No Neutrality

We are assured that if any culture war exists it is an activity of those brash chaps on the other side of the Atlantic, here in the UK it doesn’t exist. If that is true it is only because here in the UK we have mostly capitulated. Any warfare which does exist is the activity of a few obdurate guerrillas whilst church leaders sip tea and swap bon mots with leaders of state and media opinion formers. “It is jolly important to do nothing to endanger lines of communication.”

As pointed out previously anyone who has read Cornelius Van Til, and managed to understand any of his work, will be aware of one lesson he forced home – there is no such things as neutrality; not in philosophy, not in politics, not in laws and especially not in belief. We see this clearly in law. Legislation is enacted morality. Any law says basically “Action A is right, action B is wrong.” Whether we talk about drunk driving or insider trading the law attempts to codify prevailing cultural morality and values.

We see this conflict clearly when the Council of Europe talks of ‘the supremacy of human rights over any religious tenet’. Here in the U.K., charity law no longer sees religion as by definition a charitable object, but it has to prove to be of ‘public benefit’.

There are numerous incidents such as prohibitions on wearing a cross, or praying with or even mentioning God to others in the workplace. These are of little importance individually but point towards a mind set which restricts freedom and clamps down on divergent opinion.

Freedom of conscience and the exercise of religious belief is regularly trumped by an ethic of supposed ‘equality’ which actually favours one group over another. Thus principled Catholic adoption agencies are forced to close rather than place children with homosexual couples.

Freedom is not a matter of judging right and wrong, rather it is about accommodation. How far we should go in respecting the freedom of those whom we oppose? It is meaningless to speak of freedom of conscience and religion if we effectively ban beliefs and practices we do not share.

Every society limits freedom, that is part of our social compact. This does not mean that fundamental beliefs should not be accommodated as far as possible. Seeking to legally silence opponents is a step towards totalitarianism.

The High Court in England and Wales has effectively ruled in the Johns case that traditional Christians cannot foster children. Observant Jews, Hindus, Muslims, in fact the orthodox amongst all major religions still hold to traditional sexual morality; presumably this means that none of these can foster, or logically speaking, adopt. The wellbeing of vulnerable children falls under the wheels of the ‘rights’ of homosexuals. Once again the powerful triumph at the cost of the weak.

More important than the judgment itself was the reasoning behind it. In its ruling the High Court said the laws of the realm “do not include Christianity.” The reasoning being that as a pluralistic and secular state British law cannot favour one set of beliefs over another.

Yet in the Johns case there was no appeal to favour one set of beliefs over another. The Johns were merely asking for the state to make allowance for the enactment of their Christian convictions; an accommodation which would injure no-one. The court refused.

Once again in a British court the secular belief system triumphed over a form of religious belief. Whilst proclaiming its belief in and respect for pluralism the court calmly and deliberately chose one side in a clash of values. A traditional view of sexual morality was set aside in favour of a relativistic sexual ethic.

A particular set of values, and ultimately religious outlook, is being imposed upon Britain.

Whether we like it or not there is a cultural struggle. Traditional Christians are finding themselves, however reluctantly, in conflict with a new absolutism clothed in the camouflage of pluralism.

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About Campbell

Now retired but once upon a time a parish minister in Glasgow, before that the South West and initially the Black Isle. Been a prison chaplain and lecturer. Still am constantly bemused by the weird world around me.
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5 Responses to No Neutrality

  1. Jennifer Clark says:

    Again with this matter, I really cannot comment fully until the ambiguity of the John’s stance is cleared up. In a previous post you stated that the Johns were in this pickle “because they think it wrong to promote a homosexual lifestyle to any child in their care”.

    I still have no idea what this really means.

    One one hand, their stance could be fairly benign, e.g. if a child in their care grew up to be homosexual they would still care and love that child, despite
    their beliefs conflicting with this aspect of the child’s being. This to me is a natural part of parenthood, and I cannot see it being a real problem.

    On the other hand, they could be foaming at the mouth fire and brimstone bigots similar to the Phelps family you mentioned in a previous post. This is clearly not so benign, and I dare say fostering into such circumstances would be frowned upon by many people.

    The above descriptions encompass a rather wide continuum of possibilities, and the statement “because they think it wrong to promote a homosexual lifestyle to any child in their care” does nothing to make this more specific.

  2. Campbell says:

    As far as I can make out from the reports it appears that at one of the pre-fostering interviews the Johns were asked if they could assure a child that homosexuality was a valid sexual practice. They replied that they couldn’t.

    This appears to be a failure to endorse rather than a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate children between the ages of 5 and 10 with the view that homosexuals are evil perverts who will burn in hell for all eternity unless they repent of their wicked ways.

    The Johns give the impression of being a rather mild mannered couple somewhat bemused that their traditional Christian views, which they have never tried to force on anyone, should land them in the middle of this storm.

  3. Jennifer Clark says:

    Thank you for the clarification Campbell.

    I can see both sides in this debate.

    We live in a democracy, and I think it is important to note the difference between tolerance of some aspects of people’s lives, that we must to some extent put up with things that we may not agree with, in order that society functions well. Actual endorsement of these is not necessary. From what you have reported, the Johns would seem to fall into this area.

    I see this in contrast to global acceptance, which would indicate that we must praise all and sundry no matter what we think, something that is certainly not practical, honest or realistic.

    On the other hand, I am aware that the negativity commonly given to homosexuality can have a terrible lifelong effect on people. But one of the arguments for the Johns was that they were fostering young children, and that matters of sexuality would therefore not apply.

    However, when these kids grow up and and their sexuality develops, they may well remember the lessons learned in their childhood. If they learned when young that homosexuality is a morally wrong, then there is a good chance this will percolate through to their adult life and lead to all kinds of difficulties. Stigma is a tough thing to bear, even in a democratic society, and all this for a group of people we have legally elected to tolerate.

    I wonder if the actions of the fostering authorities is an attempt to prevent this from occurring?

  4. John James says:

    From the statement made by the Johns as printed in The Telegraph:

    ‘We are prepared to love and accept any child. All we were not willing to do, was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing.’

    They articulate their intention as closer to the ‘natural part of parenthood’ end of the continuum than the ‘fire and brimstone’ end.

    Reading the decision (http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/375.html) it appears the case was quite badly presented and that the decision ‘must be seen as qualified’ because of how badly the evidence and the case was presented.

    The whole event was such a mess that the court found it hard to make a decision, eventually taking a path of least resistance and effectively coming to a ‘non-decision’ by leaving things as they were.

    Here’s hoping (with reservations) that another case comes up and that the parties involved can get their acts together so the questions can be properly examined. Unfortunately, partially because of this ‘decision’, whoever brings that case will have to overcome a perceived growing momentum against allowing individuals and communities to demonstrate their ethical and moral convictions.

  5. NEW YORK–Today a federal appeals court in California ruled that the phrase under God in the Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion and cannot be recited in schools. As today s decision recognizes the United States with more than 1 500 different religious bodies and 360 000 churches mosques and synagogues is the most religiously diverse nation in the world because of not in spite of the fact that we do not allow government to become entangled with religion. Specifically the court said a profession that we are a nation under God is identical for Establishment Clause purposes to a profession that we are a nation under Jesus a nation under Vishnu a nation under Zeus or a nation under no god because none of these professions can be neutral with respect to religion. The court added that the coercive effect of this policy is particularly pronounced in the school setting given the age and impressionability of school children. Schools can and should teach tolerance and good citizenship but must not favor one religion over another or belief over non-belief.

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