we should be praying for her, too.

  • chefofsinners

    Would you rather:
    a) A Christian Prime Minister motivated by her faith to serve others and make morally right decisions OR
    b) A secularist Prime Minister motivated by, er… to er…
    ?

    • petej

      Neither. A) is going to go the full Maggie and lose her moral compass and B) will bring harm to everyone. Both A and B are motivated by ideology, not by helping others.

      I’d prefer C) The prime minister who is motivated by improving the lives of British people and who will make evidence based decisions.

      • Hmmm … “evidence based decisions”. Look around you to understand the harm caused by laws divorced from Christian moral values. It’s really not rocket science.

        • petej

          Looking around me to see the consequences of a law divorced from Christian values *is* evidence!

          • Of course it is – single parenthood, family breakdown, disaffected youth, welfare dependence, declining population, breakdown of the extended family, etc. etc.

          • petej

            A prime minister driven by ideology (religious beliefs, self interest or other) above all else will ignore these things because whatever is happening in the real world is irrelevant

      • chefofsinners

        No such person exists. Without religion humans are motivated, above all, by self interest.

        • petej

          That’s a very cynical view. I don’t share it.

          • dannybhoy

            Human beans are always motivated by self interest simply because we are incomplete in ourselves. Only someone all knowing and completely good and who has no need of anything would be in a position to be truly selfless.

  • Malcolm Smith

    a British Bill of Rights?
    You already have one. It was passed in 1689.
    reasonable accommodation? Once you propose that such a thing is necessary, you are acknowledging the existence of immoral laws. No reasonable accommodation is necessary for moral laws. In fact, 90% of violations of religious freedom result from the various “anti-discrimination” laws. Therefore, the steps which need to be applied are:
    (1) Permit broad exemptions under existing anti-discrimination laws for matters of conscience, whether religious or philosophical. Once that has been established long enough, we should move to:
    (2) Remove perversion and all other forms of unchastity from the protected categories of anti-discrimination laws. Finally –
    (3) Rescind all anti-discrimination laws.

    • petej

      If anti discrimination law is leading to violations of religious freedom, doesn’t that suggest that most of these issues are actually when an individual seeks to impose their own morality on another individual or on the public square? I don’t think it is possible to remove the anti discrimination law here and retain religious freedom, because religious freedom relies on no view being privileged over another.

      • Or alternatively, “anti-discrimination laws” are the imposition of secular values on people of faith. What makes homosexuality a condition requiring protection in law that has priority over a person’s religious conscience?

        • petej

          I think “secular value” might be a contradiction in terms, but in a democracy with religious freedom, you have to treat religious views equally or you don’t really have religious freedom.

          Homosexuality and religious conscience have equal priority in the law. The law achieves this by privileging the customer over the provider of a service (with exemption for religious organisations). This makes some sense because businesses and other organisations have to comply with other laws in order to trade in the UK and, arguably, a business or organisation cannot hold religious faith…only its owner and employees can.

          • But why is homosexuality a protected category?

          • petej

            Because that’s what our elected representatives decided. The protected characteristics are age, disability, gender, race, religion and orientation. It has been the law for over a decade now that discrimination on the basis of these characteristics is illegal unless there are special circumstances (e.g. A theatre play might require a black actor for a part)

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Jack knows why homosexuality is a protected characteristic. It’s because people like him hate the LGBT community and want to punish it for refusing to obey their religious dictates.

            Jack likes to punish people. It gives him a sense of power. But the government won’t let him punish gays and that pisses him off, so he whines about injustice and the suppression of religious freedom, which is just a fancy way of saying “Waah! I wanna beat up the queers!”

            It’s all a ploy designed to coerce the government into giving him back the right make the lives of gay people a burden to them. Like all bully boys, he isn’t happy unless he’s hurting someone.

          • Your bitterness and hate is coming through again, Linus. Not very resilient, are you? Unhappy childhood?

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            You probably did have an unhappy childhood, Jack. But is that any reason to take your anger out on those you consider to be even less worthy of esteem than yourself?

            Jack’s refrain, indeed the refrain of homophobic cowards down the ages, is nothing more than: “Waah! I wanna beat up on the gays so I feel big and strong, but they keep fighting back and showing me up for the weak little coward I really am!! Waah!”

          • By why is “orientation” a protected characteristic? One might not be able to choose one’s sexual desires, but acting on them and self identifying as “gay” are matters of personal choice. Why should a sexual aberration be protected?

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Homosexuality is not an aberration. It’s a naturally occuring and morally neutral variant of human sexuality.

            What’s protected is not homosexuality per se, but rather all recognised sexual orientations. Heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality are all protected characteristics. Paedophilia is not because as it cannot be acted on without causing harm to others, it is not considered to be a sexual orientation but rather a sexual disorder.

            Of course you know this, but you still want to beat up on the gays, so you pretend that homosexuality is a disorder too. Unfortunately for you, all reputable mental health authorities disagree with you and class homosexuality as a normal sexual orientation.

            In order for you to get your way, you’ll have to persuade the entire medical profession that it is wrong and you are right. This you have totally failed to do. The reason for this is that your arguments are based solely on superstitious hatred and do not stand up to even the most basic level of scrutiny. So you whine about religious freedom and try to play the martyr.

            Poor Jack. Thwarted in his desire to beat up on gays. I feel sorry for you, but not for the same reasons you feel sorry for yourself.

