Charity Tribunal ruling restricts religious freedom to ‘private acts of worship’

The Charity Tribunal’s ruling against the Diocese of Leeds’ adoption agency, Catholic Care, enforces a very narrow definition of religious freedom and freedom of religious belief as freedom to ‘private acts of worship’.

‘As noted above, religious conviction in the sphere of personal belief is protected in both domestic and European equality law, so that acts of devotion, worship, and prayer (including ceremonies) are exempt from equality obligations.  However, with the greatest of respect to the Bishop, his argument overlooked the essential distinction between private acts of worship such as blessings and the provision of a public service such as an adoption agency.  In other words, in advancing this argument, the Bishop did not take account of the law by which the Tribunal is bound’.

Protect the Pope comment: If this extremely restrictive interpretation of the law is enforced in the UK then it seems to me that the Catholic Church is in danger of losing the right to teach moral doctrines in schools and colleges if they conflict with the diktat of the State. We are also in danger of losing the right to appoint Head Teachers and others who are practicing Catholics who uphold the moral teachings of the Church.

This narrow interpretation of Human Rights law by Judge Alison McKenna is part of a trend occurring in other secularist governments and judiciary. For example, members of President Obama’s administration have dropped the phrase ‘religious freedom’ and instead refer to ‘freedom to worship’.

What we are witnessing is the relentless implementation of the secularist agenda to drive religious believers out of the public arena into a private, impotent, religious ghetto.

http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgments/catholic-care-judgment-26042011.pdf

46 comments to Charity Tribunal ruling restricts religious freedom to ‘private acts of worship’

  • louella

    That’s secularism for you. It is a cousin of both fascism and communism…..and like them… reserves the right to usurp the place of God and replace it by the godless all powerful State.

    Isn’t it time we Catholics started to react….and join the judiciary and government to act on behalf of Catholicism and not secularism. We have allowed ourselves to become tools and unwitting supporters of the godless secular state. Let us aim for a complete re-Christianisation of the UK. Our enemies are cunningly working harder for its elimination.

    • Gerry

      I’m fascinated by some of the comments on this site and I’d like to test them if you don’t mind.

      Louella:

      1. Would it be OK if the Papacy ruled the country and set ‘the rules’ instead of the elected Parliament?
      2. I thought that Catholics were part of the judiciary and govt. Have I been mistaken?

      • louella

        Gerry….in a Catholic State the moral laws alone are decided by the Church. But this is very important…as the moral and philosophical basis are the most important foundation of a society. Secular matters are dealt with by secular courts and government. This is the essence of Western Civilisation. Without it…as we can see….the West is not going to survive much longer in its current ‘secular’ form.

        And I guess there are Catholics in the judiciary and government….but I suppose they are acting on behalf of secularism …not on behalf of Catholicism or the advancement of a Catholic society. Time for that to change methinks.

        • Gerry

          Louella

          How would it be if someone else decided it was time for a buhddist, muslem, or druidical society in the UK?

          • louella

            Well……If any of the aforementioned religions are in the majority…they can easily transform the UK into a state of their liking. But remember….we are where we are today….not because of paganism, atheism, socialism, secularism, Islam, Buddhism etc….but because of Christianity.

            Worth noting that.

  • Karla

    Catholicism has never been a ‘private’ religion and that is why secularists hate it.

    • Gerry

      Karla

      Many secularists just want to see all views treated equally. So far as I can see you can only object to equal treatment if you think that you’re the only one who is ‘right’.

  • sam mace

    this was a decision which was inevitable and one which i welcome, hopefully schools and colleges will be made to conform to total equality legislation which means you can’t preach your bigotry in schools.

  • Pedro

    “the Catholic Church is in danger of losing the right to teach moral doctrines”

    In case you haven’t noticed, the Catholic Church lost its right to teach morality when it decided to protect its own rather than the children in its charge. And I’m not just making a cheap shot here – most people now regard the Catholic Church as completely morally bankrupt.

    • sam mace

      you are completely correct

      • SpeSalvi23

        Hmm… I don’t know how old you all are and if you’re already involved in everyday life – like job, family, shopping, hassles, concern, children, and so on and so forth… but I would really like to know what your obsession with spouting your own hate and bigotry on this site is all about?

        Is it some type of teenage rebellion thing? Or are you actually thinking you could make an impact on Catholics with spouting hate and negativity against the Church and its teachings?

