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Comment: Gay rights, gay wrongs?

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  1. You can not and should not compare the two. Being gay is immutable and being religious isn’t.

  2. I wonder if this guy is religious?
    You can not and should not compare the to being gay is immutable unlike being religious. Also religion is too open (not to mention unproven). If I made up a religion that said black people are not the same as white and then wanted to live my life with that view and be allowed to d iscriminatethen is that my religious right?

  3. The point is that nobody should be denied equal treatment before the law in a pluralistic society because of somebody else’s supernatural beliefs. There are no theoretical limits to religious conscience or what it may object to.
    Secular liberal democracy beats every other kind of society we know about as far as rights and liberties for diverse groups and individuals are concerned, its imperfections notwithstanding. The irony is that it is much better even for religious folk than cultures dominated by religious belief. This is not surprising – theocratic cultures always end up thinking only one kind of religion is right and then start harassing the others, officially or unofficially.

  4. I have no objection to this person being religious and expressing his views but you have to remember that the so called “religious” have festered hatred against gays for eons.
    Now they are being challenged and they don’t like it.
    Well that’s too bad.
    It must have been the same for those same “religious” who used the Abrahamic texts to justify slavery or the banning interracial (black and white) marriages.
    Their texts have not changed but they would NOT dare to quote them again on these subjects.

    So it will be with homosexuality, in due course.
    But they are a stubborn lot and it may take a century to bring this about and they will fight all of the way and in the end it will only be the secular law which will enable them to move on to the next thing that they consider unjustifiable (in their terms).

    So overall I do not have much sympathy.
    Gay people have had to suffer their bigotry for too long.
    So what if the pendulum swings too far the other way in the short term.

  5. Vincent Poffley 15 Apr 2009, 7:03pm

    It’s not about “religious rights” or “gay rights” it’s just about rights in general – equal rights for everyone. When everyone is treated the same, arbitrary groupings become irrelevant.

    Inasmuch as they are religions, as opposed to philosophies or cultural habits, all religions are irrational, demonstrably false crocks of unscientific supernatural nonsense that any grown human being should be embarrassed to assent to. Nevertheless, assenting to such nonsense is not a crime, and people should be allowed their hobbies. Religious claims should be assessed using exactly the same criteria as we assess all other claims – no special privileges, no special legal opprobrium (beyond the cultural opprobrium they richly deserve for being destructive mind-rotting garbage of the highest order).

    It is generally religious groups who try to muddy the waters by pretending otherwise. They have to construct this kind of opposition in order to make their bogus claims seem genuine. Most gay rights campaigners simply want equality – to have the same rights as everyone else. They are eminently and rightly frustrated that religious people think their desire to discriminate has any claim at all against full equality for all.

  6. It appears that Mathew Hywel has no deeper insight into this case than any of the rest of us.

    I agree with Sister Mary Clarence’ and Claire’s comments on an earlier post to the effect that there’s probably a much greater hinterland to this story than has, as yet, been disclosed.

    As a former Evangelical Christian, now ex-Christian and secularist, I am aware that Evangelicals often feel compelled to ‘share the Good News’ (and much associated moralizing) with very vulnerable people, believing they are ‘helping’ them by trying to recruit them to their erroneous world-view.

    Of course, to anyone on the outside looking in, this just looks like what it IS – weaseling a kind of cosmic protection racket upon hapless, vulnerable people.

    I’m not talking here about someone chatting about a harmless, generic ‘God or a Higher Power’ stuff. That’s fine by me. I mean the ‘Kowtow to Our Jesus or Burn in Hell for Eternity’ kind of thing, which, if it isn’t true – and it ISN’T – is really a kind of attack on an unprotected Psyche. And it’s setting people up for a shattering fall as difficult as the Exit from any cult – in the long run.

    If this is what was really going on, then it casts a somewhat different light on the matter, I believe. Perhaps we’ll see…

  7. religious people are trying to stop Gay people from spreading love to one another. Gay people are trying to stop religious people from spreading hate to one another. How can anybody with a brain still believe that monotheistic fairytale anyway?

  8. ‘Would the charity worker therefore be suspended if he was a gay man objecting to the ‘broad cause’ of pushing for same-sex marriage? Almost certainly not’

    This just seems plucked out of thin air. I think you’re absolutely wrong that a similar complaint wouldn’t arise against a non-religious person. I fully expect to see such complaints as time goes on. There is no shortage of heretical homophobes. That said it wouldn’t surprise me if the bulk of homophobes are in fact religious.

    ‘.. ultimately a fight between religious voters and gay voters, with no real reason for a straight person with no views on the matter to vote.’

    Again there seems to be scant basis for you to assert the above. Most people who voted on Prop 8 were presumably heterosexual and felt strongly enough either way on the issue to fill in the ballot. Your question just seems absurd. Why would anyone straight, gay or Martian vote on an issue they had no interest in? It’s not worth pointing out, given that most [straight] people, many of whom with little or no affinity to religion, clearly weren’t THAT indifferent. Besides there are plenty of reasons for a straight person to vote against Prop 8, not least loyalty to lgbt family & friends, to say nothing of a general sense of vicarious injustice and solidarity with one’s fellow citizens.