          • “Naturally occuring”…as is Yersinia pestis.

            “Morally neutral”? According to whom? Show us your calculations and empirical sources for that one.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Morally neutral according to every reputable mental health professional body in the Western world.

            If you want a detailed explanation of why homosexuality is not considered to be a disorder, you’ll find it on the APA’s website. If you can’t be bothered to take a look, here’s a short quote:

            Is homosexuality a mental disorder?

            No, lesbian, gay and bisexual orientations are not disorders. Research has found no inherent association between any of these sexual orientations and psychopathology. Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Both have been documented in many different cultures and historical eras. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. Lesbian, gay and bisexual relationships are normal forms of human bonding. Therefore, these mainstream organizations long ago abandoned classifications of homosexuality as a mental disorder.

          • Inspector General

            It will be interesting to see if World Wide Gay achieve their latest goal in psychiatry: To convince the World Health Organisation that transgender is not the psychosis it has to be…

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            The APA does not define being transgender as a disorder. Given that they are trained psychologists and you are not, I would tend to side with them.

            Is being transgender a mental disorder?

            A psychological state is considered a mental disorder only if it causes significant distress or disability. Many transgender people do not experience their gender as distressing or disabling, which implies that identifying as transgender does not constitute a mental disorder. For these individuals, the significant problem is finding affordable resources, such as counseling, hormone therapy, medical procedures and the social support necessary to freely express their gender identity and minimize discrimination. Many other obstacles may lead to distress, including a lack of acceptance within society, direct or indirect experiences with discrimination, or assault. These experiences may lead many transgender people to suffer with anxiety, depression or related disorders at higher rates than nontransgender persons.

          • Inspector General

            You really should take time out and discover the difference between psychology and psychiatry.

          • Dominic Stockford

            It is still taught in UK colleges today, in psychology, that transgender is indeed a disorder. Sorry sunshine, even today’s science is against you. You’ll need to get the curriculum changed.

          • Inspector General

            Just remembered an old rule of thumb from years back…

            A man goes to see a psychiatrist and says “I get great pleasure from holding my hand over a candle flame for a second or two. What do you think?” The psychiatrist answers “don’t do that”

            He then goes to a psychologist and says the same. The psychologist says “don’t do that, too many times”

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            When science establishes new ideas and facts, teachers are often slow to react. They too need to be educated before they can educate others.

            As detailed knowledge about transgenderism is relatively recent, it will take a little time for schools and colleges to adapt.

            Some teachers, especially those who are Christian, may refuse to accept the truth and stubbornly continue to teach old lies and prejudices about transgender people. The worst offenders will probably be removed, and eventually they’ll all reach retirement age and be replaced by those who’ve been properly trained.

            Time is on the side of truth and will erode religious obscurantism until it finally disappears.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Time is on the side of truth, and when in due time you stand before the throne of grace and your eternal judge says, ‘Away from me, I never knew you’ you will have all eternity to dwell on the truth you rejected.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            You’ve never seen this throne or this judge of which you speak. Neither has anyone else. You have no evidence that even begins to suggest they might actually exist. And yet you feel justified in hurling threats at me unless I bow to you and your totally unproven and unjustifiable fantasy.

            It tells me all I need to know about who you are and why anyone with any sense would be wise to give you a wide berth.

            What a good thing for the UK that your pathetic ambition to become an MP will never be realised. Imagine the harm you could do with your deluded fantasies if you actually held any real power.

          • Malcolm Smith

            It is painful that, in this day and age, it is necessary to explain plain, simple biology.
            Male and female sex organs are designed to be complementary. Almost every healthy man and woman are capable of copulating with each other. But same sex attraction cannot be consummated. Attempts to do so invariably lead to makeshift activities which are as imaginative as they are unhygienic. Not only are homosexuals and lesbians unable to have children; they are unable to even have sex! Homosexuality is self-evidently a disorder because it is contrary to physiology.
            Perhaps the most telling example of the perversity of the APA is that, when they removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders, they retained voyeurism. Now, I would be the first to agree that a peeping Tom is a public nuisance – and a rather pathetic one at that. But looked at objectively, what is more aberrant for a man: to want to look at naked women, or to want to do remarkable things with the back passage of another man?
            But where they completely lose the plot is the example you just gave on transgenderism. When people have to have healthy parts of their body cut off and remodeled, and then have to live with hormone supplements, just so that they can feel good within themselves, by definition, they have a mental disorder.
            In any case, you have all gone a long way from the statement I made which started this thread: that it is anti-discrimination legislation which is the problem. The fact that it conflicts with Christian morality is proof that it is immoral. Anti-discrimination legislation is an unwarranted imposition of the government on the citizens. Previously, it was naturally assumed that everyone had the right to choose whom they wished to hire or do business with, and we never had any problems with this in the past.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            What a sad little rant. All shot through with frustration born of impotence.

            Your opinions have been rejected by the medical profession. Unsurprising considering they’re the result of mere bigotry and based on nothing but prejudice and hatred.

            The medical profession has studied these issues in depth. Its findings are based on years of clinical research. Your opinion is based on nothing more than confirmation bias. You want homosexuality to be wrong therefore it must be wrong, because how could you possibly be wrong?

            No wonder you’re dismissed as a pure and simple bigot, for that is exactly what you are.

