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Consortium demands no ‘faith opt-outs’ in Equality Bill

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  1. So they’ve aready pulled ‘free speech’. now they want a religious opt-out for employment. Is this bill worth the paper it’s printed on?

  2. No. I think it is just a distraction, something to fill MPs time until the next general election.

  3. Vincent Poffley 19 Nov 2009, 1:55pm

    Isn’t it outrageous that we’re even IN this situation? That this is the 21st century and people even CONSIDER there’s a legitimate issue here? It deeply offends me that anyone could even think that certain arbitrary hobby groups deserve legal exemptions from equality laws because they have a culture of institutional bigotry. Were this any other kind of institution such exemptions would immediately be thought of as utterly unacceptable. Would we consider it necessary to debate whether the police should be allowed exemptions from race equality laws, because they have a history of of institutional racism? I note that nobody has stood up for the legal right of the BNP to refuse black members in their ugly little party, so why such a horrid double standard?

    The bottom line is that religious institutions deserve no special respect or privileges beyond any other hobby groups. They are no more important and contribute no more to society than scrabble clubs, sunday league football teams or star trek fan societies. And how on earth does being gay prevent someone from “leading worship” or “explaining doctrine”? “Leading worship” is essentially an oratory task, and “explaining doctrine” a teaching job (albeit rhe teaching of demonstrable anachronistic nonsenses about the world). Gay people can give speeches and teach others just as successfully as straight people.

    Or is it that gay equality is somehow seen as less important than racial equality? I note that nobody is proposing that religious groups be allowed to discriminate against black people by refusing to hire them, even though many religions have just as venerable a history of racism as they do of homophobia.

  4. I agree with Vincent – it’s time for churches to stop being immune and above the law

  5. Vincent and Chester: Note that several religious groups are included in the consortium lobbying against this opt-out.

    The difference between those who refuse to acknowledge equal rights and those who stand for them in religious groups is not the religion, it is the importance placed on being open to the divine rather than on being seen to be right. This holds true in non-religious groups, too, where being honest and decent is valued over maintaining rigid roles and rules because they give a short-term sense of security and authority.

  6. Vincent Poffley 19 Nov 2009, 8:26pm

    Yes, there are religious groups which support and even campaign for equal rights. So? I never said there weren’t.

    My point is that there is a noxious double-standard at work here. Were ANY non-religious group to try to wrangle a legal exemption from equality legislation, they would be seen as entirely beyond the pale. Nobody would have to fight to stop them because nobody would give their bigoted desires even the slightest bit of credence. But when it’s a religious group that wants to discriminate, based on no valid criteria, suddenly it’s a difficult legal issue with two sides rather than the unacceptable nastiness of vile bigots. People should just dismiss these claims out of hand, like they would were it not a religious institution making them, but they don’t. Somehow a lot of people are bewitched by the idea that religions deserve more respect and leeway than other hobbies – an utterly indefensible and dangerous idea we would be well served by abandoning altogether.

  7. I think Dougie (2) may have a point. Anyway, for the record, no opt-outs!

  8. Anon – I wasn’t saying that all religions or people are bad but that the law needs to apply equally to all, the bible says that people need to obey the law but many ignore that verse if it suits their agenda

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