    I’m not keen on your multi-option ballot suggestion. The clincher in this debate, as I hope the Supreme Court in California bears out, is that this isn’t even something that should be put to a popular vote. Everything shouldn’t be sacrificed at the altar of populism & the civil right of same sex couples to marry is one of those things.

    ‘Whatever the outcome of this case, it seems increasingly apparent that people have more of a right to be gay than to be religious.’

    In an important sense this is true and very welcome! Religion IS a choice. Sexual Orientation is NOT. You can bet on it that religious people will be treated better by a gay friendly legal system than gay people have been treated by a centuries old religion privileging set up.

  9. This is not a difficult issue to understand. LGBT rights do not compete with religious rights. When it comes to a conflict between intrinsic human qualities and mere unsubstantiated belief, there is NO contest.

  10. Religious beliefs shouldn’t have any more rights than any other belief. Moreover, they should be subject to the law, so, for example, if your religion says that women are inferior and can be beaten, that wouldn’t be acceptable because it’s against the law, no matter whether your religion says it’s OK. Same goes for people who hold non-religious beliefs. It’s not discrimination to expect all people to follow the law. I’m sick of religious people asking for special rights – and, yes, it’s THEM asking for special rights not us.

    Although I see your point on the religious influence taking over the Yes campaign on Prop 8 and maybe drowning out other non-religious people, I consider that to be because it was in America. If there was such a vote here in the UK, I don’t think the religious voice would be so loud, nor would it persuade so many people to vote Yes (I hope).

    Religious people (only some, obviously) pick on gay people because they’ve been prevented by public opinion and law from picking on anyone else. Religion should be a private thing, a belief that you personally hold. Only the insecure use ‘religion’ to attack others.

    “Whatever the outcome of this case, it seems increasingly apparent that people have more of a right to be gay than to be religious.”

    That’s inaccurate. You ARE gay because that’s the way you’re born, but you CHOOSE to be religious. I don’t want the ‘right’ to be gay, I want people to accept me for what I AM and understand that it’s as much part of me as my green eyes. Homosexuality and religion are in no way comparable. Don’t fall for the ‘Look! We’re victims too!’ message that certain Christian groups are promoting. They go round just looking for cases that ‘prove’ that Christians are being discriminated against at work or wherever. They think this will weaken the case for LGBT equality. It won’t – it’ll just make people less likely to be religious in my opinion.

    I used to have a very tolerant attitude towards most religions, but after seeing the nasty, illogical sexism and homophobia in most of them, I changed my mind. You can believe what you want, but that doesn’t give you the right to go round discriminating against other human beings – and to use religion to justify doing so is not only offensive, it’s cowardly and pathetic.

  11. Ian Carmichael 15 Apr 2009, 9:14pm

    Mathew Hywel’s rather vacuous article asks whether ‘people have more of a right to be gay than to be religious.’ Being religious is a matter of choice. Being gay isn’t. It’s a completely illogical question. You might as well ask whether people have more right to be black, than play bingo.

  12. This one’s got me baffled. If it weren’t for Rob Fox’s well thought out and well written comment, I would be stumped. Iris makes a lot of sense too, and I wish more women would share their wisdom.

  13. Simon Murphy 15 Apr 2009, 10:13pm

    Being religious is a choice. It is optional. It is voluntary. Being gay is not a choice and it ia inviluntary. You can leave a religion. You cannot turn straight if you are gay. If religious people oppose gay marriage then they should not marry a gay person. Their religious beliefs deserve no protection under the law. They are after all enttirely free to believe what they like. But when they start trying to impose their religious belief on the laws of the country (by seeking to ban gay marriage for example) then they should be regarded in the same manner as the government regards the BNP. It is sinister and totally inappropriate for a secular society

  14. Was reading through it with only minimal eyerolling until Lilian Ladele came up. Her case highlighted nothing except that she was letting her personal life interfere with her job and was rightly sacked for it. it would be like someone who works in a coffee shop taking a moral stance against milk and refusing to serve anyone ordering a non-black coffee.

  15. Well said everyone above. We must not treat beliefs with respect. It is the recipe for disaster. A vegetarian in a supermarket could refuse to handle meat; a gay mobile DJ could refuse to offer his services to Christian couples; muslim air stewards could refuse to serve any alcohol on flights… need I go on?

    Hywell’s vacuous article starts with a case which we do not even know the full story about. If someone genuinely did just talk about gay marriage to colleagues – well, of course it is discrimination. I am sure the facts will come out.

    But Hywell then decides the initial judgement superior to the first in the Ladele case. In the appeal, the full facts came out: Ladele thought herself above the law. There is after all, “one law for everybody and that’s all there is to be said” – said by ? Lord mansfield, officially assuring and black person in great britain, protection from enslavement.

    AS mentioned, there is no evidence that Christians are being persecuted. Can Hywell give some real example of a tribunal ruling supporting his views, or has he been fuelling his paranoia after reading the Christian Institute’s distortions of the truth, when it comes to Christian nurses, Christain school receptionists and Christian marriage counsellors? The National Secular Society has exposed each case of ‘persecution’ to be purely manufactured in the mind.

