Thursday, February 16, 2012

Religious vs gay rights

I am interested in resources and articles (especially of a more intellectually rigorous sort) on how the rights of the religious are supposedly being infringed when it comes to rights for homosexuals. e.g. Christian B&B owners being told they cannot deny homosexual couples a double room, Christian adoption agencies being told they cannot discriminate against gay couples, Christian foster parents told they should not tell children under their care that homosexuality is wrong.

PS this is for an upcoming presentation I have been asked to give at a conference at Magdalen College, Oxford. April 11- 13. Religious Freedom and Equality: Emerging Conflicts in North America and Europe. Sponsored by The Religious Freedom Project, Berkley Center, Georgetown University, and The Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, Kellogg College, University of Oxford. Link here.

I will be in discussion with Prof. John Finnis.

17 comments:

nonicoc said...

I would search http://volokh.com/ as well as ask two of the contributors to that blog, Professor Eugene Volokh and Professor Dale Carpenter, about this. I should think they would know of any scholarly analysis in this area.

The Atheist Missionary said...

Required reading for anyone wishing to understand the current Christian right's apologetic assault on homosexuality is Frank Turek's Correct, Not Politically Correct* (DESTI, 2009). I just ordered a copy for you through amazon.co.uk but it looks like they are shipping it to you from the States. It's only 143 pages long.

I think I have mentioned Turek here in the past. He is very bright and hosts a weekly radio show CrossExamined which is available for free through iTunes. Although he appears to earn his keep as a motivational speaker, his true calling is a Christian apologist to university crowds (i.e. he is Stephen's mirror opposite).

Turek is relevant to the issue of this post because he's been fired by both Cisco Systems and the bank of America as a direct result of the book described above.

*My purchase should not be considered an endorsement of Turek's work! “Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.” Sun Tzu

Steve Frenchman said...

Religious vs gay rights
I am interested in resources and articles (especially of a more
intellectually rigorous sort) on how the rights of the religious are
supposedly being infringed when it comes to rights for homosexuals. e.g.
Christian B&B owners being told they cannot deny homosexual couples a
double room, Christian adoption agencies being told they cannot
discriminate against gay couples, Christian foster parents told they
should not tell children under their care that homosexuality is wrong.

So here's my response...

You might want to contact Peter Tatchell and I heard years ago that Gay
Times has (had?) a column Faith Watch. However I can't help hoping that
Peter (for whom I have some respect) will be wise enough not to respond.

In the past I would have agreed with you that faith should have no waver
on equal opportunities. After all, most of the Christians whom I know
are either only mildly or not homophobic at all. Besides, if Christians
have the right to discriminate against gay couples then what right does
a guide dog user have to object if a Muslim cab driver points out that
dogs are unclean and refuses to take them? Indeed as a journalist I
played devil's advocate when speaking to someone from Catholic Voices
and pointed out that it's hard to define a religion, so theological
reasons could be use to excuse for example racism. However he pointed
out that a tribunal can sort out such objections and while that's not a
perfect defence it may be the least bad option.

What changed my mind about the broader issue however was Richard Dawkins
and the new atheists. It is eminently possible to see how an excellent
employee who happens to hold religious views could be 'trapped' by a
colleague with a hostile agenda. Even if this religious person has not
expressed any homophobic attitudes in words or behaviour, the mere
existence of even the mildest ambivalent feelings could be used as a
pretext to call for his or her dismissal. Yet no such efforts at
entrapment would be set out for the non-religious, even though some of
the most aggressively homophobic people that I have met have not been
religious. I think the case of the foster parents who were after all
looking after pre-pubescent children is a perfect example of the
entrapment that would render vulnerable anyone with even the mildest of
religious beliefs. Remember that unlike the adoption agency cases this
was pre-emptive. The children being cared for were pre-pubescent and had
never raised the subject of gay sexuality. We have no reason to believe
that the subject of sex in any form had been raised by the foster
parents. Also bear in mind that what one says when caught on the hoof is
often very different to the reality as it unfolds. Assuming as seems
highly probable that the foster parents were motivated by love, it seems
unlikely that they would lose all love for the child just because s/he
turned out to be gay.

One final point. I am a disabled person living in a world that often
sees disability as a medical tragedy. Of course I would rather that
people see me as their absolute equal but I am painfully aware that for
much of the time they will see my impairment as regrettable and
therefore see me as biologically inferior, even if equal to them in
other regards (intellect for example). A thick skin may be called for if
patronising attitudes are all that is concerned.

