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Cameron supports same-sex marriage and opposes our right to wear the cross. Is this ‘the most aggressively atheistic government in our history’?

If the Prime Minister doesn’t want this perception to take hold, he had better start listening

By on Friday, 23 March 2012

David Cameron and Benedict XVI:  was the Prime Minister listening? (AP)

David Cameron and Benedict XVI: was the Prime Minister listening? (AP)

What do the right to wear the cross as a declaration of the wearer’s faith and the Government’s intention of legalising gay marriage, despite the firm opposition of most Christians, have in common? Answer, the growing perception that the Coalition Government is hostile to the Christian religion. Is this really what David Cameron wants? If he doesn’t want the idea to get about that he and his Government are anti-Christian, he is going to have to ask himself how it comes about that he is rapidly alienating most of us.

As Alexander Boot puts it in a Daily Mail article headlined “Is this the most aggressively atheistic government in Britain’s history?”, “Our (Conservative!) government”, he writes, “has upheld employers’ rights to sack any employee for wearing a visible cross or a crucifix. This is an outrage”:

… our government finds the symbol of Christ’s sacrifice more objectionable than the symbol of any other religion (one sees a lot of turbans, hijabs and yamulkas in London streets) ….

Why is that, do you suppose? You must admit it sounds eerie – especially coming as it does at a time when our spivocrats are also trying to destroy the institution of marriage, the bedrock not just of Britain’s established religion but of our very realm.

The only answer I can find is that HMG officials hate Christianity more than anything else.… they must feel that Christianity puts what’s dearest to them in jeopardy. They are right; it does. For Christianity represents 2,000 years of tradition, something that our state is trying to undermine through most of its policies, including those that seem to be purely secular.

Another link between the right to wear the cross and the fight against the government’s intention to legalise same-sex marriage is ironically provided, though tangentially, by the European Court of Human Rights. This is not an institution I am fond of: but it has just handed down a very sensible decision on gay marriage in France, and may well hand down another on the right to wear the cross when it hears the case of two British women who have been told by our courts that they cannot wear this symbol of their religion at work. They will, scandalously, be opposed, on Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone’s orders by British Government lawyers: but they will, ironically, be supported by the government’s own political correctness quango, the Equality and Human Rights Commission. This is another institution the usefulness of which I have not always been convinced by: but it will nevertheless argue in the same European Court of Human Rights test case that workers should have legal protection if they wish to display a token of their religious faith at work.

They may well win their case. When the EU tried to outlaw publicly displayed crucifixes in Schools and hospitals in Italy, Silvio Berlusconi appealed to Strasbourg and won: on the face of it, this seems a similar case. Strasbourg, I have to admit, doesn’t always get it wrong.

It has just, for instance, opined that same-sex couples do not have a human right to marriage. A lesbian couple had tried to establish marriage rights under European anti-discrimination laws but the judges declared that “the European Convention on Human Rights does not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage”.

“The ruling,” says the Telegraph, “is likely to have an impact on David Cameron’s drive to allow gay marriages.” But are they right? On the face of it, the court seems to be supporting traditional, one man-one woman (in other words, real) marriage: “the court considers that in view of the social, personal, and legal consequences of marriage, the applicants’ legal situation could not be said to be comparable to that of married couples”.

What they do support is civil unions of the type we have enacted here. On the issue of gay unions, the judges said: “Where national legislation recognises registered partnerships between same sex, member states should aim to ensure that their legal status and their rights and obligations are equivalent to those of heterosexual couples in a similar situation.”

So where does that leave us? The Telegraph says this ruling “is likely to have an impact on” the Governnment’s intentions to enact gay “marriage”: but how? I don’t know legally how that would work. Do we have a “human right” to live in a country where the whole meaning of marriage hasn’t been blasted out of the water by its own government? A moral right, certainly: but if the government persists with this legislation, could the Coalition for Marriage, say, go to Strasbourg and argue that our rights have been infringed? Probably not. But at the very least, Strasbourg confirms one thing: there is no human right to gay marriage: “in view of the social, personal, and legal consequences of marriage”, the court declares, a gay civil relationship cannot “be said to be comparable to that of married couples”.

