Comments: SORs: from the Church Times

The Church Times' picture says it all.

(the Bill Bowder link doesn't work)

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 9:33am GMT

Reading The Mail on Sunday 18.03.07, the article by Jonathan Oliver, Page 15, highlights the findings of the BBC Poll confirming what I have been trying to say for months, that Christians are being discriminated against in Britain today more than any other group. Recently many Christians have expressed their deep concerns over the governments forced Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) using the guise of yet more gay rights legislation to discriminate against Christians and force them to act against their beliefs, values and conscience. Yet the government has totally ignored their protest and made no concessions. Ever since the protest outside the House of Lords against the SORs I have been trying to bring to the publics attention that there is a hidden aggressive secularist agenda led by this Government and supported by influential aggressive liberal secularist. It's time Christians woke up and started to fight back before it's too late.

Posted by Simon Icke at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 9:46am GMT

Link fixed, sorry for that.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 10:20am GMT

What a load of nonsense.

Christians are not discriminated against in law at all. It is quite right that discriminatory beliefs should not be able to be put into active practice. Values and conscience that reflect prejudice and discrimination should not be 'respected'

What may be the case is that people dislike conservative Christian viewpoints, and do not wish to see them as part of civil law. if that is an 'aggressive secular agenda', then absolutely - I do all I can to oppose the aims of groups such as the Christian Institute, because i think they are profoundly wrong.

Conservative Christians simply can't accept the fact that their prejudices are no longer socially acceptable nor reflected in British law.

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 10:23am GMT

Simon ; just an observation from your article - I think that many gay campaigners actually think that a co-ordinated approach to harassment may make more sense, since it goes further than simply the 'goods and services' provision.

Its always annoying to have to wait for change when you want it now, but I'd question whether all gay organisations and campaigners necessarily reject the approach of dealing with harassment under more general review of legislation. It is going to be a priority of the new commission in any case.

I tend to agree that churches have been given the right to discriminate within their own boundaries, which suggests to me that the protesting churches simply want the right to discriminate in civil society in the way they are able to do so in their temples of bigotry. No sensible gay man or lesbian wants anything to do with the institutional church these days in any case - my observation is that they are leaving in droves and young gays and lesbians are rejecting Christianity altogether. frankly, I think they are right to do so unless Christianity is prepared to change

Posted by Merseymike at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 10:28am GMT

Simon (Icke):
If you have not yet realised that shrilly to claim the entirety of the Christian mantle for oneself is a foolish and presumptious thing to do, you have not been paying close attention to contributions on TA.

For many Christians the SORs are welcome and long overdue, and the parading of some Christians who represent themselves as 'pars pro toto' is as offensive to me as I am doubtless offensive to them. Nevertheless, the surname 'Christian' belongs to us all, and the implication that Christians who do not share your analysis are (a) foolish or (b) Christians in name alone speaks volumes.

A tired old rant fom me, I know, but true nevertheless.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 11:03am GMT

I am hearing anecdotal evidence that GLBTs are not rejecting Christianity per se, but the solo scripturalists churches.

I have a friend who was in a pioneering AIDS online support forum and a number of her compatriots in the US are getting involved with inclusive church outreach programs, and enjoying the process and theology.

Like my friend, they reject a cruel image of Jesus, but eagerly accept and support a more gentle Jesus that is compassionate to all humanity and respectful of the whole of creation.

However, sadly, many of these souls now avoid church communities as they have been badly hurt.

Mind you, I've just come back from an evening with some friends, and their anecdotes about church counselling after their marriage breakdowns also demonstrates a lack of connection of what it is like to be married to an abusive marriage partner and what is practically required to rebuild one's live after being escaping from such a cycle.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 11:04am GMT


Ref your Church Times article and picture, a few observations which may be helpful as I was there that day:

(1) The banner in question was the only one of its type as the rest were mass-produced. It was wielded by a group of messianic jews - as they say, there is no-one so radical as a convert.

(2) In calling homosexuality an abomination they were not giving their own opinion but merely alerting those unfamiliar with scripture including many christians to the content of Lev 18.22.

(3) Lev 18.22 might not matter so much were this not one of the OT stances reiterated in the NT.

(4) The original CT report on the rally described the crowd as 'small but vocal'. Miraculously (or not?) this coincided with the picture which they would have wished to promote. Lisa Severine Nolland asked a policeman for his estimate and he said 3000. I was there from beginning to end and I would have been surprised if there were more than 2000 (not that one can see too well in the middle of a packed crowd - but I did walk from one side to the other of the crowd). At least the policeman was unbiased though in my view possibly mistaken.