        The Catholic Church didn’t decide to protect anybody!! Individual, corrupt, evil members of it did!!
        It’s an open wound. It’s clear, it’s painful and it’s being handled. Give me ONE part of society affected by abuse (practically every part), where the same standards are being implemented!!

        BTW, this very convenient notion of blaming the entire Church for the abuse cases committed by a tiny minority of its members, incl. the subsequent wrong-dealings of them by some Bishops, is a nice attempt to shut us up. But it’s actually a good way of making yourselves look silly.

        I’m German. If you want to tell me that I have no right to talk about human rights /moral/ ethical issues, because some German lunatic hate mongers managed to start a very effective mass hysteria, which then lead to a very efficient way of killing a group which was declared unwanted and to an attempt to take over the entire world, then I’d like to have another conversation with you!!
        I don’t believe in blood guilt or in blaming an entire group of people for the crimes committed by a tiny minority of that group!
        If you do, you might want to read some of your own history books and keep quiet.

        • Tim

          “I don’t believe in blood guilt or in blaming an entire group of people for the crimes committed by a tiny minority of that group!”

          An admirable moral principle that I completely agree with. But how does it square with this from the Catechism of the Catholic Church?:

          “By his sin Adam, as the first man, lost the original holiness and justice he had received from God, not only for himself but for all humans. Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants human nature wounded by their own first sin”

          SpeSalvi, to my mind you have just demonstrated two things – a) that you are a decent, moral human being with an innate moral sense of fairness that would be shared by the vast majority of people on the planet, and b) that that innate sense of fairness might be of human origins, because if we looked to God (as reflected in the Bible or Church teachings) for our moral examples, we would find a God who allowed the sin of one (or two) person(s) to be incorporated into human nature and transmitted to an entire species.

          This goes to the heart of what I find offensive about religion. It is the idea that without it there would be no morality, when actually most people are moral without religion and even serious religious people like yourself hold moral principles which are human rather than God-given in origin.

          • SpeSalvi23

            But Tim!!! He came back to save us! That’s the entire idea of Christianity!
            Through Christ He has forgiven mankind – he pulled us out of eternal damnation and incorporated us into His kingdom – and now it’s up to the individual person to live in His grace or not.

            I cringe when the vertical aspect of Christianity is disregarded.
            That’s the main part – Christ cleared the vertical path for us.
            The horizontal message is strong and important! But it’s the vertical aspect, that really matters!

          • Tim

            SpeSalvi, Thanks for the reply. I do understand about the vertical and horizonal aspects, but isn’t it a bit like a scientist spreading a disease and then providing the vaccine for that disease (and expecting unconditional praise for doing so). The subsequent moral action ameriorates the effects of the first wicked action but it doesn’t change the fact that it was a wicked action which is incompatible with a God who is good.

        • spesalvi23

          I don’t God is acting in any wicked way against men!! Where and how is He wicked??
          By creating the Universe? Earth? Life?
          Sorry, possibly I have a different understanding of obedience and discipline.
          The only reason why I think the entire human project wasn’t scrapped from the beginning is the fact that the snake was involved in the disobedience process -> extenuating circumstances.
          But that’s just my point of view.

    • Gurn

      Why are you even on this website Pedro? You clearly dislike the Catholic faith so what interest do you have even being on here? Why can’t you just go somewhere where you will fit in better like richaddawkins.net?
      And in what position is an atheist in to talk about morality, under an atheist’s point of view there is no objective morality only subjective meaningless morality. It maybe meaningful for you as an individual but that in no way makes it the truth, but just an illusion humans have put themselves under. Only with God and the Catholic faith you truly get morality. For an atheist to talk about morality is laughable

    • Karla

      You can’t charge the whole Catholic Charge for the crimes of people, and they were horrible crimes indeed, but you can not continue to hold lay Catholics, new Priests, new Bishops etc. responsible for the crimes that took place many years ago. All the Church can do is learn from past mistakes and make sure they never happen again.

      The crimes of certain people within the Church don’t make the teachings of Church morally bankrupt.

