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Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks: I am not heartless, I understand gay people’s fears

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  1. This is what the magic-boggled don’t get – We don’t *need* to get where they are coming from. Faith is by consent and they should only ever have power over those which consent to their dogmatic drivel.

    I don’t. I don’t consent. I am not Jewish or Muslim or Christian and I have no need to either understand, nor capitulate to, their primitive dogmatic crap.

    1. Bravo Bloody well put!

    2. Go for it!

      Such arrogance as we only see from the religious.

    3. You might want to remember that religions are not just about belief in a deity. In the case of Judaism, it is not primarily about faith. Many Jews, probably the majority, are atheists. It’s mainly about culture, tradition and community. I left Judaism on realising that I’m an atheist, and I was met with total bewilderment from the Jewish community, who simply didn’t see that as a valid reason to leave.

      So “magic-boggled” doesn’t really apply, and it’s a lot more complicated than “dogmatic drivel”. If you ask a Jew what marriage means, the answers are likely to be along the lines of, “Getting married under a chuppah [bridal canopy], in synagogue, with your family and friends”. They don’t start quoting Leviticus at you.

      This is why it’s particularly irrelevant when Sacks starts selectively quoting bits of the Bible that most Jews don’t give a hoot about, and which are not prominent in the practice of Jewish faith either. Even more so in the context of civil marriage!

      1. Whether by tradition, custom, loyalty, whatever, I am not a part of it and find it tyrannical to be expected to be subjected to it.

        I’m sorry, but the nature of the ceremony is only of relevant to the participants and of no concern to anyone else.

        1. How exactly are you being subjected to it? Are you being expected to follow Jewish law? If you mean that unelected clergy have no business having power over secular matters, I entirely agree, but that’s not what you were talking about. Meanwhile, you are commenting on Judaism but do not appear to have any knowledge of Judaism or British Jewry.

          Considering that we’re talking about same-sex marriage here, I think the nature of wedding ceremonies is pretty damned relevant. Personally, I’d be thrilled if religions had to obey all equality law, but it’s unlikely to happen and would be very difficult to implement.

          Random anecdote: the biblical vows between Ruth and Naomi, who do a sterling impression of being a lesbian couple, are frequently used in Christian marriage ceremonies today.

          1. Because the House of Lords has religious people in it capable of exercising power based on their asinine and ludicrous and frequently utterly insane “beliefs” – Including the man in bloody question. That’s the point. He has the power of a vote, granted due to his position, and I have no ability to demand that he not have that power.

        2. Right, with you. I completely agree that we shouldn’t have clergy in the House of Lords. I’m not terribly keen on the House of Lords at all. Of course, we have plenty of politicians who are religious as well, and their religion will affect their policy. It really worries me that in the US, it’s unthinkable to have a president who’s not a devout Christian. Thankfully it’s not that bad over here, and I suppose that at least they’ve widened the clergy-in-the-HoL thing to clergy from other faiths, so that it’s not a Christian stranglehold. But none of them should be there at all.

          While I strongly dislike religion being in bed with government, we can hardly demand that only atheists run the country! So there are limits. But appointing clergy to state power purely because they are religious is not on at all.

  2. Lord Sacks “I am not heartless”, just brainless.

    1. what a stupid, inane thing to say. Another poser trying to be clever with a few nasty words against someone who can’t answer back, jbut sadly failing. Sacks is not brainless. he is, in fact, highly intelligent and articulate. We might not like some of his views, but that does not make him brainless. Moderate your knee jerk reactions please.

  3. Derek Williams 25 Aug 2013, 11:55am

    First off, there is no single “god”. There are over 41,000 conflicting ‘gods’ created by different Christianities in the form of religious denominations, to say nothing of warring sects of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism.

    Each god disagrees with the other gods on many things like Birth Control and Divorce. For example, Catholic God will send you to Hell for both, whereas Anglican God was created by the divorcee King Henry VIII and has an opposite view on birth control. They cannot on any rational basis, be one and the same god. Religion therefore is a buyer’s market. Gullible, credulous people are taken for a ride, and just sign up to the one that fits their prejudices and then set about cherry picking the Bible to find means to judge other people, like homosexuals who never harmed them and are no threat to them or their children.

