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It isn’t just that Cameron is wrong when he claims we won’t be forced to conduct ‘gay marriages’ in church: that’s just what he’s telling his constituents

The ECHR has made the law quite clear: unless we repudiate the court, that’s what will happen

By on Monday, 18 June 2012

David Cameron is apparently telling constituents that the same-sex marriage law will affect religious marriage too (PA photo)

David Cameron is apparently telling constituents that the same-sex marriage law will affect religious marriage too (PA photo)

How far can we trust the government of David Cameron when it claims that its proposed legislation purporting to establish “gay marriage” will not apply to marriages in church — as though that was our main concern? It isn’t, of course: marriage is marriage: what we are objecting to among much else is the sheer impertinence of a local legislature, at one particular point in history, claiming to have the authority to change what through the ages has been universally accepted: that marriage (civil or religious) is between one man and one woman. What Cameron now intends to do is to make a distinction between religious and civil marriage of a kind that nobody has previously accepted: marriage is marriage. A civil marriage is accepted by the Church as being as valid as a religious one. Now that will change.

Cameron has so far claimed that his legislation will establish clearly that gay marriage in church will not be permitted: the fact that that is supposed to mollify us is one demonstration among many that he is blundering around in an area of the national life he really doesn’t begin to understand. But at least we have been able to suppose that he actually does believe what he says, that at least he isn’t just being a hypocrite. But even that may not, it seems, be the case. According to the traditionalist Anglican blogger Cranmer

it is highly likely that ministers of the established Church of England will eventually be obliged by statute to officiate at homosexual unions, and where they demur, the local bishop will be obliged to provide a replacement. His Grace has heard from more than one source that the Prime Minister is telling his constituents in Witney that “religious marriage” will inevitably be affected by his proposed legislation. It is interesting, is it not, that by enforcing gender blindness at the altar with the objective of making minorities equal, the Prime Minister is content to cause division in the Church and strife for the majority. It is appalling politics.

Cranmer is basing his view that the Established church only will be forced to conduct such marriages on the precedent of the established Lutheran church in Denmark, the Danish parliament having voted to compel the Evangelical Lutheran Church, to which about 80 per cent of Danes profess to belong (rather as many English people claim to belong to the C of E). “Other churches,” adds Cranmer, “may also offer same-sex marriage services, but only in accordance with their own rules: none is being forced to conduct anything which is contrary to their historical traditions and theological orthodoxy.”

But it’s not the Danes the Prime Minister is thinking of when he tells Witney constituents that his legislation is bound to affect “religious marriage”: it’s our old friend the European Court of Human Rights. I have written about this before, but I see I didn’t actually refer to the most suggestive precedent, the March 2012 ruling from the ECHR, in a suit by a French lesbian couple, Valérie Gas and Nathalie Dubois, that although there is no human rights obligation for any country to legislate for gay marriage, once a state has passed a gay marriage law it must be applied to all citizens equally including those seeking religious marriage.

In the words of the judges in Strasbourg, “The European Convention on Human Rights does not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage.” However, “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.” According to Neil Addison, a specialist in discrimination law, that means that “Once same-sex marriage has been legalised then the partners to such a marriage are entitled to exactly the same rights as partners in a heterosexual marriage… if same-sex marriage is legalised in the UK it will be illegal for the Government to prevent such marriages happening in religious premises.”

And that doesn’t just mean that the C of E, being the state church, will have to do it: they’re going to attempt to coerce us too. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We won’t do it, of course, and we will have to take the consequences. But that gives us the opportunity to get ourselves into condition for all the other great battles ahead. What with one thing and another, what the Pope has called the tyranny of relativism — one might call it the enforced toleration of the intolerable — can only encourage us to see more clearly what we often attempt to avoid: that in the oft-repeated words of the late Holy Father, John Paul II, we are called on to be signs of contradiction: for, once we start settling down comfortably in a culture which is so manifestly built on everything we reject, our message is lost, and so are we.

