Monday, March 14, 2011

Matt 24 watch, 120:Implications of "special animosity" to Christians in UK courts, in light of the Johns foster parenting case and other similar rulings

In recent days, this blog has been following the recent Bull Guest House and Johns Foster parenting cases in the UK, drawing out implications and underscoring concerns for law, liberty and freedom of conscience in the Caribbean as radical secularisation and homosexualisation of the state spread ever more widely and deeply in the UK; and more broadly in our civilisation.

Now, the Christian Legal Centre of the UK
informs us further on the Johns foster parenting case:

In a landmark judgment, which will have a serious impact on the future of fostering and adoption in the UK, the High Court has suggested that Christians with traditional views on sexual ethics are unsuitable as foster carers, and that homosexual ‘rights’ trump freedom of conscience in the UK. The Judges stated that Christian beliefs on sexual ethics may be ‘inimical’ to children, and they implicitly upheld an Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) submission that children risk being ‘infected’ by Christian moral beliefs.

Today’s ruling relates to the dispute between married couple Eunice and Owen Johns and Derby City Council. The Johns applied to the Council in 2007 to foster a child but the Council blocked their application because they objected that the Johns were not willing to promote the practise of homosexuality to a young child. In November 2010 both parties jointly asked the Court to rule on whether the Johns were able to foster children, or whether they could be excluded from doing so under equality law because of their Christian beliefs.

Today (28th February) that judgment has been released. The judges declined to make the statement that the Johns, wanting to re-establish their fostering application, had sought. Instead, the judgment strongly affirms homosexual rights over freedom of conscience and leaves the Johns currently unable to foster a child as desired, despite their proven track record as foster parents. There now appears to be nothing to stop the increasing bar on Christians who wish to adopt or foster children but who are not willing to compromise their beliefs by promoting the practise of homosexuality to small children. [HT: WND; cf also Paul Diamond (The Johns' attorney) here.]

Some of the more troubling details of the judgement delivered by the judges are:
• That if children are placed with parents who have traditional Christian views like the Johns “there may well be a conflict with the local authority’s duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of looked-after children”, [1]
• That there is a tension between the equality provisions concerning religious discrimination and those concerning sexual orientation. Yet, as regards fostering, “the equality provisions concerning sexual orientation should take precedence”, [2]
• That a local authority can require positive attitudes to be demonstrated towards homosexuality, [3]
• That there is no religious discrimination against the Johns because they were being excluded from fostering due to their moral views on sexual ethics and not their Christian beliefs (This is incredible and very disingenuous as the Johns moral views cannot be separated from their religious beliefs), [4] and
• That “Article 9 [of the European Human Rights Act] only provides a ‘qualified’ right to manifest religious belief and ... this will be particularly so where a person in whose care a child is placed wishes to manifest a belief that is inimical to the interests of children”. [5]

In responding to the case, Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, observed:
The Johns are a mild mannered, ordinary Christian couple, yet they may never be able to foster children again. They were willing to love a child regardless of sexual orientation, but not willing to tell a young child that practising homosexuality was a positive thing. Now, a child has likely missed out on finding a home, at a time when there is a desperate shortage of willing parents . . . .

The Judges have claimed that there was no discrimination against the Johns as Christians because they were being excluded from fostering due to their sexual ethics and not their Christian beliefs. This claim that their moral beliefs on sex have nothing to do with their Christian faith is a clear falsehood made in order to justify their ruling. How can the Judges get away with this?

What has happened to the Johns is part of a wider trend seen in recent years. The law has been increasingly interpreted by Judges in a way which favours homosexual rights over freedom of conscience. Significant areas of public life are now becoming out of bounds to Christians who do not want to compromise their beliefs. If Christian morals are harmful to children and unacceptable to the State, then how many years do we have before natural children start being taken away from Christians?

At the Christian Legal Centre our clients have included, amongst many others, a nurse suspended for offering prayer; a Council worker suspended for talking about God to a client, a teacher suspended for offering prayer; a nurse forced off frontline nursing because she wouldn’t take off her cross. We have dealt with Civil Registrars who have been demoted because they did not want to officiate at civil partnerships, and a Christian counsellor who lost his job for not wanting to give sex therapy to homosexuals. In the last few years, several Catholic adoption agencies have been forced to close because they refused to place children with homosexual couples.