      • Tim

        “You can’t charge the whole Catholic Charge for the crimes of people, and they were horrible crimes indeed, but you can not continue to hold lay Catholics, new Priests, new Bishops etc. responsible for the crimes that took place many years ago. All the Church can do is learn from past mistakes and make sure they never happen again. ”

        correct, but I think that you can blame the civil authorities in places like Ireland for turning a blind eye to abuse and protecting the church because of holding it in too high esteme. I am sure that there are abusers in any organisation that has opportunity to abuse. It is a sad but true fact that there has been abuse inside and outside the church for centruries. But it is no conincidence that the abuse allegations only started to emerge when the forces of secularism in places like ireland started to errode the respect that the people had for the church. There is probably still abuse in the Irish church, but I bet that there is much less there now than there was 50 years ago and probably less there now than there is in the Church in Africa or other places where the people have more trust and respetc for the church. You may regret the loss of repsect that the church has suffered in the west, but there is at least a positive side effect that it means that it is now very difficult to be a Pedophile priest in the west and not get caught and punished.

    • A. Nicot

      Mainly, might I say, due to ignorance as to the true nature of the issue. A lot of people assume the Church is some sort of institutionalized pedophile ring that exist solely to allow that sort of child abuse to happen. Which is completely erroneous. People don’t know the truth, not nearly to the degree they should to make judgments, yet they still do.

    • El Nino

      “completely morally bankrupt” ?

      Now, in case you’ve forgotton, these equality laws were passed by the most corrupt parliament in centuries. So corrupt was it, that a large chunk of its members have either been forced to retire or were thrown out at the last election. Some are in gaol as I write this.

      The reason your anti-Catholicism is so transparent is that when making your argument, you fail to provide a comparison. It is as if the Catholic Church exists in a vacuum.

      Now, the Catholic Church isn’t the only organisation to run schools and children’s homes, the Government does as well.

      Ever wondered why they’ve been so quiet over the abuse scandal?

    • Mike2

      “most people now regard the Catholic Church as completely morally bankrupt.”

      And your evidence for that statement is?

      Incidentally, who are these ‘most people’?
      Most people in the world?
      Most people you have spoken to?

    • Jonathan

      You believe the Church is morally bankrupt but the Catholic minority agree with her teachings. Why are you forcing your (lack of?) beliefs on us? If you’re happy for your children to be adopted by a gay couple then you can have your way. If anything happened to me in the future I would want my children to have an adoptive father and mother. If I had been orphaned I would have wanted to be raised by a man and a woman together. Who are you to self righteously dictate how we live?

    • Gerry

      Surely an irrelevant point. UK law doesn’t concern itself with such things; it sticks to the issue at point in the case.

    • Gerry

      Surely the perceived moral standing has little to do with a legal case?

    • Louis

      Louella and Pedro,
      First, the catholic religion is not primarily a purveyor of moral principles. Objective moral principles, says Pope Benedict XVI, can be discovered by the application of reason, and revelation is not essential in order to lead a moral life:
      “The central question at issue, then, is this: Where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found?

      The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation.

      According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles.” (Westminster Hall, Sept. 2010)

      Secondly, Catholics, like any persons of goodwill, are scandalised by child abuse. I do not see any point in defending the indefensible. Bishops are weak human beings, like most of us. They failed the children and they failed us, the faithful. However, Pedro, please can you explain to me why in 2000, when the secular world was demanding that Pope John Paul II apologise for the alleged sins of the Church, from slavery to the evangelisation of the Americas, the subject of child abuse never cropped up? Quite simply, it never impinged on the public consciousness. Abuse by clergy is a fundamental breach of trust, but what about teachers and social workers? Where are the abuse statistics for those professions? In proportional terms, I’m sure they far exceed those of the Catholic clergy. Aren’t teachers and social workers purveyors of morality? Aren’t their professions compromised by abuse too? Why wasn’t anyone talking about them, never mind the clergy, in 2000, never mind now?

      Now, if we look at what was going on at the National Council for Civil Liberties in the 1970s, in which the former shadow deputy prime minister is implicated, we get another picture. A radical left movement (the same radical left which, incidentally, has permeated the teaching and social work professions for decades), didn’t seem to be particularly worried about child abuse, quite the contrary; they were trying to explain it away. I can understand why abusive priests and bishops can bring forth righteous indignation, but why the silence about other professions? Isn’t that hypocritical on the part of the media?

  • Andrzej

    Here is a good analysis of the subtle change in the US between ‘religious freedom’ and ‘freedom to worship’
    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2010/06/the-realism-of-religious-freedom

  • Pedro

    Well, that was an interesting series of responses. Let’s have a look at some of them.