  16. Well, just imagine for a moment… a religious charity worker expressing his/her disaproval of interracial marriages for religious reasons, an opinion which could go unnoticed or unchecked, but for how long? The charity worker in this case was just unlucky as it seems someone didn’t like what was said… now deal with the consequences…

  17. When in the public sector, especially as a civil servant who is salaried by government and taxes, one does not have the luxury of claiming religious beliefs as justification for withholding services or any manner of discrimination.

    As an American, I hold the US Constitutions Bill of Rights the one truly sacrosanct dictum. I’m eternally thankful that it is the law of the land there and a bright shining model of protections both lauded and emulated variously around the world. That someone should be fired simply for calmly and respectfully discussing the ‘wrong’ side of same sex marriage issues is, in my mind and to my sensitivities, a life altering outrage. Just as the First Amendment in the US allows outrageous tirades against gays and even the popularly elected president on talk radio, however abhorrent and distasteful to my ears, is protected. (The good news is the louder those guys — Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and all of Fox News — proclaim themselves, the more quickly their craziness is revealed.) The religious there are equally allowed to voice their opinions and shall never be in jeopardy for merely voicing their opinion. We must tolerate it, as it should be.

    As my Irish boyfriend says, one of the best things about freedom of speech is that as others speak out, it’s less likely you’ll befriend an a**hole. How very true.

    In civics class, we were taught that one’s rights extend to the tip of the next fellow’s nose. The religious would have others abridge their behavior to adhere to their religiously proscribed morals and abridged ethics. In the US, equal rights for gays would only prohibit the religious from limiting the lives of gays in the public arena. The religious may still speak out however limited those opinions might be on influencing others’ behavior. In balance, the religious don’t have to marry someone of the same sex if they choose not to. The religious would on the other hand not only prohibit gays from marrying each other, but would rather they not be vocal or otherwise bring attention to ourselves in any fashion. Here as well as in the US, the religious are fully free to say and do whatever they choose, indiscriminately discriminating behind their church doors. As it should be. It is the added dimension of political correctness that’s worrisome. No religious scarves, no overt declarations of prejudice even in calm conversation in the workplace…where does it go from here?

  18. Andy Armitage 16 Apr 2009, 2:36pm

    you might think that I as a gay nontheist would object to this man’s opinions. Well, yes, I do object to the opinion, but not his right to express it, and have discussed this on the Pink Triangle blog. But I think the case of the registrar is different, in that she was refusing to do the job she was paid to do and expected to do, not merely expressing an opinion to a colleague.

    We should exchange opinions. It’s how debate is formed and how it gets to help our understanding. Bigotry will be found out.

    But once we start stamping on others’ opinions we risk their stamping on ours – and one of them might be in authority one day and influence the rights of all of us to express ourselves freely in the future. We censor at our peril when it comes to opinions (and I assume he wasn’t inciting or going round personally insulting gay colleagues or clients). But we expect people to do their jobs, and keep their religious hobbies in private between consenting adults.

  19. Robert, ex-pat Brit 16 Apr 2009, 2:46pm

    Why all the fuss, who gives a damn what he thinks? As far as I know, there is no such thing as “gay marriage” in the UK, name one British couple who were actually married here on British soil? There is this habit of referring to civil partnerships as marriages. Indeed they are not, no matter how many of the rights of marriage they confer. This is definitely not a question of semantics, no matter how people like to skew it, the media included. Why is this even being discussed since apparently the majority of British gays don’t want marriage or full equality because they despise hetero marriage so much? Worldwide, they are in the very small minority. As more western countries opt for full marriage abandoning civil unions, domestic partnerships, PACS and the like, its going to make civil partnerships even more non-portable for those who have to work and reside outside the UK, or emigrate for that matter to countries that offer marriage. Only then will couples realise how unequal they are.

  20. Thank you, Andy Armitage (comment 17).

    We know very few of the facts of the case.

    If this charity worker was berating a gay service user, refusing to offer services to gay people or actively proselytising in the work place, it would be right to make an investigation to decide if disciplinary action was called for. If, as it seems, the charity worker was simply expressing a personal opinion in a private conversation with a co-worker, I see no reason why any action should be taken.

    Given a conducive working situation, we all chat with our co-workers about all manner of things, opinions included. Should we have to censor our own personal opinions when privately discussing them with someone else for fear of suspension or dismissal? Who among us has not grumbled to a colleague about a duty we’d rather not undertake or a client we’d rather not serve? As long as you still do the job or serve the client without prejudice, there shouldn’t be a problem.

    Discreditable opinion and belief may lead to, but are not the same as discreditable actions. You can’t legislate against belief – it’s an inherent right of all people. Once we start policing belief, we set ourselves up for tyranny and totalitarianism.

  21. So if a religous person also said that they did not approve of casual sex, they would be disciplined, too? Let’s face it, religous people disapprove of sex, Period. Why do people pick on them on the Gay issue, only?

  22. Things aren’t always as they appear. For instance,

    I keep hearing these comments, but never any scientific studies
    to prove them. Please let me know how you arrived at these
    comments, as exampled below:

    Simon Murphy said, “Being religious is a choice. It is optional. It is voluntary. Being gay is not a choice and it ia inviluntary. You can leave a religion. You cannot turn straight if you are gay.”

