Confused English Bishops, and the Catholic “Redefinition” of Marriage.

A firestorm has erupted among some British church people and commentators over government proposals to amend the civil partnership regulations, allowing the ceremonies to be conducted on religious premises, and using religious words, symbols or music. I have avoided commenting up to now, because the precise substance of the proposals has been unclear, and has been badly misrepresented in some press reports, as providing for “gay marriage” in church. This is simply false reporting, arising from the close similarity of British civil marriage in civil partnerships in their legal import – so that many newspapers simply ignore the difference in their reporting, and routinely refer to civil partnerships as “marriage” – which they are not. This has not deterred the howls of protest in some quarters, complaining about the state’s interference to redefine marriage, and more laughably still, to restrict religious freedom.

Particularly incoherent examples of this have come from Austin Ivereigh at “America” magazine (where I really expect better). I ignored his first post last week (which I did not see until a friend emailed me a link late on Sunday), but responded to a follow-up post, in which he reported that the Catholic bishops will strenuously oppose the legislation. This was the response I placed, earlier today:

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The Pope and Cameron’s Big Society

In the run-up to the UK general election, David Cameron’s big idea was the “Big Society” – the idea that he would encourage community groups to initiate projects themselves, rather than waiting for the state to do everything for them. However, for “big society” to develop projects, they must be allowed to promote ideas. It has now become clear that he is only prepared to allow the ideas, and hence “big society” projects, that he approves of.

A recent dramatic news story here concerned a recently released prisoner who immediately shot an ex-girlfriend and killed her new boyfriend.  This was then followed by a protracted manhunt, tracked daily on national TV news, culminating in a distasteful scene where, under heavy police guard, he ended by shooting himself, all in front of the TV cameras. This was then followed by the stupidity of a Facebook page mourning his death, and treating him, a  clear murderer, as an innocent victim.  Pretty stupid, but any sane person would know that Facebook can produce some idiocies.  The best thing is simply to ignore them. Not Mr Cameron -he used his authority as PM to pressure Facebook into shutting down the page.

 

Peter Tatchell

A more serious example concerns the upcoming papal visit.

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