            Like all bigots, you want to be allowed to punish those you hate by refusing to do business with them and encouraging others to do the same. You want businesses to be allowed to put signs in their windows saying “No blacks, no gays, no Irish, no Poles, no atheists…”

            The government has considered the effects of such discrimination and has decided that it should not be allowed. You can still be a bigot if you want to be. But you can’t impose your bigotry on anyone else.

            Learn to live with it. What other choice do you have?

          • Malcolm Smith

            I notice you didn’t make any reference to my statements about biology.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Your assertion about biology, i.e. that our morphology was designed for a single and unique purpose by some kind of invisible superior entity who is personally affronted if we dare to use it for any other purpose, hardly merits a response. It’s so patently ridiculous that no adult whose intellect isn’t constrained and bound by religious and/or heterosexist confirmation bias could possibly take it seriously.

            Just for the purpose of explaining to those with minds sufficiently open to understand however, (because I know I won’t convince you and your dogmatic little brain) currently available physical evidence indicates that reproduction is only one of rhe roles played by our external sex organs. They are also used to facilitate pair bonding via non-reproductive sexual activity.

            The Catholic Church recognises this fact via the Stone Age concentraceptive advice it gives to the poor unfortunates who form its benighted membership. If you’re a Catholic couple and don’t want children, you can use the “rhythm method” and still remain in good standing with the Church. This is a tacit admission that sex is not just about having babies. It’s also about sealing and maintaining a pair bond, which is our basic social unit.

            Once you admit that sex is not just about making babies, there is no good reason why any form of non-reproductive sex should be unacceptable to this imaginary God of yours.

            You claim he hates gay sex and that his design for our genitals reflects this. I claim you can’t prove he hates anything because you can’t prove he exists, but that even if he does exist and did design us, there is no reason to suppose that our genitals weren’t intended to be just as multi-purpose as our mouths. A mouth’s primary purpose may be to eat and drink and its form may be designed (if designed it was) to facilitate those activities, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used for talking, or kissing, or whistling, or spitting, or anything else you can do with a mouth. One function does not preclude another.

          • Here, in my province of Ontario, the mental health association will be ruling shortly and the word is that “transgenderism” is not to be a listed as a disorder or, as previously classified, “gender dysphoria.” See, we go with the times here too, in the Colonies!

          • Inspector General

            Splutter!

          • Ah, a rare glimpse into your epistemology.

            So, until “long ago” as you say, in the murky mists of time…1973, to be precise… homosexuality was a certified, duly listed mental illness.

            Then, something miraculous happened: After several years of whining, threats and political pressure from Gay groups, the American Psychiatric Association’s trustees voted to remove homosexuality from the listing of mental illnesses in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

            There was no single discovery, emergence of clinical data, preponderance or even a smidgen of evidence for this, nor an announcement from a visiting angel. It was by the grace of Holy Progress which moves through History which caused an election by the board of APA’s trustees which, miraculously again, voted for the “normalization” by 13 to 0, with only 2 abstentions. Alas, the membership, comprised of actual practicing psychiatrists, which must have missed the world-wide paradigm shift agreed by a whopping….55%.

            Phew, that was close, but there but for the grace of the APA’s trustees, goes your sanity certificate!

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Another fine example of religious confirmation bias at play.

            Because you require the decision of the APA to be evil, you rewrite history to claim that it was a purely political act. In effect, you lie, because telling lies is the only way you can justify your position.

            The APA’s decision to take homosexuality off the list of mental disorders was based on years of clinical observation of gay people who were obliged by the condemnation of society to seek treatment for something that neither needed to be treated, nor, as it isn’t an illness, could be.

            Healthy people have little trouble convincing objective practitioners there’s nothing wrong with them. The problem comes when biased practitioners, such as those who adhere to a traditional interpretation of Christianity, apply their confirmation bias to any characteristic their faith tells them is sinful.

            No matter how healthy, well-adjusted and happy their gay “patients” are, Christian practitioners will always label them as unhealthy merely because they – the practitioners – don’t approve of homosexuality.

            Until the early 1970s a majority of psychologists applied this confirmation bias to all gay people and labelled them as sick regardless of whether they presented any symptoms of psychopathology or not. As any psychologist worth his salt will tell you, symptoms of mental instability don’t exist in isolation. An unstable personality shows multiple facets of abnormality. So if being gay were abnormal, the personalities of gay people would exhibit many symptoms of psychological disorder. The fact that they do not – or at least no more frequently than the personalities of straight people who’ve suffered from similar levels of familial and social exclusion – is incontrovertible evidence that homosexuality is no more of an indicator of mental illness than heterosexuality.

            The collapse in Christian belief that took place among the educated classes in the 60s and the subsequent drop in the numbers of qualified practitioners affected by homophobic Christian confirmation bias is what led to the reclassification of homosexuality. Psychologists who were not affected by a dogmatic need to think of gays as sick were able to judge their mental health objectively. When they did and realised that gay people are no more likely to be mentally unstable than straight people, they realised that homosexuality is not a psychopathology. This is why it was removed from the list of psychological disorders by the APA in 1973. Psychologists realised how immensely blinkered, stupid and unprofessional their predecessors had been.

            No wonder psychologists hold their religious colleagues in such low esteem. They rightly understand that the practice of a religion prevents an objective attitude towards the diagnosis and treatment of patients. A Christian psychologist is a contradiction in terms. No wonder they form their own professional bodies. They’re laughed out of any objective organisation.

