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British Churches Won’t Be Allowed to Ban Gay Employees. Would That Fly in America?

The difference between living in the United States vs. Europe? Besides the number of McDonalds and Starbucks? In the U.S., we say and do take religious freedoms very seriously when it comes to gay rights. In Europe, not so much.

While you have some religious zealots in the U.S. claiming same-sex marriage laws don’t go far enough in exempting religious institutions, they do. It’s unarguable, and laughable that Catholic Churches are keeping a straight face when they say they are going to be discriminated against.

But in the United Kingdom, a decision to grant churches the right to deny employment to the gays has been nixed — by the European Commission’s higher powers. (The Commission’s non-discrimination rules also became British law in 2003.) When British lawmakers tried excluding religious institutions from non-discrimination requirements in hiring practices — in a stab to maintain religious freedoms — they ran afoul of the European Union’s directive. Brought on by a complaint from the UK’s National Secular Society, the Commission wrote the British government last week, saying their church exclusions violated law. Which means:

The highly unusual move means that the government now has no choice but to redraft anti-discrimination laws, which is likely to prompt a furore among church groups.

In anticipation of a possible backlash from the commission, the government has already inserted new clauses into its equality bill. But even if the bill is jettisoned, future governments will be bound by the commission’s ruling.

Under the new proposals being drafted by the government, religious organisations will be able to refuse to employ homosexuals only if their job involves actively promoting or practising a religion. A blanket refusal to employ any homosexuals would no longer be possible.

[...] Under the terms of the exemption, religious groups were allowed to refuse a position to a homosexual employee “so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers”.

Back in the U.S. for a moment, the subject of hiring and religious freedoms is rearing its head in an unexpected, but obvious place: The American Philosophical Association’s online job board. Just how big of an exception should religious groups receive when looking to hire?

The American Philosophical Association has for several years been debating whether allowing ["religious institutions that require all hires to hold certain beliefs or follow certain rules, in some cases barring sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman,"] to use its jobs services undercuts the group’s anti-bias rules and effectively hurts its members who are gay; some philosophers have suggested that the association ban job notices from colleges that discriminate against gay people.

While the association has now rejected that move, it has decided on a new procedure that will flag all ads from employers that either volunteer that they discriminate or are determined to do so.

The new policy is being hailed by some philosophers as an important demonstration of the association’s commitment to equity. But there may be a loophole in the policy — and an association of Christian colleges is questioning the fairness of the new procedure.

Under the new system, the association’s rules against bias will be posted on the page where colleges can add a job notice. When placing the notice, colleges will be asked to indicate whether their policies are consistent with the association’s bans on various types of discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation. Any colleges that does not indicate that it complies with the statement will be flagged for not doing so, so potential applicants will be aware of the issue. Further, the association will investigate any complaints about whether colleges that haven’t been flagged are violating the policy, and if they are found in violation, they will also be flagged.

While the policy notes that the association does not consider it a violation of its anti-bias rules for some religious colleges to consider religious affiliation in hiring decisions, there is no exception made to the policy for religious colleges to violate other association rules (such as those barring discrimination based on sexual orientation).

Further, the association’s policy has now been made explicit that bans on people who engage in sex with a member of the same sex are considered discrimination. In the past, some advocates for religious colleges have said that these institutions don’t discriminate against gay people, but only those who engage in gay sex. The new policy of the association says that when conduct is “integrally connected” to a status, such as gay sex being related to being gay, that conduct can’t be banned without discriminating against the people who are a member of the relevant group.

We can hear the “Why would any queer person want to work for discriminatory religious employer?” argument roaring its head.

By:           editor editor
On:           Nov 23, 2009
Tagged: , , , , , ,
  • 21 Comments
    • Keith Kimmel
      Keith Kimmel

      No, and nor should it. I fully support the right of religious institutions to be discriminatory and even hateful within their own organizations. But their rights to do so end when they leave their private property.

      Nov 23, 2009 at 12:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tallskin
      Tallskin

      Keith you say: ” I fully support the right of religious institutions to be discriminatory and even hateful within their own organizations.”

      Er, why??

      Doesn’t this just allow them to think their mad beliefs are as valid as secular beliefs?

      WE don’t take beliefs in fairies at the bottom of the garden seriously. Nor do we give credence to belief (in adults anyway) in Father Christmas or the Great Snargle-Fast, so why should some imaginary and unpleasant belief in a discriminatory, bigoted sky pixie belief system that arose in the middle east 3 or more thousand years ago be treated any different?

