Evil secularists

Interesting appeal court decision in the UK yesterday. A certain Gary McFarlane, a “ Christian relationship counsellor” lost his appeal over a refusal to offer sex therapy to a gay couple.

The story seems fairly well covered here, here and here (lefties, right-wing and The BBC!) with similar reporting.

First off one cannot but wonder what a “Christian relationship counsellor” actually is. Is it like a “Christian car mechanic”, who we wonder is a car mechanic who goes to church, or a car mechanic who only works on Christian cars? And given, as we soon discover, that Mr McFarlane objects, in at least some form or another, to homosexuality, you have to wonder just who would choose to become a sex therapist when you have a hang up about a common sexual orientation.

But that is not the main issue here – the real issue is whether Mr McFarlane can claim supernatural beliefs permit him to discriminate against people in his working life. And the English courts have emphatically said “No”. In essence the court says that your beliefs are your own business, not anyone else’s. And if you choose to apply them to others you may find that they contradict the laws of the country. And at that point you have a problem.

So so far, so fairly dull. Today it is homosexuality. 30 years ago it might have been the perceived right to be a racist. 80 years ago the right to be openly sexist. And so on. The litmus test for bigots changes as time goes on. What’s much more interesting here is that Mr McFarlane claims that he is right simply due to his arbitrary religious beliefs.

And, as the reports make clear, the courts very firmly rejected that and have caused considerable annoyance amongst those who do wish to have their superstitious beliefs imposed upon others.

The quote that really caught my eye was Lord Carey (a former Archbishop of Canterbury – the deputy head of the Church of England) saying of the ruling: “ It heralded a ‘secular’ state rather than a ‘neutral’ one. “

That is extraordinary. In one short sentence he implies firstly that today the UK is not a place where religion affects those who do not believe in it, and also that “secularism” is in some way anti-religion and generally negative.

Taking his suggestion that the UK is a “neutral” place already: one could write a book refuting that. But a few that spring to mind are:

  • The Head of State is, by constitutional definition, also the Head of the Church of England.
  • There are laws which would make a Catholic, Jewish or other non-Christian democratically elected Prime Minister difficult or impossible.
  • One of the country’s leading youth organisations (The Scouting Association) will not allow atheists to join it.
  • The UK’s House of Lords has 26 voting members (plus a few more there by merit of their religion) who are there solely due to being a senior cleric in the Church of England.
  • Courts can make arbitrary sentencing decisions based upon supernatural beliefs.
  • Publicly funded schools can discriminate on who they accept based upon religious beliefs.
  • Millions of pounds of taxes are used to fund religious practice within the state Health Service.
  • Animal cruelty is made legal if supported by a supernatural belief.
  • And the list goes on. The point being that for Carey to claim that, religiously, the UK is today “neutral” is ridiculous. And his interesting suggesion that, even if it was neutral, we’ve now tipped over into secularism! It’s dishonest of him. He is not a stupid man, and is well aware of the dishonesty of that statement. Secularism is the very essence of neutraility, as it applies to government.

    Take supernatural beliefs out of government. Stop bleating about religious discrimination. You are the one who wishes to practice religious discrimination Carey, not the secularists. And stop subtly ¬†insinuating that lack of religion equates in some way with lack of morality. That’s dishonest. And dishonesty is bad. I would have thought you might have known that.

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