Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Equality and tolerance secular style

Many in the media are, predictably, in a state of indignant hysteria because the pope has voiced an opinion on an issue in British politics: Harriet Harman’s Equality Law. For most secularists and humanists the pope's input is beyond the pale. The fact that the pope represents Catholics in this country who are British citizens, and that they, like everyone else in the country, have a right to be heard in a democracy seems to have escaped even the more restrained voices.

On today’s Daily Politics show, Jo Coburn, one of the presenters, gets to the heart of the matter which is about the rights of the Catholic Church to choose to appoint who it wishes to senior positions. Jo asks why the Catholic Church should be exempt from some aspects of the equality legislation which would force it to consider employing practising homosexuals for high ranking jobs. Shouldn’t the Catholic Church, like everyone else, be bound by the same laws designed to promote an equal and tolerant society?

But this is very little to do with creating an equal and tolerant society and everything to do with certain groups (in this case, gay activists) seeking, not simply tolerance of their choices, but rather approval and endorsement of their practices from those who they know for certain are ideologically opposed to them. But, opposition per se to the thought and practices of others is not an infringement of their human rights, unless you live in a police state. Personally, I find the views of humanists offensive. Yet, should I wish to become a high ranking member of the British Humanist Association it would hardly be reasonable of me to expect to be considered for the position while continuing to publicly espouse and practice my religious beliefs, and neither could the refusal by the British Humanist Association to consider me for the post be considered by any sane person as an infringement of my equality rights.

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