      Answers please!

      Nov 23, 2009 at 1:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bill Perdue
      Bill Perdue

      Religion is the enemy.

      From the movements point of view we should do everything we can to limit their ability to harm us by making them toe the line on anti-discrimination laws (if we ever get any), ending their unfair tax exemptions and making them pay back taxes, imposing confiscatory fines if members of cults are involved in hate crimes or harassment of GLBT folks and secularizing their schools to prevent the rape of children.

      Religion is the basis for racsim and and reaction.

      “The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma. My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures have become clearer and stronger with advancing years, and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.” Abraham Lincoln

      I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs… We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen, all for the glory of God and the good of souls. The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the relgious shouts of his pious master. Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself

      Nov 23, 2009 at 1:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bill
      Bill

      Never underestimate the fact that it is the Catholic/Christian Church’s INTENT to destroy and harm the lives of LGTB citizens. From cradle to grave, they intend to abuse us at every given opportunity.

      They are NOT simply trying to ‘protect marriage’ or ANY of the other anti-gay things they commit against us daily, they are, in fact, trying to cause us TRUE harm, pain, and damage.

      If secular-world people (i.e. – sane humans) did the kinds of things to gay people that ‘the church’ does, those people would be arrested as criminals.

      But ‘the church,’ because it disguises its evil deeds as piousness, gets a free pass to abuse and discriminate.

      It has become quite clear that religion and its followers are actually the devil they fear so much. And as the church continues to STEAL the hard earned money of the uneducated & poor by way of a weekly ‘stupid tax’ that they drop into the collection plate, so that Bishops and Popes can build their Roman city of Solid Gold, it occurs to me that ANY god could see right through this. SO why does god do nothing?

      Oh. Right.

      Nov 23, 2009 at 1:55 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • andy_d
      andy_d

      Churches should be able to discriminate in hiring for positions that are funded ONLY by the church in question. They SHOULD NOT be allowed to discriminate in hiring for a position which is funded in ANY PART by government funds.

      Nov 23, 2009 at 1:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hyhybt
      hyhybt

      We can hear the “Why would any queer person want to work for discriminatory religious employer?” argument roaring its head.

      Because jobs are scarce and we like to eat?

      Nov 23, 2009 at 2:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tallskin
      Tallskin

      Andy_D – you say “Churches should be able to discriminate in hiring for positions that are funded ONLY by the church in question.”

      Nope, don;t see that they should be allowed to! If we as a society allow this then they churn out bigoted kids that turn into bigoted adults who produce more bigoted kids. The cycle has to be broken at some point!

      Nov 23, 2009 at 2:18 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Peter
      Peter

      Andy-D;;; A church should NEVER receive government funds; then there would be NO problem. Also, churches that run profit making ventures that have nothing to do with the operation of the church should pay taxes on that business. Sort of like …..separation of church and state.

      Nov 23, 2009 at 2:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Julian Morrison
      Julian Morrison

      Why would they want to work for a religion if they’re gay? Well, maybe they don’t. Maybe they work for a company, like maybe a cleaning firm, hired by the religion. When the bishop says “get that gay cleaning staff member out of my church”, the employer, who is reliant on that contract, fires him rather than have him sit back at base on full pay. Religious discrimination has wide-scoped knock-on effects and that’s why it should no more be allowed than skin color discrimination.

      Nov 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • McShane
      McShane

      Strangely , we learn in school that the Magna Cata was the basis for producing the notion of Civil Rights in our constiututin. Seems the Brits, take seroously tradition like human rights. Not so in the U.S.
      It wouldn’t seem, private property or not , agencies aren’t free to torture and hang people, nor should they deny them other rights from ill treatment.

      The mythical primacy of ‘private property” is the major object to curse this country to primative and inhumane goals. The only chance we have of surviving even one more centruy is if that bogus priority is unraveled in favor of human rights.

      Nov 23, 2009 at 2:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • naghanenu
      naghanenu

      Religious groups have every right to hire whom they please. It is not the govt bizness or anyone else’s why they refuse to hire some people.
      Religious groups have every right to say they will not marry any one who is not in line with their beliefs.

      Religious groups have as much as anyone to petition the govt if they do not support something. KNOW WHY??? Because there are individuals in that religious group that pay taxes like u do and have every right to say how their taxes are to be spent.

      Just because they are not fighting on your team does not mean u have to demean them or their values. A majority of the world pop actually belong to these groups some even gay.

