Wednesday 16 December 2009

Christian Insitute claims Christians are being marginalised by equality and diversity laws

The Christian Institute has issued a report which claims that Christians are being marginalised by a raft of equality and diversity laws which leave them the first to be punished and the last to be protected. They link the report to the comments made by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the weekend that the Government treats Christians as eccentric oddities.

The report, called “Marginalising Christians”, catalogues numerous cases of Christians being sidelined by public bodies, popular media, employers and barriers to public funding and charts examples of Christians being violently attacked in ‘faith hate’ assaults.

The Christian Institute says faith groups fear the Equality Bill currently being debated will further erode ‘their’ liberty because the Government is using the Bill to drastically shrink the freedom of churches to insist that their staff’s sexual conduct is in keeping with the Bible.

Let’s get this straight. A minority of Christians, those who are conservative in theology and literal in their reading of the Bible fear being marginalized by the proposed laws.

Other Christians, the majority, live and work in UK society where equality in law for gay people, women, ethnic minorities, those with disabilities, is taken as essential to the health of our society and those who, in the past, have been subjected to discrimination. Elements in the Church insist on maintaining taboos and prejudices. More, they insist on legal protection for their prejudice.
The majority of Christians welcome the way in which legal equality and protection has been extended to groups who in the past had been discriminated against.

Many Christians do not feel marginalized in modern Britain as Mike Judge, from the the Christian Institute, claims. A minority feel marginalized because they adhere to discriminatory Christian belief systems.

The “... stream of equality and diversity laws [that] have failed to reasonably accommodate the rights of religious believers [and]. Christians in particular [who] feel they have been pushed to the back of the queue … the first to be punished and the last to be protected”, as Mike Judge claims, are welcomed by Changing Attitude and many other Christian groups because they are making reluctant minorities within the church face the reality of their prejudice and the damaging effects of some Christian teachings once claimed to be fundamental.

The majority of Christians welcome equality and diversity legislation and want it extended to cover everyone in the church, including those in ordained ministry, women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people INCLUDED!


  1. The Majority? One hundred years ago, "the majority" would have welcomed laws forbidding inter-racial marriage. Is your idea that "The Majority rules."? If not, how do you determine when and why it doesn't? Without bringing theology into it

    One of the biggest reasons "faithful" people feel marginalized is that-they are. The fastest growing component of the religious spectrum is "None of the Above." About one fourth of those 18-30 years old belong to the "Atheist/Agnostic/Nonbeliever/Nonaffiliated" category.
    Fundiegelicals who preached that only "Bible Preaching" christians would grow are starting to face up to the fact that a lot of their "growth" was simply people moving in one door and out the other after a few years.
    About 2.1% of those under 25 years old belong to the Mainline protestant tradition, which means that if you thought you were being marginalized before, this is just the beginning.

  2. I think what is notable is that it is only religious extremists who are in the least bothered about these laws - for everyone else they have caused no problem at all. More and more people have been to a civil partnership, works with someone who is gay, has had a gay couple staying at their hotel - the list goes on

    The thing is that the fundies simply don;t realise how much they have marginalised themselves

  3. The whole point of living in a society that is governed by rule of law is that individuals and groups give up some of their freedom in order to be protected from the results of unfettered action by all. Thomas Hobbes wrote "Leviathan" explaining just that concept noting that life otherwise would be "nasty, brutish and short."
    The problem that Christians have is in making the transition from the privileged to the ordinary. Not so long ago the church could say pretty much what it liked about individuals and whole classes of people because it held the moral high ground. People, even if they didn't actually believe, nevertheless looked to the church for moral leadership.
    That's changed. The church is only one among many claiming to have the answer to our moral dilemmas. In fact the church doesn't even have a single voice any more. There are many competing perspectives within Christianity. There are different views on what the Bible says and even on what it is.
    Some Christians think they are marginalised. Perhaps they are but as Merseymike says they have marginalised themselves if they think they still live in the world of privilege.
    Equality laws are tricky things and best avoided if there is another way of protecting minorities. I'm not convinced that this raft of regulations is the best way but we're stuck with it and we all need to try to make it work whenever we come into contact with it. Getting involved in a few doubtful cases and giving them a higher profile than they deserve is not going to help the legislation work, whoever is using the tactic. All it does is set up a "tit for tat" game that nobody can win but everybody loses.
    Christians are not the "last to be protected". They have enjoyed positive discrimination for centuries. Not so long ago Islam, Judaism and the major Eastern religions were, if not illegal, unrecognised. They were not allowed to build their mosques and temples and no provision was made for observance of their traditions and ceremonies.
    Christians, on the other hand had the Sunday trading laws and the Lord's Day Observance Act to make sure no one enjoyed themselves on a Sunday. I'm not ancient but I can remember when the swings in the park were chained up from Saturday evening until Monday morning. Blasphemy laws have only just been removed from the statue book yet anyone could say what ever they wished about Hindus, Sikhs or Moslems even calling their faiths Satanic if they so desired.
    Finally, Mike Judge and the others never mention one point. They could invoke the same legislation against their "persecutors" if they so wished.
    One of the speakers at Spring Harvest this year advised Christians who felt marginalised to stop complaining and get on with the job of showing the love of God to those who need Him. And that means being genuine and knowing when to back off, unlike the Flat Earth News'* cause celebre this Sunday,
    The Christian Institute and others may like to get their noses out of their law books and start doing just that.
    *Daily Mail to those who weren't at Spring Harvest