Another “Christian” (head)case

A registrar who claimed she was discriminated against for her Christian beliefs because she wouldn’t officiate in civil partnerships has won an employment tribunal case.

The ruling appears to place the religious “conscience” of registrars above their legal duty to carry out parliament’s legislation. If it is not overturned on appeal, and it sets a precedent, where could it lead? (Terry Sanderson in the Guardian)

Indeed. The implications are disturbing. Could a Jain vegetarian doctor refuse to deal with your food poisoning case because you’d eaten meat? Might an orthodox Jewish nurse’s aide refuse to make beds if the sheets are made of mixed fibres? Could a barista who believes in Russell’s flying teapot refuse to collude in the serving of coffee?

The idea that playing the “religious conscience” card can somehow get you out of doing work you are paid to do – and even get you compensation at the same time – is so enticing. I am sorely tempted to form a religion that directly proscribes any unenjoyable part of my daily work. That’s my work day sorted out. And a sweet little compensation claim on the way, without the usual trouble of having to fake a whiplash injury

I am bit confused here, anyway. I have only a cursory knowledge of the bible, but I would be truly amazed to find that the New Testament mentioned civil partnerships, let alone forbade believers from officiating at them.

Naturally, the Christian Institute, which bankrolled this case, is cock-a-hoop. This is a result that they and other Christian activists have been trying to achieve for some time now. It will provide the platform they’ve needed to build their dream of a theocratic Britain. (from the Guardian)

Well, blow me down with a feather. How surprised am I to find that the good old Christian Institute is behind this? They put up the money. Again. (It’s not as if there were anything better they could so with their seemingly bottomless resource pit. I dunno, like feed the hungry and that sort of unchristian stuff. I think it’s called “charity” or something.)

The Christian Institute have a gloating list of references to the media coverage. For example the Daily Mail called it “A victory for Britain’s quiet majority”

I could only assume this is a new and counter-intuitive use of the words “quiet” and “majority.” I think it’s pretty clear that the Christian fundamentalists and the Daily Mail are neither humbly self-effacing nor a majority. I would probably have a lot of trouble sleeping at night if I thought these extremist bigots people had become a majority.

The Mail editorial managed to express its trademark depths of hypocrisy by phrasing the article in such a way as to imply “She’s black and she’s a bigot just like us. Did we mention she’s black? Well here’s a picture. This proves we aren’t bigots ourselves here at the Mail because we are agreeing with the multicultural society. See. We like black people when they hate gays.”

Two small points:

  • If not performing civil partnerships is really a crucial part of Christian belief, why haven’t the mainstream Christians made it into some sort of sin? In fact, why haven’t they made wearing a crucifix and/or or a promise bracelet an obligation?These are the topics of the pro-Christian court cases that these zealots are happy to fund. So where are the Christian rules about them? I’m all for thinking for yourself and challenging authority and that, but I thought these fundy sects were all against it.

    And now, here they are, redefining Christianity, not just in the face of those tiresome old sermon-on-the-mount beliefs, but in the face of pretty well all the established church hierarchies.

    I can be a moralistic bitch. Can I get some association of non-believers to fund my own personal morality campaigns?

    Lots of things offend me. I would quite appreciate being compensated for a whole range of things – from newspapers promoting being a footballer’s famous wife as the only reasonable life goal to young girls, to the increasing acceptance of torture. (Passing through almost any major social evil or minor irritation you can think of)

  • The guy who sued the BBC for Jerry Springer the Opera and lost then whined that the BBC should pay his costs for suing them (!!!) may have set a precedent for the litigation-hungry Christians. Surely – in a spirit of fairness and decency similar to that demanded from the BBC by Green – Lilian Adele can just offer to let Islington council off with the compensation they are going to have to pay her…… Now how likely isn’t that?

Fundamentally flawed

English smugness yet again proves deeply unfounded. This time I’m talking “fundamentalists.” A Channel 4 Dispatches programme (probably a repeat of last week’s) presented by David Modell showed some of these people in action using their disturbing political and social influence over the Human Fertility and Embryology bill. Modell claims there are an estimated 2 million of these people in the UK.