There is a great imbalance in the law at the moment, resulting in ordinary people suffering. The situation must be addressed by Parliament as the Judiciary have failed to stand for civil liberties but have capitulated to the agenda of the homosexual rights lobby. We cannot have a society where you are excluded just because you don’t agree with the sexual ethics of the homosexual lobby. Britain is now leading Europe in intolerance against religious belief.

With the recent rulings in the UK, we have reached the sad point in our civilisation where the shameless pornographic portrayal of drug-besotted, manipulated and intimidated women is celebrated as "freedom of expression"; whilst, conscience-based principled questioning of the morality of homosexual habituations and linked homosexualisation of law, state and culture, is viewed as intolerant, infectious -- notice, the connotations of that telling metaphor: a communicable disease to be contained and if possible eradicated -- "prejudice."

Indeed, as bigotry. To be crushed by state-sponsored court actions and rulings under the false colours of allegedly anti-discrimination law;
backed up by ideologised, unsound scientific pretensions. (Cf. here, especially here.)

That is why Mike Judge's
recent plea to pause and think again is so apt:
Discrimination law is meant to act as a shield to protect people from unfair treatment, not to be used as a sword to attack those whose beliefs you disagree with . . .

Something is plainly wrong.

My right to a particular view cannot justly secure the additional right to censor and crush principled, conscience based objections (as opposed to mere spiteful shouting of bullying threats and intimidation). This, especially in regards to behaviour that -- as a matter of observable fact -- is inescapably disordered and damaging.
My right not to be discriminated against cannot justly secure a "right" to discriminate in turn against those who have such principled questions or objections.

Simple consistency, fairness and equality should tell us that.

Nor should one be seeking the backing of the state's human rights departments in turning anti-discrimination law into a sword against people of conscience and principle. And when one then finds oneself not only interfering with the livelihood of others, but also breaking into people's families and homes, claiming that the mere possibility of moral objections to potential cases of homosexual behaviour disqualifies people from continuing as foster parents, that should give pause. For
if such a premise is able to strip people of their status as acceptable foster parents, it automatically implies that they are unacceptable as adoptive and natural parents as well.

Let us boil that down:

Who would rob me of the means of earning my daily bread, would rob me of my life.

Who would rob me of the sanctity of my home, and of my family, would rob me of
my posterity.

Who would rob me of my freedom of conscience, would rob me of
my soul.

And yet, we seem to mainly hear a deafening silence in response to the choking canaries in the mines.

Instead of a roar of public outcry and a demand to fix the  problem, we see and hear but few voices, making the gentlest of remonstrances, only to be met with yawns and studied, pointed silence in the media at large. Or worse, we now often find cynical misrepresentation and caricaturing of issues, people, their concerns and even the basic facts.

Somehow, in our region, most of us have not even heard about and understood that there is a serious problem that we need to think about, discuss and address. (
No thanks to the BBC's, CNN's, etc. . . . )

For those few who have, too often the blatant contradiction fails to move us to urgent action, and some are even quietly consenting:
those hypocritical Holier than Thou Christians are getting a deserved come-uppance . . .

Thus lies revealed the utter bankruptcy of radical secularisation of what was once the ever so inspiring vision of freedom and rights under just law and democratically elected rulers accountable before the people and a free, uncensored, responsible press.

For, as
Plato's parable of the cave long ago foreshadowed, our media and education systems ought not to be allowed to become manipulative shadow-shows serving the interests of powerful and unaccountable manipulators behind the scenes; making cynically calculated plans for  the rest of us behind closed doors.

Beneath the wreckage, we see the exact problem of utter amorality that was also warned of ever so long ago by Plato, in his The Laws, Book X. 

For, those who reduce all to matter and energy evolving blindly and purposelessly under the impact of chance circumstances and undirected natural forces, can have no grounding IS strong enough to be a basis for OUGHT. So, to such, "the highest right is might." Or, as more modern thinkers have put it: might makes right.  

Putting that another way, a priori evolutionary materialism -- even if dressed up in a lab coat and speaking in the name of "science" -- is inescapably amoral, as well as undermining the credibility of the mind to think, decide and act reasonably. It is therefore utterly absurd and irretrievably morally bankrupt. As Law professor and design thinker Philip Johnson aptly summed up:
For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them "materialists employing science." And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) "give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose."  

. . . .   The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]
Going back to Plato, we may read him speaking in the voice of the Athenian Stranger in his The Laws, Book X:

Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view!] . . . .

[[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might, and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [i.e. domineering political ideologies and movements], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [such ideologies lead to tyrannies], and not in legal subjection to them.