The point is that both the CT report and the CT picture were inaccurate. And inaccurate (by coincidence?) in one particular direction: namely, to give the impression that a small bunch of fanatics were involved. Small: incorrect. Fanatics: to judge from the posters, there was only that one that stood out, which was merely quoting the OT (as backed up by the NT).

The point of this site and others, and of the CT and other newspapers, is to seek the truth not to confirm our own ideologies. Therefore some comeback is required on why this did not happen - please?

Posted by Christopher Shell at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 12:39pm GMT

I only wrote this one article, not the news stories, nor did I choose the illustrations or the captions.

Go here for Church Times contacts:

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 1:17pm GMT

In reference to Christopher Shell's comments, it is worth repeating here that the supposedly anti-homosexual passages in the NT can be understood as a condemnation of pederasty and/or compulsory cultic sex acts between otherwise heterosexual people. In other words a call to be what you are sexually whether that be gay or straight, even the OT restrictions could be understood as a condemnation of forced sexual congress between people of the same sex or breaches of the rules of hospitality. Translating ancient ideas and texts into modern language and thought is not easy and for a very long time a quite extreme interpretation has been given to certain rather confusing texts.

For example, have a look at this discussion of the actual meaning of Leviticus 18:22 You will see that the matter is certainly up for debate.

As for me, I wish the notion of Biblical inerrancy could be forgotten about. Where a scripture clearly runs against God’s will as revealed by His spirit then we should not feel bound by it. There is much beauty in the Bible but also a great deal that is quite ugly.

Some socially conservative groups are attempting to hijack Christianity in order to promote an intolerant agenda quite alien to the teachings of the Jesus who urged:

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

Posted by Jon at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 1:50pm GMT

"In calling homosexuality an abomination they were not giving their own opinion but merely alerting those unfamiliar with scripture including many christians to the content of Lev 18.22." Christopher Shell

In calling genocide and the massacre of women and children a holy and godly act they were not giving their own opinion but merely alerting those unfamiliar with scripture including many christians to the content of Num 31, 1 Sam 15 Etc.

Posted by Fr Joe O'Leary at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 2:07pm GMT

"Ever since the protest outside the House of Lords against the SORs I have been trying to bring to the publics attention that there is a hidden aggressive secularist agenda led by this Government and supported by influential aggressive liberal secularist. It's time Christians woke up and started to fight back before it's too late."

This is now the second time in recent days you;ve used this made up word "secularist" as if it were an ideology. The proper adjective is "secular". And I still fail to see why a government should be anything but secular.

Posted by ruidh at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 2:33pm GMT

David Rowett

/irony on/ Sadly, you don't count as a Christian in the eyes of the likes of SI. You, like me, are a Satan-inspired liberal who doesn't even merit a footnote in the Lamb's Book of Life. And such folk will not rest until the last liberal has been smothered with the apron of the last freemason (or possibly the chasuble of the last crypto-papist), and Calvin's Geneva (not to mention Akinola's Abuja) spreads o'er the whole wide earth. And everone will then be forced to watch the TV programmes of Jack Van Impe and the gorgeous Rexella.

What a vision of the New Jerusalem! /irony off/

Posted by cryptogram at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 2:46pm GMT

Thanks Mr. Shell for reminding us that conservative believers who sometimes disavow or moderate their public allegiance to the OT harshness in Leviticus are, actually, still, closely pledged to it.

That handy tag, Abomination, has a long and rather independent western religious history. Independent that is of its ancient near eastern origins. So we must confront and investigate in our discernments the full range legacy question: Are queer folks Abominations? Any more than straight folks?

Now the paths of hermeneutics and discernment diverge.

A contextual-historical study will suggest that homosexuality is every bit as much an Abomination as sowing two kinds of seed in a single field, or playing football, or eating shellfish. Also, the Abomination bit is reserved for males, and females get off scot free. Imagine that. Hooray for lesbians, then.

You see just where all this leads us, towards increasingly absurd or partial or dubious readings and positions. Towards tribal laws in a male-oriented society.

To put the hermeneutic brakes on all that, conservatives now ex post facto have discovered that the bans on homosexuality are moral law and the bans on fields, footballs, and shellfish are cultic law - so we may safely drop one side and hew to the other. Yet nothing in the OT text explicitly authorizes this via some sort of timed out difference in sacred authority. Let alone the conservative eagerness to fill in the literal narrative's text gap that fails to condemn two mommies.

Well until we get to the major and minor prophets, and then we are reminded that Yahweh is interested in the human heart and not all these strict obediences, ritual burnt offerings in temples and otherwise.

