Monday, 26 November 2012

Blinkered and Myopic

Law is What I Say It Is

It seems that support is growing for a "carve out" clause in the homosexual marriage law presently before a parliamentary select committee in New Zealand. 

One "expert" advocating such a conscience clause to recognise the conscientious objection and non-participation of churches in solemnising, participating in, solemnising, or recognizing homosexual "marriage" is Victoria University Faculty of Law professor Bill Atkin.  Here is the good professor's argument, as summarized in the NZ Herald:

Victoria University Faculty of Law professor Bill Atkin recommended that the committee add a "conscience clause" to the legislation.  "Given that there has been some discussion in the media as well as around this table there should be ... some redrafting done to make it quite clear that people in the interests of freedom of religion do not have to perform a marriage which they object to on the grounds of their religious belief."  Professor Atkin said there was a strong public consensus that this was what the bill intended, but it was important to make it explicit in law.  He recommended a narrowly defined exemption for mainstream churches from anti-discrimination legislation.
How stupid can you get?  One wonders how the august professor would define "mainstream churches"?  What on earth are they?  And what criteria would be applied?  And who would provide the test?  Would it be extended to Brian Tamaki's Destiny outfit, for example?  Don't hold your breath: we fully expect that our enlightened Professor Atkin would hardly want to call Destiny mainstream.  But what, then, should be done about their conscience and religious convictions?  What about the non-"mainstream" Pacific Islands Methodist Church? In or out?  Is the Professor of Law really arguing that the State would favour some churches and override the consciences of others? 

What, one wonders, would be done about the host of independent churches which have no wider denominational or organizational infrastructure?  They would clearly not be considered "mainstream".  Should we toss their consciences into the latrine?  Surely what Professor Atkin is proposing gets mighty close to the legal recognition and establishment of some churches, but no others.  Where now the much vaunted separation of church and state?  Oh, that's right.  Appeals to the principle separation of church and state only apply when the cause is to increase secularism and diminish the influence of the church.  It can never be allowed to go the other way.  It is a principle for bludgeoning religious people, not protecting them or leaving them alone.  And people say that Professor Atkin is a professor of law.

And what, prey tell, should be done with the consciences and religious convictions of others--such as Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Hindus, Muslims?  Are they not religions?  Do their devotees and adherents not have consciences?  Is Professor Atkin arguing that the law should override and trample the consciences of some religions, but not others?  Yes--that is clearly the implication.  And people say that Professor Atkin is a professor of law.

Unbelievable, but true. 

1 comment:

Lucia Maria said...

Standard divide and conquer technique. Separate the larger from the smaller, put through what you want, and then start tightening the noose.

We stand or fall together on this one.