  • JabbaPapa

    The argument that the Sun revolved around the Earth only became “wrong” (hermeneutically that is) *after* technology had advanced to the point where an improved appraisal of “the truth(tm)” of the matter was discoverable.

    Which is, of course, that all objects in the solar system revolve around each other, but that the mean center of gravity of these objects is located inside the Sun (relatively).

    Some objects within the solar system, such as the Voyager and Pioneer probes as well as some passing extra-solar asteroids, and the Sun itself, revolve around centers of gravity located elsewhere in our galaxy (or, theoretically, elsewhere in the Universe).

  • JabbaPapa

    1) the baby boom started during WW2

    2) my own walking is limited, so try “living breathing” instead, though frankly you’re just nitpicking

    3) speech is “free” ? not only is this notion contrary to both doctrinal and moral theology (Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour — for starters !!!) and to Common Law (certain forms or actions of speech are defined as being crimes), but it is utterly devoid of even the faintest notion of basic, fundamental ethics and morality

    4) Your 1960s- and 1970s- informed ideological indoctrination is clearly apparent in every single one of your internet postings.

    5) “to insult, offend or abuse others” — I can’t help it that the denunciation and condemnation of heresies may be disliked by the heterodox.

    6) “to incite the breaking of just laws” — I have no idea what this is supposed to mean.

    7) I do not falsely present myself as being a kind person — I’m not. This is a character fault, and I confess it here openly as a habitual sin that I have no control of. It would be lovely to be kind, but this particular Grace has not been given to me. I wish it were otherwise, but it isn’t.

  • JabbaPapa

    Literary interpretation is not a contest.

  • JabbaPapa

    Catholicism is not defined by the Bible.

    The Bible is one source among others that Catholics use in our religious spirituality.

  • JabbaPapa

    Of course there are — but there is no plurality whatsoever concerning the infallible dogmata — which must NEVER be publicly contradicted by any Catholic, or that person incurs instant excommunication by their own action.

    Some infallible doctrines may be privately disagreed with without such loss of Catholicity or Religious Communication, but this is a technical exception rather than being the rule.

    The core of Catholic doctrines, if disagreed with even privately, render all Sacraments received null and void, by virtue of instant excommunication and loss of Catholicity, also known as apostasy.

    The absolute central doctrines, if disagreed with in any manner whatsoever, deprive that person of the Grace of Christianity itself.

  • teigitur

    Prayer is prayer. Perhaps you might try it sometime.

  • teigitur

    Make no sense to me. I certainly portrayed no such thing. I wonder what “Prodestants” are?

  • teigitur

    Of course there are differing views. But truth is truth and not subjective.

  • JabbaPapa

    Whatever his particular reasons, the point in question was that some people have in this thread, quite absurdly given recent case history, claimed that gays would not take churches to court over issues concerning the relationship between their homosexuality and religion just because “gay marriage” were implemented — whereas in fact, here we have a homosexual taking a church to Court over just such a homosexualist political agenda.

    Homosexualist political agitators have, in fact, consistently demonstrated in past decades that this is a modus operandi of theirs.

    It is irrational to suggest that this systematically observable modus operandi would magically vanish itself away just because the Houses of Parliament created whichever law.

  • JabbaPapa

    Concern for their health, for starters ?

  • Acleron

    You strangely omit to mention that those statistics were calculated from data collected during the worst of the AIDS crisis. Hogg himself has clearly stated that they would not apply today.

    http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/30/6/1499.full 

  • Acleron

    As usual, you not only miss the point but then use words that are beyond you. 

    Just because everybody agrees on something does not make it right or wrong, hence you commit the argumentum ad populum fallacy.

    Hermeneutics is the study of the practice of interpretation, not the interpretation. But perhaps you should read Sokal et al it might stop you embarrassing yourself too much.

    So this time, only one statement contrary to fact per sentence, you’re slipping.

  • JabbaPapa

    Acleron : OK< I'll put it in a context that directly applies to your comment about prodestants[sic].