    By contrast, there are over 35 major Christian religions and some branches of Judaism I can name that accept Homosexuality as a God-given trait.

    1. It seems that God is quite the sh!t stirrer. First he whispers in George Bush’s ear that American is #1 and he should invade Iraq. Then he sneaks over to the other side of the world and whispers in the ears of Muslims’ saying that THEY are the ones who are right and they must fight the infadels. Either that or there’s 2 God’s pitching each side of the world against the other.

      Seems God just loves a bit of drama like the rest of us~

      1. “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do” – Anne Lamott.

        And just to twist the knife a little more, a little Ingersoll:

        “Religion supports nobody. It has to be supported. It produces no wheat, no corn; it ploughs no land; it fells no forests. It is a perpetual mendicant. It lives on the labors of others, and then has the arrogance to pretend that it supports the giver.”

        In other words, it exists to keep a cluster of pampered cloistered fools in funny hats and brocade frocks.

        1. Brilliant

        2. Oh how I wish I could give this comment more than just one ‘thumbs up’!!!

    2. Harry Underwood 26 Aug 2013, 12:44am

      I think the Abrahamic sect that I’ve been most impressed with is the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ, an LDS sect that existed from 1986 to 2010. They may be the only Abrahamic sect (extant or extinct) to endorse explicitly gay-affirmative and woman-affirmative literature as scripture.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restoration_Church_of_Jesus_Christ
      Their scripture, “Hidden Treasures and Promises”: http://john144.com/jrc/pages/htp.html

  4. And it all comes back once again to the dictatorial view the religious have that they are “superior” and “know what’s right”.

    The fundamental problem with all organized religion is that it gives followers a sense of superiority over others, a sense of control. They all want so desperately to control others like tiny little despots, and that is a dangerous thing.

    This is why I DESPISE organized religions and the mindless followers of all of them. They have no more of a right to claim anything than I do as an atheist. They are not superior to me. They do not deserve any more than me, and I no more than them.

    I hate arrogance and I loathe bullies. That is what they all are, arrogant bullies who use their belief in fairy-tales to victimize and attack others in an effort to make them feel superior.

    Loathsome little creatures.

    1. You have written what I have thought for years. You see, organised religion isn’t about faith: it’s about power. One of the reasons for the vociferous objections by the faithful to equal marriage, is that they find their power under threat. It’s not actually that complicated really.

  5. Why is it these bigots, when leaving office (and then can’t do anything about it) decide to start making excuses for their bigotry? Is it an attempt to clean their legacy?

    Lord Sachs – you are heartless. You make pretty speeches but you spat on your chance to work against injustice.

  6. I suspect that this hand-wringing by the Chief Rabbi, Rowan Williams et al is the beginning of the realisation that they got it hopelessly wrong.

    Now that they realise that they’ve beached themselves on the wrong side of history once again, they’re just trying to distance themselves from their earlier actions. I suppose this slight change of heart should be cautiously welcomed; at least, it’s better than carrying on regardless with their hate campaigns.

    There must have been similar back-pedalling by the flat-earthers when they had to admit that Galileo was right after all !

    But how disappointing that none of them has yet plucked up the courage to admit that they were wrong and say ‘Sorry’.

    1. absolutely right!

  7. Robert in S. Kensington 25 Aug 2013, 1:09pm

    He is indeed heartless, most of them are.

    Welby and Sentamu on occasion bring up the issue of harm and discrimination their cult has brought to gay people throughout its history, yet no official apology has ever been offered. Religion (the three Abrahamic cults especially) is the inventor of institutionalised homophobia, a crime against humanity in my view and has much to answer for. Until then, the overwhelming majority of them and their followers will always remain heartless, bigoted hypocrites.

    1. Robert, friend, I fear we will be waiting for a very long bloody time for a mea culpa. I’m still waiting for an apology for the harm done to half the human race – women – by the odious and foul desert eschatological cults that were spawned from the brain of a paranoid schizophrenic (Abraham).

