Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More blackmail threats in religious circles

In November the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, threatened BA with withdrawing millions of pounds of church shares if the company did not relax its ban on staff wearing crucifixes. Barely two months later and another church leader, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, is engaged in yet more racketeering.

The Catholic church has claimed it will be forced to close its adoption agencies if laws are passed which will oblige them to place children with homosexual couples. O'Connor claims that the church's integrity will be undermined if it is forced to contravene its own teachings. Given the manifold problems already undermining the Catholic church's 'integrity', this is a mere drop in the ocean.

Earlier, on Channel 4 news, Chris Bryant MP spoke of the disadvantage to thousands of children if the Catholic church went ahead with its proposals. He was countered by the Archbishop of Birmingham who spoke of the rights of Catholic people being denied. This right presumably being to discriminate against and persecute whomsoever they please.

Bryant makes a sensible point but he quails from the fight in front of him. Why is it that a person can walk down Oxford Street with a ten feet tall banner which warns against the 'sin' of homosexuality? If I chanced upon a merry band of racists demanding the rounding up and summary beatings of the local Somalians, I'd bend the ear of nearest copper. The privilege religions enjoy in the face of such examples is lost on me.

At some point the government must take a lucid and unequivocal stand. It should be clear about what equality means and clear about people's rights to adhere to a particular doctrine.

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