When Does Belief Become Bigotry?

Observatory

Sometimes news stories seem to overlap. After Brown’s embarrassing climbdown following the microphone that picked up his expressed dislike for the party voter with whom he had been forced into a photo-op, a marriage guidance counsellor’s bid to challenge his sacking for refusing to give sex therapy to gay couples has caused clashes between the Christian-right lobby and the judiciary, resulting in a fresh argument about the definition of the term ‘bigot’.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, complained that the comparison of a Christian with a ‘bigot’ was further evidence of a disparaging attitude to the values of Christian faith.

But Lord Justice Laws’s ruling said “We do not live in a society where all the people share uniform religious beliefs. The precepts of any one religion – any belief system – cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other. If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic.

“The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law, but the state, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself.”

Meanwhile, ‘8: The Mormon Proposition’ exposes the Mormon Church’s involvement in the promotion of California’s Proposition 8 and the religion’s secretive, decades—long campaign against gay rights. The best way to air an issue is to confront it, of course, so here’s the trailer.

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4 comments on “When Does Belief Become Bigotry?”

  1. I.A.M. says:

    Yesterday’s local news had a Catholic-run, all-female, independent high-school at odds with its now-former music instructor, regarding the sequence of events involved in her dismissal from employment/removal from on-site work attendance (depending on whose version you accept).

    The instructor claims she was open about her marriage to another woman, and has identified as ‘Lesbian’ since long before her contract was begun. Then, when it was ‘discovered’ than she and her wife had a child, she was told “you are no longer welcome here, some parents are concerned that their daughters attending will feel encouraged to duplicate your behaviour, we’ll pay out the balance of the year as long as you never return.’ Her feeling is that “they only like you if you’re willing to act like other Catholics and don’t do or say anything which questions the party line.”

    The school suggests that they had no knowledge of the relationship, they were only responding to concerns raised by the parents (who could be seen as ‘customers’, as they pay a portion of the school’s costs; the other portion being paid by the government), and they merely asked the teacher to work from home and did not terminate her employment. The aspect of her sexuality played no direct part in the matter.

    A recent court ruling found that a similar school was permitted to fire a teacher for seeking a civil divorce, as divorce is not an acceptable thing in the tenants of the Catholic doctrine. The case yesterday may fall into the same category, if the teacher’s relationship was the cause of dismissal.

    Personally, if someone decides that a person is or isn’t acceptable due to their race, religion, age, sexuality, or anything other than the simple way in which they deport themselves or treat others around them, they are — to me — a bigot. The lady to whom the PM spoke certainly sounded like her outlook to European immigrants might have been bigoted, so he may have been right. Then again, he had not spoken to her enough to know, so labelling her one once he’d got in the car was, is some sense, the same knee-jerk response as a true prejudicial person might have in another circumstance.

    There is no great surplus of love or affection in the world that I can determine, so why there has to be conditions put on the matter before it’s seen as ‘acceptable’ is beyond me.

  2. Mary says:

    I believe in unconditional positive regard, until proven otherwise. Sometimes, difficult to put into practise, but you’ve got to have a try haven’t you?

  3. Martha says:

    This a war of a thousand-million battles that has to be fought – over and over. It is not unlike the women’s suffragette movement – they finally won too, remember.

  4. Helen Martin says:

    There is more to the above case than IAM realizes. I’m waiting for the final details to be revealed. I may try my teacher contacts.

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