          • You seem to expend a lot of energy on straw men, Linus. First of all, I never said that either of the claims, that homosexuality is a mental disorder, or that it’s not, is of much importance to my own views on this matter…and I rather like Milo Yanowhateverpolous and think of him as one of the sanest people around. Anyhow, both are rather arbitrary labels, depending on ever-changing interpretations in a shaky field. Rather, I merely laughed at your naivete, stupidity really, by publicly committing your perception of your own value, identity and sanity to a unanimous vote of trustees and a marginal one by a professional society membership. Whatever science you imagine led to such a weak decision could not have been terribly convincing or clinically sound either way. And you laugh at religious people!

            Personally, I’m an agnostic on the mental illness hypothesis…too imprecise and even arbitrary at this point. I tend to go with the notion that human homosexuality is, in the vast majority of cases, a personal choice based on cultural and material conditions. Otherwise, you wouln’t have had entire societies, from tribal cultures to entire nation states, where almost every male becomes a practicing homosexual, usually from and up to a certain age, and then stops, after his military service expires, to undertake heterosexual marriage from a pool of young, fertile women (kept as rewards) whose numbers have been kept low through female infanticide or gross mistreatment (over-work, low calorie and low protein diets). And, just as significantly, you wouldn’t have the same societies de-normalizing or banning homosexuality precisely when such authoritarian super-structures collapse or are eliminated, and when family authority, individual rights and male-female ratios have been restored.

            What matters to me, is that homosexuality is prohibited to Jews. This prohibition is clear in the Torah, lacks a written justification, other than that the practice is abhorrent to God for whatever reason. Speculations abound, and mine is that God simply wanted to make sure that Israel doesn’t follow the ways of Pagan warrior cultures and states, perhaps because the level of centralized authoritarianism, with its destruction of families and devaluation of women (think Sparta) required to keep such going was a dead-end in the longer term.

            The benefit of this hypothesis is that it relies on empirically sound principles, e,g, a strong correlation of institutionalized homosexuality to authoritarianism. And more importantly to the secular brethren here, is that it works with secular, atheistic pre-conceptions just as well. The bottom line again is that a culture which normalizes and institutionalizes homosexuality is moving towards a highly and strictly stratified society with an authoritarian government. And, it does this in predictable patterns, typically by forcibly overriding pre-existing mores, disrupting or dismantling older institutions, and weakening family bonds. In plain words, you don’t need religion to prove that normalization of homosexuality leads to, or at least signals, some very ugly and harmful cultural changes beyond the distracting issues of sexuality.

            Now, to move on to the scary part; the most efficient and common way to do this appears to be, as thousands of years and hundreds of cultures have shown again and again, is through taking away children from their weakened natural family units and by politically, religiously and sexually indoctrinating them in relative isolation. You’d have to be blind to what’s happening or an invested liar, to deny that this process is already in evidence in the First World, and that we now have the technology and reach to do this better than any other time in history. This is the issue that concerns me, the instruments and institutions of coercion behind all this…not chumps and victims, as in who wants to diddle whom, who wants to play pretend-marriage or imagine that he’s a chick who just happens to have a dick.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Your hypothesis founders on the inconvenient fact that no strong correlation of authoritarianism to institutionalised homosexuality exists.

            One example from history: ancient Greece, cannot be said to constitute a “strong correlation” when just about every other example of an authoritarian society has punished homosexual behaviour.

            Most authoritarian cultures have also undervalued and oppressed women – China and the Islamic world, for example – while strongly prohibiting homosexual behaviours. Think of the Nazis, their “Kinder, Küche, Kirche” attitude to women and their violent suppression of homosexuality.

            Perhaps your origins lead you to assign too much importance to Ancient Greek culture as the dominant influence over the Eastern Mediterranean in the years when the Jewish cultural identity was being forged. Your people may have defined themselves in opposition to a hated foreign power, but their experience was not archetypal for all humankind.

            Regarding support of my position by the APA, if you think that my entire world view is based on the opinion of one group of medical practitioners, the joke is on you. I merely offered their policy as one piece of evidence among many that science overwhelmingly supports my position.

            As science is our only source of verifiable fact, and as there isn’t the slightest shred of scientific evidence to support the existence of your so-called God, or his alleged attitude to homosexuality, my arguments have a solid base. Yours rely on spooks, superstition, supposition and downright fantasy. All your words boil down to is that IF there is a God and IF he hates homosexuality, then gay people who don’t sacrifice their sex lives to him are in trouble.

            Those are two VERY big ifs and as the consequences for gay people are profound, i.e. a lifetime of loneliness and alienation, it is not unreasonable to demand convincing proof that this God you talk about really does exist and that he really does want gays to remain celibate. Nothing in any of your arguments provides any such proof.

          • Your first counter-argument flops because of faulty assumptions and ignorance about the subject. If were Gay, I certainly wouldn’t be as lazy as you are, and I would familiarize myself with all the theories and with all, all, the positions, no matter whether I like them or not.

            One. “Ancient Greece” was a collection of states, tribes and societies which may have shared a common Indo-European language, but differed quite a bit culturally for most of their history. This is why I mentioned Sparta. The common denominator is warrior societies, usually at the tribal and up to small state level. Specifically, it’s the cultures which take young boys, pair them up with older warriors as submissive sexual partners, assistants and trainees, while culling and subjugating women, to be used as rewards for the warriors. Greece is neither the only or the strongest example; examples of these “homosexual” societies span the entire globe and date back from ancient times, to today’s militia and terror groups in Asia and Africa.