Hoping that this message isn't either quickly removed from your site or
that I face a stream of abusive invective from other web users, I hope
you bear my comments in mind.

Paul P. Mealing said...

I can see issues with legislating people to act against their own deeply held beliefs. If you were a same-sex couple, would you want to stay in a B&B run by people who were homophobic?

And what about couples who naturally have children and raise them to believe homosexuality is a mortal sin or some sort of disease. Are we going to force these couples to give up their children for more liberal-minded families? I don't think so.

I visited TAM's link and I have to say that the gay-religious debate is far more toxic and vitriolic in American than it is here in Oz, with terms like 'gay gestapo' and 'homosexual agenda', as if gays are trying to convert heterosexuals to homosexuality.

We have 2 high profile members of parliament (from 2 different parties) who are openly gay, one of whom recently became a mother, yet a bill for gay marriage before parliament will probably be defeated. We also have a leader of the opposition who is strongly Catholic, yet no one indulges in the diatribe I found in TAM's link, and Aussie politicians are famous for their diatribe.

Regards, Paul.

Thomas Larsen said...

Paul, it's a bit frustrating that, in many circles in Australia, anyone who is opposed to homosexual marriage for any reason at all is labelled "homophobic." And this unfortunate trend predictably doesn't foster reasonable intellectual discourse about the issue.

Paul P. Mealing said...

Hi Thomas,

...it's a bit frustrating that, in many circles in Australia, anyone who is opposed to homosexual marriage for any reason at all is labelled "homophobic."

You're speaking from experience on this?

If you want to know the level of debate on this issue in Australia, I suggest you watch this or read the transcript (it's only 6 mths old).

Regards, Paul.

Thomas Larsen said...

Paul, I agree that there is much civil discourse about the topic. But sadly many people on both sides of the debate feel compelled to descent to name-calling.

Thomas Larsen said...

Huh?

*descend to the level of

Paul P. Mealing said...

Hi Thomas,

Australia is a different social landscape to America (and I’ve lived and worked in the US, albeit 10 years ago).

Fundamentally, religion is almost a non-issue in this country, which is not to say that people don’t get bloody-minded on issues like climate-change, asylum seekers and carbon tax.

Regards, Paul.

jules said...

This might be worth a look -

http://www.thelogician.net/5_other_writings/5_nosodom.htm

David Span said...

Thomas, here in Australia, it in some ways seems reasonable that someone opposing homosexual marriage is called "homophobic" in the popular use of term, as having negative attitudes towards homosexuality.

Maybe not reasonable in a clinical sense of a phobia as an irrational fear (although it could be argued that there is some irrationality in reasons given for opposing same-sex marriage).

Opposing same-sex marriage is certainly a negative attitude towards homosexuality.

What do you think such a person should be called? A quick look at Wikipedia suggests...

heterosexist - as in negative attitudes, bias, and discrimination in favour of opposite-sex sexual orientation and relationships; or sexually prejudiced.

Paul P. Mealing said...

Hi Jules,

I checked out the link you posted.

I only got about half way through before I gave up. His (Avi Sion's) assumptions for 'probable causes' are at best folk theories and at worse ignorant beliefs.

After he'd convinced himself that 'this behavior, which all admit is freely chosen' was a slam-dunk I gave up.

The sad part about this is that, not only is he stuck in a previous generation's mind-set, there are many who would agree with him, including the Pope, most likely.

As my homophobic father once pointed out, homosexuality is not a choice as no one would willingly choose it given the psychological pain one must go through.

Regards, Paul.

Paul P. Mealing said...

This is latest from Canberra (Oz) relevant to the topic.

Regards, Paul.

Dan P said...

I think "anti-gay" is a reasonable alernative to "homophobic". It does not provide an etiology of the attitude towards gay people to whom the term applies, who may just be bigots. "Homophobic" lets them off the hook!

Why bother providing an etiolgy? I suppose the term "homophobic" is supposed to empower gay people. However, no such linguistic devise is used in dissussing racial bigotry.

David Span said...

Xenophobia

Anonymous said...

Several academic lawyers writing about this - try McColgan in Industrial Law Journal 2009 or Sandberg in Ecclesiastical Law Journal 2011.

Danielle Hicks-Gallagher said...

I'm sure you already have considered publications and statements by these two groups, but just in case: Dignity and Quest, the US and UK groups/networks for the LGBT Catholic community. New Ways Ministry is another you might want to consider. I realise we are a minority whose voice is not as often heard in the current arguments about Faith vs Gay rights, but Catholic LGBT people do exist, and have to find a middle ground between faith and equality rights.