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Tory MP urges Cameron to crack down on churches that refuse to hold same-sex ceremonies

By on Thursday, 8 September 2011

David Cameron has been told not to tolerate churches that turn away gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry (PA photo)

David Cameron has been told not to tolerate churches that turn away gay and lesbian couples who wish to marry (PA photo)

Christian churches must be banned from performing any marriages if they refuse to hold civil partnerships ceremonies for gay couples, a Conservative MP has demanded.

Mike Weatherley has urged the Prime Minister to show no toleration to churches which turn away gays and lesbians who seek to marry in their premises.

The Hove and Portslade MP has in turn been criticised by Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton for “over-stepping the mark”.

In a letter to David Cameron the south coast MP had said that the proposed Coalition amendment to the 2010 Equality Act to allow religious bodies or individual places of worship to register the controversial ceremonies would remain “unfair” as long as heterosexuals could marry in the churches of their choice.

The law must instead be changed to compel churches to register civil partnerships, said Mr Weatherley, whose constituency near Brighton which has one of the highest numbers of gay couples in civil partnerships in the country.

He told Mr Cameron to follow a precedent he suggested had been set by laws compelling 11 Catholic adoption agencies to assess gay couples as potential adopters and foster parents, although most of them have either since closed or left the control of the church.

Mr Weatherley said that the alternative would be to surrender to a “messy compromise” in which gays would remain the victims of inequality.

“I am becoming increasingly concerned about the inequality which exists between the unions of same-sex couples and those of opposite-sex couples in this country,” he said in his letter.

“As long as religious groups can refuse to preside over ceremonies for same-sex couples, there will be inequality,” he said.

“Such behaviour is not be tolerated in other areas, such as adoption, after all.”

Mr Weatherley described the 2004 Civil Partnership Act, which permitted legal recognition of same-sex unions, as an “uneasy truce” between campaigners for equality and people who sought to uphold the religious significance of marriage.

He added that until “we untangle” marriage from religion “we will struggle to find a fair arrangement”.

Bishop Conry, whose diocese encompasses Mr Weatherley’s constituency, said that the churches had a right to operate by “their own practices and behaviour”.

“The Church is a voluntary organisation and if you belong to it then you abide by its rules,” Bishop Conry said.

“The law in this country recognises that there is no parity between civil partnerships and marriage,” the bishop added. “What he [Mr Weatherley] wants is a change in the law because he is not in a position to tell the Catholic Church what to do.”

At present civil partnerships can be held in register offices and non-religious venues such as hotels. During the ceremonies there can be no manifestation of religious belief, such as icons or other imagery.

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition wants to create an “opt-in” system whereby places of worship can choose to register gay ceremonies alongside the existing venues.

The Government has admitted in its public consultation document, however, that the proposals could lead to litigation against churches that do not opt in.

In response to the public consultation, Fr Marcus Stock, general secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, stated clearly that “the Catholic Church in England and Wales will not allow civil partnerships to be registered on its premises”.

He said: “Religious premises exist to meet the needs of the religion concerned. The activities that take place within them must be in accordance with the beliefs and practices of that religion, as determined by its proper authorities.

“No other body can have the right to decide that activities contrary to the religion’s teaching may take place on its premises – to do so would be a flagrant breach of the right to freedom of religion under the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Brighton priest Fr Ray Blake also accused Mr Weatherley of ignoring the convictions of not only nearly all of the Christians of his constituency but also of the many Jews and Muslims who lived there.

He said the MP appeared to want to push all who held a “traditional notion” of marriage “to the margins of society”.

The Rev Nick Donnelly, a Catholic deacon from Lancaster, said on his Protect the Pope blog that the MP’s demands revealed that the churches “have every reason to fear that the next phase of the campaign to establish pseudo-gay marriages will be to coerce them to accept homosexuals or be banned from holding marriages”.

He said: “They’ve banned the Catholic Church from placing children for adoption, now the stage is being set to ban us from holding marriages.”

But gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell supports the rights of churches to decide the matter for themselves on the grounds that it was the “democratic and decent thing to do”.

