Tuesday, 23 January 2007

And Now the Anglicans Too

The Church of England had always seemed to me to be quite tolerant. I even know of churches in its fold who actively welcome LGBT people. It seems I have been mistaken.

At the very time when Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor is defending himself against accusations of blackmailing the government, the C. of E. in the persons of its two highest ranking prelates (Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and John Sentamu, Archbishop of York) have just come out in an open letter to the Prime Minister in support of Murphy-O'Connor's threat that some adoption agencies may have to close because of the forthcoming Sexual Orientation Regulations.

This argument is actually relatively new in the debate. When the law was changed to allow gay couples to adopt last year, nothing (strangely) was heard from religious people. And when some of them decided they did not like the new regulations, they focused their energy of the rediculous fallacy that Christian B&B owners would be in trouble. You could almost hear nothing else.

When they saw that this tack did not work, they then decided to use one of the oldest tricks in the book when you want to frighten the horses: children. People, especially in the country seem to have viceral, even hysterical reactions when they are told that their children might encur any risk and they don't usually bother to check that this is actually the case before going up in arms and making demands.

So there were are: the ugly gays are out there to get your children. Sorry, the ones you don't want and we can't possibly give them to THEM. Thank god (!) we are here to protect you and those poor children from THEM.

It seems to me there are several flaws in this reasoning though.

First, the law says that gay people can adopt. Who are the Churches to say the law should be ignored?

Second, there is actually a shortage of foster parents in this country. I would think that the more loving and caring couple (gay or straight) can be found to raise those children, the better.

Third, as Mrrs Williams and Sentamu are so keen to remind us in their letter, these agencies are providing a public service. They actually receive some funding from the state (taxpayers' money; some of which is coming from LGBT people and families) to perform those services, thus effectively becoming state agencies. In my opinion, they have therefore an obligation to provide their services to EVERYONE without discrimination whatsoever as any public body would in any secular democratic society.

The fact that they resist dispatching some of their duties so vehemently should perhaps even be a danger signal for the supervising authorities that there may be other areas in which discrimination is taking place. If they can do it so easily and forcefully for one group, why not for another?

If they are not ready to welcome and serve everyone, then I don't think we should expect them to provide any service at all. As I said in my previous post, there are plenty of non moralising organisation ready to do the job properly.


To read my (growing number of) previous posts on the subject, please click here or on "Sexual Orientation Regulations" in the right hand menu.


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