    And Iris, said, ” You ARE gay because that’s the way you’re born, but you CHOOSE to be religious. I don’t want the ‘right’ to be gay, I want people to accept me for what I AM and understand that it’s as much part of me as my green eyes. Homosexuality and religion are in no way comparable”

    Where are the accepted medical studies that show the above
    statements are indeed facts?

    Here’s something to consider about “inborn” factors with
    religious thinking. Who really knows all about the gene factor
    for homosexuality or religious behavior?

    Genes contribute to religious inclination

    17:38 16 March 2005 by Maggie McKee

    Genes may help determine how religious a person is, suggests a new study of US twins. And the effects of a religious upbringing may fade with time.

    Until about 25 years ago, scientists assumed that religious behaviour was simply the product of a person’s socialisation – or “nurture”. But more recent studies, including those on adult twins who were raised apart, suggest genes contribute about 40% of the variability in a person’s religiousness.

    But it is not clear how that contribution changes with age. A few studies on children and teenagers – with biological or adoptive parents – show the children tend to mirror the religious beliefs and behaviours of the parents with whom they live. That suggests genes play a small role in religiousness at that age.

    Now, researchers led by Laura Koenig, a psychology graduate student at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, US, have tried to tease apart how the effects of nature and nurture vary with time. Their study suggests that as adolescents grow into adults, genetic factors become more important in determining how religious a person is, while environmental factors wane.
    Religious discussions.

    The team gave questionnaires to 169 pairs of identical twins – 100% genetically identical – and 104 pairs of fraternal twins – 50% genetically identical – born in Minnesota.
    The twins, all male and in their early 30s, were asked how often they currently went to religious services, prayed, and discussed religious teachings. This was compared with when they were growing up and living with their families. Then, each participant answered the same questions regarding their mother, father, and their twin.

    The twins believed that when they were younger, all of their family members – including themselves – shared similar religious behaviour. But in adulthood, however, only the identical twins reported maintaining that similarity. In contrast, fraternal twins were about a third less similar than they were as children.
    “That would suggest genetic factors are becoming more important and growing up together less important,” says team member Matt McGue, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota.

    Empty nests
    Michael McCullough, a psychologist at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, US, agrees. “To a great extent, you can’t be who you are when you’re living under your parents’ roof. But once you leave the nest, you can begin to let your own preferences and dispositions shape your behaviour,” he told New Scientist.

    “Maybe, ultimately, we all decide what we’re most comfortable with, and it may have more to do with our own makeup than how we were treated when we were adolescents,” says McGue.
    About a dozen studies have shown that religious people tend to share other personality traits, although it is not clear whether these arise from genetic or environmental factors. These include the ability to get along well with others and being conscientious, working hard, being punctual, and controlling one’s impulses.

    But McGue says the new work suggests that being raised in a religious household may affect a person’s long-term psychological state less than previously thought. But he says the influence from this early socialisation may re-emerge later on, when the twins have families of their own. He also points out that the finding may not be universal because the research focused on a single population of US men.

    Journal reference: Journal of Personality (vol 73, p 471)

  23. Pumpkin Pie 17 Apr 2009, 10:04am

    To all those saying what an outrage it is that people are getting grassed up to Big Brother for voicing their opinions to work colleagues, have any of you ever thought such talk might actually not be conducive to a pleasant working environment? If any of my co-workers were to express racist, homophobic or any other sort of bigoted views, I would give them two choices: either stop speaking and never bring up such subjects within earshot of me ever again, or I’ll ask my employer to deal with the situation. I do not go to work to hear tirades of hate. I know people of all sorts of different ethnic backgrounds and sexualities: it really doesn’t make for a pleasant working environment having my friends and family insulted like this. I won’t stand for this sort of rubbish in the workplace.

    Hank: there are plenty of studies linking sexuality to genetic influence. If somebody hasn’t already provided you with details when I get back, I’ll see what I can dig up later. And this whole thing about religion being genetic isn’t news to me, either. There have long been theories that humankind’s superstitious nature is an evolutionary mechanism to unite people as groups with common beliefs.

    It’s still not comparable to sexuality, however. Being naturally spiritually-minded is comparable to being a naturally short-tempered person, a naturally energetic person, that sort of thing. It’s a personality trait. While we should be understanding of people who are naturally predisposed to behave in certain ways, all people should be responsible for keeping a check on the aspects of their personalities that may hurt others, and they should never use it as an excuse.

    Stuff like race, eye-colour, body shape, sex and sexuality are not issues of personality. A person’s sex probably determines a person’s personality (however slightly) even further than their sexuality does, yet to chastise someone for being a sex we don’t approve of is a ridiculous notion. Moreover a person’s sexuality (as with their sex) hurts nobody, ergo they should never have to apologise, feel ashamed, or be treated as inferior to any other sort of person (as people have been made to do so based on both sex and sexuality). Wanting to “cure” a gay person is like telling an albino to dye their hair and use some tanning lotion because their unnusual whiteness offends your sensibilites.

