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Archbishops Williams and Sentamu confirm unified view of church in uk that “rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation”

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24th January 2007

Summary

News reports today in The Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and BBC have covered the considered and vocal input of the leaders of the Church of England to the debate over the Sexual Orientation Regulations.

Speaking out on the issue for the first time in many months, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York echoed the placards from the Christian Freedom Rally outside Parliament (9th January) by saying that “rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well meaning”.

The measured letter (see link below) from the leaders of the Anglican church to the PM supports the Catholic stance on the issue. The letter outlines with clarity the seriousness of concerns that have been voiced by thousands of Christians since the Regulations were first consulted on in March 2006.

Reports from the national newspapers suggest that Tony Blair and Ruth Kelly, who appear to support some very limited exemptions to the SORs, are under intense pressure from other Cabinet members.

The news comes on the day that Andrew McClintock, a 63 year old magistrate, takes his case to the Employment Tribunal to argue that he should be free to take the view that it is in the best interests of a child to be placed with a mother and a father, rather than a same-sex couple (see the link to his press release below).

CHRISTIANS ACROSS THE COUNTRY SHOULD PRAY FOR TONY BLAIR, RUTH KELLY AND THE CABINET. WE SHOULD PRAY THAT IN THIS TIME OF CONFLICTING VIEWS ON THE REGULATIONS, GOD’S LIGHT OF TRUTH WILL SHINE INTO THE DARKNESS AND THAT THE GOVERNMENT WOULD HUMBLE THEMSELVES BEFORE GOD AND MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION.

In light of the intense media coverage, we also urge Christians to contribute to the debate by voicing the reasonable and calm argument that whilst the SORs outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, they should not unnecessarily go so far as to discriminate against Christians.

Letters can be written to local and national newspapers, as well as contributions made to online discussions. This is an exciting opportunity to lovingly make a stand for the Bible.

Links

‘Sexual Disorientation’ (article from the Daily Telegraph 24/1/07)

“The Sexual Orientation Regulations are a bad piece of law-making, cobbled together, through EU pressure, under the Equality Act 2006. They throw up many anomalies in an attempt to force providers of all services to make them available on demand to those of any sexual orientation. A Muslim printer could be charged for declining to publish a handout for a gay pride march. Yet a private club – a lesbian-only bar, say – could still specify a particular sexual orientation as a condition for membership.

Huge numbers of objections met the draft proposals, but only now, over adoption, has resistance grown so strong that the Prime Minister is said to be seeking a way through "that respects the sensitivities of both sides". The "side" opposing the regulations includes the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, who wrote to Tony Blair stating that Catholic adoption agencies, which provide a third of voluntary placements, would have to close if requirements outlawed teachings "about the foundations of family life" – teachings "shared not only by other Christian Churches, but also other faiths". The Archbishops of Canterbury and York then raised their voices against "the rights of conscience" being crushed by regulations. These are due to come into force first in Northern Ireland, used as a guinea-pig through the high-handedness of Peter Hain, the Secretary of State controlling the province.

Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, says "it is extremely difficult to see how you can be excused from anti-discrimination law on the grounds of religion", but he must know that distinctions on religious grounds are allowed already. A simple amendment to the regulations has been proposed to stop adherents of Christianity, Judaism and Islam being forced to "assist, encourage or facilitate homosexual practices".

But the real focus in this controversy should remain on the interests of children to be adopted. About 4,000 currently await placement in this country. In general, we believe that children benefit from having two people in parental roles, one from each sex.”

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