Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A very un-British state of affairs

I have been struggling for anything original to say about the Government's so-called "compromise" on gay adoption, which whatever it may achieve in terms of homosexual equality represents yet another nail in the coffin of freedom of conscience in this benighted country - something which all of us, including the gay community, will pay for in due course.

The Prime Minister knew in his heart that his Communities Minister, Ruth Kelly, was right about this issue. But, battered by cash-for-honours and increasingly at the mercy of events, he lacked the authority to impose a sensible resolution, allowing the opportunistic and vote-seeking deputy leadership contenders Alan Johnson and Peter Hain to dictate events.

Much of the coverage of this issue on the blogosphere has been in the opposite direction, and it is hard to go against their views. But I came across something yesterday on a blog called For Queen and Country that sums up my thoughts on this entirely.

The author, who blogs under the name Cyberleader, makes the very wise argument that, when you have two competing sets of rights, it is better, and more British, to respect both points of view and try to muddle through than to impose one set of values over the other.

"The status quo before the Act - that gay couples could adopt from a number of agencies and that Catholic adoption agencies could turn them away - was a perfectly acceptable state of affair for all parties involved, and it seemed a common-sense way to avoid a clash of values.

"This would have been the perfectly sensible (and quite British) compromise - avoid the issue and everyone could live and let live.

"Roman Catholics didn't question the right of gays to adopt and in fact referred them to other agencies and in turn they had their rights to their beliefs in turn, which you would think would be fair enough.

"However, New Labour can't resist a bit of tinkering, and so we have another fissure point in British society, which has far deeper implications than they intended. We now have two competing sets of rights set against each other, and there can't be a return to the former status quo without one group taking great offence."

Spot on.

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40 comments:

John Wards said...

Its common sense and an equal playing field.

If I set up my own religion and then set up my own adoption agency and said no adoption to mixed race couples...but referred them oh every so nicely to other agencies that would be all right then.

Religion is a choice. So is bigotry. Being Gay is not a choice.

For once Labour has shown some common sense.

David Gladwin said...

I agree, John, and it's not the first time that religion has been obliged to catch up with society, either.

After all, nobody thinks it's the done thing to burn witches, stone to death rebellious sons, or beat wives any more.

They'll get over it.

Bryan McGrath said...

I agree with the sentiment, which I would summarize as 'if it an't broke don't fix it'.

However, given the news that no exception will be extended to the Catholic Adoption Agencies, as a Catholic, I hope the leadership of the church keeps faith with one adopted position i.e. closes the agencies in the UK.

It can concentrate in future on helping Catholic Adoption Agencies overseas, in particular in the Third World.

I suspect the church leadership will fudge the issue, that is the purpose of the 20 month delay in enforcement of the new law.

I will cease to provide financial support for the UK based Catholic Adoption Agencies, there are always lots of Catholic causes seeking financial support.

G Eagle Esq said...

'
Dear Paul

Well said

This Government is shewing the same arrogant intolerance that drove the Pilgrim Fathers to emigrate to the American Colonies

Your obedient servant etc

GE

David Gladwin said...

GE

Are we to take it that you'd be happier for homosexuals to hop on the next Mayflower out of here?

Non serviam

David

Paul Linford said...

Isn't there a slight difference, David, between referring a gay couple to a different adoption agency and, putting them on the Mayflower?

The problem with this debate (apart from the fact that the welfare of children seldom seems to get mentioned) is that people are making exactly these sorts of reductio ad absurdam type arguments, when all that is needed is a bit of pragmatism and an acceptance on both sides that not everyone shares the same values.

David Gladwin said...

Paul

I'm not implying that anyone might support the deportation of homosexuals, just trying to confirm that G Eagles doesn't.

As for the debate, it isn't really about adoption agencies any more than it was about boarding houses a few weeks ago.

It's about the relevance of faith in modern society.

If any religion really does demand that its followers practice such prejudices, it must and will either adapt, or cease to exist.