The NT Jesus rather puts the kabosh on all of it, when he preaches that Sabbaths are made to nourish humanity, not humanity made to obey Sabbaths.

Alas. We still have Abomination so much with us. Lord have mercy. Nevertheless, in Christ we are amazingly free to change our minds for the better, based on real facts about real people. Again and again and again. Thank goodness, thank God.

Posted by drdanfee at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 3:06pm GMT

I'm very tired of those religious conservatives who never give the impression of having made any effort to understand why those who disagree with them, do so. Um, yes, we are in fact familiar with all of the "clobber passages" alluded to. And we make every effort to understand why you love these passages so much. Some of us give them alternate readings, some of us read them as literally as you do and reject them as we would reject any form of incitement to hatred and violence. (When's the last time you've killed an idolator? Or even as much shunned one of your Hindu co-workers, whose worship involves "graven images"?) One verse that describes some form of same-sex activity as "abomination" and another that suggests those guilty of it be stoned to death constitutes exactly that sort of incitement.

There is no reason for believing that either the ancient Hebrews or the early Christians were free from prejudicial attitudes towards certain groups of people. (Unless we're prepared to maintain that each and every Amalekite, male and female, old and young and babe in arms, and their cows and their little dogs too, deserved to die for misdeeds their ancestors committed against the ancestors of the Israelites. Unless we're prepared to maintain that once Peter had been prompted by the Lord to get over his feelings of distaste towards Gentiles, no other Christian ever needed to get over similar feelings.) Or that somehow, those attitudes could not have made their way into their sacred texts or been attributed to the Lord. The Bible is called "holy" not because it is infallible but because it forms the core of our religious traditions, and because we may encounter the divine through a careful reading of it. Every moral position needs to be tested and retested against the supreme law of compassionate love. The historical attitudes towards same sex love have only been tested in the past few decades - and in the opinion of many, Christian or not, have failed miserably.

Posted by Brian at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 5:26pm GMT

find this abusive misuse of children gives me cause for concern.

With regard to the term from the Hebrew Bible / Tanakh, rendered into English there as 'abomination', much could be said. Suffice for now, to point up the severity of this 'condemnation' in context. The consumption of shell-fish, bacon, and white coffee after a steak dinner also have the word 'abomination' applied to them. As do the pratcies of shaving and wearing mixed fibre fabrics.

In the interests of public godliness and Christian probity, I shall look forward to public protest against the full range of 'Abominations'.

The Jewish Publication Society translation, of 1985, does not render the Hebrew as 'abomination'.

An inspiring Jewish angle on these matters, --and tour de force is daniel boyarin's Unheroic Conduct - the Rise of Heterosexuality & the Invention of the Jewish Man (1997, University of California Press).

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 6:39pm GMT

"(2) In calling homosexuality an abomination they were not giving their own opinion but merely alerting those unfamiliar with scripture including many christians to the content of Lev 18.22."

Ha, ha! they were "only" quoting Scripture ;=) no personal responsibility at all...

Latin "abominatio" is a most uncertain translation of Greek bdélygma, a word nobody knows for sure what it actually means.

It is probably not 1st Temple – perhaps not even original to the context – but Ezraic, appearing only in some very late and/or heavily edited scriptures, such as some 40 times each in Proverbs and Hezekiah (in the formula "their trespasses and hmhm"), but not at all in the "lesser", that is un-redacted Prophets, or Numeri.

"(3) Lev 18.22 might not matter so much were this not one of the OT stances reiterated in the NT."

You should know that this claim is a Renaissance fantasy of no actual merit.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 8:32pm GMT

In view of the Government and Liberal whips not allowing their MPs and Peers a free vote for this weeks passing of the new Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) as they were forced through the House of Commons and the Lords at unseemly undemocratic haste. Is this what the Government calls democracy? Using outrageous undemocratic and underhand tactics to force these unwelcome new rules on the majority. Should the silent majority now accept this so called democratic process and these unwelcome new rules?

I would like to ask the Government and its liberal supporters; democracy what democracy? You mean riding roughshod over the majority without debate to appease a 3% militant minority? What is it now, the 9th piece of gay rights legislation in nine years of New Labour Government. That sounds more like a Government obsessed with gay rights to me. Like so many liberals when someone dares to make a stand and say enough is enough. You make the 'cheap shot' of calling all Christians and people of other faiths who opposed these half baked SORs 'homophobic'.(liberals are only liberal when people agree with them). There was enough legislation all ready in place to protect homosexuals from discrimination. In any case I see no evidence of your so called 'homophobia' from Christians. Merely Christians saying we have rights too; the right to our beliefs, our values and conscience, the same values and beliefs that have been around since Christianity began.