Incidentally, the Coalition for Marriage petition now has over 300,000 signatures. Cameron may ignore the petition, however great the support it attracts. But the larger the number of signatures, the more his apparent stubborn contempt for those he governs will be exposed: if you haven’t signed it yet, do it now.

  • nytor

    I think it would have a way to go to equal the last Labour administration, frankly. The one which encouraged unfettered Islamic immigration and closed our adoption agencies.

    On the issue of the ECtHR ruling, this is something I have said throughout this debate on same-sex marriage – that the court could only come to this conclusion.  If it had ruled in any other way, it would have obliged all signatory countries to legalise same-sex marriage, and can you see Malta or Poland doing so? There would be no grounds to force unwilling countries to do so as there is no “right” to same sex marriage under any international human rights convention. The language of “rights”, frankly, is misapplied by the pro-same-sex-marriage camp. Neither the UN Human Rights declaration or the ECHR confer a right to same sex marriage. They do – or rather the ECHR does – confer a “right to private and family life”, but this cannot be extended to imply same sex marriage rights. There is simply no basis in international law for this. Inasmuch as the language of rights can be invoked here, it will be purely in terms of the domestic legal framework of the Equalities Act etc. There just simply isn’t an inalienable, universally recognised “right” here.

  • Liam Ronan

    Didn’t the last Labour Government approve creation of animal/human hybrids in the laboratory? My belief is that Cameron is the latest rung on the ladder of Britain’s descent into hell. Amoral despite all of his protestations, Cameron is the perfect picture of the ‘diabolic disorientation’ afflicting these times we live in..

  • Mike

    I thought Cameron personally defended the right to wear a crucifix at work.

  • John Byrne

    Mike is here rather closer to the real world than Mr Oddie.

    Although Cameron does support gay marriage, as do all our political parties and main-stream politicians, he does NOT oppose the right of Christians to wear the cross.

    Mr Oddie, of course, knows this as well as I do. His misinformation is quite deliberate, and, like the Telegraph’s, designed to cause anger and resentment among those who are unaware of the facts, or who simply choose to ignore them.

    Christians are free to wear the cross (any number of them) as and where they please, except when it conflicts with dress-codes to which they have already agreed.
    This whole matter, in fact, simply concerns dress-codes.
    Some employees: in the police and the armed forces, and other employees who front the public as the face of their organisation……etc. have conditions of employment, which include dress-codes, to which they have agreed and accepted in their contracts.
    The armed forces, the police and British Airways staff all have UNIFORMS. The crucifix is not part of the uniform.

    However IF the outward (visible) wearing of the cross were a requirement of the Christian religion, the law would demand that the contract of employment be over-ridden.
    It is simply the fact that the cross is not such a requirement that allows employers to insist on the contract of employment that the employee has already signed and accepted.

  • John Byrne

    nytor says: “……the ECHR does – confer a “right to private and family life”, but this cannot be extended to imply same sex marriage rights.”

    “cannot be extended” – Oh really?  And why not?

    Why can’t two gay people enjoy private family life together as a married couple if they wish to? Does not denying them this right violate European law?

  • nytor

    Clearly not, as the European Court would have so found if it did.

  • John Byrne

    I doubt that the question has (yet) been asked of it.

  • nytor

    Double standards apply here, though. It would be a brave employer who insisted that an employee could not wear Islamic dress, yet that is cultural and not a tenet of the religion either.

  • nytor
  • nytor

    “The Telegraph says this ruling “is likely to have an impact on” the Governnment’s intentions to enact gay “marriage”: but how?”

    Because of the opinion evinced by Neil Addison that the ruling might mean that churches could not refuse to “marry” same sex couples if “marriage” for these couples was enshrined in law.