  24. Hank, the study you quoted only shows that ‘spiritualness’ may be genetic. Spiritualness has NOTHING to do with religion, which is a wholly man-made concept.
    Although I admire your persistance in attempting to justify your bigotry ( demonstrated here by the latest ‘christian’ push to say that religion is something you’re born with in order to try to demand it has as much recognition as the colour of your skin or your sexuality), I think you’d be better served in looking into your heart and examining yourself and your motivations. If you can’t do that, then at least think about how you’re contributing to the decline of religion in many countries by spouting such idiotic notions that are as ridiculous now as claiming the world’s flat. Worship your god, but leave other people alone. The threat to the world isn’t homosexuality, it’s intolerance and division spread by people like you who disguise your own insecurities by pointing the finger at others.

  25. someone said that ur born gay but u choose to be religious.. how stupid is that … let me remind you of your own argument as a community of gays. who the hell would choose martyrdom, curbing their diet, and no fun such as in sex whenever and with whomever you pleased for the hell of it.. havent you heard that just as there is reason to believe there is a gay gene that the same holds true about there being a religious gene. grow up and read something besides ignorant gay romance novels puuleeeaassee..the literature is there for all. now get off your soapbox and stop preaching equality if what u mean is rights for gays only. we either live and let live or we both burn . try demanding your rights AND standing up for others rights also. who knows, you might make some allies that way. dont you think???

  26. I think you’ve missed the point, Jaime. Religious beliefs should be respected as long as they are within the law. Religion shouldn’t be used as an excuse to discriminate – not just with regard to homosexuality, but race too.
    Read my post above. People might be born with the propensity to seek comfort in spirituality, but they CHOOSE their religion.
    I’ll stand up for your right to believe in your god, but I WON’T defend your right to discriminate against other human beings.

  27. Always find a natural explanation before jumping to a supernatural one.

    We have evolved to be a partly rational species, to be afraid of the dark, afraid to die. Superstition, finding reasons tp believe something when there is no reason to, had a survival advantage:
    Imagine for every 99 times a shadow was nothing to worry about, on one occastion is was a predator. Those who developed a ‘false-positive’ impression would not be disadvantage from escaping something that was not there. But those whose false negative impressions – staying put when they should flee – would be eliminated by natural selection over time. That’s a plausible explanation for superstition. Also, those who believed in the placebo healing powers of a shaman at a time of illness, may have had greater willpower, more hope, to recover. And because we are the only species to develop ‘purpose’ we see the world around us as designed. Just like, we see a mass of mainly space, interspersed with occasional atoms, as a solid rock.

    Mostly though, religion is a result of childhood indoctrination, fed as truth to children, when they are too young to reason for themselves. Children are naturally selected to do and think as they are told when they are young and vulnerable for obvious reasons. So if you are born in 5th century Denmark you will worship Thor and Wotan, or Odin; if you were born in Utah you would not question the divinity of Joseph Smith; if you were born in ancient Greece you would worship Zeus and Aphrodite, and so on. Non compatible creation stories, non-compatible moral systems, which also have evolved over the millennia. You can actually see a survival of the fittest religion battle take place, and religions evolving, too, as tries to keep up with advances in science and morality. God is now for most believers, disappearing into shapeless cloud, a kind of benign, distant ‘may the force be with you’ haze, on the one hand, or a return to literalism on the other.

    Some people may well be genetically predisposed to be more gullible, less rational. It’s no more than an opinion, that should be treated no differently than politics or sport.

    As for gay genes – the evidence is not strong enough. And furthermore, completely irrelevant. We’ve had this discussion before with this person, so I strongly recommend Pumpkin Pie to resist troll-feeding.

  28. outlandish 17 Apr 2009, 2:34pm

    If black people could marry white folks, so can gay people…

  29. I don’t think that anyone should be punished for simply stating their opposition to gay marriage, ordination of gay clergy etc. These are opinions that people are allowed to hold, and should not be punished for holding them. However, where religion is used to demean or insult gay people, as it often is, that is when people should be punished. It is very hard to distinguish between the two, as many people often cite ‘religion’ as a justification for obvious gay bashing, i.e. Iris Robinson. They usually then say after that they in fact love gay people, but just hate the sin.

  30. Brian Burton 17 Apr 2009, 6:24pm

    There is too much ‘pointing the finger’ in this wonderfull society of owers. A man cannot always be estimated by what he do’se. He may break the law and yet be fine. He may be bad without doing enything bad!

  31. Simon Murphy , Sister Mary, Iris and others – go check out Christopher Hitchens making a complete mockery of evangelist Todd Friel, on the ‘Wretched Podcast’ (from thursday evening’s edition). Download it, it’s ****ing hilarious, he tears him to pieces!

  32. Yo Adrian, I listened to the Todd Friel, Christopher Hitchens
    interview, and was disappointed in Friel’s approach, questions,
    answers, etc. I don’t have much faith in his christian strengths.
    I would love to hear Hitchens debate Ravi Zacharias: He is one of the more prolific Christian apologists, with many years on record. He is currently the president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, an apologetic evangelistic ministry that reaches out mainly to intellectuals and university students. His method is mildly presuppositional, his style conversational.
    You’d enjoy hearing some of his arguments on many subjects,
    not just Christianity. Hitchens wouldn’t get away with many of
    his comments with Zacharias as he did with Friel.

