Wednesday 27 November 2013

Christianity No Longer An Excuse For Discrimination.

Hazelmary and Peter Bull. No right to act unlawfully.
BBC News - Gay snub Cornish B&B owners lose Supreme Court appeal

In another landmark ruling today, the Supreme Court for England and Wales ruled that a Christian couple, Hazelmary and Peter Bull, had acted unlawfully when they refused to allow a gay couple to share a room in their guesthouse in Marazion in Cornwall in 2008. The five judges ruled that the Bulls' Christianity did not entitle them to deny other people their human right to not be discriminated against on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The case in the Supreme Court is only the latest by British courts in which Christians have pitted their right to behave in accordance with their religious beliefs against the right of other people not to face discrimination and lost.

Defeat in court has been compounded in some cases by the remarks of senior judges, making clear that their job is no longer to enforce morality, and that religious beliefs will not be given more weight than secular values [my emphasis]...

It makes their case another milestone in the waning influence of Christian teaching in British society and its laws, although the exact nature of that teaching is increasingly contested as many Christians reinterpret traditional beliefs in the light of contemporary experience.

Robert Pigott
Religious affairs correspondent, BBC News.
Astonishingly, the Bulls had argued, backed up by the Christian Institute, that their Christian beliefs entitled them to discriminate and that to deny them this right was an infringement of their human rights. In effect they were arguing that Christians have a privileged right to deny others their rights and to ignore laws they don't agree with.

One judge remarked that, had the gay couple denied the Bulls the right to stay in a guest house owned by them on the grounds that they didn't agree with Christianity, they would have been acting equally unlawfully and that therefore the Bulls could not argue that the law was unfair. As Christians they were as entitled to the full protection of the Human Rights Act as anyone else but this did not extend to the right to deny those rights to others on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Standby now for howls of protest as it begins to dawn on UK Christians that the privilege they used to take for granted, and their assumed right to victimise and bully those they disagree with, is being withdrawn. Their Christianity is no longer accepted as an excuse for antisocial and discriminatory behaviour. If they want to continue to abuse others they will have to quickly come up with a better excuse otherwise they will face the weight of the law (and public opinion).

This case establishes beyond any doubt that secular, i.e., Humanist, values are quickly replacing Christian bigotry as the basis for law in the England and Wales (Scotland has its own legal system and so is not bound by this ruling) as the influence of Christianity and its Medieval morality wanes.

The Christian couple now have the right to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights but, if previous rulings by the ECHR are a guide, they are unlikely to succeed since all similar claims by Christians of the right to special privilege and the right to discriminate and bully on the grounds that denial of this right is itself a denial of human rights have failed. The ECHR has consistently ruled that religion is not an excuse in law and that secular humanist values prevail.

Maybe, rather than whining about falling church attendance figures and waning influence, the Christian churches should realise that it's people like the Bulls who are giving Christianity such a bad name and causing decent folk to question a lot of the assumptions that people once took for granted.

Further reading:
Christianity Is No Excuse - ECHR.
Even Christians Must Obey The Law.
Lord Carey Is Whinging Again.

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