Last month Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, who rejoices in the title of “Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Specialized Organizations in Geneva and to the World Trade Organization” addressed the 16th Session of the Human Rights Council on "sexual orientation." In Geneva.
There is a link opposite to the full text but as usual I will summarise below:
He started by condemning violence against people because of their sexual orientation – so far so good. However the second point he makes is that there is a difference between thoughts and feelings and behaviour. When it comes to behaviour the state has the right to control it by law. I quote “Throughout the world, there is a consensus between societies that certain kinds of sexual behaviours must be forbidden by law. Paedophilia and incest are two examples”. Yet again the church seems to be equating homosexuality with paedophilia, a topic you would have thought the catholic church would wish to avoid. But it gets worse...
In the last paragraph he complains that Christians who oppose homosexuality are actually being persecuted. I have to quote the paragraph in full ....
“People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behaviour between people of the same sex. When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature, which may also be expressions of religious convictions, or state opinions about scientific claims, they are stigmatized, and worse -- they are vilified, and prosecuted. These attacks contradict the fundamental principles announced in three of the Council's resolutions of this session. The truth is, these attacks are violations of fundamental human rights, and cannot be justified under any circumstances.”
I think we have to look at this in detail.
He uses the word “attack” twice – I am not aware of many physical attacks on anti-gay Christians (I am aware of many physical attacks on gay people) so I presume he means verbal attacks. Verbal attacks are NOT “violations of fundamental human rights” they are expressions of free speech.
He says they are “stigmatized, and worse -- they are vilified, and prosecuted” – Again stigmatization and vilification are NOT “violations of fundamental human rights” so let’s look at the more serious charge of prosecutions.
The most famous recent case is the famous B&B trial. The judge in this case went out of his way to point out that the couple were free to hold and express any views they wished about homosexuality. What they were not free to do was discriminate against customers while running a public business.
Lets spell it out as clearly as possible :
1 - There is a law X which applies to everyone.
2 - Person Y says the law shouldn’t apply to me because I am religious.
3 - The court says sorry Y the law applies to you just like it applies to everyone else.
This is NOT persecution, it is a refusal to grant special privilege – and quite right too.
As an analogy let’s imagine that I also run a B&B and I refuse to rent rooms to Christians. “I have nothing against Christians as such, but I couldn’t be sure they wouldn’t pray in their room. And I have a deep powerful belief that prayer is an abomination” The courts would say, quite rightly, that I am breaking the law.
I think some Christians (and it is just a few as usual) are not so much suffering from persecution as from a persecution complex. In this country ....
- 25 bishops sit as a right in the house of lords
- 20% of state funded schools are “faith” schools
- Schools are legally obliged to daily acts religious worship
- Churches do not pay tax on their income
- There are 100+ hours of TV and radio reserved exclusively for religious broadcasting
There are many groups of people who would dearly love to be persecuted like that!
And let’s not forget how this started the address was given by the “Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations” a permanent seat at the UN when you aren’t even a nation – how persecuted can you get !
In many countries of the world many groups of people are genuinely facing brutal persecution for many reasons (including sometimes for their religious beliefs).
This bleating of the privileged because they want even more privilege is an insult to every one of them.
And it’s rather un-Christian too!