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The end of tolerance

October 17th, 2011

by Zac Alstin

The illusion that moral diversity is a viable social strategy is at its last gasp.

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A British Member of Parliament has given voice to the idea that religious organisations should be forced to perform same-sex marriages or civil unions. In a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, Conservative MP Mike Weatherly wrote: “As long as religious groups can refuse to preside over ceremonies for same-sex couples, there will be inequality. Such behaviour is not be [sic] tolerated in other areas, such as adoption, after all.”

Weatherly’s reference to adoption is apt, since the British government passed anti-discrimination laws in 2007 that prohibit adoption agencies from refusing to adopt children to same-sex couples. These laws were met with protest from Catholic adoption agencies in particular, some of which have since chosen to comply.

Another noteworthy case featured a Christian couple with a good track record as foster-parents who lost their approval as carers after the High Court found that their “traditionalist” religious views on homosexuality could conflict with the welfare of foster children. As the couple in question protested: “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.”

Many people are understandably concerned about these attempts to drive religious groups from the public square, or to make them conform to moral principles they cannot accept. But these signs of growing intolerance to moral diversity are part of a deeper change that is inevitable and will be beneficial in the long run, as society is forced to take ethics seriously once more.

Let me explain: for about sixty or so years, Western culture has been engaged in a protracted rebellion against whole swathes of public ethics. For whatever reason, our culture has effectively disdained to engage in moral debate on subjects that pertain primarily to matters that prick the individual conscience, or invoke personal moral responsibility.

Ethical reflection has instead been consumed with ‘big picture’ social issues, the kinds of moral problems that fall upon whole societies to remedy: class struggle, poverty, and disadvantage; racial prejudice, civil rights, and institutionalised racism; gender equality; environmental issues; the problem of nuclear weapons and disarmament. Of course the individual plays a role, but his efforts are fruitless without profound social and cultural change.

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  1. Sean
    October 17th, 2011 at 15:44 | #1

    Wouldn’t nice if religionists could contribute to ending the culture wars, instead of promoting them? It’s like a new 100 years war in the making! Given the religionist ease of accepting pre-marital sex, adultery and divorce (when was the last time a Christian innkeeper denied lodging to an adulterous couple, or a couple who had pre-marital sex before they married??), it’s hard to understand the belligerence toward gay couples and same-sex marriage.

  2. October 18th, 2011 at 06:38 | #2

    And yet we keep hearing the lie that same-sex faux marriage will not harm anyone and will not affect the church, etc. I’d say forcing churches to perform ceremonies again proves the lie.

  3. Bob Barnes
    October 18th, 2011 at 14:23 | #3

    Glenn E. Chatfield :
    And yet we keep hearing the lie that same-sex faux marriage will not harm anyone and will not affect the church, etc. I’d say forcing churches to perform ceremonies again proves the lie.

    And yet Glenn stokes the fires by being untruthful. What church was forced to perform a ceremony, Glenn?

  4. Sean
    October 18th, 2011 at 18:01 | #4

    Even if churches were forced to perform same-sex marriages, how are they harmed? They may not like it (like they don’t like not being able to forced children in public schools to pray) but that doesn’t mean they are harmed.

  5. October 19th, 2011 at 07:28 | #5

    @Bob Barnes How am I untruthful? Did I say a church was forced yet? The truth is that is what they want. It is a lie to say it will not affect churches while at the same time working for laws to force them to perform fake marriages.

  6. Ken
    October 19th, 2011 at 10:53 | #6

    @Glenn E. Chatfield
    Glenn – The fact that after seven years of marriage equality in Massachusetts, NOT ONE church has even come close to being forced to perform a marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple is proof that your claims are unfounded. We know that although divorced people are allowed to remarry and interfaith couples are allowed to marry, no church has been required to perform ceremonies for such couples. You can try to create all the fiction you want around the “consequences” of same-sex marriage but the fact is that they’re nothing but desperate attempts to validate anti-gay prejudice.

  7. Bob Barnes
    October 19th, 2011 at 14:32 | #7

    Folk, don’t confuse Glenn with things like facts. As he points out, “Did I say a church was forced yet?” but yet, the “lies” from his original post exist.

  8. October 19th, 2011 at 14:34 | #8

    @Ken Are you even paying attention to the context of the conversation or what I said. The article discusses a lawmaker trying to force churches to perform such fake marriages. I never said any were done. I said the lie that same-sex fake marriage will hurt no one, and that churches will not be involved, is proven by a lawmaker trying to do that very thing.

    Prejudice is judgment without investigating what one is prejudiced against – it is bias with no basis. Being agains homosexual behavior and the state endorsement of it is not prejudice – it is judging a behavior for what it is. I have yet to meet anyone who is against people who practice homosexual behavior – i.e., “anti-gay.” What everyone I know is “anti-” is anti state endorsement and promotion of homosexual behavior by redefining what marriage is, and punishing those who speak against homosexual behavior and those who refuse to give personal sanction to it.

