Irish Bishops’ Humpty Dumpty Language

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you
can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.
“They’ve a temper, some of them – particularly verbs, they’re the proudest – adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs – however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”

Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking Glass

In Ireland, the Catholic bishops are concerned about the imminent passing of legislation to allow civil partnerships. In voicing their opposition, they are using an argument used before in Washington DC, and in Boulder Colorado, to restrict the religious freedom of gay and lesbian Catholics. This time, though, the application of the argument is so breathtaking it would do Humpty Dumpty proud:

In a statement, Why Marriage Matters, released by the bishops yesterday, they describe provisions in the Civil Partnership Bill as “an extraordinary and far-reaching attack on freedom of conscience and the free practices of religion – which are guaranteed to every citizen under the Constitution”.

Irish Times

Now correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that freedom of religion and of conscience meant allowing those who disagree with you, to act in accordance with their own conscience, and not force them to comply with your own. The proposed bill is about civil partnerships, not religious marriage, and imply no obligations whatever on the actions or religious beliefs of anyone who does not wish to participate. I would have thought that permitting civil partnerships for those who disagree with the Church’s teaching on same sex marriage was a way of implementing, not restricting religious freedom.

But then, I use words as Alice does – not as Humpty Dumpty does.



2 Responses to “Irish Bishops’ Humpty Dumpty Language”

  1. william Says:

    I think i have a solution to all this mess the religious right haters have made of simply allowing people of the same sex to love each other and marry and to have all the protections of the law in the marriage contract but i doubt if they would ever go for this. Have all the religious marriage ceremonies performed by whatever religious authority that exist but none of it is legal until the ceremony is performed by a government official. The religious right could wail and cry all they wanted about how sinful we all are and we would have the same rights as they. But that’s the problem. They are so engulfed with hate that no one that is different from them or disagrees with them should have any rights at all.

    • Terence@queerchurch Says:

      Your solution is completely sound, William. As I understand it, that’s pretty well the way it works now in Germany, and possibly elsewhere in Europe. Keep a clear distinction between civil and religious marriage – and make sure that all legal benefits granted to “married” couples apply only to those recognized by government.

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