            Two. Not all warrior cultures applied the above strategy. The Mongols, for example, didn’t; probably because they were almost exclusively a pastoral culture (like the Hebrews/Jews), because they needed to expand their populations and unlike others, more sedentary groups with greater population densities, had the territory to expand into. I’m gonna go on a limb and speculate that Chinese hostility to homosexuality is connected to Mongol rule, probably starting with Kubilai Khan in the northern Yuan dynasty. Telescoping vast stretches of time and territory and smushing-up scores of cultures together just because they happened too long ago isn’t helpful.

            Three: I’m not sure what you mean by undervaluing women. The objective (and the only workable) markers are not our current fashions and perceptions of status and value, but things like marriage and kinship arrangements, access to nutrition and shelter and life spans. The least reliable measurement is social and political power, simply because it’s hard to quantify. And here, you can’t generalize either, as in bad men oppressing poor women. The creation of the aggressive warrior male and the passive subjugated female begins with the mothers, who are usually in charge of female infacnticide and of the “toughening up” of the boys from infancy.

            As for your remaining points, I’ll cut to the quick. Because everyone believes in something which is ultimately un-provable, I can only divide people into two categories: rationalists and mystics. There are all kinds of variants, of course…it’s a wonderful world…and so, one can be a religious rationalist, where the ontology and epistemology are given their proper role and weight and facts and logic matter, or an atheistic mystic, at the level of a primitive Pagan, with the atheism as a mere prop and a whole lot of emotional modern myths and superstitions in support one’s choices and appetites. You happen to be of the latter, and of the aggressively dogmatic kind, which is too bad, because it’s that that’s most annoying, not your being Gay.

          • dannybhoy

            Heavy man, really heavy…

          • “Morally neutral according to every reputable mental health professional body in the Western world.”

            Numpty. Psychiatry doesn’t deal with issues of morality.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Caveman. Never heard of moral psychology, have you?

            Why doesn’t this surprise me?

          • It’s a load of tosh, Linus. Bit like social psychology. It’s also neutral when it comes to what is actually moral and immoral, studying the processes by which we make decisions. Mind you, one of its “findings” is that individuals tend create values to justify behaviour after they act. Familiar?

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            What’s a load of tosh is your antiquated religion, Dodo. Ancient superstitions that only gullible children can be fooled by.

            The fact that values are created to justify behaviour is clearly illustrated by Christianity’s attitude to homosexuality.

            In proto-Jewish Israel some patriarch probably got off with a hot young herdsman and was discovered in flagrante delicto by the patriarch’s pissed off wife. With her rudimentary knowledge of basic hygiene, she would have thought “ew, he’s not putting that in me after it’s been where it’s been” and off she went to complain to the local shaman. Hey presto, suddenly there’s a religious taboo against homosexuality.

            One can understand why primitive and uneducated peoples developed these kinds of taboos. What’s a lot more difficult to understand is why modern and educated people persist in perpetuating them.

            Well, maybe it isn’t quite so difficult to understand after all. The veneer of civilisation sits very lightly on some of us. You can try to educate a Neanderthal, and it may even succeed in aping certain behaviours, but it won’t understand them and will always fall back on its grunting superstition as being the only thing it’s capable of understanding.

            Such a one is Jack. But not to worry, he’ll be extinct soon enough, and his retrograde “ideas” will die with him.

          • dannybhoy

            Although I am not aware of any supporting evidence from the time, I don’t think homosexuality was as big an issue in the early Church as it is now. I think they lumped it under the same heading of SIN, the state of being which separates unrepentant man from God.
            And separation through rebellion and sinfulness is the heart of the Gospel. Without God man is lost and incapable of true happiness and fulfilment. No-one has shown that hedonism or wealth or power can provide true happiness. We might desire those things but ultimately they lead to death and destruction.
            God wants to rescue us. Not least because at the Last Day we will all have to explain why we thought we were in the right and He was wrong…

          • Funny how so called “primitive” and “uneducated” man recognised the intrinsic degeneracy of certain acts while “civilised” man doesn’t. Jack is sure modern “moral psychologists” have a “scientific” explanation. Christian’s just call it giving in to perverted lust.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Christian’s (sic) call it “giving in to perverted lust” because it’s easier to condemn and hate other people than it is to call your unsupported beliefs into question and honestly ask yourself if they really are true.

            It’s the sort of thing cavemen do. Bowing down before their imaginary gods and grunting hatred at those who refuse to do the same.

          • There’s no condemnation or hatred of people involved, Linus. All the hatred is on your side. You think you’re on a crusade for justice and equality. Really, you’re just rationalising sin.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            I’m on a crusade for nothing. Crosses play no role in my life, and I certainly don’t follow them into battle.

            I’m doing what everyone does when a roach scuttles out of a crack in the woodwork. I’m stamping on it firmly and squashing it flat.

          • Oooo, you hero, you.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            And that’s the kind of bitchy comment that reveals your true feelings about other people. Contempt and hatred are essentially the same thing.

          • CliveM

            Says the compulsive liar, who hates women, abuses the disabled, taunts the seriously ill and delights in others problems.

            One could call you a hypocrite, but it doesn’t really do you justice.

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            However you judge me, if you don’t judge Jack by the same criteria then the real hypocrite is you.

