On Freedom Of Religion

I have only one further comment to make on the topic of gay marriage and religious freedom for now, this time prompted by another article in the Daily Telegraph:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9145759/Church-powerless-to-stop-same-sex-marriage-even-if-hundreds-of-thousands-object.html

The article discusses the publication of the British government’s “national consultation document” (no, I don’t know what one is and have never heard of one either, but I’m sure that its publication kept an army of civil servants and several retired, titled former judges well-occupied and remunerated for some considerable period of time, as all lengthy British enquiries seem to do).

The gist of the article that even if hundreds of thousands of people object to the legalisation of gay marriage, it may still go ahead (and it is implied, of course that this would be a terrible thing, because apparently we like the tyranny of the majority – or enthused minority, in this case – in this country, as long as it is working in our favour).

However, one sentence in the article struck me as particularly important and much overlooked:

“The document repeatedly underlines that the change would only affect civil marriage and that there would be an outright ban on same-sex marriages [in] religious premises even if some denominations wanted them.”

Do you understand this, stalwart defenders of “traditional values” and “religious freedom”? Even in the government’s new proposed law, it would be illegal for your church, synagogue or mosque to perform a same-sex marriage even if it wanted to some day. The government is dictating what you can and cannot do within the confines of your own church.

In this case, your view and that of the government are broadly in alignment, believe it or not – neither of you want same-sex marriages to take place in religious spaces. The only argument concerns whether you should be allowed to continue to impose your definition of marriage on the general, non-religious population through the institution of civil marriage. But some day in the future your interests may diverge, and the government may choose to legislate something directly impacting what goes on in your holy place that you profoundly disagree with.

They have the power to do it now, and as this “national consultation document” shows, they are doing it now, but you say nothing because your interests are aligned. But I don’t want to hear a word of complaint if ever a government law is proposed that actually makes your church do something that it doesn’t want to do.

That would be a violation of freedom of religion. Not the legalisation of civil same-sex marriages.

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