  • http://twitter.com/DaTechGuyblog Peter Ingemi

    Strangely enough I see nothing in the article saying Mike Weatherley wants the state to crack down on Mosques too.  I’m sure it was an oversight on his part.

  • RZ

    satan is striking in Catholic church again.But the gates of hell will not prevail it.

  • Oconnordamien

    I never thought I’d agree with Peter Tatchell.

  • American Friend

    Very true. What I’d love to see is the moment it finally dawns on them when they realize sensitivity to gays and sensitivity to Muslims  is an unsustainable position. Whom will they choose?

  • ms catholic state

    I did see a recommendation on some American blog (I’m sure it was on Catholic Must-Reads)…..that the Church should require couples to sign a declaration stating they support the Catholic teachings on marriage if they wish to marry in the Church.

    This would go a long way towards the Church protecing herself from malicious secular interference.

  • Anonymous

    Mr Weatherley is, according to his entry on Wikipedia, a divorcee remarried while his first wife is still alive. That makes him a shameless adulterer.

  • Nigel M

    Albeit unlikely, wouldn’t it be nice if someone were to campaign for responsibilities (of whatever hue) as opposed to rights all the time?

  • Anna Langley

    I think we should get separate religious and civil marriage, much as our friends on the Continent do.  Therefore, marriages performed in a church/mosque/temple/synagogue/what-have-you would have no legal effect. You go to the register office for that.  Then religious organisations can marry or not marry people on whatever criteria they choose, but the state has no business in discriminating against divorcees who want to remarry or same-sex couples.

  • Anonymous

    Has there been legal pressure on the Catholic Church to remarry divorced people?

  • AgingPapist

    Prior to the adoption of the 1917 code of canon law, I believe Catholics could marry validly before a civilian authority and did not have to go through a marriage rite in church.  Perhaps, that’s the best way to deal with the issue of having to participate in the unequal treatment of gays and non-gays.  If it is a sacrament of the Church, it is the couples who marry each other and not the Church. 
    Rome will never accept any gay union no matter what the law says. If the government forces priests to witness gay marriages, just get out of the marriage racket. Gay and straight couples can always go to the City Clerk or Justice of the Peace..

  • AgingPapist

    No, Parliament can still force Catholic churches to marry gay couples in the church irrespective of signing any paper attesting to belief in Catholic teachings. 

  • Anonymous

    No, it really can’t.

  • The Moz

    The end of the last remnants of Britain is every so close. Au revoir.

  • Honeybadger

    Mr Weatherley wouldn’t have the guts to include mosques because, as sure as eggs are eggs, there would be reprisals.

    What this narrow-minded excuse for a politician is advocating is one set of ‘rights’ riding roughshod over the rights of others.

  • Honeybadger

    I totally agree.

  • Honeybadger

    Can you really see priests committing such sacriledge because of Parliament?

    They’d rather spend time in jail!

    The Roman Catholic Church has survived worse than anything Parliament has thrown at it.

    You don’t know your history very well, do you?

  • Honeybadger

    Have a word with Jesus Christ… His Vicar, The Pope, is doing HIS bidding, not man’s.

  • Jeannine

    The Catholic Church can never get out of the “marriage racket.” It’s a sacrament instituted by God who freely confers many blessings on the married potentially-procreative couple. It’s like saying to God, “Thank you, but no thank you. We know better & you don’t.”

  • Anonymous

    Clause 1 of the 1297 magna carta, the freedom of the English Church, which is still in force today states:
    FIRST, We have granted to God, and by this our present Charter have
    confirmed, for Us and our Heirs for ever, that the Church of England
    shall be free, and shall have all her whole Rights and Liberties
    inviolable. We have granted also, and given to all the Freemen of our
    Realm, for Us and our Heirs for ever, these Liberties under-written, to
    have and to hold to them and their Heirs, of Us and our Heirs for ever.
    So as you can see the government have no right to interfere in the affairs of the church. Any attempt to do so would be unlawful. Common law is the only law of this land! The E.U and all of it’s phoney laws are illegal under English law! The church has been protected by this law for centuries. Open your eyes to the real devil on your doorstep that is the E.U and it’s henchmen (this includes david cameron!) They aim to break britain apart and ruin all of it’s traditions, which includes destroying the church and christianity. they will use subversion techniques and destroy it from within by inserting charlatans who pretend to be acting on behalf of christ when they are actually the devil’s advocate! There are certain members of the clergy who are a real threat to the church. Stand firm against these anti Christian aggressors, Do not lose faith!

