The religious elites

When I first read of Lilian Ladele’s court win I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that a court had ruled in favour of a civil servant refusing a minority of the population what’s in their right only based on her beliefs. 

As I reflected on it, I started to understand that the judge would have ruled on the fact that Ms Ladele probably did feel isolated and discriminated against by her employer and the ruling wasn’t really about whether she had a right to discriminate against gay people. It’s only tragic that it is being interpreted this way.

I felt sorry for her but as I thought about how she felt discriminated and isolated, I started wondering if it wasn’t right that she should feel this way. A religion is an ideology: an organised set of beliefs that you subscribe to and choose to live your life by. Gay, on the other hand, is what you are. Is it really ok to discriminate against people for what they are, based on your beliefs? Do our beliefs really supersede the law? If I’m a racist or a misogynist, to what extent do my beliefs deserve respect?

“No,” you’ll say, “this is her religion, not just something she believes in.” Same difference. Why is an atheist not given the same respect as someone who believes in God? Are we saying that of all the things we believe in, whether or not you believe in God determines if all your other beliefs will also be given credit? Apparently it’s like a main switch that determines if your other ideas are eligible for respect.

If my religion tells me women should stay at home, am I allowed to stop dealing with them at work? And if alcohol is sinful in some religions, can a barman ask “to be excused” from serving alcoholic beverages? His employer certainly won’t be able to sack him for it.

The truth is I find it tiring how we’re all having to tiptoe around religion as if it were something we’re never allowed to question. I was under the impression we were living in a secular society. Beliefs are beliefs, they should be respected in as far as they don’t try to limit other people’s freedoms – this is hardly a new concept and it’s ironic that I’d have to reiterate it in a country that considers itself a democracy. 

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “The religious elites

  1. cosmodaddy

    That final paragraph rocks. What a wonderfully eloquent post.

  2. valerio

    🙂 Thank you…

  3. Legushka

    Totally behind you. In secular democracies, religion should remain a PERSONAL belief, not interfering in any way with the running of the state. In no case should religion be used as an opt-out clause. If your beliefs forbid you from doing your job, change jobs or change religions.

  4. Pingback: Islington Council Doesn’t Take it Lying Down « Cosmodaddy

  5. Chuckles-Hart

    I would like to make a few comments on this thread.

    I find it strange to read that we tiptoe around religion. Do we not tiptoe around homosexuality? What reaction do people get if they say that Christianity is not right? But what reaction do people get if they state that they do not think homosexuality is right? You can ask a muslim who said as much on the media. He was hounded into a retraction by those who said he should not be allowed to say such a thing. There was little or no discussion about the rightness or wrongness of his statement. In our society Christianity also can be discriminated against and is often not given a fair treatment but not homosexuality.

    Also, the assertion is made that “gay is what you are.” There have been numerous studies to show that this is not true.
    However, is it not true that being “religious” is being what you are? What kind of a religion would you have if you had faith but it never made a scrap of difference to what you did?

    In “secular democracies religious belief should remain a PERSONAL belief.” If this is so, why are non-religious beliefs allowed to influence the running of the state? Why are those who believe things other than religious ideas be allowed to be heard?

    Those who have commented would probably say they do not have a faith but their whole life is based on a belief that there is no God who has stated what is the norm for human beings. Our lives are lived in a society that was shaped by Christianity up till the last third of last century. Since then the state of the nation has declined in direct proportion as the influence of Christianity has declined. Look in your history books if you don’t believe me. Look at the state of Britain in the early 1700s and look what happened when Christianity flourished.

    Without God there is only one way in which we could be here: Evolution. If evolution is true then all of us are the end product of millions of random, pointless, aimless, directionless, accidental mutations and have no more purpose than a cockroach or a herpes virus. After all, we would be only evolved things, nothing special.

    Is it any wonder that people are floundering, seeking relevance but being told by evolution that all they do and all they are is totally irrelevant and meaningless?

    The verdict in the court said that one set of rights must not ‘trump’ another set of rights. Unfortunately so-called ‘gay’ rights have done exactly that in so many areas and it about time the trend was reversed.

    • tom

      Yes, but the difference being that homosexual doctorine does not discriminate against Christianity.

      If kid A on the playground hates kid B but kid B has no problem with kid A – which one needs to re-evaluate their views?

  6. michelle lynch

    i find the ruling preposterous!!!
    during a civil ceremony you can not have religious hymns or prayers ( or those that could be construed as) so why should the religion of the civil servant, and she is a civil servant interrup her job?!!!
    all jobs have a code of conduct, and insulting your customers and refusing to serve them is tantemount to gross misconduct and should result in dismissal.