    All catholics pray, prodestants[sic] pray, therefore all prodestants[sic] are catholic.

    That is the logicalfallacy[sic] you portrayed. Any semantic analysis of your post would result in the 'TILT' signal.

    teigitur : Make no sense to me. I certainly portrayed no such thing. I wonder what “Prodestants” are?

  • JabbaPapa

    Acleron’s attempts to portray his own muddle-headedness as being logically superior are endlessly entertaining. :-)

  • JabbaPapa

    I think a high proportion of views expressed on this board are misusing the word ‘discrimination’

    Not really — it’s just “The Usual Suspects” doing so …

  • Acleron

    Only a post-modernist could come up with this nonsense. The orbits of the planets are completely independent of what anybody thinks, means or surmises. 

    BTW, not all solar system bodies with solar orbits have a barycentre within the sun. The sun itself orbits a point outside the sun.

  • Acleron

    But that is exactly the problem with the way that all religions use the word ‘truth’. It is totally subjective.

  • Acleron

    Oh dear, after all these posts, you have found me in error. But if the best you can come up with is a typo I’m prone to, I won’t let it keep me awake at nights.

  • Jim K

    Homosexual men have a lower life expectancy than heterosexual men. Better than when the data was originally collected and analysed but still worse than heterosexual males. To deny that this means homosexuality is unhealthy as compared to heterosexuality is strange. 

  • Jim K

    This is dangerous thinking. Suddenly homosexuality is superior. This is the kind of thing which school children will be made listen to. It’s healthy and natural and maybe even superior.

  • teigitur

    The Catholic Church is the repository of truth, in the case of Christianity. All other versions are man-made and watered down, faint shadows of the original.

  • teigitur

    Nah, we can all do typos. Its just that you were not making any sense to me. Perhaps I am as thick as two short planks.

  • Let it be…..

    Watch this space you say jbyrne hahaha your too funny you really are. I know priests who would go to jail before they married gay men or women to defend the sanctity of marriage. To be acting upon or defending the union of two same sex people is a mortal sin. The lord is reaping the harvest as we live our day to day life and I don’t think those who desecrate his house and alter in gay unions will be in the good ripe bunch! I don’t care what you athiest types believe that’s your downfall. More and more people are fighting this cause and signing petitions to stop this tyrant of a leader we call David the moron Cameron from dictating in dictatorship style that he will change the meaning of marriage he might get away with it on earth you see mr Byrne but by the love of god his soul will come up against some mighty judgement on his deathbed just like the homosexuals who desecrate the alter and the true meaning of marriage. You are a very mislead man, your wit has been Destroyed and you are fighting with satan against us and the sanctity of marraige! How dare you or anyone attest to equate what is and for a man and a woman to become husband and wife to a gay union!!! Sodom and gomorrah have re established itself and your one of its men have your gay marraige and reap the penalty one day just as the people’s of those two deranged cities. Your no faithful man, yours is lost to the dark side as are the fellow followers of gay unions and ones who rally and support and commit the acts of homosexuality and ( I’m laughing as its too funny ) class themselves as married. I’d equate that to a dog and cat marrying well no a dog and a dog!! Yes it’s not right is it! It’s disgusting is nt it! Of course it is Not as it’s just not right or more importantly sacred

  • Let it be…..