Posted by Simon Icke at Friday, 23 March 2007 at 11:48pm GMT

Simon Icke

The 9th piece of gay rights legislation in nine years? Well, don't worry. Once lgbt people are 100% equal to everyone else the need for further legislation will stop and enough will be enough.

Liberals are not only liberals if everyone agrees with them. You are welcome to your thoughts and highly un-Christian beliefs. What you cannot do is impose them on others. What's wrong with that?

Christians have rights too - absolutely. That's why lgbt Christians are fighting to have theirs recognised, and why those who share the core values and beliefs that have been around since Christianity began share the battle.

Remember those core values? They're all to do with love, especially loving your neighbours and those you perceive to be your enemies.
I don't sense much love coming through your contribution.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 24 March 2007 at 10:58am GMT

As I pointed out already in the thread on the 3 Archbishops unfortunate letters, there has been ample opportunity over many years to address the question of the present British Government and its peculiar ways in Parliament.

But the Archbishops did not do that. They claimed Privileges "for this church". Privileges to discriminate. Quite a different matter altogether.

Also, existing legislation has n o t been sufficient to protect all citizens equally. This is why old laws have been strengthened and new ones introduced since 1945 all over Europe, and especially since the Treaty of Maastricht in 1993.

Simon Icke can’t see any evidence of 'homophobia' from Christians. “Merely Christians saying we have rights too; the right to our beliefs, our values and conscience…”

But all have these rights and liberties equally. Worse, this is not what the “Christians” in question are claiming, on the contrary, they say that unless they are allowed to discriminate freely against others, they are themselves being discriminated against.

Nazis say the same. I am sure one can find other fanatics, religious as well as political, who make similar claims. It’s a fact of human existence – but this does not make it True.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 24 March 2007 at 11:08am GMT

Christopher Shell certainly shows how to use Scripture as a murder weapon. But as is well known the unstoppable advance of gay rights movements has actually been enabled by these fundies who relied on the letter of Scripture to make their case against gays. All the intelligence and persuasiveness has been on the gay side and the opposition has been amazingly weak, intellectually footless in fact. This has relevance for Anglicanism too -- the malcontents of the Global South are relying heavily on the stupidities of fundamentalism, which foredooms their case to a speedy collapse.

Posted by Fr Joe O'Leary at Saturday, 24 March 2007 at 11:14am GMT

"Using outrageous undemocratic and underhand tactics to force these unwelcome new rules on the majority."

Well, now there's an accusation without a shred of evidence. The Conservatives had a free vote and significant numbers voted for the proposals. What makes you think the result would have been significantly different had a free vote been called? Wouldn't the left- leaning parties have an even more substantial level of support? If there were significant support for a "No" vote, the MPs would have demanded a free vote, don't you think? And that doesn't even begin to explain the majority in Lords.

Your "silent majority" seems to be rather thin.

Posted by ruidh at Saturday, 24 March 2007 at 12:00pm GMT

Generally, MP's are not allowed free votes on matters which are party policy.

And in any case, socialists and liberals generally believe in equality and fairness.

As for existing legislation, perhaps you could explain, Simon Icke, exactly which existing legislation would have protected gay people from discrimination? Well, you could have a go, but as there wasn't any, you'll be taking a while to do so...

Posted by Merseymike at Sunday, 25 March 2007 at 12:44am GMT

The bit of my comment which needs to be addressed, and so far has not been is:

(3) Lev 18.22 might not matter so much were this not one of the OT stances reiterated in the NT.

A number of the commenters above have not been honest. They knew very well that I included this point (3) but addressed themselves only to (2), which (3) modified, deliberately ignoring (3). Why? Because they wanted to caricature my position? Which is not what truth-seekers do.

It is not difficult, by such means, to discern who is seeking the truth and who is just out to make trouble. But truth seeking is the sine qua non of debate.

(Goran did address my point 3, but I have never met anyone else -certainly no scholars- who agrees with his view of bible transmission.)

Posted by Christopher Shell at Monday, 26 March 2007 at 12:39pm BST

That is great - but as you are associated with CT, perhaps you would pass on that their readers who are not in possession of first hand information deserve less sensationalism and more balance. We all know what motivations produce the former and we all know that journalists are averse to the latter - but in a Christian newspaper...?

Posted by ChrIstopher Shell at Monday, 26 March 2007 at 12:41pm BST
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.