            A manipulative homophobe is evil by any standards.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Homosexuality is a result of the Fall, and one of many signs of sin in mankind. The Bible repeatedly condemns this activity, both in the Old Testament and in the New.

          • Sarky

            Don’t get it. I watched ‘the fall’ and I’m still straight??

          • Oisín mac Fionn

            Mere assertion. Where’s your evidence?

            Show me independent and corroborating eyewitness accounts of this event you refer to as “the Fall”, please.

          • petej

            It’s not an activity though. People can choose their behaviour, but they can’t choose not to be gay.

            Treating individuals as being of less worth than other individuals is a result of the fall (see gen 3)

          • Dominic Stockford

            Homosexual activity is an activity. Something someone chooses to do. Like theft, covetousness or adultery, it is a sin. Choosing to continue in these activities is a rejection of God and His teaching. Claiming it is not a sin denies God’s Word, and says “I know better than God”.

          • petej

            Homosexuality is not homosexual activity though. Sorry if this seems a pedantic point. There are lots of homosexuals who are celibate.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Read what I wrote again – I’ll capitalise to help you: “Homosexuality is a result of the Fall, and one of many signs of sin in mankind. The Bible repeatedly condemns this ACTIVITY, both in the Old Testament and in the New.”

            Your wording is clear that you admit yourself that homosexuality is a result of the Fall, and I have been clear that it is homosexual ACTIVITY that is repeatedly condemned in the Bible. There are lots of people tempted to many different sins who don’t fall into them, that some don’t doesn’t make the active indulgence in the sin correct. Isaiah 5 “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

          • petej

            Yes. I understood what you wrote, but “homosexuality” and “homosexual activity” are not the same thing. Someone may be homosexual without carrying out homosexual activity.

          • petej

            Because successive democratically elected governments have not considered it an “aberration”.

            I think it would be very difficult to legally protect orientation, but require people to keep it secret!!!

      • carl jacobs

        Law by definition imposes morality on others. The laws against bigamy for example impose a form of Christian morality on Muslims. The question is not whether morality will be imposed, but what morality will be imposed.

        • petej

          Yes of course (although I think you mean Mormons, not Muslims?). My point was that you can’t have religious freedom if you allow people of a particular faith to ignore the rules that everyone else has to follow.

          What if Christians believed that they shouldn’t have to stop at red lights, but that everyone else should yield to them? There would be pressure to become a Christian or, more likely, to claim to be a Christian in order to have that privilege. Soon you’d have everyone trying to jump the lights – that’s my point.

          • carl jacobs

            No, I meant Muslims.

            You said …

            doesn’t that suggest that most of these issues are actually when an individual seeks to impose their own morality on another individual or on the public square?

            That statement has nothing to do with Christians ignoring rules. My point was that law always imposes morality. The dominant religion in a culture will inform the law. That’s why the law in the West (still) broadly imposes Christian conceptions. However, a new religion called Secularism rises up to displace Christianity. That religion of Secularism now increasingly informs the law and that is the source of conflict. Secularism is imposing its own moral notions.

          • petej

            I understood your point which is why I wrote “of course”. I’m not sure you understand my point.

            Allowing Christians (or any other group) to have a different law than everyone else will create a system where there is no religious freedom and would be ungovernable.

          • carl jacobs

            I agree with your point. You aren’t arguing with me over that. What I am saying is that it is nonsense to complain about “[individuals seeking] to impose their own morality on another individual or on the public square”. To do otherwise is to abolish law. When people say “You shouldn’t impose your morality on me” they mean “I want to impose my morality on you or on someone else.” That’s how it works.

          • petej

            I wasn’t complaining. I was making the point that in this sort of situation it is one person’s religious freedom against another – to retain religious freedom the law cannot say make discrimination law dependent on the (potential) perpetrators motivation.

            There is a difference between the national law and individual morality.

          • carl jacobs

            There is very little difference between national law and the dominant morality among individuals, however. The dominant worldview informs the law.

            Individuals will resist the law if it conflicts with their own sense of morality. Now, in some cases you personally would say “The Law is good! People must obey whether they like it or not!” In other cases you would say “The Law is evil! It must be changed! People should resist that law and refuse to obey it!”

            It’s not the law you are judging. Instead you are judging the worldview that informs the law. This assertion you make about discrimination law is translated as “I think these anti-discrimination laws are good! People must obey them.” In this manner you are happy to see your individual morality imposed on others. And you are delighted that the Gov’t will act as your agent to do so.

          • petej

            I do think the equality law is good. However, my point is not that the equality laws are good, but that they treat people of different religions, races, genders etc equally. I’m not sure if it coincides with my personal morality or not because I don’t think that all religious views are morally valid. I do believe in treating people as I would like to be treated, which amounts to the same thing. Isn’t it a bit obvious to state that sometimes individual morality and the law coincide? I think actually that is usually the case!

            I should think everyone disagrees with some aspect of UK law and it is just part of living in this country as to how you react to that. The law already allows room for reasonable accommodation and completely exempts religious organisations from equality legislation. I don’t agree that exempting discrimination motivated by religious belief is a good thing, but worse than that I think it necessitate government defining Christian belief and lead to “anything goes”. The BNP claims to be a Christian group – should they be allowed to discriminate against black people because of their “faith”? The EDL claims to be a Christian group – should they be allowed to discriminate against Muslims because of their “faith”?