      I expect nothing, since most of the “faithful” are capable of sufficient intellectual dishonesty to recognise that their vile cult spread at the point of the sword, and has been killing people since the day it was produced by the fevered brain of one and the lust for power and control by the priest classes and those who would exploit that. Just look at the events leading up to the establishment of the Church of England brand of moronic wizardry to see my point…

      1. Robert in S. Kensington 25 Aug 2013, 2:04pm

        Valsky, quite right. I don’t expect anything from them. They call for dialogue with us but I can’t see the point since they show no signs of conceding one millimeter of responsibility for homophobia and misogyny. Until that happens, we will and must remain diametrically opposed to them.

    2. Yes, this is totally correct. I was having an argument with some
      ‘nationalists’ about homosexuality/bisexuality and their reasoning for opposing gay marriage and some other gay rights basically boiled down to a moral viewpoint. I asked them where did their moral viewpoint come from if not from religion? One girl said it didn’t come from religion but from morals. I told her that all moral values were not dropped out of the sky and that they were ultimately derived from organised religion (particularly on this subject) I am firmly convinced that if we hadn’t had organised religion that homophobia and biphobia would be either non existent or very weak in society.

  8. James Orpin 25 Aug 2013, 1:14pm

    “I am not heartless towards them, I really seek to understand them and they seek to understand where I am coming from.”

    We only seek to understand because we are forced to put up with religious bigots given undeserving seats in the House of Lords. Indeed recent governments think this is such a good idea they have widened the pool of bigots to not just the CoE but all faith groups.

    “I’ve not come out strongly, I’ve simply said that in Judaism we don’t do it.”

    Bollocks. That’s not what you were voting on. The law was not just for jews you voted to restrict the rights of all gays. The religious protections were there and you still voted for bigotry.

    1. I thought he didn’t vote on the issue. Have checked with Hansard and his name isn’t there

      1. James Orpin 25 Aug 2013, 10:49pm

        Abstention is a coward’s ‘no’

        1. Abstention was the best we were going to get from him, and personally I’m grateful that he voted that way. It’s more than I expected. The real problem is that we have unelected clergy given state power in the House of Lords.

          1. I should clarify that I’m grateful he voted that way, because the alternative was that he would have voted against same-sex marriage. There was never any chance of him voting in favour.

  9. Judaism is an exclusive club for heterosexuals, it’s got to be penile-vaginal sex because they love it so very much that they want everyone else to love it too.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 25 Aug 2013, 2:06pm

      And the other two Abrahamic cults are any different?

  10. But ya’ are Blanche; ya are!

  11. Surely single-parent families are not a new thing though, Rabbi Sacks? After both the First and Second World Wars there was an increase of women bringing up children on their own owing to the fact that their husbands had been killed. Ironically, the political right wing Daily Mail type crowd looks back with nostalgia upon the 1920s to 1950s as the period of nuclear family values and ignores the abundance of widowed women bringing up usually much larger families than now entirely on their own. Add to this, also, the fact that people were less likely to re-marry in those days and this surely indicates that single parent households were more prevalent than today.

  12. Paul Halsall 25 Aug 2013, 3:33pm

    I am a Catholic, and I love Catholicism although not the hierarchy. I do have some hope for the current pope though.

    I do think gay marriage should be allowed and women’s equality throughout the church, and am I suppose in that sense a heretic.

    Lord Sacks is a very educated man, a careful man, and clearly not wanting to be a bigot. He *abstained* on the vote in the Lords. That makes him much more our friend than the CoE Bishops.

    Also, while his branch of Orthodox Judaism will not perform same sex marriages (religious freedom is a right), the Reform and liberal branches will.

    Those of you who no part in religion are free to do so. But often enough you come over as extreme fundamentalists in the US.

    1. Catholicism IS the hierarchy – they are infallible, are they not? And so long as you park your backside in the pews, or give them your money, you don’t get to wash your hands of the harm that they have done. Apathy or silence are both acts of complicity and you perpetuate a string of odious actions too numerous to mentioned here.

      As for your assertion of blame in closing paragraph – one does not remove the boot of the tyrant from your neck by asking them nicely. I couldn’t care less if someone is foolish enough to worship gods or fairies or their own nose hair – all as meaningless as the other. I do take significant and entirely justified umbrage when people try to force me to do the same – something organised religion has done from the day it was founded.