Religions are protean entities, and have undergone many such changes in the past - as I suggested in my first comment above.

That the survival of faith should share so much with natural selection is a lovely irony, don't you think?

David

Paul Linford said...

David

Your post assumes that religious faith must inevitably be conformed to what "society" thinks rather than hold to the objective truths that it subscribes to. No person of genuine faith (Muslims and Jews as well as Christians) could ever accept this.

David Gladwin said...

Paul

But people are transient, and faiths live for much longer.

If you were to compare the social attitudes and prejudices of a modern believer with those of another from fifty, or a hundred, or five hundred, or a thousand years ago, each step would reveal significant differences.

Many of the prejudices and practices that have been shed along the years would be abhorrent to modern believers.

When each change comes, it will shock and disturb many contemporary believers, but those who come later will have a historical perspective.

Religions must necessarily reflect the societies they inhabit, if they are to survive.

David

G Eagle Esq said...

'
Dear David

I have enjoyed your Comments

but I do not understand how you deduce that my Comment was in any way suggesting that "[I'd] be happier for homosexuals to hop on the next Mayflower out of here?"

It is intolerant to say that Catholic Adoption Agencies should not have the freedom to practise their religion in relation to adoption by Homosexual Couples, when they can go to alternative adoption agencies

If the State is going to persecute Christians for practising their religion, where will this stop

??? Am I right to translate "non serviam" as "I will not serve"

Your obedient servant etc

G E

GuardianReader said...

I find it interesting that you talk about the interests of the child in the same breath as apparently denying gay couples the right to adopt through Catholic agencies.

It could be read that a child raised by a gay couple would be worse off than a child raised by a heterosexual couple or by a single person.

The Catholic adoption agencies already allow gay people who are single to adopt, so this is not about the interests of the child. Besides, if we all had to go through the incredibly stringent adoption vetting process before we were allowed to be natural parents, we'd have a serious population crisis on our hands.

Surely it is the role of those who vet the potential adopters to establish if someone is eligible to adopt and not a religious organisation that is run by celibate men?

David Gladwin said...

G E

I was just making sure about the Mayflower thing - there are some funny people about, you know.

As I mentioned above, the central issue isn't individual or respective freedoms, but the freedom not to suffer actual discrimination from any organisation, whether it's a nice little hotel or an adoption agency.

Someone's right is either there or it isn't - you can't draw a line around the perimeter of your workplace and say that the law applies differently inside.

And it isn't persecution to prevent someone from discriminating against another. That's just the kicking and screaming tantrum that the legislation has provoked.

As I wrote above, they'll get over it.

Yes, you translate non serviam correctly. Any students of literature reading these comments will have a choice of two significant characters who have made such a declaration.

David

G Eagle Esq said...

Dear David

Thank you for your comment

I invite you to think much harder about the implications of your views

It is interesting how identity cards look so different, depending on which end of the telescope you are looking down

If you are the man who expects to be carrying out the arrest, identity cards can seem such a wonderful thing

However, if you are likely to be arrested (eg in Soviet Russia for a Religious Crime), identity cards don't look so attractive

You are quite content to force your views on Catholic Adoption Agencies whom you require "to get over it" and to act against their religion & their consciences

You say this is not persecution, but, with respect, it sounds like persecution to me

How far are you prepared to force your views ?

Is it limited to confiscation of their property or are you prepared to send those who disagree with you to jail ?

Yours ever

G E

David Gladwin said...

GE

Thank you for your kind invitation, but I regret that I must disappoint you in several areas.

I don't support identity cards. My parents' generation fought a long and bitter war so that we would never have to answer to any fascist asking us for our papers.

I am troubled by your use of the word "views" - it is not just my "view" that individuals should be protected from discrimination. Remember that the legislation in question relates to all organisations, and not just adoption agencies or - what was it the other week? - hotels.

As for getting over it, that is my prediction, not my advice. A glance at my earlier posts will bear this out. What is happening is not persecution, but the process of history.