      Respect is two ways.

      Nov 23, 2009 at 3:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Keith Kimmel
      Keith Kimmel

      “Er, why??

      Doesn’t this just allow them to think their mad beliefs are as valid as secular beliefs?”

      Because I believe in the free marketplace of ideas, thoughts and expression, no matter how stupid or ignorant. And I do not believe in censorship of any kind.

      I don’t think that a gay person should be able to walk into a church and tell them they have to hire them anymore so than bigot should be able to come into my business and force me to hire him. My four corners are just that: my private space. I and I alone should have the right to say what goes on therein, subject to basic guidelines that preserve life and provide for a safe society.

      We cant have it both ways. We need to be prepared to let the haters hate in the privacy of their own homes, businesses and churches if we are demanding that they not hate in our gobvernment buildings, public spaces and schools.

      Nov 23, 2009 at 4:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      naghanenu wrote, “Religious groups have as much as anyone to petition the govt if they do not support something. KNOW WHY??? Because there are individuals in that religious group that pay taxes like u do and have every right to say how their taxes are to be spent.”

      Religious groups should not be able to use tax-free dollars to petition the government because private citizens and non-religious groups do not get to use tax-free dollars.

      http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/11/22/kennedy.abortion/index.html – recently the head Catholic in Rhode Island asked Rep. Patrick Kennedy to refrain from communion due to the congressman’s views on abortion, citing his position as a public official. As far as I’m concerned, if the Catholic Church is going to use its clout to try to tell our representatives what to do in their official capacity, it should lose its tax-exempt status. This is supposed to be a democracy, not a theocracy.

      Nov 23, 2009 at 5:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • blake
      blake

      Personal freedom is one thing that makes this country amazing. Freedom of religion is included in that. I am an atheist and a gay man. I used to work for Catholic Social Services. They could have denied me employment because of my sexuality and I would have been OK with that. They don’t have to allow someone into their employment that violates their rules and regulations. They could deny an adulterer or someone who drinks. That is their right. I disagree with the person who said that if government money is given to them then they shouldn’t be able to discriminate because no government money should ever be given to them in the first place. Nor should religious beliefs be used to mold any form of legislation.

      Nov 23, 2009 at 5:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Attmay
      Attmay

      We should be allowed to discriminate against them. And we should.

      Nov 23, 2009 at 5:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tavdy79
      tavdy79

      “In the U.S., we say and do take religious freedoms very seriously when it comes to gay rights. In Europe, not so much.”

      Over 60 million Europeans have died as a result of ideological fanaticism within the last century; millions more are unaccounted for. With that kind of background, the scepticism of many Europeans towards any ideology or dogma that can cause devastation on such a vast scale is perhaps understandable, hence many Europeans’ view of freedom of religious expression as the least essential, and therefore most expendable, civil right.

      “We can hear the “Why would any queer person want to work for discriminatory religious employer?” argument roaring its head.”

      Perhaps because, for some poorer queers, it’s the difference between whether or not they have food & a home. Not everyone has a choice.

      Nov 23, 2009 at 7:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Javier
      Javier

      Religious institutions should be able to discriminate in hiring, promotions, and policy with respect to all matters that involve the inculcation of religious beliefs and practices, including religious instruction, worship, and all matters related to doctrine. The First Amendment exalts religion above almost all other type of speech and practice, proclaiming that Congress shall “make no law” abridging the free exercise of religion. Except for a few people on this forum, the overwhelming majority of society respects religion, even religion we disagree with. We want people to be able to practice religion and we want religious institutions to be able to practice and teach their faith in forums that are distinctly religious. However, in secular engagements that are not religious in nature, secular law should forbid discrimination.

      Nov 23, 2009 at 9:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      Keith Kimmel wrote, “I don’t think that a gay person should be able to walk into a church and tell them they have to hire them anymore so than bigot should be able to come into my business and force me to hire him. My four corners are just that: my private space. I and I alone should have the right to say what goes on therein, subject to basic guidelines that preserve life and provide for a safe society.”

      Really? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unruh_Civil_Rights_Act and
      http://finduslaw.com/california_fair_employment_and_housing_act_feha_government_code_12900_12996

      You might be able to say what goes on at your place of employment, but you have little or no say in what your customers or employees do on their own time.

      BTw, the anti-discrimination laws are superfluous for the best Silicon Valley companies – in an environment where it is “eat lunch or be lunch”, discrimination is a luxury no one can afford. You need the most competent people you can find, and discrimination limits the pool of perspective employees. So the smartest guys forbid discrimination as part of their corporate policies, and the bigots suffer an early demise.

