Leave them kids alone

Pope Benedict XVI is apparently set to visit Britain soon. However he has also decided to attack the laws giving gay couples similar rights to married (heterosexual) couples, as a variation on the church’s more general disgust with anyone who does not share their own twisted sexual views

Aware that this is unpopular (the laws have widespread support) he has chosen a rather devious and obfuscated line of attack.

He singles out for criticism the UK’s Equality Bill, currently passing through Parliament. He tells us the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. Unjust. That’s the key word there. And then goes on:

“In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed.”

Of course the concept of Natural Law is wonderfully vague. One assumes he is referring to some or other Aquinas-style philosophy of everything is OK, so long as it is OK with God too. However that aside, what is he really objecting to? Well, that is made fairly clear by further Church-comment on the matter. Firstly we are told that:

Religious leaders have voiced concern that the Equality Bill may force churches to employ sexually active gay people and transsexuals when hiring staff other than priests or ministers.

I love the language. “Forcing them to employ gay people.” For them, gay = evil. Well, more accurately sex = evil. Gay  = double evil. Which is all the more amusing considering the proportion of Catholic priests who themselves are gay.

Here’s a suggestion Mr Pope: if you’re so worried about sexual deviance, why don’t you stop fretting about homosexuals and instead cease employing and empowering paedophiles (gay and straight)? Clear out the layers of child abusers and their protectors who still litter your organisation and then I will at least take as non-hypocritical your objection to what you view as “sexual deviance” (although let me be unequivocally clear: I do not view homosexuality as any sort of “deviance” – what consenting adults choose to do in private is none of my business, except in so far as I robustly defend their right to do it)


The other subtle line of gay-bashing from the Catholic Church yesterday concerns the desire for Catholic adoption agencies to function outside of the law. The proposed act would not allow child adoption agencies to discriminate against gay couples when considering their suitability as adoptive parents. Let’s get out of the way the issue of whether or not gay couples should adopt children: personally I have no issue with it at all. For me, the suitability of a couple (or indeed a single person) to care for a child has nothing to do with what they do in the bedroom. It has everything to do with other factors far removed from their sexuality. However I do not have a great objection, as such, to those who think that the ideal for children is father-figure + mother-figure, even if I do not agree with it. And, given that, it may seem that I would thus not object to a Catholic adoption agency holding similar views and wishing to implement them, despite not actively supporting them myself.

However what this issue really raises is actually glossed over most of the time: just what is a “Catholic adoption agency”? Why on earth does the UK have religiously-affiliated adoption agencies? Adoption is a childcare issue. Adoption is a social issue. Adoption is absolutely not a religious issue.  The very fact that adoption agencies are religiously affiliated infuriates and worries me, since there is only one reason I can think of why they are so: it is to perpetuate their religious beliefs, using desperately vulnerable children as the weapon of choice.

The Catholic church’s argument is intellectually offensive: Catholics run adoption agencies. Catholics think gay parents are wrong. Therefore Catholics don’t want to allow them to adopt children. And, to boot, if you try and stop us behaving in that manner we’ll cry “Religious oppression!”

So not only does the church wish to use orphans and the parent-less as its foot-soldiers, it wants to be above the law too. This is not about religious freedom at all. No one requires that an adoption agency be religiously affiliated. Would it be acceptable for the Catholic church to run some other business and practice their discrimination? How about a Catholic garage, but if you are gay you can’t have your car mended there? People would say “Oh, but don’t be silly.” But that is exactly what is happening here. A business or charity setting itself up to provide a service BUT only if it is allowed to be outside both the law and the commonly-held standards of morality within the country. And it’s all OK because it’s a religious belief. It staggers me that people allow it.

Go away

The only glimmer of good news is that reports indicate that already about half of all Catholic adoption agencies in the UK have shut down due to their inability to comply with the current and future legislation. And I say hooray to that. Parent-less children do not need religious bigotry and hatred guiding their future. To the Pope I say: Take your absurd beliefs and your sick, twisted morality and keep it to yourself. Preach all you like to a consenting adult audience. Our society defends your right to do that. But by definition that means keep away from those of us who do not consent to hear you or have our lives affected by you, and leave our children alone, as they cannot even give consent.

If you care so much about children, stop your priests from abusing them

This has nothing to do with true religious freedom, which is about who or what to worship, if anything, and in a manner of your choosing. It is rather all about intolerance, hatred and superstition. This man is free to visit the UK, but he should be loudly condemned by any right-thinking person.

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