      You might be comfortable overlooking a vile and hideous history of bloodshed – and call it “freedom” to not participate – Just how modern is that exactly?

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 25 Aug 2013, 5:10pm

      People who abstain or vote no to your rights are no friends of ours, especially when they use religion to justify it in what was a purely civil matter regarding the Marriage Bill.

    3. Harry Underwood 25 Aug 2013, 5:52pm

      How dare you compare us to “extreme fundamentalists in the US”, which would most likely equal “Abrahamic extreme fundamentalists in the US”?

      Which group has manifested its rule in denial of LGBT rights? Which group has manifested its rule in denial of minority religions’ legal abilities?

      Certainly not “those of you who [want] no part in religion”.

      I’m not sorry for you feeling insulted by critique of your and similar Abrahamic religions of choice. The critique is informed by both past and present, which you are so willing to manipulate to paint the prettiest-possible picture for yourself. You ought to be ashamed for your willful negligence of history.

  13. Godric Godricson 25 Aug 2013, 4:57pm

    I refuse to go to Church. I denounce God for allowing discrimination against LGBT people. I refuse to worship a God that allowed the Holocaust. I refuse to worship a God that allowed the earthquake in Haiti etc etc etc. Abrahamic religions just toxic for LGBT people.

  14. Yeah right, because child poverty is worse than now in the UK than it was 50 years ago. As if. And then to blame something that isn’t even true on single parents and the 60’s. What an idiot. Total moron.

    It’s worrying that men like him have any power in the house of lords.

  15. Turn the heat up when they think they are still ahead, and they rant and rave. Turn it up when they start to realize they are losing, and they smile and simpler instead – but nothing about them changes anytime soon. When it finally does, they claim they never thought any differently in the first place. Move along. Nothing much of interest here.

    1. Sorry, I meant ‘simper’ of course!

  16. Harry Underwood 25 Aug 2013, 6:47pm

    The only good thing that Mr. Sacks did was abstain. He apparently did that in spite of his overarching beliefs and not because of.

    How can I commend that? It’s his freakin’ choice to believe in Judaism and its precepts. It’s his choice to say “no, we don’t provide services to gays”. I don’t have to respect that choice, and I can criticize it as unreasonable, irrational and cowardly.

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 26 Aug 2013, 12:13pm

      Abstentions in the Marriage debate were and are for cowards who go against their conscience and don’t want to lose elections in unsafe constituencies even if they know they should have casted a vote for the bill and they actually believe it gets them ‘off the hook’ in being accused of or pandering to homophobia. In my view, abstentions should be banned no matter which piece of legislation is up for a vote. Either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ should be mandatory so we know where they stand. They shouldn’t be able to have it both ways.

      1. Well, we do know where he stands. Homophobic but cagey about it. I think there are valid reasons for abstaining from various issues, they’re not all clear-cut, and I also appreciate that there would have been a lot more “no” votes if we didn’t permit abstentions.

        Though you might be right about politicians using abstentions to hide their views from electors. Not that electors were involved with the House of Lords, of course. The more Sacks witters on about how he’s really not a homophobe, honest, the worse he looks. Instead of getting him less publicity, it’s getting him more.

  17. He said: “I’ve not come out strongly, I’ve simply said that in Judaism we don’t do it .[same-sex unions]”

    Hmm. “When Arthur Blankstein and Kenneth Ure exchange wedding vows at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue [Winnipeg, MB, Canada] on Jan. 21, [2012] both they and the synagogue will be making history.

    Blankstein, 67, and Ure, 58, will become the first same-sex couple to be married at the conservative synagogue. Shaarey Zedek will become the first conservative synagogue in Canada to sanction a same-sex marriage under its roof.” http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/fyi/same-sex-wedding-a-first-for-conservative-synagogue-137339443.html

    1. Yes, exactly.

      There’s a very simple reason why there have been no same-sex Jewish marriages in the UK. Same-sex marriage isn’t legal yet! Once it is, there will be Jewish same-sex marriages occurring in Liberal and Reform British synagogues. Meanwhile, they are conducting blessings for civil partnerships, as it’s the best that can be managed at present. These blessings take place under a chuppah (Jewish bridal canopy), which gives them a very similar status to weddings. http://www.liberaljudaism.org/life-cycle/marriage-civil-partnership.html

      “Liberal Judaism is heavily involved in the consultation [on equal marriage] and bill committee procedure and looks forward to celebrating the first same-sex wedding under its auspices. However, until the ban on same-sex marriage is lifted, we will proudly continue to bless same-sex civil partnerships, something we have done since we became the first religious group to publish official liturgy for doing so in 2005 with the Brit Ahava.”