As a direct result, of such concerns, it is plainly unsafe to try to restructure our civilisation on an explicit or implicit evolutionary materialistic foundation. Instead, we can see that the only safe worldviews to build law and policy on are those that have in them a foundational IS that can ground both our equality and moral worth, thence the OUGHT that flows from that. In short, a worldview grounded in the good, reasonable and just Creator God. Individuals may be free to dissent from accepting such a God as their personal Lord and pivot for their worldviews, but -- as the events now unfolding in the UK show (as had happened previously in Russia, China, Germany and even C18 France) a civilisation as a whole cannot afford that luxury.

Not if it wants to remain free, just and stable.

For,  equality and justice need to be built on a sound, ably argued and credible worldview level foundation that cannot only stand the test of open, unfettered and free debate in the marketplace of ideas, but also the tests of
adequately grounding, preserving and enhancing liberty and justice for all. The exact test that is now being manifestly failed by radically secularist evolutionary materialism. Yet again.

Nor is this exactly news, for when John Locke set out to ground the principles of liberty in his 1690
Second Treatise on Civil Government, he reached back a hundred years to cite  "the judicious" Canon Richard Hooker, from his classic 1594+ Ecclesiastical Polity
. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man's hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant. [John Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government, Ch. II, Section 5.]

So, we can see that we need not abandon ourselves to a view of morality that is locked up to the war of ruthless factions vying for power and cynically manipulating and using moral perceptions as a club, to batter down those who dare to question their attitudes and behaviour.

Unfortunately, this is not just an academic exercise, a matter of observing what is going on far to the North, on the other side of our common Atlantic Ocean.

For, like a social and spiritual tidal wave, the same problems are propagating into our region. 

Not only in overseas territories and provinces directly subject to European Union and national laws, but also for countries dependent on aid and therefore subject to "reasonable" terms and conditions driven by "rights" concerns and "anti-discrimination" provisions. To see that, let us recall what the just past Governor of Montserrat, Mr Peter Waterworth (BTW, a lawyer), said in his final Christmas Message (2010) to Montserrat:

. . . Challenge yourselves to find the courage to reject the false prophets and to chart a new and inclusive course for Montserrat. One where individuals take responsibility for their actions, work together for the public good and welcome and acknowledge the assistance that Montserrat has had and continues to receive, both from countries and from individuals who come here to serve Montserrat. Forget about where they come from, or the colour of their skin, their religion or lack of it or sexual preference. Put simply, without those people this island has no future . . . 

The teeth in that is the anti-discrimination provision in the new Constitution pushed through by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office [FCO] (under the implied hint that desperately needed post-disaster aid hinged upon getting though the Draft Constitution much as it stood in May 2010, without further delays), based on the same European Union convention on human rights that has begun to cause so much trouble in the UK:

 16.—(1) Subject  to  subsections  (4)  and  (5),  no  law  shall  make  any  provision  which  is discriminatory either of itself or in its effect . . . . (3) In  this  section,  the  expression discriminatory  means  affording  different  treatment  to different persons on any ground such as sex, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status. [Finalised version, Montserrat Constitution Order, 2010.]

Notice how -- in a territory that has a history rooted in the struggle for equality and justice in the face of slavery and racism -- the list of yardstick cases is led by "sex" and by "sexual orientation." That serves to warn us that this is an agenda-driven external imposition.

Worse, "sexual orientation" is not a properly defined legal term; it is a broad psychological description that takes in a vast array of observably, plainly and inescapably disordered passions, behaviours and habits.

Ranging from -- excuse me, I must give a yardstick -- whips to -- pardon such a reference -- animals, and worse. But, despite warnings, this was ignored and the above was pushed through.

Compounding all, despite a correction conceded on defining marriage as being between the opposite sexes, the vague term "other status" above in such a context of imposition plainly includes room for the establishment of so-called civil unions equivalent to marriages in all but name. And, once such are set up as protected from "discrimination," it will be gradually argued that ideas such as Mother and Father, Husband and Wife, as well as family based on the natural issue of such a union, are discriminatory and should be edited out of schools and government pronouncements and actions. 

Q: How do we know that? 
A: Simple: this is what is happening already, elsewhere.
So, we must now weigh up the implications of the refusal to entertain a balancing provision along the lines of the suggestion for a protective clause made by an opposition representative last September:

(4 [new])  Nothing in this section shall be construed as legitimating the undue infringement of the rights of other persons, individually or collectively, to life, liberty, conscience and religion, expression, association and assembly.