      Nov 24, 2009 at 2:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bill Perdue
      Bill Perdue

      In No. 15 • Javier tells us that the overwhelming majority of society respects religion… It seems unlikely.

      Does he mean the cults like the anglo catholics and presbyterians who invented modern racism to justify slavery?

      Does he mean the roman catholics whose diocesan administration of orphanages, schools and rectories facilitated the rape of at least tens of thousands of children and whose bishops acted as accomplices, moving priests from one region to another to avoid detection and prosecution.

      Does he mean the southern baptists whose membership was synonymous with the ranks of the KKK?

      Does he mean Jimmy Swaggart, ordained pentecostal bigot who said

      “I’ve never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry.” (shouts, applause) “And I’m gonna be blunt and plain, if one ever looks at me like that I’m gonna kill him and tell God he died.” (laughter, applause)

      Maybe Javier means the televangelists currently under investigation by Iowa Senator Grassley for their exorbitant personal spending habits. They accumulate billions duping people with little or no judgment or education and use the money to buy mansions and luxomobiles. They use cult money to invest in personal business and personal market accounts and regularly award themselves multimillion dollar bonuses.

      Those under investigation include Paula White, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. Three of them squat on the Board of Regents at Anal Roberts ‘university’. It’s ‘president’, Richard Roberts, spawn of Anal, is perhaps the best example of why people hold cultists in contempt. He ‘misused’ university assets, illegally ordered the ‘university’ to support Republican candidates, used ‘university’ funds to pay for his daughter’s trip to the Bahamas, keeps a stable of horses for the exclusive use of his children at ‘university expense’, remodeled his house at ‘university’ expense 11 times in the past 14 years, and gave his wife Lindsay a Mercedes convertible and a Lexus SUV from donated funds.

      Lindsay Roberts is a fit mate for Robert, spawn of Anal, who begat a whole litter of litter of arrogant little televangelists, Lindsay Roberts spends tens of thousands from ‘university’ funds on clothes, nonacademic ‘scholarships’ to family friends and sending late night text messages on ‘university’ cell phones to “underage males.” She had longtime maintenance employee fired and gave the job to one of her “underage male friends”.

      Does Javier mean Tim Kaine, Dixiecrat rightwing theocrat who heads the DNC. Or maybe he means that pair of ordained pentecostal bigots Joshua Dubois, Obama’s theocratic outreach director to bigots and Leah Daughtry who was successfully sued for anti-GLBT discrimination and who uses DNC money to fund anti-GLBT and anti-choice Democratic party theocrats and bigots. Or does he mean Obama, who wrecked our chances to keep same sex marriage in California.

      The income tax evading cults and the shysters, televangelists, racists, misogynists and homohaters that Javier respects are not exactly universally loved.

      Nov 24, 2009 at 3:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rainfish
      Rainfish

      “Religion is the Crack Cocaine of Humanity”

      Even in the face of a multitude of attacks which the LGBT community has suffered in the last several years under the dictatorship of der Fuhrer Bush and the RepubliNazis; regardless of these cretins’ desperate and cynical machination by making same-sex marriage equality a wedge issue by which to goose their spiteful lynch-mob into a frenzied stampede to the polls on election day; notwithstanding the Democrats cowardly “playing it safe” official national policy of standing for absolutely nothing until the polls say it’s ok to do so; despite it all, my bubble of optimism remains unbroken.

      The tide of history is rising at our side. It is just a matter of time before we are free. Nothing will prevent it; nothing will deter it. It is far past time that the phrase, “Liberty and Justice for All”, means something in the USA. Soon it will, and all of the homophobes can go put keffiyehs on their heads and immigrate to Saudi Arabia if they want the law to impose their religious lunacy on those who do not wish to live their kind of hate-filled lives.

      The horrors that are committed in the name of any alleged “god” makes one wonder if there is anything in any religion that is worthy of even the slightest degree of spiritual or emotional investment. Organized religions are either private clubs; political caucuses or lynch mobs. Far too many are simply a curse on humanity.

      Furthermore, religions often provide a twisted justification for violence –they always have. This is especially true when you have people in the Protestant Evangelical Cults; in the Catholic Klan, and in the Muslim Mob who constantly belittle, persecute, and attack the hundreds of millions of Gays and Lesbians in this world. Anything that threatens their limited world view, based on their irrational obsession with superstition, must be controlled, altered or destroyed — according to them.