          • carl jacobs

            You are implicitly assuming that equality is an objective concept that is itself not subject to the power of definition. Do your laws treat Muslims equally? A Muslim man may have up to four wives according to Muslim law. Oh, but you will say “He may marry one woman just like everyone else. That’s equal. We don’t need to change the concept of marriage just to satisfy his desire for more than one woman.” But then a homosexual man says “Marriage is not equal! Sure, I have the right to marry a woman but I don’t want to. You must change the definition to make it equal.”. And you quickly nod your head and agree.

            The nature of equality does not hang above this argument untouched and unsullied. It’s a weapon that may be shaped and modified for purpose. People use it to achieve the outcomes they desire.

          • petej

            I would define equality as being when the treatment of individuals does not depend on one (or more) of the protected characteristics.

            They are not my laws. I’m not an mp or a member of a political party. I do think they are flawed, but I think they are better than anything else being proposed.

            Multiple marriage is illegal under UK law and I am pretty sure most British Muslims are opposed to polygamy. The equality act isn’t about allowing people to do whatever they like in accordance with their characteristics. It is merely to limit discrimination against those characteristics.

            I am disagreeing with a legal right to “reasonable accommodation” precisely because it would lead to the chaos you highlight where everyone lives under a different flavour of the law

          • Malcolm Smith

            This is a perfectly idiotic argument. If Christians believed they shouldn’t have to stop at red lights, then red lights would never have been introduced back in the days when Christian consciences were respected.
            And this is the heart of the matter. It is not a case of wanting to “ignore the rules that everyone has to follow.” It is a case of rules suddenly being introduced when they are contrary to the word of God. These laws are by definition immoral. There shouldn’t be exemptions; they must simply be removed.

          • petej

            The analogy is that Christians believe they shouldn’t have to stop at red lights, but everyone else must.

            Of course it is a matter for the heart, but everyone finds aspects of the law difficult to follow – not just Christians!!

  • petej

    Businesses are already encouraged to offer reasonable accommodation and Christianity is already protected under the equality act. The equality act does not privilege Christianity over other faiths or over the other protected characteristics. It is difficult for me to see how reasonable accommodation would become enforceable law without privileging Christianity over these other things? To avoid chaos it would also require Christian teaching to be defined in law. The alternative to this would be that any behaviour (or at least any discrimination against the protected characteristics) is excusable if you cite Christian belief. When you consider that, although they have been denounced by every church going, the BNP, EDL, Britain First etc claim to be “Christian”, it is easy to see how dangerous this is.

    • Maalaistollo

      He Who May Not Be Named said, in an address to the Prayer Book Society on 26 June 1993 that ‘The Book of Common Prayer is an integral part of an Act of Parliament.’

      • Dominic Stockford

        Why was Voldemort speaking to the PBS?

        • Maalaistollo

          I was referring to another one. Voldemort would probably have no truck with the BCP, being of the multi-faith persuasion.

          • Anton

            Ah, the Book of Enoch…

          • magnolia

            Ah well, the prayer book, that would fill the pews- not!

            As for JEP he went off the boil in Christian theology, in latest years, to put it politely, with a sadly misplaced theory that St John the Baptist and Jesus were one and the same, something which scholars demolished with embarrassing ease.

            His NT Greek wasn’t to the undoubtedly fine standard of his classical, so he made errors, as in what particular words meant in the context of NT usage, if I remember aright.

          • Anton

            I suspect his scholarship was easily up to handing the difference, especially as the koine Greek of the gospels is simpler than classical. The real problem was his theology, for he was another of those tedious men who back their scholarship to get behind the gospels and see what [they reckon] the real Jesus was really like.

          • magnolia

            I think, though my memory is imperfect, that it was on the basis of several misunderstood words that NT scholars took what he wrote apart. There was a long article in a Sunday newspaper supplement, Observer/ Sunday Times I think. Years ago, it was.

            No scholar involved questioned his original brilliance as a Classical Greek scholar, Professor at 21 and so on, but either through age or the desire to be original he had gone badly wrong. The desire to be off-piste and different probably made him misjudge other matters as well, brilliant and basically well-intentioned though he was. Maybe its a Cambridge thing, all those spies and so on…….;-)

          • Anton

            Whatever else it was, it wasn’t a Cambridge thing. I have no doubt that Oxford produced more spies, but perhaps they were better and didn’t get caught.

            At least the Side of Righteousness won the Varsity Rugby match yesterday…

    • The Explorer

      The equality act does not privilege Christianity over other faiths. But an established church does. There isn’t room for both establishment and the equality act: one of them will have to go.

      • petej

        It currently works because religious institutions are exempt from equality legislation. I think there is a tension between religious freedom and having an established religion (NB the church is only established in England, not the wider uk), but I don’t think it is impossible to have the two side by side as long as the government is not subservient to the church and/or the church accepts equality on disability and race and changes its behaviour towards women and LGBT people.

        • magnolia

          Sorry, and this clearly does not apply to the celibate, and less so to the quiet shy, semi-partnered ones, but gay male priests have been extremely, even exorbitantly, as a group, costly in time, money, congregation numbers, and credibility to the Church of England.

          • petej

            I’m not sure of the relevance of that? The cofe is free to discipline it’s priests if they are out of line.

