For some years now the Christian Legal Centre (CLC) has brought a steady trickle of supposed discrimination cases on behalf of a handful of Christians who, in most cases, have lost a job, or in some way been prevented from manifesting belief. And the courts have determined time and again that the action taken in the first place was lawful because the Christians in question were trying to discriminate against others. And by “others” we pretty much mean gay people.
The cases have been magnified by inflationary press releases and a sometimes eager conservative media into a tale of uniform persecution of Christians by rabidly secular judges. But the obvious truth – that it is not Christians per se being in any way singled out by the courts, but only a tiny handful using Christianity as a means to discriminate against others (gay people) – is sinking in. Witness Deborah Orr in the Guardian today. She misses that the string of cases she lists basically all get backed by the CLC, but the nausea caused by their repetition is evident:
Goodness, they keep on coming – an adoption agency, a registrar, a couple running a bed and breakfast, and now a couple wishing to be respite carers. Is there no end to the supply of out and proud, actively homophobic Christians? Eunice and Owen Johns earlier this week became the latest in a long line of people seeking to establish that their religious beliefs should trump the law of the land. They, like so many others before them, want the legal right to advertise their belief that homosexuality is wrong, and to make their disapproval an open and formal part of their professional dealings with others. They keep being told that it’s not on. But they simply won’t accept that empty prejudices are empty prejudices, whether sanctioned by religious belief or not.
For Orr the line between being freely able to worship as one sees fit – good thing – and on the other unlawfully frustrating the normal lives of others (gay people) based on a weak metaphysical argument – bad thing – is quite clear:
I’m not religious. But I strongly believe that people should be free to worship as they please (within the law). These endless petty cases, in which people attempt to justify their desire to vilify others who do them no harm as “Christian”, make me wonder why I bother.
The fact that the CLC’s cases sometimes seem to revolve almost entirely around trying to establish a right to discriminate against gay people by citing religious grounds is beginning to look like a blunder even to supporters of the overall aim. Witness the Evangelical Alliance:
The Evangelical Alliance expresses doubt about the wisdom in bringing such cases to the High Court in the first place. While there is no doubt that equality laws appear increasingly controversial in the way they seem to disproportionately impact against Christians, there is a clear need for a more cautious and strategic approach when deciding to take matters to court.
Dr Don Horrocks, Head of Public Affairs at the Alliance, said: “We all need to be more clued-up in deciding if and when to fight legal battles. Of course there are occasions when defending religious liberty in the courts is entirely appropriate and if there is evidence of fundamental unfairness in the interpretation of equalities legislation then this needs to be addressed by government.
“However, it is counterproductive to provoke the courts into unnecessary and unhelpful rulings – especially when a case is weak and evidence is lacking. There may also be risks that Christians will be viewed as deliberately engineering conflicts with the courts or pleading privileged treatment.”
Deliberately engineering conflicts with the courts or pleading privileged treatment?! Gosh, who could have thought such a thing was going on.
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]Christian Legal Centre tactics finally start to wear really, really thin,