  7. valerio

    Thank you for sharing your views Chuckles-Hart. It’s always interesting to debate with people with different opinions.

    Something you seem to ignore completely in your reasoning is that saying something like “homosexuality is wrong” doesn’t actually make sense. This is why people get criticised when they say something like that; because they expose an intolerant knee-jerk reaction that says more about themselves than it does about homosexuality itself. It’s like saying that heterosexuality is wrong. Homosexuality is not an ideology, it’s simply a fact of life. No matter how much some people as, I imagine, you wish it wasn’t, it’s just part of the world we live in. The fact it is less frequent than heterosexuality is immaterial. It’s like saying albinism is wrong, or left-handedness. As a matter of fact, for many years even left-handed people were considered to be possessed by the devil and were corrected and forced to use their right hand instead. Eventually religious folks caught on with the fact that nature manifests itself in different ways. Unfortunately they haven’t applied the lesson to other areas but I think there’s hope for the future. How can it be wrong to be left-handed or gay? It just is.

    And the “numerous studies” you refer to, supposedly disproving that “gay is what you are”, it would be interesting if you provided references to these claims or specified what it is that you’re implying because from what you write it isn’t very clear.

    With regards to religious views not being heard: all views are heard. I’m sure I don’t need to explain to you that our system of government is voted by all, religious and non, so the laws that govern our country should more or less reflect the will of the people. But they should also apply to all – and that includes people with strong religious views.

    The problem with religious beliefs is that generally they focus on attacking other people’s lives and usually spread a lot of negativity and hatred. This is why people like you find that you tend to attract a lot of criticism. It doesn’t seem to be enough for you to live your lives according to your beliefs, you have to stop everyone else from living theirs any differently. I wouldn’t try to stop you from having a family or raising children on the basis of you having what I would call extreme religious views. I do believe it isn’t an ideal environment for children to grow up in, but i respect the fact that my beliefs cannot be applied to your lifestyle. You, on the other hand, am sure will object to my partner and I raising children. I hope you can see the difference in our approaches there.

    Also, you’re right in single-quoting the word ‘gay rights’ because the right to a family life is not a gay right at all, it’s a human right and it’s very hard for me to understand why people like you go out of their ways to stop other people from living their lives peacefully and, instead, try to put obstacles in their way.

    And this is where we come to your claim that religion is good for our society. It’s very cute, excuse my sarcasm, to invite me to look in my history books. Our history is filled with wars that have been fought in the name of religion. Crusades, inquisition, torture of “heretics” – these are all things coming out of my history books. Do you know how many women have been killed by the Church because they were accused of witchcraft? How many gays or simply people who questioned the church? If you don’t want to go too far back, do you know how many people still die today in countries where religion is not kept in check by a strong democratic secular society? In a country like Iran, I wouldn’t be able to write all this to you, I would have probably been executed already for being gay or I would have to live in hiding. You may disagree, but I don’t think I’ve done anything that deserves being put to death, so please don’t talk to me about religion being good for society because I don’t think you could list ample evidence of that. On the other hand, in this secular society where you feel Christians are discriminated against, I’m sure you live your life peacefully and unhindered. The only difficulty you may be encountering is when trying to force your ideas on other people.

    Ms Ladele is free to hold her beliefs, I wouldn’t try to convince her otherwise, unless she decided to post a comment on this blog. What in my opinion she doesn’t have a right to do, is refuse a portion of the population a service that it is her job to provide. What next? Police who pick and choose the laws they want to uphold? Bus drivers who ask skimpily dressed women to get off?

    I’m sorry you feel that evolutionism doesn’t make you feel you have a purpose in life. You’re free to seek that sense of purpose in your religion. Just let those of us who don’t have a problem with it live our own lives peacefully.

  8. Pingback: Religious Homophobia - Emboldened! « Cosmodaddy

  9. As you may have heard, Islington won its appeal overturning the judgement in favor of Lilian Ladele.

    The Employment Appeal Tribunal said in its ruling: ‘ “The council were not taking disciplinary action against Ms Ladele for holding her religious beliefs.

    “They did so because she was refusing to carry out civil partnership ceremonies and this involved discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

    “The council were entitled to take the view that they were not willing to connive in that practice by relieving Ms Ladele of the duties, notwithstanding that her refusal was the result of her strong and genuinely-held Christian beliefs.”

    The Appeals Tribunal acknowledged that management had not all treated Ms Ladele fairly, but that this was not because of her religion and thus the ruling was overturned.

  10. valerio

    Yes, I heard. It was the best Christmas present.

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