    Watch this space you say jbyrne hahaha your too funny you really are. I know priests who would go to jail before they married gay men or women to defend the sanctity of marriage. To be acting upon or defending the union of two same sex people is a mortal sin. The lord is reaping the harvest as we live our day to day life and I don’t think those who desecrate his house and alter in gay unions will be in the good ripe bunch! I don’t care what you athiest types believe that’s your downfall. More and more people are fighting this cause and signing petitions to stop this tyrant of a leader we call David the moron Cameron from dictating in dictatorship style that he will change the meaning of marriage he might get away with it on earth you see mr Byrne but by the love of god his soul will come up against some mighty judgement on his deathbed just like the homosexuals who desecrate the alter and the true meaning of marriage. You are a very mislead man, your wit has been Destroyed and you are fighting with satan against us and the sanctity of marraige! How dare you or anyone attest to equate what is and for a man and a woman to become husband and wife to a gay union!!! Sodom and gomorrah have re established itself and your one of its men have your gay marraige and reap the penalty one day just as the people’s of those two deranged cities. Your no faithful man, yours is lost to the dark side as are the fellow followers of gay unions and ones who rally and support and commit the acts of homosexuality and ( I’m laughing as its too funny ) class themselves as married. I’d equate that to a dog and cat marrying well no a dog and a dog!! Yes it’s not right is it! It’s disgusting is nt it! Of course it is just not right or more importantly sacred

  • Acleron

    It is not homosexuality that is unhealthy, it is AIDS. If you took an equivalent heterosexual population with the same AIDS incidence they would show a drop in life expectancy as well. But your statement was derived from your reference of Hogg et al, I showed you how that was derived and why you were wrong in drawing the conclusion that homosexuality is life shortening. So where do you now get the conclusion that homosexuality itself causes a drop in life expectancy?

  • Acleron

    JB was mentioning observations that lead to certain conclusions. You want to suppress those conclusions? Why?

  • Let it be…..

    Another gay crusader! You types must think its uber cool and modern to support gay marriage, you have no faith in your hearts so you are blind to the true sights and deaf to the truth spoken by god in our bible to be gay is sinful end of. It’s not cool to ‘marry’ ssc it’s just not and no ring on their left finger will truly in the eyes if the only one who truly matters be seen to be united in the sanctity of marriage.
    Your mislead in your ‘religion is less important’ to you types yes but to the large catholic and Christian community which is every year expanding so where is your facts and figures to back your dumbfounding statement up?? Christianty has suffered 2000 years of hatred and evil from satans followers and atheists king Henry, napoleon, Romans I could go on but we are still here and love our lord Jesus Christ with every breath we take. Society even 1509 yrs ago evolved and ‘moved on’ and look where it got them, Rome is no more! They bit of more than could chew until christianty saved its faithful and rebuilt their dreadful gay, abortionist, after birth abortionist society and all that’s happening in the west is history repeating but in a worse sense as marriage is a sacrament that’s for man and woman with god as their witness do you have trouble grasping that?? It’s not for two fornicating men or women. It never has been and never will be.

  • Acleron

    Any proof for that?

  • Jim K

    Male homosexuality is unhealthy. The essential act of male homosexuality is anal-genital sex. This causes irreparable damage to the fragile sphincter and rectum. When you couple this with the immunosuppressive effect of ejaculate and the trauma of misuse you have the most efficient method of transmitting HIV/AIDS. The unhygienic sexual practices of male homosexuals leave them open to all kinds of dangerous bowel based pathogens. All these factors over lifetimes contribute to lower life expectancy.

  • teigitur

    Well just the last 2000 years worth. Nothing else on earth has lasted that long, so its clearly not man-made. “Proof” comes in different forms.

  • Jim K

    Homosexual acts abounded throughout history as perversion. I would like references to these evolutionary biologists and how they came to their conclusions. The modern phenomenon of the homosexual is unprecedented in human history in his desire to marry and have a family. What advantages do other sexual perversions offer from an evolutionary point of view? 

  • Acleron

    I’d like to see some statistics for your statements but for the sake of your argument I’ll accept them. Protected sex would solve those problems.

    Same as it does in heterosexual encounters.

  • Acleron

    Hinduism has survived the same amount of time, does that mean that its ‘truth’ is better than yours?

  • Acleron

    Gosh, just how much can you get wrong in 5 lines?

    JB showed that homosexuality is not a perversion. That’s just a prejudice held mainly by theists. In fact considering how common that myth is in theists one may equally conclude that religion is the perversion.