      I ask all people of “faith” to give me one rational reason; just ONE carefully thought-out and intelligent justification for the maltreatment and the limitations on the civil rights of Gay and Lesbian citizens around the globe. But they can’t give you one.

      That is why these hate-filled despots turn to the superstitious mandates of religion in order to justify their evil acts. None of the powerful, of any faith, can hold the moral high-ground — especially when self-styled “Christian” and militant Muslim leaders encourage and incite violent anti-social knee-jerk reactions in their adherents through their perpetually demeaning rhetoric and their pathological behavior towards Gay and Lesbian human beings.

      As I’ve always said, religion is the last refuge for the scoundrel. It will always be that until people respect the humanity in their fellow man and woman, and not try to force people to be just like them. Nothing is more destructive to one’s sense of individuality and to the human spirit or to one’s pursuit of happiness than imposing one group’s beliefs on another — either through legislative action or through force of violence.

      There is hardly a mole-hill of good that religion has done compared to the mountain of evil that most Abrahamic religions (extreme Orthodox Judaism, Fundamentalist Protestantism and current Catholic Christianity — as well as militant Islam) have directly and indirectly perpetuated by forcing their tenets on others who do not bend a knee willingly to these retrograde expressions of tribalism. Yet some people say that organized religions have performed some good functions. By comparison, yes, some people can legitimately admire Hitler because his socialist policies helped to get the German people out of the Great Depression. But do we forgive him for all of his atrocities because he did some good too? I think not.

      Likewise, in light of all the bad that has been done in the “cause” of religion, wouldn’t we be better off without any of it? Just like we’re better off without Communism and Nazism. Wouldn’t humanity function better and grow more creatively and be more productive in a secular, rational society where the individuality is more encouraged than blind conformity to a herd mentality that make a virtue out of ignorance and superstition?

      If you can’t be a good person and teach the ethics of right and wrong and proper social behavior to your children without beating some religious dogma into their heads, then you are a bad parent. Reliance on superstition is a poor substitute for reason. Religion most often relies on stifling curiosity about the natural world and about life’s great mysteries– and that makes religion very dangerous and extremely detrimental to human advancement.

      Many religions have so much in common with communism and fascist regimes which have created similar cult messiahs, such as: Stalin, Mao, Jerry Falwell, Fidel Castro, Pat Robertson, Ronald Reagan, Ayatollah Khomeini, Adolf Hitler, James Dobson, Osama bin Laden, many former Popes, especially the current one, etc. And similar demands are made by them regarding mindless conformity for “the greater good” of society. In other words, to quash opposition to their despotic grip on power.

      Communists, Fascists, Muslims and Christians all burned books when so-called “dangerous thoughts or ideas” were promulgated in them. Moreover, similiar brainless “religion-based” censorship often targets art and even music, and attempts to suppress all forms of non-conformity to their cults as well. It is so obvious that religion is antithetical to human development. It retards rather advances mankind. It is a millstone that we should no longer have to endure.

      “Religion is the opiate of the people,” Karl Marx used to say. Too bad ol’ Karl substituted one form of totalitarianism and self-delusion for another. Although, regarding one thing he was right — it’s about time most of the planet heads to the Betty Ford clinic and gets detoxed off from organized religions of all persuasions. It would be a far, far better world if they did.

      (c) “Bud” E. Lewis Evans

      Nov 24, 2009 at 8:34 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      In No. 19. Bill Perdue wrote, “The income tax evading cults and the shysters, televangelists, racists, misogynists and homohaters that Javier respects are not exactly universally loved.”

      What Javier actually wrote was, “Except for a few people on this forum, the overwhelming majority of society respects religion, even religion we disagree with. We want people to be able to practice religion and we want religious institutions to be able to practice and teach their faith in forums that are distinctly religious. However, in secular engagements that are not religious in nature, secular law should forbid discrimination.”

      Javier was obviously describing typical American beliefs regarding religion, whether he holds those beliefs or not. It is not cool to “shoot the messenger” when the message is not to your liking.

      The real issue should be that conservatives want to make sure religious people can use tax-free dollars for political activities …. as long as they support conservative positions. This is not because conservatives want people to be able to express their ideas and influence the political process in general. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/11/24/BAPR1APBRM.DTL has an interesting example of a conservative-passed law that tries to shut some more liberal individuals up.

      Nov 24, 2009 at 11:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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