  • Parasum

    “Tory MP urges Cameron to crack down on churches that refuse to hold same-sex ceremonies”

    To which all one can say is, “Sod off”.

    If gay people want civil ceremonies, fine – that is their right, given that this country is now secular, and no longer bases its conduct on Christian ethics. But there is no moral or rational basis for compelling any churches, or any religions, to hold same-sex ceremonies if they do not regard same-sex relations as morally permissible. Such compulsion is itself grossly immoral.

    What is also very bad is that those gay people who don’t cause trouble to anyone, are in danger of being tarred with the same brush as the militants who care for no rights except their own. A better way of inflaming feeling against gay people is difficult to imagine.

    “Christian churches must be banned from performing any marriages if
    they refuse to hold civil partnerships ceremonies for gay couples, a
    Conservative MP has demanded.”

    By the same logic, membership of the Tory Party should be open to Communists, and if they are not allowed to join, the Tory Party should be forbidden to function. If a thing like a political party, which is here today and gone tomorrow, which is not even concerned with important things like eternal life,  can exclude what is incompatible with its life & ethics, with far better right can the Churches exclude what is  incompatible with their life and ethics. He clearly has no clue what Churches are for.
     

  • Parasum

     Gay Muslims, perhaps ?

  • Parasum

    On what basis and by what principles ? 

    Being gay may be even be a canonical impediment to marriage; if it is, that would make annulment of a union between a gay and a straight person of different sexes entirely possible, since it would invalid from day one. Parliament cannot possibly tell the Church what the contents of the Church’s law regarding marriage are to be; Parliament has not the slightest authority over any of the sacraments – or over the Church’s faith regarding marriage. Of course, if Parliament wants a collision between the Church and the Parliament, let it go ahead. But it is certain to lose if it tries telling the Church what to do.

    The ironies here are amazing.

  • Parasum

     This has been suggested in the US, especially during the New York vote. Seems like a very satisfactory solution, except to those on either side who insist that everyone must agree with them.

  • Oconnordamien

    Mosques don’t have any central authority like churches here. They are funded in many often frightening ways. There can be no edict to make them behave. There is the problem, most are sunni, then split into nations and cultures. Same for Shia’s.

    If someone was brave enough to demand a gay marriage, well let’s guess what would happen.
    For a start it’s sounding like a bad eastenders plot. Quite simply pressure would be applied to the family until the request was expunged. 

  • Chris

    Why not have a system such as that in France where everyone is married for civil (legal) purposes a the town hall, and then for those who wish it, a religious marriage. This way the civil marriage is a formality, while the religious marriage, for those who require it, is their ‘real’ marriage. 

  • ms catholic state

    That’s secularist mantra…”Thank you God, but no thank you. We know better & you don’t.”   Only thing is ….they don’t know better and always end up making a mess of their nations and bringing them down.  Always!     .

  • Bob Hayes

    Separation will not provide an answer to Mike Weatherley’s proposal. The Church will still be deemed to be a ‘service provider’ and if prospective same-sex partners decide that, say, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool is ‘a great building to hold our civil partnership ceremony’, the Church will be deemed to have discriminated if it declines to allow a ceremony. 

    Weatherley is proposing a step towards reducing the sacrament of marriage to the status a ‘commercial service’. It must be resisted.

  • Bob Hayes

    Separation will not provide an answer to Mike Weatherley’s proposal. The Church will still be deemed to be a ‘service provider’ and if prospective same-sex partners decide that, say, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool is ‘a great building to hold our civil partnership ceremony’, the Church will be deemed to have discriminated if it declines to allow a ceremony. 