  9. October 20th, 2011 at 07:22 | #9

    @Bob Barnes Perhaps you ALSO need to learn how to read and comprehend. I gave no lies.

  10. Regan DuCasse
    October 21st, 2011 at 10:34 | #10

    Canada, although having similar Western cultural and living standards to ours, ISN’T AMERICA!
    Comparing other countries and their policy changes doesn’t have as much to do with the US.
    Understand this: Canada also has public health and TAX funded anti discrimination aspects that long ago connected the LIBEL against gay people as expensive and a burden on the public.
    Anti gay sentiment IS a liability. They are at least honest about that, and have tried to caution faith communities about saying that gay people are pedophiles, spread AIDS, are out to destroy the family and threaten children.

    Because when it’s all said and done the results are dangerous and threaten the innocent. There is the risk of crimes against gay people. The risk of assaults on children and their suicides. Those crimes COST. It costs the public in litigation against the schools. It costs in legal fees, incarceration for criminals who assault gay people. It costs in lost lives, or productivity or hospital charges for gay people injured in anti gay crimes.

    The sorts of defamation that’s constantly spewed against gay people, also threatens hetero people suspected of being gay.
    And if certain faith communities can’t see the practical sense in that, then Canada feels an obligation to MAKE them understand their accountability to the liability their language and behavior truly is.

    Here in America you have people claiming it’s their faith that obligates them to abuse gay people, use the Constitution and government to do so, and in the meantime, the costs of lost productivity and threat to gay people is supposed to go on with impunity. In other words, some people of faith expect gay people to be sacrificed to their religion, but see no reason to be accountable for any actions they take against another citizen in that way.
    You can’t yell FIRE! in a crowded situation when there IS no fire.
    You cannot create a panic, that endangers others, when there is no reason to create that panic. What happens is that it’s the faith community that is the liability, not the people they libel who are.

    In another way, Canada is showing certain faith communities their obligations to not creating an unnecessary panic and therefore, liability.
    There ARE limits to what a religious group can do when it comes to respecting the life and liberty of others and should be. After all, the government can’t be forced or expected to keep contraception from those who need and want it.
    Nor police contraceptive sex because of the chosen faith of others.

    This subject with regard to America though: there is no evidence WHATSOEVER that any clergy was unwillingly forced to officiate a same sex wedding in civilian territory. Gay couples have so many other alternatives, rendering such force on clergy UNNECESSARY.

    It’s UNNECESSARY for faith communities to say that all gay people are threatening, as much as it’s unnecessary for gay couples to litigate or make their government force the unwilling to officiate their ceremonies.
    Nothing to see here. Move along.

  11. October 22nd, 2011 at 05:59 | #11

    @Regan DuCasse Sweden and the Netherlands were the first to have same-sex fake marriage and everyone was saying that would never happen in the US. It doesn’t matter where these incidents take place – the homosexualists have an agenda which is to be implemented as globally as possible. Canada, by the way IS America – it’s part of North America. No, it isn’t the USA, but the USA liberal judicial system has been justifying much of what they do based on what happens in other countries.

    The point is that it doesn’t matter whether it is in Canada or any other country – the fact remains that the claim that same-sex fake marriage will affect no one else and will not affect the churches is a bald-faced lie.

    Pro-homosexual sentiment is the real public liability in all the destruction to society. “Hate speech” laws are selectively enforced only against conservatives. It is a violation of free speech to label as “libel” anything someone disagrees with.

    It is a proven fact, by the books and other writings of homosexual activists, that they are indeed out to destroy the institution of marriage and the family unit just to be able to justify their sexual behavior, just to get public endorsement for something only 2% of the population participates in, and which is destructive in nature.

    There are already laws on the books for any crime that would be perpetrated against homophiles, but that isn’t enough – they get special protection by having additional punishment levied just for saying homosexuality is wrong. You can beat up a normal person and spew anti-straight invectives but not be punished for “hate crime.” Every crime is a hate crime!

    It is a rare incident when anyone abuses homophiles, and yet you make it into a big political issue. However, when a homophile attacks a normal person, that’s no news at all.

    Religion isn’t the main issue – the main issue is the fact that same-sex unions are destructive to society, homosexual behavior is destructive to the body and to society and endorsing it by the state is even more destructive to society. All one has to do is to look at the results in marriage and family over in Europe where same-sex fake marriage has been legal for over a decade.

    AGAIN, I never stated nor implied that any church anywhere was forced to perform a fake marriage. My point was that here is a legislator who wants to force churches to do so. And yet they lie and say it will not affect churches!

  12. John Noe
    October 26th, 2011 at 19:58 | #12

    You are so right Glenn as churches are being prosecuted in Sweden.

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