  33. I checked out Christopher Hitchens andevangelist Todd Friel, on the ‘Wretched Podcast’ I wasn’t impressed wiith Friel’s
    knowledge of the Christian message.

    I’d like to hear Hitchens argue with Ravi Zacharias

    He’s one of the more prolific Christian apologists, with many years on record. He is currently the president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, an apologetic evangelistic ministry that reaches out mainly to intellectuals and university students. His method is mildly presuppositional, his style conversational.

    Zacharias discusses a variety of philosophical questions and
    would give Hitchens on an even level, not at all like Friel.

  34. Third attempt to add this.

    I checked out Christopher Hitchens andevangelist Todd Friel, on the ‘Wretched Podcast’ I wasn’t impressed wiith Friel’s
    knowledge of the Christian message.

    I’d like to hear Hitchens argue with Ravi Zacharias

    He’s one of the more prolific Christian apologists, with many years on record. He is currently the president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, an apologetic evangelistic ministry that reaches out mainly to intellectuals and university students. His method is mildly presuppositional, his style conversational.

    Zacharias discusses a variety of philosophical questions and
    would give Hitchens on an even level, not at all like Friel.

  35. Yep, Todd Friel made the fatal mistake of playing the joker. Hitch’s best challenger was Dinesh D’Souza, whose arguments were quite thoughtful. They’re on youtube somewhere…

  36. Hi Adrian.
    Thanks for giving me the name of Dinesh D’Souza. I checked
    him out and will soon read some of his writings.

  37. Merseymike 20 Apr 2009, 4:13pm

    I think its a matter of context. An organisation providing services should be primarily concerned as to whether its staff are orepared to behave professionally and ensure that any religious prejudices are left at home. As Rob Fox has explained, this is very hard for many evangelicals ( and I was once one too!) to do because they believe they ‘know the truth’. hence, they find it difficult to see the importance of distinguishing between their personal beliefs and what is appropriate in a service providing organisation.

    I do think that there is no right to be prejudiced and express those prejudices in a service providing organisation. That is why there is legislation to ensure goods and services are provided without discrimination.

  38. (My pleasure Hank; enjoy.)

    By the way, the Christian Institute just love your article – it’s on their website. Congratulations on being a total sucker and swallowing their propaganda, hook line and sinker :-)

  39. Oh grow up Adrian T. Just because your articles haven’t received half as many comments or provoked as much debate as this guy’s doesn’t give you the right to behave so childishly.

    Hywel’s article isn’t going to win any prizes for journalism but it simply states that the right of a religious person cannot go completely ignored. You sound like the Gay rights version of Stephen Green in your comments.

  40. Andy & Steve 21 Apr 2009, 6:23pm

    Religion is a choice. Sexuality is not a choice. End of argument.

    A human can chose to be either a christian, a jew, a muslim, a hindu or any other doctrinal follower (except of course if you’re born a muslim, in which case its death if you convert) or, if he or she are intelligent and open minded non theistic….. a gay person can only be a gay person.

    As soon as people realise that organised religion is a man made delusion designed to wrest power from the individual and make them bend to the will of their religious leaders who base that leadership on myth, half truth and bare faced lies the better off we’ll all be.

    Just think of all that wasted time talking to yourself in your head and the billions of pounds spent on buildings to hold diminishing numbers of people talking to themselves in their heads and what better use that time and money could be put to. If we dropped religion enmasse tomorrow nothing would change. No angry god or mohammed or whoever/whatever would descend from the clouds and smite us…. but we would be free of doctrinally inspired “them and us” mentalities and wouldn’t have any crutch to support our otherwise unsupportable bigotries and hatreds.

    By the by, we don’t need religion to get along with each other either see http://www.secularism.org.uk

  41. OK, PK, but Stephen Green is not a good comparison. He apparently has all the answers – what happened at the beginning of time, who was responsible, and so on. I claim no such certainty.

    I accept, my attack was harsh – ‘vacuous’ was unfair.

    I respect the fact he took his time to write a piece in such a hostile environment as this. (What’s so great about consensus?) I hope people continue to write things I don’t agree with too. I make no attack on his person, or his other thoughtful articles (this should go without saying). But on this occasion I disagree with Mr Hywel; I think religious opinion must be ignored in the public sphere, and I give my reasons for doing so. You’re welcome to debate me on those reasons, and if you can give me a better reason to persuade me otherwise, all well and good.

    This is a very polarising, heated topic, and sparks will fly.
    x
    A.

  42. Yo Adrian, you said,

    (My pleasure Hank; enjoy.) By the way, the Christian Institute just love your article – it’s on their website. Congratulations on being a total sucker and swallowing their propaganda, hook line and sinker.”

    Adrian, sure I read and quote many Christian sites, and when I’m not too sure of their references I try to find my own evidence for
    my belief system.