  • John Byrne

    I don’t think even this is true 

    I have never seen a police officer of member of the armed forces in Islamic dress nor an airline check-in desk “manned” by a person so dressed.

  • John Byrne

    The comment though was rather incidental to the primary issue before the Court and indeed to the judgement, and I think it (the comment) could be easily challenged in the near future. 
    The judgement was “Le refus d’accorder à une femme le droit d’adopter l’enfant de sa compagne n’était pas discriminatoire”.

    Perhaps, as so often has been the case in the past, the UK is close to setting the pace and the agenda.

  • Honeybadger

    So, David Cameron is FOR people wearing the crucifix/cross – then, why doesn’t he state a cast-iron case FOR the Christian-majority in this country to wear the symbols of our faith! 

    The UN Declaration of Human Rights states the RIGHT to ”religious expression”, amongst other things!

    As the UN is an international body, don’t they trump those gravy train commuters at Strasbourg by more than a mere mile?

    Tsk! The perils of chosing one’s coalition bedfellows… let’s face it, there was not much of a choice at the time, was there?

    Is Claggy – er, sorry, Clegg – the puppet-master pulling Cameron’s strings over these issues of same-sex ‘marriage’, as leader of the Liberal Democrats?

    What Berlusconi did at Strasbourg (the crucifix issue) was the ONLY decent thing he ever did as Italian Prime Minister!

    Perhaps we Christians have brought this on ourselves.

    For far too long, we’ve taken the freedom to express and practise our faith and to wear our sacramentals for granted.

    The ultimate price our martyrs have paid for the faith in England in the face of Henry VIII, Edward VI kings and Elizabeth I has been all but heinously neglected from the pulpit and in education. In Ireland many suffered for the faith, too.

    As the Roman Catholic Church, are we now called to see all these things as a way to an examination of conscience? An opportunity to renewal and revitalise our faith and be consistent in the practise of our faith? To be, as Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman says, a laity well informed in our faith? To be relevant?

    People, this is a fight for more than the cross we wear round our necks. What does it mean to us and our lives?

    This Easter Triduum, attend your churches on ALL THREE DAYS! Don’t pick and choose.

    Good Friday should move us to the point of breaking our hearts this year, in the light of what’s at stake.

  • theroadmaster

    David Cameron’s insistence on pushing through an agenda to legally include same-sex partnerships within the ambit of marriage is part of  the recent attempt by the Tory party to revamp it’s image in order to move it away from the “nasty party” tag.  The party wonks realized that by targeting certain interest groups with policies which are sympathetic to their socio-political objectives, potentially thousands if not millions of votes could be win over.  Thus Cameron embarked on a campaign to loosen the age-old understanding of marriage and also fell in line with with the skewered use of the Human Rights legislation  to penalize people of Faith for wearing symbolic reminders of their beliefs in the work-place.   He is trying to be all things to all people but may end up representing very little in substance to the electorate.   These policies created in order to be “relevant”, are very much side-shows in relation to the pressing issues of the day which are primarily economic in origin.  As the ECHR decision demonstrated, the misreading and misuse of the “rights” argument to tendentiously further certain ideologies, has left those behind such moves with barely a fig-leave to defend their decisions.

  • theroadmaster

    The decision of the ECHR is pretty unambiguous but you still somehow do not get it.

  • teigitur

    There are some though not many, though I have seen several Sikh Police Officers with turban on, no cap.So actually not properly in uniform, but tolerated because they are minority. Perhaps rightly so but the majority have rights too,which are routinely ignored by our beloved governors.

  • Parasum

    Is there anything to prevent Catholics from wearing a scapular instead ? It would not even be visible.

    Or must it be something visible, for the sake of making a public witness ? If witnessing is the reason for wearing a cross or crucifix, maybe the best kind of witness is that shown by how one behaves. That is harder than wearing a cross or crucifix – it is also more valuable.

  • ms Catholic state

    We witness to our Faith by our behaviour certainly, but if our Crucifixes are hidden how is anyone supposed to attribute our behaviour to our Faith?!. 