    “The Catholic Church didn’t decide to protect anybody!! Individual, corrupt, evil members of it did!!”

    In every single case that I’ve heard of so far, the instinct of the local bishop was the same: prevent scandal. I suppose it’s possible that we just haven’t uncovered all the good bishops yet. Time will tell. I don’t know what’s worse: an organisation that has a policy of concealing child abuse or an organisation that just does it automatically because they know what’s expected of them.

    And one of those corrupt, evil members, as you call them, Cardinal Law from Boston, was given a prestigious position in the Vatican.

    “Why are you even on this website Pedro?”

    To let you know how abhorrent many of your views are. As long as Deacon Nick allows me to go on commenting, I will.

    “under an atheist’s point of view there is no objective morality only subjective meaningless morality.”

    There are several thousand years of philosophy that say otherwise and a growing realisation among some that morality evolved to help us function as a social species.

    “The crimes of certain people within the Church don’t make the teachings of Church morally bankrupt.”

    I’ve seen no evidence whatever that the Catholic Church has done any real reflection to understand why this happened. Yes, procedures have been tightened but that is all. The same unquestioning authority, the same all male hierarchy, the same claims to sole possession of truth are all still there. You would think, given the scale of the cover ups, that a little humility would be in order. Not a bit of it.

    “Now, the Catholic Church isn’t the only organisation to run schools and children’s homes, the Government does as well.”

    Yes – the “but they did it as well” argument. Doesn’t work very well from an organisation that claims to be founded by the Son of God.

    “You believe the Church is morally bankrupt but the Catholic minority agree with her teachings.”

    Poll after poll shows that the vast majority of Catholics completely ignore vast swathes of Catholic teaching, particularly on birth control but in many other areas too. The Catholic Church turns a blind eye to this because it knows there wouldn’t be many Catholics left if they tried to crack down on it.

    There, that should get some discussion going.

    • Karla

      The Pope has met with abuse victims on multiple occasions, prayer, multiple readings by the Pope reflecting on the horror of what has happened, introducting the zero tolerence policy, bishops have washed the feet of abuse victims, and you say no humility?

    • SpeSalvi23

      The evidence you haven’t found is all over. It’s in speeches, homilies and reflections and actions taken. It’s in the letter to the Catholics of Ireland.
      The results of those reflections are also all over – and they’re NOT very politically correct – that’s why you might have not registered them, because they don’t fit the ‘lovey-dovey-everything goes’ attitude of our times.
      Many reflections are based on the evaporation of faith – also in clerics. A topic not really comprehended by non-believers.
      I’m not going to get into the watered down teaching / dogma topic – I don’t think you’d understand.

      Anyway – has society as a whole reflected on sexual abuse in general?
      What about the vast majority of case committed within families?? Is there any evidence of trying to fight that problem, or even discuss it in the open??
      Whos is to blame for it!? Teh government?? Why is it happening? Why are mothers silent about it? What is being done to prevent it? Why is society turning a blind eye to it?
      Answer: it found a wonderful scapegoat in the Catholic Church. One institution to be furious about, to point the finger to and to make the failure or indifference about all the other cases disappear -> thus, no bad conscience about approx. 90% of abuse! How convenient!!
      The moving of offenders is not restricted to the Church – it happened and is happening in any other institution (incl. schools) as well.
      I do belive you’re a bit biased when it comes to that subject.

  • fd

    Spesalvi 23, you’re post was “lobenswert” ! Well done Danke

  • fd

    Spesalvi 23, your country has given scores of excellent (hervorragend ) men and women to our world. One of these is, without any doubt, our beloved Pope Benedict the sixteenth. God bless him and God bless Germany !

  • Gerry

    The law applies to everyone for good reasons.

    Nothing against religion, but lets just say that my religion demands that I cut peoples heads off? What takes precedence?

  • Mary

    I think you have a larger issue – freedom of speech. Then, you will no longer have a democracy at all. One wonders what lessons from WWII people really learned. It seems to me in moving away from several evils, Europe lurches towards another brand of totalitarianism. The U.S. is not far behind.

  • Gerry

    I’ve just read the judgement [maybe I should have done that first]. The important bit seems to be:

    ‘However, with the greatest of respect to the Bishop, his argument overlooked the essential distinction between private acts of worship such as blessings and the provision of a public service such as an adoption agency. In other words, in advancing this argument, the Bishop did not take account of the law by which the Tribunal is bound.’

