Wednesday 27 March 2019

Catholic Bishops Want Privilege to Hate and Abuse Minorities

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, president of the Scottish Bishops’ Conference
with Anthony Horan, director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office.
Scottish bishops reject proposed hate crime laws, fear criminalization of religion | News | LifeSite

One of the more repugnant tendencies of organised religion is its tendency to demand and require privilege, even assuming it to be theirs of right and seeing it as an attack on their religious freedom to deny it to them. There is a breathtaking arrogance in that assumption that is so embedded in our culture that it passes almost unnoticed. It is even expect.

Religions, or those powerful enough, expect the law to incorporate and accommodate their prejudices and dogmas or at least provide them with exemptions when they conflict with the law of the land.

Nothing illustrates this better than the current opposition by the bishops of the Catholic Church in Scotland to proposals to strengthen the law against discrimination against minorities and people whose lifestyle, sexual preferences and attitudes to marriage, divorce, contraception and female rights and emancipation, and religious beliefs, conflict with their dogmas and doctrines.

According to this report in LifeSite News, in their submission to the Scottish Government's working group, the Catholic bishops have come out strongly against measure to make sectarianism a criminal offence. As with Northern Ireland, the Catholic Church is aware that it benefits from the tribal conflicts of sectarianism, so has no interest in reducing social division and strife, despite the fact that in some areas in Scotland, anti-Catholic sectarianism is almost as marked as in Belfast and Derry.

The proposals could also make Catholic teaching about sexuality a hate crime.

Suppressing the right to freedom of expression ... will create divisions and foster grievances across society ... In a climate of heightened sensitivity there is a very real danger that expressing or even holding individual or collective opinions or beliefs will become a hate crime.

We must guard against this and ensure freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion are protected. Some people might suggest that expressing the Catholic Church’s position on marriage or human sexuality could be an attempt to stir up hatred. This would obviously be wrong, but without room for robust debate and exchange of views we risk becoming an intolerant, illiberal society.

Anthony Horan, Catholic Parliamentary Office.

It's worth examining Horan's statement in more detail.

Firstly, to suggest that restricting the right to speak hate could lead to restricting the right to hold opinions, in other words, to a thought crime, is blatant scaremongering tantamount to a lie. Seeking to protect minorities from harassment, dehumanization and demonization is not a move towards some extreme authoritarian, Orwellian future, complete with thought police. It is a move towards a more liberal, more inclusive and more tolerantly diverse society.

Secondly, guarding against freedom of expression, conscience and religion should not come at the expense of suppressing that and similar freedoms in others. Horan even singles out marriage and sexuality, apparently oblivious of the fact that the Catholic Church's teaching, especially on the issue of sexuality and same-sex marriages, is at the root of the harassment and discrimination to which these people are subjected.

Ironically, the proposals are specifically intended to make Scotland a more tolerant, liberal society. When Horan talks about it becoming a less tolerant, less liberal society he completely fails to recognise that it is the teaching of the Christian churches in general, and the Catholic Church in particular that caused the problem in the first place.

This is yet another example of an out of touch, outdated church pretending to be the guardian of a nation's morals, but in reality, seeking for its own narrow self-interest to maintain division and discrimination and act as a drag on the moral and ethical progress of society.

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