Sunday, September 03, 2006

Church in anti-gay stance

One of the last week's less reported stories was that of nine firefighters in Glasgow who were disciplined by the service for refusing to hand out leaflets during a gay pride march in June of this year.

As reported by the BBC, the men apparently refused on 'moral' grounds and were subsequently reported by their superior officers for disobeying orders. The men were later supported by Scottish National Party MSP Fergus Ewing who said it was "unbelievable" that they would face disciplinary proceedings. Mr Ewing also said that the men were entitled to their private views. Then last week the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, lent his support to the men who the fire service has said will now undertake diversity training, saying, "They were asked, while in uniform, to hand out leaflets during a demonstration where they had legitimate concerns about being the subject of taunts and jokes, and in which in some cases, their religious sensibilities would have been grossly offended by people dressed as priests and nuns lampooning the Church."

While one of the firefighters was demoted and forced to take a £5,000 pay cut, the others were issued with written warnings in addition to undertaking the training. Archbishop Conti then went on to say, "The duty to obey one's conscience is a higher duty than that of obeying orders."

There are a number of things which bother me about this case. Firstly, Mr Fergus Ewing MSP proclaimed that the men were entitled to their private views. And, of course, they are but it seems to have escaped Mr Ewing's attention that the men had
publicly expressed these views. I work in education and although I am wholeheartedly in favour of the abolition religious schools I do not take these views into work. I can do no service to that cause in the capacity in which I am employed and it is not the correct forum in which to do so. That these firefighters were not able to do the same is at best reprehensible and at worst dangerous. Would these men refuse to do the job for which they are paid if they were called to the scene of a fire in a gay bar or similar venue? It may seem alarmist to wonder, but it is none the less pertinent.

Last week Archbishop Conti threw his episcopal hat into ring, warning of the likelihood that the men would have suffered the ignominy of witnessing their religion being lampooned before their incredulous peepers. Of course, the good Archbishop is a little disingenuous when he cites this as the object of their ire. The firefighters are said to have refused on 'moral' grounds, which must lead us to conclude that the march itself was what they refused to countenance.

Archbishop Conti should be condemned in the most vehement terms. For many his religious convictions give his bigoted outpourings a veneer of respectibility. Outpourings which in any normal walk of life are unacceptable. There can be no doubt that the firefighters deserved to be discplined. Bigotry is bigotry however one may try and disguise its true face.


At 11:30 pm , Anonymous Percy Gorringe said...

My first reply and I can pontificate on my favourite subject. What luck.

"Archbishop Conti should be condemned in the most vehement terms" for his support of bigoted firefighters? Certainly, but can this be the same blog that previously wished good old Fidel Castro a cheery "happy birthday"?

I think it's safe to say that Fidel's pursuit of the same catholic-inspired bigotry goes some way beyond offering moral support to a few idiots. Lifetime imprisonment anyone?

Care to explain this aberration, Finnieston? To paraphrase, maybe Fidel's political convictions give his bigotry a veneer of respectability.

Top notch health service though.

At 10:06 am , Blogger Finnieston Crane said...

Hello Percy

Welcome to my blog. So you want to pontificate on my treatment of a pontiff (of sorts). Cunning play on words there.

Well, all I can say is that wishing an old man happy birthday in his dotage is hardly an affirmation of supporting that man's regime.

Anyway, there's someone at the door; best be off.


At 8:28 pm , Anonymous A. Nonymous said...

Personally, i think they were more worried that an Indian, Policeman and Cowboy would wander past, and they'd end up being mistaken for some bizarre Strathclyde-based Village People tribute act. A quite rational worry, if you ask me.


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