    So the judgement is saying [in effect] ‘when the church is doing religion, then fair enough. But when it choses to provide a service then it must follow the law’.

    That seems fair to me. I don’t see why any group should have an exemption for things that anyone can do, and are not part of its religious offices.

  • Mike2

    Well Pedro, you have certainly commented on a large number of responses to your original comments. Whether you have responded in any convincing way is, however, another matter. However, I’ll leave others to respond to your responses to what they said. What I note is that in your long list of responses there was a massive gap: You failed to provide any evidence whatsoever for your claim that “most people now regard the Catholic Church as completely morally bankrupt.” I’ll take that as an admission that you accept that your claim was totally without any foundation of fact.

    Now as to morality. You say: “There are several thousand years of philosophy that say otherwise and a growing realisation among some that morality evolved to help us function as a social species.”

    Now what kind of a statement is that? Yes, it is quite possible to come up with a set of rules which people decide will guide their behaviour but what you can’t provide is any reason why anybody has an obligation to follow any of these rules. Yes, it’s possible for an atheist to decide that he will always tell the truth but from where does an atheist get a duty to always tell the truth? If an atheist says that he is going to tell the truth and then decides that for reasons of convenience that he is going to fiddle his tax return what is to stop him? His original decision to tell the truth was just a personal preference and he can change his personal preferences any time he likes. Your point about some people claiming that morality evolved is useless. Why should anybody be obliged to obey rules which have simply ‘evolved’? And if these rules have evolved in the past then is it not possible for them to change in the future?

    • Gerry

      Mike

      I’m puzzled as to why a religious person should follow rules any more than an atheist?

      If we accept that God gave us all free will and that he didn’t literally write any rules for us, then surely all rules are ‘of man’, even if divenely inspired?

      Why should a decent atheist have a lesser sense of honour than a decent theist [of any persuasion]?

      Do Theists / catholics never fiddle their tax returns.

      My last point is that I get the impression that the churches rules seem to have evolved too. Is that right?

  • Mike2

    Gerry,
    I’m puzzled as to why a religious person should follow rules any more than an atheist?
    I can’t speak about followers of other religions but Christians have a duty to follow God’s Commandments because we are the creatures of God. He is our Creator. We owe to Him our existence. That is where our duty comes from. I can’t see anywhere an atheist could get a duty from. They may follow rules if they want to but my point is that they have no duty to do so.

    If we accept that God gave us all free will and that he didn’t literally write any rules for us, then surely all rules are ‘of man’, even if divinely inspired?
    Yes, Catholics believe that God gave us free will.
    I’m not sure about ‘he didn’t literally write any rules for us’. He gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. Christ gave us many ‘rules’ as anyone can see by reading the New Testament. So no. The rules which guide Christians are not man-made. That God used human beings to be a channel of his message to us is not the same as being ‘man-made’.

    Why should a decent atheist have a lesser sense of honour than a decent theist [of any persuasion]?
    Where does the atheist’s sense of honour come from? From his own personal preferences. Nowhere else. In which case he can change it whenever he wants. There is nothing in atheism which can give him a duty to keep a sense of honour. So, one atheist may have a strong sense of honour but there is no way that he can insist that anybody else should also have a sense of honour.

    Do Theists / Catholics never fiddle their tax returns.
    It may well be that some Catholics fiddle their tax returns. That’s why we have Confession. So that people who have sinned may repent of their sin and seek forgiveness as long as they have a strong intention to avoid that sin in the future. My point is that a Catholic who fiddles his tax returns is committing a sin (the sin of lying if not of stealing) and that any Catholic should know that s/he has a duty to avoid sin. An atheist has no duty to do anything. It’s entirely up to them what rules they want to follow or not follow. So an atheist is totally free to fiddle his tax return and, in his opinion, to be doing nothing wrong.

    My last point is that I get the impression that the churches rules seem to have evolved too. Is that right?
    Where do you get that impression from? It is perfectly true that the Church has clarified the meaning of the ‘rules’ but the rules themselves have not changed. I am, of course, speaking here as a Catholic. The same could not be said of other Christian churches. For example, the Church of England used to consider artificial contraception sinful but then changed their mind. The same goes for marrying after getting a divorce. The Catholic Church has always held that these things are sinful. But, then, the Catholic Church does not consider these ‘churches’ to be ‘Churches’, for very good reasons.