    Because judaic religions have  throughout their intolerant history discriminated against homosexuals, you would have no idea that homosexuals would want a family, you had driven them into family situations which they chose for self protection. It is only as your toxic influence has decreased they are able voice their wants and wishes. 

    As to your wish for me to do your scholarship for you, I could claim, as theists do, that if you don’t know the area, you shouldn’t argue against it. But as I’m a kind and charitable sort here you are:-

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13674-evolution-myths-natural-selection-cannot-explain-homosexuality.html 

    If you are cognisant of the terms group, kin and sexual selection, that article is a reasonable setting off point.

  • Beatrice

    You started the bullying and insulting by stating that marriages between same sex couples are not “made in Heaven”, and thus presumably somehow immoral.  I responded in kind, albeit less verbosely.

    With regards to your first point, I genuinely don’t see how this law could possibly undermine religious liberty or freedom of conscience.  If anything, I believe that it would strengthen it.  Could you explain further?

    With regards to your second point, at risk of getting into a detailed linguistic debate, I quite agree that it is not the role of the “State” to define what a word means.  But this is not what is occuring in this instance.  In our society, the word “marriage” has come to mean a monogamous, committed relationship between two individuals (of any sexual orientation) in love.  Thus it falls upon the (democratic) state to act upon that definition, and liberalise marriage law.

    As for your final point, well, no.  As far as I’m aware, this law doesn’t introduce the concept of thoughtcrime.

  • Beatrice

     Oh dear.  If you’re going to present ludicrous, bigoted and frankly absurd claims, please at least do the decent thing and don’t misuse the work of scientists to your ends.  I draw your attention to a 2001 letter (http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/30/6/1499.full) which shares the lead author of your quoted paper.  In particular, please note the final sentence:

    “Overall, we do not condone the use of our research in a manner that restricts the political or human rights
    of gay and bisexual men or any other group.”

  • karlf

    If I am arrogant for rejecting God, then you are arrogant for rejecting Allah or Vishnu in the same way and for the same reasons.
    I can’t remember why I first came to this website, but I was struck by the unpleasant, conceited and wholly unJesuslike comments made by many of the Catholic contributors. Most of us seem to enjoy a bit of debate with those we perceive as arrogant, so I have had quite a good time in these comment sections. I guess you are here for similar reasons?

  • karlf

     Thanks J! I was considering giving up earlier, but all this blinkered conceit seems too hard to resist.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    1) On the Allah/Vishnu point, it would depend what I was rejecting them for. I am rejecting them for (roughly) a better understanding of God, not to set myself up as an alternative source of authority. (I say ‘roughly’ because there are differences here between rejecting a god and rejecting a different understanding of God and much would depend on how you understand Allah and Vishnu.)
    2) On why I do this -oh, in truth, probably the usual reasons for all internet use of personal inadequacy, trying to avoid work etc! In terms of how I justify it to myself as a reasonable pursuit: a) a sense that this Catholic forum is being assailed by hordes of simple minded critics who aren’t really interested in a dialogue but just want to demonstrate their presumed intellectual and moral superiority (fair enough if you want to do it on Dawkins.com etc but it does undermine a space here where Catholics can exchange views); b) yes, pricking those with an unco guid conceit of themselves is tempting; c) a human desire to share truth and sharpen up one’s own understanding.

    (Just about legible!!)

  • karlf

    I don’t see why you believe you have a “better understanding God” – that is something that really interests me, rather than just a simple minded desire to goad the conceited.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    “Hermeneuticsis…”

    ‘The term hermeneutics covers both the first order art and the second order theory of understanding and interpretation of linguistic and non-linguistic expressions.’
     http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hermeneutics/

  • JabbaPapa

    Lazarus has already corrected this latest demonstration of your inanity, for which I thank him greatly.

  • JabbaPapa

    Truth is an attribute of speech and thought, that is devoid of any physical characteristics whatsoever.

    This is not a post-modernist conception by the way, it’s at least 2600 years old…

  • JabbaPapa

    Perhaps somebody else is ?