In light of the Johns and Bull cases in the UK (how eerily close that is to the traditional name for the archetypal Englishman, John Bull!), perhaps we should add to this list, "hearth, home, family and means of livelihood," and stress the significance of democratic principles of justice, fairness to all and equality. So, let us further adjust in light of, say, the basic precedent that even a bankrupt must be left in possession of the clothes on his back, and the basic tools and means of his trade or the much older equity provision that the corners of one's field must be left for the gleanings of the poor:

(4 [new])  Nothing in this section shall be construed as legitimating the undue infringement [in a democratic state] of the rights of other persons, individually or collectively, to life, liberty, conscience and religion, expression, association and assembly, [hearth, home, family and means of livelihood].

Such a shield clause would tend to prevent the abuse of anti-discrimination law as a club to batter down those one disagrees with, once the accused can show that s/he was acting within the reasonable ambit of fair, civil conduct and moral principle that are not a direct threat to others. 

For instance, it is most unlikely that the two men who wanted to rent a double-bed room in the Bull Guest House would have perished of exposure in the separate single-bed rooms offered to them. Similarly, if the Johns have been effective foster parents in the past, it is improper that their Christian convictions and associations are now to be used as a disqualification for seeing them as suitable parents, foster or otherwise.  Likewise, the mere holding and expression of contrary opinions -- especially those motivated by reasons of conscience -- should not be made the target for thought police censorship and exclusion.

But, such was blocked for Montserrat, blocked in a context dominated by the UK's FCO. The same UK government where the Human Rights protection agency has been funding anti-Christian, livelihood, home and family-threatening cases before the courts. The same UK government whose duly appointed Governor spoke as cited above. All, without any explanation for why such a potentially dangerous decision was made behind closed doors.

And worse, proposed provisions for a right of petition, law-making initiative, recall and referendum -- similar to those in the Cayman Constitution and to many democratic constitutions around the world -- were also blocked without any explanation.

However, such unaccountable and questionable acts do not block our traditional -- albeit unwritten -- natural right to object, to petition for correction of patently unjust and dangerous law, and to back up such petitions with public pressure and our votes. And in fact the power of legal precedents works both ways. So,
if we succeed in correcting the present unbalanced situation here in our region, it can serve to help correct the same imbalances elsewhere.

Similarly, in independent states, we have every right to insist that if questionable agendas are inserted in development aid terms, there should be shield clauses that prevent the abuse of such aid to impose abusive or questionable consequences.

In short,
to stand up for our rights here in the region is protective of the rights of all people, everywhere.

And so, the Mordecai challenge goes forth to us, once again:
why not now, why not here, why not us? END

ADDED, Mar 17: Some useful references that will give perspective and insight:

1: Spitzer in Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2001, on two orthodoxies regarding homosexuality, in light of his study on possibilities for desired change in same sex attraction.

2: Harren's Homosexuality 101 "what we need to know" primer. 

3: Satinover on the state of scientific evidence vs. official and clinical positions in mental health professions.

4: Austriaco on the status of "gay gene" research and the evidence.

5: Whitehead and Whitehead online book, My Genes Made Me do it. (The discussion on the Sambia of New Guinea is particularly significant. Cf also here.)

6: Gagnon on implications of and agendas behind gender identity hate crime laws.

7: Mohler on the attempted homosexualisation of Christian theology

1 comment:

Steve Skeete said...

The infamous Richard Dawkins is on record stating that teaching the Christian Bible to children is the equivalent of "child abuse". It seems that British justices have taken him seriously, with negative consequences for Christians like the John and Bull families.

The logic of the judges is as devastating as it is diabolical. If the Bible is "hate" literature, then to expose a child to those who believe and practice it, is to place that child in "harms way".

This treatment of Christians is not only, nor merely, about seeking to establish homosexuality as a "right" and forcing its respectability on an extremely reluctant public, but about flagrant disregard even animus towards the Christian faith.

Justices, like ordinary Britains, understand that in order for the new immoral age to fully emerge, the Bible has to be first mangled, then muzzled and finally removed from society. It must become obsolete.

In a recent case in Canada, a Canadian justice is quoted as saying that "truth is no longer a defense" in matters relative to homosexual "rights".

It is an ominous statement, which, if taken to its logical conclusion, will make Christianty the "deer in the headlights" of the out-of-control juggernaut called "justice".