    • Gerry

      Mike

      Forgive me if I sum you’re post up wrongly, but are you saying that the difference between an atheist and a catholic who both fiddle their tax returns is that the catholic feels bad about it, and sometimes tells a priest?

      Putting the peccaddilos of the late Henry VIII to one side, I can’t imagine that The Queen thinks she’s not a member of a church.

      The real difficulty that I have with many faiths [religious or secular] is that some of them ‘know’ that they are ‘right’and the rest of us are ‘wrong’. At least a decent atheist makes a choice and the best ones live a life of great honour [so do the best religious BTW]. Would you really say that a catholic born into the faith [and therefore not made a choice] is a better person than an atheist who’s made a rational choice [I appreciate that you may think rationality has limitations].

  • Mike2

    Gerry,
    Forgive me if I sum your post up wrongly, but are you saying that the difference between an atheist and a Catholic who both fiddle their tax returns is that the Catholic feels bad about it, and sometimes tells a priest?

    No, I am not saying that. What I am saying is that a Catholic has a duty to fill in his tax return without telling any lies whereas an atheist cannot feel such a duty as an atheist cannot find a duty to do anything. Now, if a Catholic does fiddle his tax return then he has a duty to admit that he has told a lie. The atheist may have remorse for telling his lie but he cannot feel that he has a duty to tell the truth. My point about Confession was to acknowledge that Catholics commit sins. What I am not saying is that Catholics do not commit sins; what I am saying is that Catholics have a duty to avoid sins. An atheist cannot feel any obligation to behave in a particular way. That is not to say that atheists cannot be moral people. What it is saying is that any atheist who chooses to behave in a particular way is doing that for reasons of personal preference and not because of duty or obligation.

    Putting the peccaddilos of the late Henry VIII to one side, I can’t imagine that The Queen thinks she’s not a member of a church.

    What Queen Elizabeth thinks is neither here nor there. I believe in the existence of God. Does that, for you, establish that God exists? Probably not. So what Queen Elizabeth believes about her ‘church’ does not make it into a Church.

    The real difficulty that I have with many faiths [religious or secular] is that some of them ‘know’ that they are ‘right’ and the rest of us are ‘wrong’. At least a decent atheist makes a choice and the best ones live a life of great honour [so do the best religious BTW]. Would you really say that a Catholic born into the faith [and therefore not made a choice] is a better person than an atheist who’s made a rational choice [I appreciate that you may think rationality has limitations].

    Oh dear, there’s so many different statements there that need to be commented on. Let’s be quite clear that I am making no judgements about the behaviour of anybody. What I am talking about is morality. Morality involves a duty to behave in a certain way. To repeat myself ad nauseam, an atheist cannot find a duty to behave in a particular way. An atheist chooses to behave in a certain way. He cannot believe that he has a duty to do so. (I notice that at no time have you denied that point.)

    As to people ‘knowing’ that they are right: Well, either we have an objective morality or we have subjective moral relativism. Subjective moral relativism is the idea that all moral codes are equally ‘good’ (whatever that means). Would you agree that widows should be burned along with their dead husbands? Or do you think that it’s OK for people to blow up aeroplanes because they believe that the West is evil, etc? I would doubt that you would think that it’s OK for anybody to hold either of these views. In which case you think that you are ‘right’ and they are ‘wrong’. Do you think that it’s OK for adoption agencies to say that they will not deal with two people of the same sex? Do you think that it’s OK for people running B&B establishments to say that they will not provide double rooms to people who are not married?

    But I can see your problem. If you have no duty to behave in a certain way then neither, in your view, have other people. And if they have no duty to behave in a certain way then how can we say that other people’s personal preferences about how they behave are any worse than their own?

  • Gerry

    Thanks for that Mike. As you might anticipate we won’t agree on lots of things. The suttee issue etc is a bit of a blind though.

    You’ll know that England followed the crown and the crown used ‘foreign catholics’ as something to define the state. Things have moved on since then, but the binding thread through English history seems to me to be pragmatism. And we’ve ended up with the motto ‘do what you like so long as you don’t hurt anyone else.’

    We could be worse, and I doubt we’ll ever be catholic.

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