            I was really talking about their treatment of the general public not clergy. Clergy have the option to resign, but it is less easy to avoid public statements from the church, political campaigning against rights etc

  • len

    The greatest benefit and the biggest’ drawback’ of Biblical Christianity is that it will never fit in with this present(corrupt) world system.Biblical Christianity is in many ways at variance with this present world system. For example, the greatest victory won for the Kingdom of God was accomplished through a crucified man 2,000 yrs ago.This is’ foolishness ‘to secular man.
    Man sets up systems (political, religious, and economic) which either have failed, are failing, or will fail but man in his arrogance keeps trying but will always fail because the problem itself lays deep within mankind and cannot be rectified without a total change within mankind itself.. God of course knew this all along which is why He put His Plan for salvation into affect centuries ago and still waits to see who amongst man will have the wisdom to see this.

    This world system hates those who promote the Kingdom of God (especially those who will not compromise with the world system)Jesus Himself warns that all those who follow Him will be not only persecuted but hated.
    So the message of Biblical Christians is the Gospel must go out, but never expect’ this world’ to love you or to thank you for it!.

    • dannybhoy

      Quite so Len, but we are called to be salt and light in the world, we are called to preach/share the Gospel and to behave in such a way that ‘they’ will say, “Behold. how these Christians love one another!”
      There will be opposition and there will be rejection, but how much will depend on how well we put the message across. As a kid in the ’50s this country was a safe place to live. On the whole people were polite and respectful to one another, and the Church still stood for our Lord.
      All of that was a result of the acceptance of Christian values, taught in churches, schools and universities. Christianity can flourish again in this nation, but God needs to know that we really want it..

      • len

        I also grew up in the 50’s and have seen drastic changes to society in my lifetime.Although the war had just finished people seemed a lot happier with far less material things then.
        I get a feeling(might be wrong) that things are winding up on planet Earth and God has moved His Hand of restraint on mankind and we are seeing a rising tide of evil which is an indicator of the impending judgement of God.
        This might all sound a bit apocalyptic but all the indicators are there.

        • Sarky
          • len

            Much of what is offered as ‘evidence’ today is actually ‘propaganda’. It is only thanks to people like Edward Snowdon, Julian Assange etc that truth manages to slip out’ under the door.’

          • Sarky

            Hmmm a christian ignoring evidence, who’d have thought.

        • Dreadnaught

          I must remind you Len that ater six years of war that people should feel happier is hardly surprising.
          I was born and brought up in Liverpool in the 50s and poverty and battered housing was the norm. I didn’t notice any of it at the time but my father and mother told me about the post Blitz and military service era that domnated their entire outlook for decades. They just made the best they could out of it: there was no option other than emigrating. People were not happier then than now, we just have different trivial things to moan about.

        • petej

          But think about how much more change the generation before you had seen

          The rise of democracy
          The acceptance of women as individuals who could vote
          The invention of the motor car
          The collapse of the old class system
          A world war
          The rise of fascism
          Another world war

          Although you say people seemed happier then, I wonder if they all did

          The wife being beaten by her husband, but unable to divorce him for the shame it would bring

          The mother who had her child taken away because she was not married

          The gay person who had to suppress their romantic feelings and pretend they just weren’t the marrying sort.

          The black man who was spat at in the street and locked out of the boarding house

          The Irish man who was spat at in the street and locked out of the boarding house

          The change that you’ve seen is that these people are becoming more and more acceptable in society and that may feel threatening to those who are losing relative privilege as a result.

      • Oisín mac Fionn

        Behold. How these Christians love one another!

        ROFL!

        The slanging matches on this blog between the various devotees of just a few of the thousands of cults and micro-denominations that make up Christianity make the above quote the funniest thing I’ve ever read here.

        • dannybhoy

          Slanging matches??
          I have been on secular blogs that really did slanging matches that went on for months, with threats of death, suicide and mental breakdown!
          On this blog people are respectful, try to understand the other’s point of view and usually agree to differ..
          That’s healthy.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Excellent article Your Grace.

    “While it is fine for Theresa May to have a faith, what she mustn’t do is abuse her position to promote Christianity or impose her own religious values on others.”
    Why on earth not? This writer is attempting to impose his views/values upon the PM and he is not an elected representative. When Mrs May was elected as an MP the electorate knew her views and the MP’s who allowed her to be PM also knew her views. It is only right that she should be allowed, ne expected to exercise her faith in her duties. I would be disappointed if she did not.

    “after all, that’s the more Christian thing to do.”
    It’s interesting how non Christians seem to know what the ‘Christian’ thing to do is when they dismiss the whole concept of Christianity?

  • len

    The myth that we are now living in’ a liberal, free, enlightened, society,’ needs to be dispelled.
    To use an example( dear to many)’ homosexuality’ has always gone on since the beginning of time and it is only recently in Western Society that homosexuality has been not only legalized but given positive encouragement by many of those in Government, and the media is flooding every outlet with’ positive’ images ‘of homosexual relationships.It sometimes seem there is a contest to get as many homosexuals into a’ soap drama’ as possible?.

    Anyway ,Christians are not given the same freedom even to speak publicly about their belief system and are punished even if their Christianity is of a passive form such as portrayed in the case of ‘Asher’s’ Bakery.
    So ‘the pendulum has swung’ regarding Christianity in the UK and secularists no doubt see this as’ a good thing’ but I see it as ‘a closing of a chapter in a book’ before the next one opens and I fear it is not going to be good for anyone.We in the West are living in what I can only describe as’ the eye of the storm’ WW2 has come and gone and the World stands poised on the brink of yet another conflict waiting to break out.