  18. Mihangel apYrs 25 Aug 2013, 6:59pm

    remember Sachs, while the Star of David was at the bottom of the heap, those of the Pink Triangle were drowning in the mud – despised by all

  19. Oy vey! Shmendrek!

  20. The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all exclusive, heterosexist fertility cults.

  21. Mmmm, quite ‘comforting’ to know that the leaders of religions other than the one I was brought up in (Christian – Roman Catholic) are just as hypocritical.

  22. Sacks came out strongly against civil same-sex marriage in the consultation, something that was actually none of his business as it did not affect religious marriage. He’s just trying to backtrack now. He also claimed that he was speaking for the whole of Judaism, and that “in Judaism we don’t do it”. This is nonsense.

    Orthodox Judaism is never going to permit same-sex marriage, but then Orthodox Judaism is also thoroughly sexist. Liberal and Reform Judaism have been actively campaigning for equal marriage, and have written the liturgy for the weddings.

    Also remember that most Jews who call themselves Orthodox don’t follow the prescribed ideology that far, and are not in fact sexist or homophobic. Sacks is only speaking for a minority of British Jews.

    1. Right, and just as we are told about moderate christians who seemed to sit out a protracted campaign of institutionally funded and powered bigotry for years, I find myself asking why this alleged “majority” is so apathetic, so powerless, so unable to control those who would condemn us.

      If Sacks has usurped power and influence not due him by failing to represent the majority, what, if anything, are people going to do about it? Or should I not hold my breath?

      1. What makes you think that people aren’t taking action? Perhaps it’s the press? I agree that there should be more reporting of the faith groups and individuals who are campaigning for equal marriage. The Pink News seems to be just as bad as the BBC. We have yet another article about some bishop saying that equal marriage will lead to polygamy and incest (horrible thing to say, but it’s been said so much that it’s hardly news – it’s as predictable as transphobes being obsessed with toilets), when they could be interviewing some of the clergy who are working hard to bring in equal marriage.

        Ousting bigoted clergy, on the other hand, is a different matter. It’s not up to the congregants. It takes a long time for change to filter through that sort of organisation, just as it does in many secular organisations. Look how long it’s taking for armies to accept LGBT personnel, or how we still have a very low proportion of female judges. And sadly, yes, most people are apathetic.

      2. A bit of background may help. There are three main denominations, with a few smaller ones as well.

        Orthodox (also known as United), Reform and Liberal. Orthodox Judaism has various sexist practices such as no female clergy, gender-segregated seating in synagogues and so forth, and does not formally accept homosexuality. It’s very rigid and is not likely to change. It’s the largest denomination, but most Orthodox Jews I’ve met follow it quite loosely, much like Catholics who use contraception etc.

        Reform and Liberal Judaism, known collectively as Progressive Judaism, are definitely keen on change, and take a modern attitude towards ancient texts and traditions. They have female and LGBT clergy, and generally have far more sensible attitudes.

        Officially, Orthodox Judaism frequently pretends that Progressive Judaism does not exist, for instance by failing to recognise Progressive conversions as valid. That’s what Sacks is doing here.

        1. Godric Godricson 26 Aug 2013, 4:33pm

          I know a few people in Progressive Judaism and by their example of living a good life they present a persuasive argument for conversion to Judaism…..except that it’s always the same God who allowed the Holocaust and other atrocities. Why would LGBT people ‘despised by all’ want to ally themselves with this God or any religion that worships ‘Him’. BTW, I’m an ex-Christian who would retract his baptism certificate if that were possible.

