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Lillian LadeleWould love to be able to find some time to write about one or two things, but it’s a busy week. I’ll try and squeeze something in later on today on the Ladele case. Just to say, has anybody considered the fact that given that she has been moved to a job registering births and deaths, and given the fact that registering civil partnerships is as different a role from registering marriages as registering marriages is from registering births (para 6 of the ruling refers to this fact), why has she been forced to do one registration job (civil partnerships) but not another (marriages)? As para 74 of Neuberger’s ruling says:

It is right to add that this conclusion may well not have applied if Islington had not designated Ms Ladele (along with all the other registrars) a civil partnership registrar. If they had not so designated her, it seems to me that there would have been a powerful case for saying that she would then have had no cause to refuse to officiate at civil partnerships, and accordingly no problem of discrimination under the 2007 Regulations could arise. Accordingly, I doubt whether a decision by Islington that she would not be designated a civil partnership registrar, at her request because of her religious problems with officiating at civil partnerships, would fall foul of the 2007 Regulations.

Of course, that’s only one side of the argument…

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20 Comments on “Blogging

  1. Peter

    You are right to point out that Islington Council had considerable flexibility to deploy Lillian Ladele in other tasks that were not against her conscience. That is an important fact to note.

    The government introduced the law on civil partnerships after Lillian Ladele became a registrar. The state changed her conditions of employment, which of course it is entitled to do with due process.

    It was quite forseeable, however, that this situation of consciencious objection would arise. Similar situations have arisen, and continue to arise, over abortion. In this case, doctors and nurses are allowed to conscientiously object to performing an abortion as long as they refer the women to a doctor who will. This would have been the obvious, and sensible, compromise to implement in the case of civil partnerships.

    However, consciencious objection provisions were not written into the Civil Partnerships Act. It is increasingly clear that this was not done because consciencious objection against gay rights was simply unacceptable to the government.

    It is also clear from this case that Islington Council were simply not interested in accommodating Lillian Ladele’s conscience and deliberately deployed her in a position where she would be forced to go against her conscience. They wanted to force the issue to establish a legal precedent that the state can force Christians to perform actions against their conscience.

    And, yes, I do mean Christians: it is blatantly obvious that these types of cases never involve any of the many other religions that believe homosexual practice is a sin.

    The wider objective increasingly becoming clear. It is to entrench a secular humanist view of law, order and society and to punish any that find this unacceptable. Conscience simply has no place in the government scheme of things.

    This very important case is not about whether gay rights or Christian belief should exist. It is however very firmly about the liberty to conscienciously object within state employment. And it is about whether the government is prepared to facilitate the employee following their conscience on deeply held convictions (which in this case, they could easily have done). It is also about establishing the precedent that gay rights trump Christian conscience. As I have posted before, this kind of conflict between competing rights is the inevitable result of applying a human rights framework rather than a moral law framework.

    I think talk of Christians being persecuted in the UK is laughable when compared with the many countries where Christians are regularly put to death for expressing their beliefs. These are, of course, almost all Islamic or Communist countries.

    However, whenever a state has, with determination, set itself to deny consciencious objection to its Christians, tyranny has surely followed in due course.

    These are not good times or good signs!

    • “And, yes, I do mean Christians: it is blatantly obvious that these types of cases never involve any of the many other religions that believe homosexual practice is a sin.”

      I’m not aware that a case of this kind has yet arisen involving, say, a Muslim, but a judgment of the Court of Appeal (unless I’m mistaken) sets a precedent which has to be followed. If, therefore, such a case should arise in the future, I don’t see how a different judgment could possibly be given from that in the Ladèle case. To allow a Muslim to claim on religious grounds an exemption which has been refused to a Christian would surely be religious discrimination and contrary to natural justice.

  2. I think it’s patently obcious that the main reason she was sacked was the Council’s policy (although I think it is ion fact in line with the current Government’s policy or imposing their values by law).

    However, there was a possibly helpful part of todays ruling from the Supreme Court which ruled that current UK “anti-discrimination law” does mean that Jewish religious schools cannot decide who is Jewish according to the Jewish religion!!)

