Thursday, 27 January 2011

Anti-Christian Discrimination? What a load of Bull!

Peter and Hazelmary Bull, the Christian B&B owners who refused to let a homosexual couple share a bed in their B&B, have decided to appeal against the judgement that declared that they should pay damages to the two men they offended. The appeal is reportedly being funded by a fundamentalist Christian organisation.

Christians in Britain claim that they are being discriminated against. If they are, this case does not support that thesis: the law does not allow the people with any religious affiliation (or with no religious affiliation) to behave in the bigoted way the Bulls did. To be treated, in the eyes of the law, exactly the same way everybody else is treated, is not discrimination.

On 2011 Jan 26, the BBC programme, The Moral Maze, addressed another aspect of this issue. Many Several contributors seemed to suggest that religious principles are being subverted by laws that prohibit discrimination against protected groups. This is entirely incorrect. To take the Bulls' case as an example, nobody has compelled them to run a B&B. It is illogical in the extreme to choose an occupation if the laws that govern it do not permit you to exercise your own particular brand of bigotry. The Bulls chose to sell a service; like the sellers of any other service, they have to abide by all the laws that govern that service. To permit them to contravene those laws because they believe a particular species of superstitious irrationality would, in effect, be discriminatory against anyone who does not share that belief.

Christians in this country have a 2000 year history of holding a privileged position under the law; they have enjoyed two millennia of positive discrimination. Now that this discrimination is being (too gradually) eroded, they bleat that they are being discriminated against. This is both false and illogical. There is no argument that does not involve special pleading by which any religion should hold privileges that are not granted to the followers of any other hobby or irrational superstition. Yet the Christians in this country have 26 seats reserved for them in the legislature (the only other country with reserved seats for clerics is Iran), do not pay council tax on the (publicly funded) buildings where they gather to exercise their superstition, have publicly funded schools where they can inculcate the young with their weird superstitions, and can force local residents to pay for the upkeep of those buildings.

Discriminated against? What a load of Bull!