Christians who want to be exempt from equality legislation are like Muslims trying to impose sharia on Britain, Trevor Phillips, the human rights watchdog, has declared.
No, I\’m afraid this isn\’t quite correct.
“To me there’s nothing different in principle with a Catholic adoption agency, or indeed Methodist adoption agency, saying the rules in our community are different and therefore the law shouldn’t apply to us. Why not then say sharia can be applied to different parts of the country? It doesn’t work.”
One group is saying that the law of the land should recognise our beliefs and accomodate them. The other is that the law of the land should recognise our beliefs and impose them on others.
Or if you prefer, there\’s a difference between active and passive. Not providing adoption services to Teh Gays is one thing. Insisting that no one provide adoptions services to Teh Gays is another.
For example, it is legal to open a shop on Sunday. But there is no law that says a Christian shopkeeper must open on a Sunday: nor that a Jewish one must do so on a Saturday or a Muslim on a Friday.
Another example, prostitution. This is indeed a legal activity in the UK. We have quite strict laws about discrimination between people on the grounds of their sexuality. Yet absolutely no one is absurd enough to say that prostitutes may not discriminate against (or even for) potential customers on the grounds of their sexuality.
In a free country you should indeed be allowed to discriminate on what services you offer to whom for whatever reason you care to. Just as there should not be laws preventing you from doing as you please (subject, as always, to the no harm to others and the Mrs. Patrick Campbell clauses) in order to impose the prejudices, religious or otherwise, of others.