    This is a problem that must be resolved and I hope the Pope can consider it and make a ruling on it.  It could be part of the New Evangelisation.

  • James

    Being considered anti-Christian would be a seen as a badge of honour by this government.

  • aearon43

    We are in a similar situation here in the US with Pres. Obama’s contraception/sterilization/abortion mandate. I understand that in the UK, healthcare is provided by the state. That is preferable to this mandate, which says that all employers must directly fund contraception, etc. At least if it is provided by the state, we do not have to directly traffick in immorality.

    I found this article to be quite perspicacious:

    Is it paranoid? I don’t think so. The Catholic Church is clearly not helpful to a government that wants to make everyone dependent on the state. In Britain, having secured the right-wing vote, the “Conservatives” are trying to carve our their piece of the left, as well. Left voters always respond well to “free” state hand-outs. Panem et circenses, and all that.

    In the US, it’s “free” contraception for all, in the UK it’s now “marriage” for sodomites. Trash nature and tradition, and offer up decadence as so much candy for eager leftist voters.

  • nytor

    I’ve seen women in headscarves on check in desks.

  • nytor

    No, it wasn’t.

    They were seeking adoption rights on the same basis as a married couple, and they argued that those in a PACS being denied the same rights as a married couple was a violation of the ECHR. This is because they had been denied adoption rights on the basis that French law does not allow this for the unmarried.

    Marriage, or rather the rights pertaining to it, was therefore the crux of the issue.

  • paulsays

    David Cameron DOES NOT oppose cross wearing. What I believe you are refering to was an NHS trust that banned jewelry that could hand down for nurses on the ward – in order to protect their own safety.

    As far as I remember this was blow out of all proportion by the Telegraph, and this is likely were you have read it.


  • John Byrne

    Yes, I think I have too. Turbans are also worn by some (including police and soldiers etc).
    But these articles are requirements of the particular orthodox faith.
    If crucifixes were a similar requirement they would also be permitted.

  • John Byrne

    The turban is a REQUIREMENT of orthodox Sikh faith. Please see above.

  • James

    Legally, I fear the fight to prevent the redifinition of marriage has been lost before it has even begun. There is little doubt the government will present this to Parliament, and force it through.
    What I would propose to anyone who opposes the redifinition of marriage is to refuse to recognise it in any way.
    Personally, I will NEVER refer to, or acknowledge, homosexual or lesbian couples as, “married.”

    The government can change the law, but they can’t change reality. Anyone who opposes the redefinition of marriage should simply refuse to go along with it.

  • John Byrne

    Then we must differ.

  • teigitur

    Yes I know, I did not say it was nt. But it still means he is not properly in uniform. Which seems to be acceptable when it suits.A cap is a REQUIREMENT of a police uniform.

  • teigitur

    Head coverings are not a Muslim requirement, they are a choice.

  • Parasum

    Point taken – so, my reply: because if someone consistently behaves as a Christian, which is very difficult, very counter-cultural, & dowright crucifying (if one is to give one’s all, and nothing less), the likelihood is that people will notice. It’s not in our hands alone.

    The Presence of Christ in someone’s character & life is more powerful than any argument we can make.

  • daclamat

    Dr.Oddie deserves our congratulations on maintaining tradional teachings, and the right to bear outward signs of religious beliefs in all circumstances.  He rightly cites the authoritative Telegraph: there is no human right to gay marriage, and the right to bear crucifixes is in doubt, awaiting a Strasbourg decision. Hoever his defence of the observance of Holy Scripture in its entirety is deeply worrying.
    I am profoundly disturbed that the Church (insofar as pope, curia, bishops etc. are the church) persists in ignoringt the clear prescriptions of Leviticus 13,41 on the matter of baldness. “If a man loses the hair of his scalp … if he finds a reddish white swelling…of the appearance of leprosy of the skin….the priest must examine it…must declare that the man is unclean.” For decades this law has been ignored, to such an extent  that the higher clergy feel exempt from this very clear scriptural command. The evidence of baldness in bishops is abundantly clear, unscathed and unexamined. Could it be that concentration on matters such as abortions, Latin in the lirugy, external conformity, return to fish on Friday, has led us to a “pick’n mix” interpretation of the Bible. When did  a priest last take “the blood of the sacrifice and put some of it on the lobe of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand and the big toe of the right foot of the man who is being purified?”  There is no dispensation from believing and practising Holy Scriprues in their entirety. The so-called readings in the liturgy scandalously avoid these difficult matters.  