The remainder of your post I find rather baffling. I can't say exactly what the confiscation of property, or committing anyone to confinement thas to do with the matter at hand.

Could you perhaps elucidate?

David

G Eagle Esq said...

'
Dear David

Thank you for giving the Compliment of Rational Criticism

Paul's readers would like his views on the Scottich elections

Labour & Conservatives have declined to make any concession to Catholic opinion - will both Parties lose Council seats to the SNP who on this occasion seem prepared to listen to the Electorate

All the best, David, your views may change if you are ever an Employer who finds himself at the wrong end of a Writ

Your obedient servant etc

G E

Honey Weeks said...

Mr Linford,
I can see why you are an "ex-lobby" journalist as opposed to a real, working, lobby journalist. You cannot even report the Bible correctly (let alone analyse it!). For someone who states that the Bible is a "Complete Guide to Life (and Salvation), the content of this blog entry brings to mind the word "hypocrite" is the kindest that I can think of... Do they actually let you into Church????

My comment is not about what is right or wring, it is about consistency, honesty, and truth--I think you should remove the claims to be a Christian from your blog site Mt Linford--clealry you are not!

Paul Linford said...

Honey

I am quite happy to let you go trolling all over my blog leaving these kind of comments - some bloggers would delete them.

But if you are going to leave critical comments, at least let them be reasoned.

I would like to know what it is about the above post which you feel to be (a) hypocritical, and (b) inconsistent or dishonest.

Over to you.

Honey Weeks said...

a) hypocrisy -- claiming to be a Christian while supporting, and propagating, a course of inaction that would result in wrong-doing. "Guilt through inaction".

b) inconsistency -- claiming to be a Christian while condoning while proposing and propagating a course of action that involves wrong doing.

c) dishonesty -- claiming to be a Christian when behaving as one i.e. condoning wrongdoing.

Remember the "fence-sitter" who does nothing when seeing wrong-doing is twice as guilty as the party who does the wrong...

Perhaps you should call yourself an "agnostic of judeo-christian origin"... Chistians follow the word of the Lord. They also propagate the word of the Lord; i.e. take a stance.

G Eagle Esq said...

Dear Honey

Thank you for your comments. I am encouraged that you & indeed David care about our Beloved Country enough to "post" your Comments on Paul's excellent Blog

I am unclear as to exactly what course/s of action or inaction our Friend Paul is condoning or proposing which is for you an Occasion for DisApprobation

I hope you will also reflect on the merits of thinking more gently about Paul & his views

Paul is clearly not arguing that Homosexual Partners should not be allowed to adopt (Paul will correct me if I have misunderstood him)

However, Paul has highlighted a flaw in the Government's latest Regulations

With an Arrogance & unListening reminiscent of Stalin & Hitler, they trample over the deeply-held beliefs of those who have religious beliefs different from those of the Government & of folk like David

The determination to "protect" the "right" of homosexual partners to "force" Catholic Adoption Agencies to deal with them clearly conflicts with the Right established over the last 500 years for Roman Catholics [& Protestants & others] to practise their religion[s] without fear and oppression by the State

What right does David have to impose his "(non-)religious" views on the rest of us

David assumes that Homosexuals need protection from oppression - he should ask himself whether he is now advocating discrimination against another Minority, namely Christians

Could it be that it is David & this Government who are the Oppressors

Your obedient servant etc

G E

David Gladwin said...

GE

I let it go last time, because you were rambling incoherently, but now you're accusing me of oppression?

Wake up.

Everyone is free to believe in whatever they like - Jesus, Buddha, Santa Claus, fairies, whatever. That's nobody's business but their own, and I hope they're having lots of fun.

It's when they start wanting to discriminate against others that it becomes society's business to prevent this.

So, for the last time: it is not oppressive to prevent someone from discriminating against another.

If your beliefs tell you that it's all right to carry on discriminating, then perhaps it's time you got yourself some new ones.

David

Honey Weeks said...