          1. Because it’s a more complicated theological quesiton than that? But the problem of why a supposed omnipotent deity would allow evil is a big one amongst religious believers, I agree. Your view is not the only possible view on the subject, remember. Do you still believe in a God?

            It sounds like you had a rough time with Christianity, and I’m sorry to hear that. Not in an “apologising for them” way, just that I’m sorry to hear of anyone suffering. My personal experiences with religion (Judaism in my case) were mostly positive, but I felt it was hypocritical to attend synagogue after I realised I was an atheist, so I left.

            I’ve never felt that my choice to lead a good life was related to my religious belief or subsequent lack of it. I’ve learnt some good things from Judaism, but then I’ve also learnt moral guidance from reading Greek tragedy and Jane Austen!

        2. Right – and people who are “catholic in name only” ie don’t follow the exact requirements still don’t get to wash their hands of the foul things their church does so long as they park their backside in its pews, give it their money or grant it one iota of credibility.

          Denying ownership of a problem, while still giving some participation to it does not excuse a single person, nor give them the power to opt out and say “not in my name” when it absolutely is.

          1. Yes, but it does get more complicated than that. You’re living in the UK, right? The UK does some pretty bloody awful things. Let’s use being vile to LGBT asylum seekers as an example. Now, I didn’t vote for the government now in power. Even if I had, I wouldn’t have voted for these policies. I don’t have any power to change these policies, apart from helping to raise awareness, signing petitions etc., which doesn’t help much. I’m not going to leave Britain over this matter. Can I say “not in my name”?

            Leaving a religion can be like leaving a country for some people. It’s a massive step. Some people prefer to work for change from within. But I agree that if you are propping up a religion despite disapproving of its policies, yes, that is wrong. Although it’s tricky if, say, you approve of most of its policies, or feel the bad ones can be worked around.

            There’s a difference between not following every single rule of Catholicism and being “Catholic in name only”.

      3. .What makes you think that people aren’t taking action? Perhaps it’s the press? I agree that there should be more reporting of the faith groups and individuals who are campaigning for equal marriage. The Pink News seems to be just as bad as the BBC. We have yet another article about some bishop saying that equal marriage will lead to polygamy and incest (horrible thing to say, but it’s been said so much that it’s hardly news – it’s as predictable as transphobes being obsessed with toilets), when they could be interviewing some of the clergy who are working hard to bring in equal marriage.

        Ousting bigoted clergy, on the other hand, is a different matter. It’s not up to the congregants. It takes a long time for change to filter through that sort of organisation, just as it does in many secular organisations. Look how long it’s taking for armies to accept LGBT personnel, or how we still have a very low proportion of female judges. And sadly, yes, most people are apathetic.

  23. Does Sacks accept that the biblical condemnation of homosexuality is cruel, wrong and to be ignored?

    If not then he remains the poisonous, hate filled bigot he always was.

  24. He doesn’t speak for all Jews.

    “The Movement for Reform Judaism has declared its commitment to equality for same-sex partnerships and its support for same-sex marriage in the United Kingdom. It welcomes the government’s plans to introduce same-sex marriage.

    The Reform Movement, which represents some 20% of affiliated British Jewry has conducted same-sex commitment ceremonies since February 2011.”

    http://news.reformjudaism.org.uk/press-releases/reform-judaism-declares-support-for-marriage-equality.html

    “Liberal Judaism is heavily involved in the [equal marriage] consultation and bill committee procedure and looks forward to celebrating the first same-sex wedding under its auspices. However, until the ban on same-sex marriage is lifted, we will proudly continue to bless same-sex civil partnerships, something we have done since we became the first religious group to publish official liturgy for doing so in 2005.”

    http://www.liberaljudaism.org/life-cycle/marriage-civil-partnership.html

  25. I’m not homophobic: it’s just my views that are.

  26. I have a profound interest in democracy, freedom of expression, inclusivity and equality – all of which are undermined by religious organisations.

  27. Why does anyone care what Sacks has to say?
    This is a man who not only condones, but promotes, the mutilation of babies because his invisible friend said it would be a good thing.

  28. nooooo you are not, you are just ridiculous, son of a beatch, mindless, brainless homophobe stupid twat……did I miss anything?….horrible man. Hope you die son.

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