Wednesday, March 02, 2011

British Homophobes Lose Another Religious-Based Lawsuit

Eunice and Owen Johns are a British couple who went to court to seek the right to foster
children and indoctrinate them with their homophobic (allegedly faith-based) views
There is a cause célèbre legal case which is exciting religious heterosexual supremacists on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It pits religious belief versus non-discrimination based upon sexual orientation. The Johns are a couple of Pentecostal Christians from Derby, England who wanted to become foster parents to young children but also felt that they were not willing to "tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing."

The Johns sued the Derby City Council and lost.

Andrew Brown in The Guardian ("The law of England is not Christian") quotes Lord Munby's decision:
"We are simply not here concerned with the grant or denial of State 'benefits' to the claimants. No one is asserting that Christians (or, for that matter, Jews or Muslims) are not 'fit and proper' persons to foster or adopt. No one is contending for a blanket ban. No one is seeking to de-legitimise Christianity or any other faith or belief. No one is seeking to force Christians or adherents of other faiths into the closet. No one is asserting that the claimants are bigots. No one is seeking to give Christians, Jews or Muslims or, indeed, peoples of any faith, a second class status. On the contrary, it is fundamental to our law, to our polity and to our way of life, that everyone is equal: equal before the law and equal as a human being endowed with reason and entitled to dignity and respect."
Additionally, the Johns case quotes an earlier decision written by Lord Laws regarding whether religious belief could exempt clerks from performing same-sex civil partnerships:
"The promulgation of law for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds cannot therefore be justified; it is irrational, as preferring the subjective over the objective, but it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary. We do not live in a society where all the people share uniform religious beliefs. The precepts of any one religion, any belief system, cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other. If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic. The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law, but the State, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself."

"So it is that the law must firmly safeguard the right to hold and express religious beliefs. Equally firmly, it must eschew any protection of such a belief's content in the name only of its religious credentials. Both principles are necessary conditions of a free and rational regime."
It would be incredible if we could get such a strong judicial opinion about the separation of church and state from our Highest Court. Andrew Brown finished with a statement which has immediate implications for the kulturkampf (culture war) about homosexuality we are currently engaged in:
Obviously, these judgments will have a considerable effect on evangelical protestantism in this country, which has always taken the view that we are, or should be, a Christian nation. But I think the greatest effect will not be on pentecostalists like the Johnses. They can adjust quite easily to the idea that they live under a heathen or godless regime. It is the old-fashioned evangelical wing of the Church of England which will be most upset and confused by these clear statements of principle.
Repeat after me: America is NOT a Christian nation.

Hat/tip to Joe.My.God.

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