    Weatherley is proposing a step towards reducing the sacrament of marriage to the status a ‘commercial service’. It must be resisted.

  • http://twitter.com/RCYouthWorker Jack Regan

    Peter Tatchell, for all his many faults, actually does stand up for Churches from time to time when there is talk of forcing them to do things that are just stupid.

    Anyway… I am of the (perhaps rather off-the-wall) opinion that the state should get out of the business of marriage altogether. Why not just make everything a civil partnership defined simply in terms of power of attorney, tax, inheritance rights and other strictly legal criteria. This could then be open to gay couples, couples in love, friends, or any two people who wanted to bind themselves legally together for whatever reason. The advantage of this is that it would be nothing more than a legal arrangement, with no moral commentary whatsoever. Once in such an arrangement, a couple would then be free to approach their Church to have their union recognised as a marriage if they wanted to, which would be absolutely none of the Government’s business whatsoever!

    Think about it… it would solve so much hassle!!

  • TomFowdy

    I gave Mr. Weatherley a piece of my mind on this subject via an Email. I do suggest you all follow up and do the same thing.

    mike.weatherley.mp@parliament.uk
     

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    I should add that the declaration should apply to all couples – which I sort of thought was the case in the first place., but it can’t be given the sad state of affairs even within Catholic marriages.

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    It seems quite clear to me that the modern secular state has no understanding whatsoever of the concept of marriage. If everything is to be termed a marriage, and even non-marriages are to be given the same recognition and support as marriages, then surely there is no need whatsoever for the state to recognise any marriages in civil law.

    A much better thing to do would be for the state to simply remove any recognition of marriage from all the statutes, allowing only those who believe in marriage – the religious – to go on in their own ways. That would pull the wind from under the sails of the proponents of sexual perversion and allow the religious communities themselves to safeguard marriage according to the reverence they hold for it – while making clear that the secular notion of ‘marriage’ is contrary to the very notion of religious marriage.

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    That change should also be matched by a change in church policy: Make it optional for people who get married to attain a civil licence. As it currently stands, one has to (agree to) have a civil marriage licence in order to get married in church.

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    I take it your e-mail contained an unproportionally high frequency of the letters “s” and “f”….Or at least it might have been had not the Christian in you reigned it in.

  • Anonymous

    As I have previously commented it would be illegal under english common law to force the church to do anything.  The very first clause in the magna carta protects the church and ensures that it shall be free, and shall have all her whole Rights and Liberties INVIOLABLE!  Look into this and you will see that the church cannot be touched EVER! If the government could force the church to marry gay couples or to accept gay priests etc, then it would have by now under the equality act 2010, but the church is actually exempt from this simply because of the magna carta clause! There is a reason that the very first clauses in the magna carta concern the catholic church and this is because king john of England angered the Roman Catholic Church. The pope banned
    all church services in England in 1207. Religion was very important to the people at that time. The Catholic Church taught
    the people that they could only get to Heaven if the Catholic Church believed
    that they were good enough to get there. How could they show their goodness and
    love of God if the churches were shut ? Even worse for John was the fact that
    the pope excommunicated him in 1209. This meant that John could never get to
    Heaven until the pope withdrew the excommunication. Faced with this, John
    climbed down and accepted the power of the Catholic Church giving them many
    privileges in 1214. The magna carta was created with the aid of archbishops, bishops, abbots. The catholic church has more power and influence than you might think, more than the government and more than the royal family. The prime minister of this country had to swear an oath of Allegiance which goes like this: ‘I, David Cameron, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God’ 
    Please take note of the ‘so help me god’ part!

  • Anonymous

    If Cameron wishes to lie down with the devil, that is a matter for him. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches have NO latitude in this matter. Satan shall not prevail.
    The Protestants I have no doubt will make their own bed, with blankets of public opinion, let them lie it.

  • Anonymous

    If Cameron wishes to lie down with the devil, that is a matter for him. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches have NO latitude in this matter. Satan shall not prevail.
    The Protestants I have no doubt will make their own bed, with blankets of public opinion, let them lie it.