  • Acleron

    Yes?

  • Acleron

    And if only people would stick to that definition I would reuse the word. Unfortunately, for you, ‘Truth’ is as malleable of interpretationas your bible.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Karlf -a reply to your post below which got ‘pillared’ by disqus:

    ‘I don’t see why you believe you have a “better understanding God” – that is something that really interests me, rather than just a simple minded desire to goad the conceited.’

    To demonstrate this would require giving a plausible answer to any possible difficulty you’d raise about the nature of God -so you’ll forgive me if I can’t do it here! But here’s the general lines of a reply.

    1) Perhaps one of the problems with modern ecumenism is that it does blur the differences between (eg) Christian denominations: you look at a Church service at a Protestant Church and you look at a Catholic Mass and probably they look very similar. But behind the Catholic Mass is a teaching organization that, in essence, has been conducting a 2000 research project in understanding and explaining God. (Many of the features that strike non-Catholics as absurdities about the Church start to make sense when you think of the Church in this way: for example, the authoritarian structure is intended to ensure the quality of the ‘product’, just as the authoritarian structure of a university or business is also intended to serve its function.) There just isn’t, certainly with Protestantism, the same  consistent application of thought. 

    It’s also impressive when you look at how many modern philosophers at the highest level are Catholics: even in the (minority Catholic) world of English speaking philosophy, people like Michael Dummett and Elizabeth Anscombe were at the top of their tree in the last century; whilst living figures like John Finnis, Charles Taylor or Alasdair MacIntyre are also still immensely important. (And there’s a host of at least competent successors among younger scholars.) 

    So certainly compared to other forms of Christianity, Catholicism is just so much more intellectually heavyweight, both in terms of its past and of its current practitioners. And whilst other non-Christian religions do have their insights, certainly in their current forms, they just don’t have the same intellectual rigour. None of this shows that Catholicism is right -but (at least if you chase up some of the detail here) it should be clear that Catholicism is intellectually extremely serious. 

    2) 1) is an explanation of why Catholic understandings of God might be thought to be better than others. That of course leaves open why an understanding of God might be thought to be a worthwhile enterprise in itself (rather than a complete waste of breath). As that isn’t your question here, I hope you’ll forgive me for dealing with it in even less detail than 1). But the basic answer -at least what drove me from atheism- was the inadequate intellectual backing for many of the commonplaces of modern, non-theistic thought. (Crudely, we as moderns make claims 
    about subjects such as personal identity, meaning and morality that don’t make sense -and indeed, seem to be based on implicit theistic premises that we’ve inherited from Christianity. I’d recommend Ed Feser’s ‘The Last Superstition’ for a punchy expansion of these points.)

  • Acleron

    1) I wasn’targuing about Lot or any other fable of yours
    2) Argumentumad Populum is definitely a logicalfallacy,it implies that the majority is alsways correct
    3) Lazarus actually gave my definition of hermeneutics, I can’t help it if neither he nor you understand that the study of the interpretationof the meaing is not the same as studying the meaning of a particular word.

    You argue about ‘truth’ elsewhere as being an absolute, here you argue that ‘truth’ just means what you want it to mean. 

  • karlf

    Thanks very much for that reply Lazarus, but your reasoning still seems very odd to me for the following reasons:
    Because of what you found as a lack explanation for aspects of human nature – instead of trying to figure this out with intellectual inquiry – you come to the primitive, solve all conclusion that there must be a God. So, knowing as we do that at least all but one religion that ever existed must be bogus, you chose the religion with the best credentials as the truth.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Since you’re pretending not to have understood the Stanford Encyclopedia, let’s try again.

    ‘Hermeneutics’has two meanings. 1) The (second order) practice of studying the (first order) practice of interpretation. 2) The (first order) practice of interpretation itself. You defined ‘hermeneutics’ as simply 1): ‘the study of the practice of interpretation’; whilst Jabbapapa was clearly using it in sense 2): the actual practice of interpretation.