    The trouble with you Adrian, is you ABSOLUTELY CANNOT LOOK AT
    THE HOLY BIBLE AND SCRIPTURES as having any authenticity because
    your mind is totally closed — don’t know what caused you to
    do this to yourself. (I do have the answer, but you have to
    figure out your own answer)

    I tried to get specific methodology to some of the workings of
    organizations who work with homosexuals to have them give up
    their homosexuality (in actuality and reality, not only for behavior change with the underlying homosexual desires continuing).

    And best as I can come up with second-hand research is that they try to use psychology,psychiatry, and other man-created methods to
    make these changes come about. Their problem will not work
    because of a basic flawed principle that apparently they aren’t aware that they depending on.

    They don’t know the true meaning and necessity of conversion
    of the “heart of man.” to make a total change. For example,:

    “Conversion is the heart of the Christian experience. Conversion is best described in the New Testament in the Letters of St. Paul, and with good reason – no one experienced a more dramatic conversion than St. Paul on the road to Damascus!

    “As recorded in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus himself called for conversion when he announced “the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
    1. The Bible is filled with figures who sinned, became repentant, and underwent conversion, such as Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene. St. Peter denied three times that he was an Apostle of Christ during the Lord’s Passion; when the cock crowed, he went out and “wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75). Following the Ascension, Jesus told him to “feed my lambs” (John 21:15). Saul, the persecutor of the Church, became Paul, the great missionary to the Gentiles, following his conversion. Mary Magdalene was a woman of ill repute before Jesus drove out seven devils from her (Luke 8:2); she became an ardent follower, and was the first to see Jesus following his resurrection (John 20:11-18)

    And in all this, is Jesus’ proclamation in John 1. I am the vine, you are the branches: he who is in me at all times as I am in him, gives much fruit, because without me you are able to do nothing.

    So until a person believes in, and accepts conversion, he cannot change himself. So that’s
    my view on the failure of changing one’s sexual makup.

    Unfortunately too many “Christians” have never gone through
    conversion and are living as counterfeit Christians.

    With my faith, I’m able to look at both sides of all issues and
    see what new findings come about, but as yet nothing has come
    up that will take away my faith about mankind is and about
    who God is. It’s not a delusion, but a reality that most of
    mankind doesn’t and can’t imagine.

  43. Hey Adrian, I just came across this book and I’m going to see
    if my library has it before I buy it. Sounds like something
    you might give a look at.

    Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, and Miracles by Bruce H. Lipton
    With more than 100,000 copies sold of his self-published book, The Biology of Belief, Bruce Lipton teams up with Hay House to bring his message to an even wider audience. This book is a groundbreaking work in the field of new biology, and it will forever change how you think about thinking. Through the research of Dr. Lipton and other leading-edge scientists, stunning new discoveries have been made about the interaction between your mind and body and the processes by which cells receive information. It shows that genes and DNA do not control our biology, that instead DNA is controlled by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic messages emanating from our thoughts. Using simple language, illustrations, humor, and everyday examples, he demonstrates how the new science of Epigenetics is revolutionizing our understanding of the link between mind and matter and the profound effects it has on our personal lives and the collective life of our species.

  44. Brian Burton 25 Apr 2009, 11:19am

    Well, what wonderful comments everyone is making. All informative and interesting. I’m a Christian, I was confirmed into the Church when I was fouteen. Durham Cathrdral was the venue, that tall Norman ediface. I was looking for a closer walk with God as I Knelt in front of the high alter to recieve the Blessing from the Bishop. Dr. Micheal Ramsey was Bishop of Durham then. To me God do’se not have to be proven, it’s pure faith that sustains me, faith in God means I can be whoever I want to be. I have no hang-ups, I do’nt care what other peoples beliefs are, they are welcome to them as long as they respect mine. Now I am older and have suvived cancer and have a loving Partner. I think of the man who took a walk with God along the sands of time. The man said to God, “I have walked with you and seen our two sets of foot prints in the sand. But there were times when I could only see one set of foot prints. Did you desert me?” God replyed. ” The reason you saw only one set of foot prints sometimes was because I was carrying you. Have a nice day y’all now!

  45. Hey Brian — nice comment. Do you recall when you were
    converted? When your heart turned away from living a
    worldly life and you did everything you can to understand
    and follow God’s will? That’s more important than being
    confirmed in a church. A true Christian has an intimate
    relationship with Jesus Christ and not really necessary
    with a particular Church membership, which can be filled
    with many unbelieving people. The distinction between
    “Christianity” and a relationship with Jesus Christ makes
    all the difference as to whether a person goes to hell or
    to heaven.

  46. Brian Burton 25 Apr 2009, 5:17pm

    Hank, thank you for your kind words. With respect ‘converted?’ No! no! you do not find God my friend. God finds you!
    Hank, speaking of Durham, I was born there and lived there untill I decided to leave. Where I lived was a mining community and my Father was a coal miner all of his life. We had a big family, there was so many kids in our family the mice used to set traps for us! Well I was glad to leave home and try to discover exactly where my sexuality was going to lead me. I had many adventures and was (for a short spell) a dresser to a Fabulous Drag Queen in London. Then the Government caught up with me and I was called up into the Army for two years national service. I was too young to object and accepted it. If only they had asked me:”Could you Kill a Man?” I would have replyed,”Eventually.” Adios Amigo.

