When Caesar Claims What Is Not His

Joseph Bottum notes a piece of legislation in the United Kingdom that looms as a logical subsequent step for liberal legal and cultural trends in the United States:

… the bill’s most controversial provision would enjoin churches and other religious bodies from discriminating on the basis of gender or sexual orientation in the selection of personnel, save in cases where said personnel regularly spend more than half their time “leading worship services or explaining doctrine.”
According to Simon Caldwell in Britain’s Catholic Herald, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has prepared a briefing to protest the measure. A senior Queen’s Counsel has informed the bishops that the bill’s pertinent clause will make it “unlawful to require a Catholic priest to be male, unmarried or not in a civil partnership, etc., since no priest would be able to demonstrate that their time was wholly or mainly spent either leading liturgy or promoting and explaining doctrine . . . the Bill fails to reflect the time priests spend in pastoral work, private prayer and study, administration, building maintenance, and so on.”

The Christian Science Monitor has more information, or for an experience of the what-government-thinks-of-you sort, check out the “easy read” document (PDF) available on the U.K. government’s official page for the bill.
The practice has already entered Western society, of course, but at a certain point religious leaders — if they truly believe what they preach — have to face the consequences for civil disobedience and proclaim that they have no intention of complying with unjust laws. Sure, the rabid secularists will smear with words like “bigotry,” but let them then go out and proclaim a belief in religious liberty. Let them then attempt to justify the creeping sharia that’s slowly permeating the West.
Let the politicians imagine, in short, the front-page pictures of men and women in religious clothes being taken away in handcuffs because they continued to believe what they’ve long professed. Such laws are either a bluff or a travesty. Are ostensibly democratic and freedom-loving governments going to begin shutting down churches for hiring according to their doctrine? Or will they satisfy themselves with pushing charitable arms out of communities, as Massachusetts pushed the Catholic Church out of adoption?
Either way, the broader society must be made to see this brand of “progress” for what it is. Whether that witness begets reconsideration really ought to be of secondary consideration to people who believe in the primacy of supernature.

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14 years ago

Sit down.
I totally agree with you on this.
It is absurd to legislate that churches not discriminate against homosexuals.
What next? Churches soon will have to allow atheists to become Preists.
The double standard in this area is mind-blowing. Think of how often conservatives are labeled close-minded, intolerant and/or bigots.
Liberals also want to control what everyone beleives. How tolerant and open minded of them.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
14 years ago

At first, this offended me. Thinking further, I can see the rational, although I am not less offended.
Under our laws, it is illegal to descriminate for reasons of “race. religion or national origin”, to this we have added “gender”.
So, what are the “rights” of a Roman Catholic woman, who desires to be a priest? This does seem to be “denial of service” on the basis of gender. If churches are to be immune from this (and a logical reason why they should be is hard to find), why are they not immune to the statutes on child abuse?
While I don’t like the result, let us think about it. From medieval times, the church had a co-equal status with civil government. One could say it controlled civil monarchs with its power of ex-communication.
As a society we have formed a system of laws which no longer recognizes this divide. That being the case, we have made the churches subject to civil (secular)law. Canon Law may prevail among the priesthood (unless it conflicts with the civil law), but that is really a matter of contract among those who have agreed to be bound by it.
Makes me wonder if a civil case could be constructed by someone for denial of a sacrement?

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