New beliefs, I don't think so...I am not a politician (a "Weathercock"), I am a signpost. Christianity has served me well, and I have seen enough to know there is a God and he spoke to us through Christ. I am not afraid to say it. I do not regard the present situation as "conflicting views" it is a case of right and wrong.

Many people are jealous of what Christians' have: view the issues concerned with non-Christian access to Christian faith schools. What saddens me is that these people are not prepared to adopt what makes these things possible: the Christian faith.

Honey Weeks

G Eagle Esq said...

Dear David

I agree with Honey - if Christanity is true, we should not abandon it because you threaten that it is "socety's business" to take action against us

You can dish it out - I wonder how you would feel if you were arrested for inciting religious hatred against Christians .... and Muslims .... and Jews .... and everyone else who does not accept your own Oppressive Religion in the name of "anti-Discrimination"

What about your own discriminating on Religious Grounds

I suggest that you should take your own advice which you so arrogantly hurl at others

Look at yourself in a Mirror ... and wake up

Be it thou art mistaken

G E

David Gladwin said...

GE

You can prattle on as much as you like, but what this all boils down to is that you want to discriminate, and society won't let you.

That's it, isn't it?

David

Honey Weeks said...

Not at all... Is it not discriminating if you (as you seem to want to) stop the Catholics from following their beliefs and traditions...?

Honey Weeks

Bryan McGrath said...

I just hope statist like David Gladwin put their hand in their pockets to make up the financial losses caused by the marginalisation of Catholics, in supporting adoption agencies, I will not support any UK based agencies in the future.

In China and Vietnam the state as appointed bishops for the last fifty years, usually without recognition from the wider church. However, the recent normalisation of relations with the government of Vietnam, which specifically desires the involvement of the Catholic Church in social work shows, to me, the way forward to Catholic charities.

David Gladwin said...

Sorry, Brian, but I'm not putting my hand in my pocket to make up for anyone throwing out their toys because they're not allowed to carry on discriminating.

Bryan McGrath said...

Well done Dave,

You confirm tht the net effect this legisation, in the area f adoption, will be to push the costs to cental government up.

I must admit listening to appeals for money from representatives of the Catholic adoption agencies, government funding rarely got a mention, the overall impression, left with me at least, was that they are a Catholic initiatives.

When will you start lobbying for the exclusion of Catholics from the medical services because they discriminate against women seeking abortions

David Gladwin said...

I think you're reading a little too much into my comments, Bryan.

I don't want anyone to use religion (or anything else) as an excuse for discrimination.

Moreover, I'm quite certain that those who currently defend such prejudice as a central pillar of their faith will in time come to be seen as dinosaurs.

bryan mcgrath said...

Hi Dave,

You chose not to answer my question about campaigning for the exclusion of Catholics from medical services where they refuse to assist women seeking abortions, that speaks volumes to me.

I hope this whole fiasco will help to put the lie to Nu Lab wanting the 'Voluntary Sector' to help in social work: wanted they really want is services on the cheap.

I was governor at a Catholic Primary for about 7 years, until the LEA started to direct admissions poicy, that was ust ver two years ago.

Other governors left, for a variety of reasons, the school has never had a full compliment of governors since.

David Gladwin said...

Bryan

If I disregard something, it's because it doesn't deserve my attention.

David

Bryan McGrath said...

Dave,

Surely statists such as yourself should keep us Catholics dinosaurs fully appraise of the state line on subject such as abortion policy.

God forbid that we should offend against "Big Brother" by accident.

At least give us the pleasure of knowing we question the state approved line on abortion etc.

David Gladwin said...

Bryan

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I really don't represent any state, just myself.

To borrow a phrase:

When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.

So there's glory for you!

David

Bryan McGrath said...

Well Dave that last one was very cryptic.

Weasel words indeed. Of course the first action of authoritarianism is to deny its existence.

You have given the world, well at least anybody who reads this blog, the benefit of your omniscient views on Catholic adoption agencies. Your sudden reticence on maintaining the right of Catholics to refuse to be involved in abortions seems strangely out of character.