  47. Hank – my sincere apologies, the comment was not actually intended for you, but the author of the article. I am of course well aware of the reasoning for your beliefs. Now never mind about arguing about the origins of the cosmos and so on – go and appreciate some fruits of the cosmos instead. And this beats Guinness, any day, srsly: trappistwestmalle.be/en/page/dubbel.aspx

    (I don’t think the editorial department of this website was amused with my comment!)

  48. stephen kay 9 May 2009, 3:56am

    What planet is this guy living on.Mad gay people do exsist and they can do us more damage than even the homophobes could do.Seriously this is a damaged gay man!!

  49. Nonvexatious 11 May 2009, 4:54pm

    As a gay man and atheist I feel troubled by some of the comments attacking the religious made in response to this article. In my opinion it’s fine to argue against religious beliefs but not to attack people who hold those beliefs. Yes, it is a choice to hold certain religious beliefs, but it’s also a choice to be atheist or agnostic, and the religion or belief legislation also protects those who have no belief, or who have beliefs similar to religious beliefs, such as humanists. There are also people whose religion is part of their cultural identity, for example Jewish people. These protections are important in a just, secular, democratic society. Anti-religious discrimination has had and is still having terrible consequences in the world. There is also a difference in my view between people holding or expressing homophobic views as a result of their religious beliefs, and people discriminating against LGBT people by manifesting those beliefs. I work in discrimination law and I believe that it is necessary to strike a balance between competing rights. I believe that we should prepare to be offended by others’ views, and engage with them by reasoned argument. Under harassment law, there is a remedy where objectionable views cross over a line. For example, say I heard a christian colleague expressing disapproval of my sexual orientation. If he did not intend to create an environment that violated my dignity, but it had that effect, a court or tribunal would look at the nature and offensiveness of his comments, and decide whether it was reasonable for me to feel that my dignity was being violated. It would depend, with a one-off comment not deliberately intended to violate my dignity at work, whether it was serious enough to constitute harassment. For example, if he said he thought all gay people should be put to death, yes. If he said he thought marriage was between a man and a woman, probably not. However, if I approached him and said, reasonably, that I found his expression of his views to be offensive, and he then repeated them, that would show that he was making them with the purpose of offending me, and that would simply be harassment, however apparently ‘mild’ his comments were. It’s surely better for LGB people to engage with those religious beliefs in that way, and show a willingness to assert their rights in the first instance, before shouting discrimination. It shows assertiveness, maturity and tolerance. On the other hand, if a colleague was undermining my work, or making negative decisions about me on the grounds of my sexual orientation, I would have no difficulty in taking immediate action against him.

  50. Yes but Nonvexatious, I see no reason why religious opinion should deserve any special protection in the public sphere.

    For instance. If I am a Conservative and you a Marxist, and I ridicule you for your ridiculous ideas about a state-run economy, well, that would be too bad if your feelings are hurt.

    If someone believes that the earth is only 6,000 years old because the Bible tells her so, and let’s face it, we get lots of them on PinkNews, it is a necessity to mock such people for their ignorance – being out by a factor of 700,000.

    Every belief or opinion should have equal chance of being probed, questioned, tested and evaluated, if we think that truth and honesty are important.

    There is no law against hurt feelings, and rightly so. Otherwise it ends with Jehova’s Witness parents being allowed to refuse blood transfusions to dying children.

  51. Linda Giovanna Zambaninin 17 Jul 2009, 9:01am

    WTF?! How did this homophobic leaning article end up on PINK? Are you just getting a newsfeed about anything with “gay” in it? This guy is not on our side!

  52. I am neither Christian nor Gay, I do however believe in God, and I do believe in Love and that you cannot choose who you love as love just happens.
    I also believe that going to church does not make you a Christian, or going to a temple makes you a Jew or any religion, you have to follow the beliefs and traditions of that faith and fulfil its requirements to be classed as one of its faithful. It does not however stop you as an individual fulfilling as much as you can as you are able.
    So if you are Gay, does your adopted faith say you may not marry one of your same sexes? Or say you may not be one with one of your own sex? If so and be honest with yourself for if you are truly faithful you are taking a gamble of pride over soul, Ask your spiritual adviser and ask for truth not an answer gauged to appease you.
    TO BE CONTINUED

  53. And always remember if you love your partner, you want to marry them for the love of them and a ceremony is nice but to do it just because you want to show you are gay, is about pride and wanting to show you are different and have a right to be different, NOT because you love another, remember we are all different, gay or not.
    If so, have a Civil Marriage, because surely you are marrying for love, not to prove a point or to upset your chosen faith if it has an exclusion to same sex relations? Cos if so your marriage is a sham?
    It’s how we get along with others that matter, not how we show we are different from them or better than them, and maybe it is because folks project their difference not their sameness that we have conflict?

  54. If so, have a Civil Marriage, because surely you are marrying for love, not to prove a point or to upset your chosen faith if it has an exclusion to same sex relations? Cos if so your marriage is a sham?
    It’s how we get along with others that matter, not how we show we are different from them or better than them, and maybe it is because folks project their difference not their sameness that we have conflict?

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