  • ms Catholic state

    That’s not what I am saying exactly.  I am saying that if a person acts like a Christian but has no external references pointing to the fact that they are Christian…..then others who don’t know them personally will think their goodness is due to themselves and not due to their devotion to Jesus Christ!

    Don’t hide your light under a bushel…..and our Light is Jesus Christ.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    No the case concerned an employee of British Airways who was wearing a very small cross around her neck.  There was no safety issue involved.  Just sheer bloody mindedness on the part of BA.  I will avoid travelling on them if they are that stupid.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    I have heard that Cameron’s support of gay marriage is part of a deal with the Lib-Dems whereby they will support boundary changes.

  • Jack McFall

    What you have just written is doing irreparable harm to the status and dignity of the Catholic Church, because you are declaring that your loyalty and obedience to The Pope carries precedence over the lawful government of HM The Queen. This can be called sedition….. It is for this reason that many people distrust Catholics and the wearing of crucifixes. Thank goodness you are free to accept or reject whatever you wish, and others are free to disagree with you, but whether you like it or not, you are obliged to obey the law, even the laws with which you do not approve…. Your attitude does not help the standing of Catholic Church in any way, but maybe to the majority of people, the Catholic Church does not matter in any way.
    Your attitude does not help the standing of Catholic Church in any way, but maybe to the majority of people, the Catholic Church does not matter in any way.

  • Liam Ronan

    “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” – Sir Thomas More - 

  • John Byrne

    This lady must have agreed and signed a contract of employment with BA which included acceptance of BA’s dress code. The dress code did not allow her to (openly) wear a crucifix.
    The breaking of the dress code, here, would only be lawful if the (open) wearing of a crucifix was a requirement of the Christian religion.


  • John Byrne

    The non-open (hidden) wearing of a crucifix would be allowed. It would not break the dress code that the employee agreed to at the time of her appointment.

  • John Byrne

    We show our faith by the way we live.

  • John Byrne

    It seems to me that you are worried about what one might call “wasted goodness”. That is : the goodness is (by definition) good, but (sob) the Church isn’t getting any credit for it (Oh sob – sob,sob – how awful).

    It would be gooder goodness if it did.


  • John Byrne

    Yes, but the religious requirement over-rules the demand of the uniform. It always does.

  • John Byrne

    I believe the orthodox see it as such.

  • John Byrne

    The primary decision was but the corollary comments are still open to question.

    In any event I do not see this Court as the ultimate source of infinite wisdom. The UK, as one of the more progressive members of the EU, will probably be a leader in its evolution.


  • ms Catholic state

    There is no such thing as wasted goodness…..God sees all.  However, we are called to witness to Jesus Christ as the source of all our good actions and to act for His glory.  We say……’All for the greater Glory of God and the honour of Mary.’

    So let’s witness to Jesus and not hide our light under bushels as the government and establishement would have us do for some strange reason known to them alone.  Hmmm…I wonder what it could be.

  • chrism

    The C of E is a ‘real ‘ Christian Church , or a human invention to grant Henry his divorce ?

  • teigitur

    The Latter.

  • teigitur

    God first. Temporal rulers second. The political class we have at the moment don t even come second, they come bottom of the class.

  • teigitur

    …..and indeed the way we write.

  • teigitur

    I believe some Christians see the wearing of , for example, a cross as a requirement for their faith. Where is the difference Mr Byrne?

  • teigitur

    Oh , who made that rule, when and for whom?