Would you force Catholics health workers to perform/assist at abortions? A simple yes or no will do

David Gladwin said...

Bryan

You really ought to read more, you know.

Once again, you're confusing the right of an individual to enjoy freedom from discrimination with the right of an individual to exercise their own choice.

Your Catholic health worker would not be discriminating against anyone by refusing to take part in abortion procedures.

Of course, if a health authority were to take this stance overall, it would be a different matter.

David

Bryan McGrath said...

Hello David,

You seem to be arguing that any organisation, include voluntary organisations, can not express a preference for the people they deals with, be it customers or employees. However, individuals can withdrawal co-operation, even when ‘part’ of an organisation

If I have understood your thinking correctly: I hope my daughter, who is currently studying Medicine and is also a Catholic dinosaur, can count on your support should an Acute Trust (or Foundation Trust) seeks to enforce a ‘binding’ contract on her to work ‘normally’ when a ‘client’ seeks an abortion.

If you are not Alan Johnson (or one of his spinmeister) you are wasted. It took you only 20 minutes to get your ‘last word’ on the blog this morning: truly service above and beyond the call of duty. I would recommend you for a ‘gong’ if it weren’t so passé.

Paul Linford said...

I don't particularly want to take sides...but if I am reading correctly your distinction between individuals and organisations, David, you would argue that although Catholic adoption agencies as organisations should not have the right to discriminate against gay couples, you believe that individuals within those agencies would be within the rights to refuse to deal with a gay couple? This is surely the same as the situation of allowing Catholic doctors the right not to participate in abortions, while not allowing health authorities to refuse to provide them.

Am I right or wrong?

David Gladwin said...

Paul

It's not exactly a question of organisations or individuals; more a case of whether religious beliefs confer an entitlement to discriminate against others.

Anyone can decide, if they're happy with the potential impact on their employment, to opt out of a process on the basis of their faith. This will make no difference to the provision of the service in question, and thus can result in no discrimination against another individual.

But for an organisation to adopt such refusal as a policy would expose that same individual to discrimination.

An organisation claiming that all of its employees simply refused to be involved would thereby admit its own discriminatory intent.

David

Bryan McGrath said...

Dear David ‘statist’ Gladwin,

I think you actually gave an answer in your last post i.e.

‘Anyone can decide, if they're happy with the potential impact on their employment, to opt out of a process on the basis of their faith. “

You would discriminate against individuals base on faith, in the case of my daughter's opposite to abortion.

Who knows if this is a case of arguing over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin, I suspect she will qualify and bugger off to New Zealand, where some of her cousins have settled.

At least it would give me a bolthole in the winter, if I were allowed to visit!!

David Gladwin said...

Bryan

Basically, you want to discriminate against homosexuals, and you don't think women's reproductive organs are their own business.

That's it, isn't it?

David

Bryan McGrath said...

David,

Touchy, touchy!

My view on homosexuals has been (and remains) if they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses, its OK by me.

By the way that goes for 'straights' in places like Ayia Napa in the summer.

You will be pleased to know that the Retiring Collection (i.e. hitting the punters as they break for the car park) at Church today Sunday (18/2/07) was for the Catholic Children's Society.

Which was described as 'They work on your behalf finding adoptive parents for children from throughout the UK and make every effort to match them carefully with families who reflect their diverse range of religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds".

Of course I did not contribute anything, and I can't really guess if the take is down at all. Since I refrained from donating, I'll double up at the next retiring collection, which on average is every three weeks.

Incidentally one Catholic charity that operates in Scotland, which I have seen here in deepest England, raises money to assist women who consider abortion due to their financial circumstances. I most investigate if it operates in England.

Whilst I am opposed to abortion as a form of contraception, I also accept that 'back street' abortion is a greater evil. I had the 'snip' (not approved of by Mother Church), after my wife and I decided that we had done enough to breed the non-Catholics off the face of the planet.