  • Anonymous

    Yet more evidence, as though any were needed, that homosexual ascendancy is the death knell of any culture.  In the good old days, people of such kidney kept mousely quiet.  That was prior to Vatican II, of course, when the Church was uncompromising in her militancy and unapologetic in her triumphalism.  And when the State recognized that its most foundational duty, in alliance with the Bride of Christ, was to pass and enforce legislation absolutely in accord with both natural and divine law.  

    Madame Roland was right:  Unspeakable crimes are committed in the name of liberty…and equality.  And it will get worse, not better.  The persecution will escalate, as is the wont of persecutions.  But perhaps that is exactly what we need to stiffen our spine and strengthen our resolve.

  • Anonymous

    Yet more evidence, as though any were needed, that homosexual ascendancy is the death knell of any culture.  In the good old days, people of such kidney kept mousely quiet.  That was prior to Vatican II, of course, when the Church was uncompromising in her militancy and unapologetic in her triumphalism.  And when the State recognized that its most foundational duty, in alliance with the Bride of Christ, was to pass and enforce legislation absolutely in accord with both natural and divine law.  

    Madame Roland was right:  Unspeakable crimes are committed in the name of liberty…and equality.  And it will get worse, not better.  The persecution will escalate, as is the wont of persecutions.  But perhaps that is exactly what we need to stiffen our spine and strengthen our resolve.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PQFAA2DGK5RCMDK3QLKWTVVXTQ Felix

    Britain should be very careful. People should repent of these perversions called same sex marriages. It only leads to the destruction of the societal fabric and attraction of curses from God. It is shameful, sinful and a slavery to vanity. The Lord Jesus will bring deliverance to Britain.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PQFAA2DGK5RCMDK3QLKWTVVXTQ Felix

    Britain should be very careful. People should repent of these
    perversions called same sex marriages. It only leads to the destruction
    of the societal fabric and attraction of curses from God. It is
    shameful, sinful and a slavery to vanity. The Lord Jesus will bring
    deliverance to Britain.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PQFAA2DGK5RCMDK3QLKWTVVXTQ Felix

    Britain should be very careful. People should repent of these
    perversions called same sex marriages. It only leads to the destruction
    of the societal fabric and attraction of curses from God. It is
    shameful, sinful and a slavery to vanity. The Lord Jesus will bring
    deliverance to Britain.

  • Anonymous

    Bernard Longley seems to approve officially approved “gay” Mass that is ongoing in the
    archdiocese of Westminster.
    With bishops like Longley and Nichols, RC gay marriages can’t be too far away. All we need is a bit of conditioning and softening up.

  • Puzzled of Sussex

    “”Mr Weatherley said: “Discrimination in today’s society should not be tolerated”” taken from a quotation of his.
    Who is discriminating against who?

  • Dorothy

    I cannot understand why an institution older than Britain is being turned upside down and inside out to curry favour with the 2% of the British population to whom the innovations apply. However, I suppose ever since birth control was made legal, this was bound to happen. Once erotic love became the be-all and (literally) end-all of marriage, and procreation became something that had very little to do with marriage, there were no longer convincing arguments (to those who accepted the new worship of Eros) against “gay marriage.” 

  • Accy

    the discrepancy between how Christians (and at times especially Catholics) are treated compared with other communities has gone beyond mere social bias to being disconcertingly broad based. When politicians talk about being even handed or “fair” it seems that the application of that fairness principle excludes Catholics. I am so glad that Fr Donnelly has been quoted above. But more of us need to speak up. And speak up more often

  • Tega Obi

    Lol, never going to happen!! 

  • J Kang

    Absolutely. ‘I would give a woman not more rights, but more privileges. Chesterton. Slightly off the line but still.

  • Honeybadger

    Who does this Weatherley think he is?

    Don’t tell me, let me guess… Napoleon!

  • Annamolly15

    You clearly are a homophobic moron and don’t understand the real meaning of love, and are caught up in only seeing marriage as a male-female partnership. If we are supposed to have ‘souls’ then what does it matter. Doesn’t ‘your’ god teach people to be all loving and accepting?? Clearly people like you want to forbid  others the right to marry. It’s not on.