There is plenty of gloom and doom out there, which sadly must be discussed and chronicled, which I and others seek to do. But there are also the occasional bits of good news, which likewise must be noted – and celebrated. Two recent examples of good and bad news deserve a mention.
The good news story involves the California Supreme Court which has upheld a ban on same-sex marriages. Last week the court upheld last November’s vote on Proposition 8, which upheld the understanding of marriage as between a man and a woman.
The case had been heard by the Court since early March, but the issue actually goes back some years. Back in 1999 the State of California gave same–sex couples numerous marriage rights without giving them the actual title. The Domestic Partnership Act however was not enough for homosexual activists, so they fought for the right to “marry”.
A 4-3 Court decision in May 2008 went the way of the activists, until the November 2008 Proposition 8 reversed that ruling. The latest decision upheld the will of the majority of Californians who oppose same-sex marriage. While this is a great victory, do not expect the activists to simply give up and go home. Their assaults on marriage will continue unabated.
The not-so-good news comes from England, yet again. And it also has to do with the contentious issue of homosexuality. This nation has been a source of bad news on a regular basis for quite some time now. This is sadly just more of the same. It has to do with yet more “rights” legislation: the conferral of special rights on homosexuals, with the concomitant reduction of rights of the majority, especially Christians.
Melanie Phillips – as always – offers some incisive commentary on the issue. She begins this way: “The Equality Bill currently going through Parliament is the latest and potentially most oppressive attempt to impose politically acceptable attitudes and drive out any that fall foul of these criteria. Since the attitudes being imposed constitute an ideological agenda to destroy Britain’s foundational ethical principles and replace them by a nihilistic values and lifestyle free-for-all, they represent a direct onslaught on the Judeo-Christian morality underpinning British society.
“The most neuralgic of these issues is gay rights. This is because the tolerance of homosexuality that a liberal society should properly show has long been hijacked by an agenda which aims at destroying the very idea of normative sexuality altogether – and does so by smearing it as prejudice. The true liberal position, that it is right and just to tolerate behaviour that deviates from the norm as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, is deemed to be rank prejudice on the grounds that homosexuality is not ‘deviancy’ but normal. ‘Normality’ is thus rendered incoherent and absurd and accordingly destroyed altogether. The agenda is therefore not liberal tolerance but illiberal coercion against mainstream moral values, on the basis that the very idea of having normative moral principles at all is an expression of bigotry. So anyone who speaks out against gay rights is immediately vilified as a ‘homophobe’ and treated as a social and professional pariah.”
She continues, “Most people have been intimidated into silence under this onslaught. ‘Society has changed – get over it’ is the uncompromising message which few now dare gainsay. It is certainly the motto of the Tory Cameroons. But the people who find themselves in acute difficulty with this are religious groups whose faith prevents them from accepting these new sexual and moral anti-norms.”
Interestingly, Phillips is not a Christian, but she is aware of how Christians will especially be adversely affected here: “There has been growing concern that Christians in particular are being unfairly targeted by discrimination laws, following a number of high-profile cases of Christians finding themselves in difficulties – members of adoption panels having to step down because they oppose gay adoption, for example, or the nurse who was suspended (although subsequently reinstated, after protests) for offering to pray for a patient — by standing up for their faith.
“Until now, however, they have managed – in the teeth of considerable opposition within government – to secure conscientious exemptions from certain ‘equality’ laws so that they are not forced to go against their religious principles. Under existing ‘equalities’ legislation, any roles deemed to be necessary ‘for the purposes of an organised religion’ have an exemption. But now the deputy Equalities Minister, Maria Eagle, has said that under the new Equality Bill religious groups will be banned from turning down gay job applicants on the grounds of their sexuality. So churches, mosques and synagogues will therefore be forced to employ, for example, gay youth workers. The only exception will be the employment of priests or other ministers of religion where gay applicants can be turned down – and even that concession looks somewhat shaky.”
All this amounts to open season on religious folk: “But what about the unfair treatment of traditional Christians and other faith groups? The doctrine of equality means they have no right at all to uphold their belief that certain types of sexual behaviour are wrong. This is simply trumped by gay rights, which allows them no space at all to uphold their religious beliefs. This is not progressive. It is totalitarian.”
All this results in one thing: persecution: “One of the key tenets – possibly the key tenet – of a liberal society is that it grants religious groups the freedom to practise their religious faith and live by its precepts. Preventing them from doing so is profoundly illiberal and oppressive – and it is not made any less so by the fact that ‘progressive’ voices inside the church themselves deem such precepts to be ‘homophobic’. This is merely the sexualisation of heresy. And what follows from heresy, whether religious or secular, is persecution. Persecution needs an enforcer. And such a tool of oppression has been duly created in the form of the Orwellian-styled Equality & Human Rights Commission, whose role is to stamp out all such heresy.”
Phillips concludes, “Truly, as the joke goes, what was once prohibited has now become compulsory. Once, homosexual practice was outlawed. Now, it appears that Christian practice is to be afforded the same fate. This is a matter of fundamental civil rights. So where are the upholders of progressive values on this? Where are the human rights lawyers? Where is the voice of Liberty, Britain’s powerful human rights NGO? And where are the supposed defenders of core British and western values? Where (don’t laugh) is the Conservative Party? Marching in the ranks of the secular inquisition, every one of them.”
Such assaults on religious freedom of course are not limited to England. Right now here in Victoria there are moves under way to remove all religious exemptions to the State’s equal opportunity laws. The result will be just as damaging as what will occur overseas.
I too must ask with Phillips, where are the real liberals here, those who uphold freedom of speech and freedom of religion? If they exist, they had better speak up real soon, and real loud, before we lose it all.