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Posted on Sat 17 January 2015

Why can’t the voice of Christians be heard?

So it has come to this!

For more than 1500 years Christianity has formed and undergirded the public law of this land. Now the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice, by disciplining Richard Page JP, have declared war on even residual notions of the faith having any place in our legal processes.

Until the recent ‘equality’ legislation, the teaching of the Book of Common Prayer was reflected in the law on marriage. Now even to allow such teaching to be taken into account, in reaching a legal decision, is said to be ‘bigoted’ and ‘prejudiced’.

This is but the latest in a long line of cases having the effect of excluding Christians from public service and holding public office. Both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention guarantee not only freedom of belief and conscience but also the right to manifest such belief in public or in private. In spite of subscribing to the UN Declaration and the European Convention, and contrary to our own Human Rights Act, the government and law officers, it seems,are intent on preventing Christians from manifesting their belief in the public sphere.

Indeed, the implications are wider than that for what is said about Mr Page could apply equally to Jews, Muslims and others. The chief law officers of the Crown, and those who have complained to them, allege that Mr Page has improperly allowed his religious beliefs to influence his decision.

It is true that Mr Page cannot exclude what his faith teaches from his consideration of these matters but, as he says, his decision was not based solely on his religious beliefs, or, indeed, simply because of the sexual orientation of the couple involved. It was taken for objective reasons in the interests of the child and for the common good. The complaint against Mr Page tells us that there is research showing that children adopted by same-sex couples do better than children in traditional families.

So much for the rest of the world believing that children need both mothers and fathers for the best outcomes in life! It would be interesting to know the credentials of this research; how was the sample recruited, what was the period covered, was the research randomised,was there a control group, to whom were these children compared? We are given none of this information, only the word of a clerk about research conducted by an agency with an interest in the issue.

Against this, the wide-raging University of Texas study by Mark Regnerus certainly found that children brought up by same-sex parents look ‘markedly different’ on numerous outcomes such as education, mental health, employment or use of drugs when compared to those from families with both a mother and a father present. In addition, evidence from Denmark,the United States and the CIVITAS think-tank here has shown the need that children,particularly boys, have for a father.

Fathers relate differently to the child than the mother and children need both mothering and fathering for all round development, the formation of healthy same and other sex relationships and self-esteem. There may be tragic circumstances where a child does not have a present father or mother. Such children and the present parent must, of course, be supported in every way but this is very different from planning to have children who will never know a mother or a father.  

There has been a long tradition in Britain of making room for conscience. Even in times of war, this has been recognised. The 1967 Abortion Act and the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act both respect the consciences of those who have scruples about the manipulation or destruction of foetuses (though recent judicial decisions seem to be limiting even such respect). Why should Mr Page’s conscience not be respected and why should there not be reasonable accommodation of his beliefs?

The complaint against him alleges that he would not sign the final decision taken by the majority, when it was the ‘convention’ to do so. Why is there a convention that does not recognise conscientious dissent? The highest law officers of the land have not only issued a ‘reprimand’ to Mr Page but require him to receive ‘remedial’ training,

This smacks to me of the ‘re-education’ camps so beloved of totalitarian Marxist states. Is this the way to promote liberty or is freedom of speech and belief only for a liberal elite with politically correct views?

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali

January 2015

The complete article, published by the Daily Mail, can be found here

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