Just a reminder of the disaster that was averted on Monday 25th when the House of Lords defeated the government’s attempt to remove the right of churches to employ only people whose lifestyle is consistent with the church’s ethical teachings.
Yet again the government has shown itself oblivious to the significance of such fundamental freedoms as freedom of association, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religion. Yet again the House of Lords has had to spell out things that should be utterly unassailably taken for granted. Thus Dr John Sentamu:
“Noble Lords may believe that Roman Catholics should allow priests to be married; they may think that the Church of England should hurry up and allow women to become bishops; they may feel that many churches and other religious organisations are wrong on matters of sexual ethics. But if religious freedom means anything, it must mean that those are matters for the churches and other religious organisations to determine in accordance with their own convictions. They are not matters for the law to impose.”
And Baroness O’Cathain, clearly the hero of the hour:
“A belief in freedom of association demands that, even if we do not share the beliefs of an organisation, we must stand up for its liberty to choose its own leaders and representatives. That, in essence, is what this debate is all about.”