Modell summarised what he found in a Telegraph article. There’s also a Youtube link (It has five sections so I’m not turning this blog into a giant Youtube rip off. You can look at it there if you choose.)

Phew, that means I can throw away the notes I made and rant about to a few highlights. Lowlights may be a more accurate word.

For instance, there are 45 “government-approved” “faith schools ” teaching a US curriculum. Here’s Question 5 on their “science” exam paper at Carmel School*. “How many days did it take god to make the world?” In case you are wondering where that comes up on the Science part of the National Curriculum, these schools are “independent”, so they don’t have to stick to the National Curriculum.

The head teacher has a good stab at refusing to be drawn on how old the earth is- claiming that is not his specialism – when pressed by the presenter. But the text book that they use says the earth is 6 to 10 thousand years old.

The head credits Tony Blair for “opening the door” to their sort of school. (Blimey, we are in agreement on something then, because I also attribute the spread of this nonsense to Tony Blair.) He said this created a time for them to “strike while the iron is hot.”

Another illuminating bit is where a sleekly presented – expensive hair and clothes and make up and nails and all that Stepford Wives crap – lawyer reins in the more extreme supporters at their House of Common demo against the HFE Bill – just because of the effect on their image, rather than the content of their message, with whichs he agrees. (Said visibly extreme supporters include members of the BNP, a woman screaming “baby-killer “at a pro-choice woman and a general ranter.) Here is what she says about herself on her site:

Andrea Minichiello Williams is a Barrister and Public Policy Director for the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, an organisation with a membership of over two thousand lawyers. She was called to the Bar in 1988. Initially she specialised in Criminal and Family Law. Her primary focus is now religious liberties, public law, and life issues.
She’s co-founder of Christian Concern For Our Nation (CCFON), which has over 30,000 supporters. CCFON is committed to making Christians aware of the need for a strong Christian voice proclaiming Biblical truth in the public arena.
Andrea has also been closely involved with a number of religious freedom and life cases, many of which were high profile cases where Christians have defended their right to speak biblical truth. She directs the Christian Legal Centre, which refers cases to Christian lawyers who will support individuals throughout each stage of the legal process.

(The sort of “religious freedom” cases they specialise in seem to be ones like the schoolgirl who refused to take off her “promise ring” or the airport worker told not to wear a cross.)

She and her cronies meet Lord Tebbit (of hated Thatcherite memory) and when he shows remotely willing, they pass him a pre-written Motion to present to the House of Lords. Their legal tactics and apparently lobbying skill come direct from the US Alliance of Christian something or other. Oh yes, and their funding. 🙂

(Apologies for not paying attention. I wrote “ACDF” in my scribbled notes. I suspect it might be the Alliance Defence Fund but having read the page about them that I’ve linked here, I sincerely hope not.)

One last gem, a group of middle-aged Stepford wives in Sussex were shown, oddly, praying to satan. 🙂 They start out addressing “god” but the joint prayer turns to satan as they conjure him to back off and give him explicit instructions to keep away.

My head is spinning at the theological implications of this. So they don’t just believe there’s a magic fairy godfather (the abrahamic god) who will grant your wishes when you talk to him sycophantically. They also believe that he has an evil twin goblin godfather (satan) who will will grant your wishes if you talk to him bossily. (Maybe they are confusing how to deal with supernatural entities with the way they address their husbands.)

If these supernatural entities supposedly respond to the demands of their puny human devotees, why do they think satan will obey one of his enemy’s serfs? Shouldn’t he at least demand they accept some faustian deal first?

(Sorry, that is a reference to the myths of medieval believers. Obviously, the medieval mind was a degree of magnitude more sophisticated than the thoughts of these 21st century people.)

* I think that’s the website for the school featured in the programme. I had to trawl through lots of other schools (mainly Catholic ones called Mount Carmel) so I wasn’t sure if it’s the same place but the words “The curriculum is the tried, tested and proven Accelerated Christian Education.” suggest it is…

I downloaded the prospectus 😀 /