    “The closeness of the Court’s decision underlines the inherent difficulty in applying the complex modern law of discrimination to an ancient religion, particularly where the UK law of direct discrimination does not allow any breach to be justified, however legitimate the motive.

    A majority of the Justices expressed the view that the law may be wrong and Lady Hale signalled that an amendment to the Equality Bill should be investigated.”

    From here: http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2009/12/jfs-ruling-3500-years-of-jewish-tradition-overturned-.html

    The Justices’ concern was that one particular religion was discriminated against compared to others (which generally see religion as a matter of choice not just birth).

    However, one could equally make the argument that the current anti-discrimination law discriminates against Christians, compared to people of no faith, because it does not take any account to accommodate the inherently different Christian morality and conscience..

  3. ps Here’s a quote from the Supreme Court’s ruling: “In
    contrast to the law in many countries, where English law forbids direct discrimination it provides no defence of justification.”

    Here. http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/docs/uksc_2009_0105_judgmentV2.pdf

    I think you could summarize what I was saying earlier as that it appears that anti-discrimination law has been constructed so as to protect some favoured groups absolutely from both direct and indirect discrimination, while justifying indirect discrimination against disfavoured groups.

  4. I always say what I think, so here goes!

    I haven’t looked into this case in the detail that I perhaps should have ( too busy at the moment) but it seems to me that Islington Council did change Ladele’s terms and conditions and I think they should have made reasonable allowances for her religious beliefs , as long as there were other tasks she could perform and other registrars available to carry out ceremonies for same sex couples.

    Of course, it would be a different matter for someone whose contract clearly states that registering same sex partnerships is part of their duties.

    I know some people will disagree with me, saying that if Ladele were a nurse, for example, she could not refuse to treat someone in a homosexual relationship, or if she were a photographer she could not refuse her services on the grounds of orientation. I can see that officiating at a ceremony, or carrying out an actual abortion, is a different matter than, for example, referring someone for an abortion or doing the catering for a couple celebrating their civil partnership.

    I do wonder how even handed Ladele was in her judgement though? Did she ever refuse to marry divorced couples, I wonder?

  5. An additional observation: The eyes are the window to the soul. Lillian Ladele’s eyes show both the compassion that comes from knowing Christ and the determination that comes from knowing that one’s convictions are correct, whatever the cost. And conviction, especially when it is not in line with the government and media approved values of secular humanism, is increasingly frowned upon in the post-modern societies of Europe.

  6. She doesn’t look particularly compassionate in that photo to me ( not that that means she isn’t capable of compassion…) She looks rather cold and reserved.

  7. Hello all,

    Re the substance of the case I agree with Sue but like you I’ve not looked into this in detail (and not yet had time to read your later post on this, Peter).

    Just a couple of other things:

    David – I’m not sure it’s true that “The Justices’ concern was that one particular religion was discriminated against compared to others”. Pedantic as ever, i thought the problem was that, if it’s oversubscribed, the Jewish Free School’s admissions criteria are on the basis of whether the child’s mother was Jewish (and on this basis whether the child is Jewish). This was (narrowly) deemed to be direct discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin – ie racial, not religious, discrimination. Hope that’s a fair summary – but if so I’m not sure how this case links to that of Lilian Ladele.

    Philip – hello again sir :) Wanted to respond quickly to your first comment – you mention conscience a lot but what about truth? Could I put to you that our consciences need to be formed by and accountable to, what is true? If so then maybe it’s not about “establishing the precedent that gay rights trump Christian conscience”, but about a disagreement on a question of truth. In effect Lilian Ladele, like lots of other Christians I grant you, disagrees with the government over what is true about ‘the gay issue’. I’m not sure if I’m making sense but it does seem to me that Christians in such as situation need to set out why they think their conscientious view is true – not simply brandish their conscience. (Though, as implied above i agree with those who say that Islington council could have acted differently and thus not put Lilian Ladele in this position).

    in friendship, blair

  8. Blair,

    The point of the Supreme Court ruling on the JFS school is that “anti-discrimination” law in the UK assumes a certain thought framework. That framework works for most religion’s schools but not for orthodox Judaism. Therefore, the rights of orthodox Jews are restricted by equality legislation more than the rights of people of other faiths, without any real substantial benefit to other groups that might justify that discrimination against orthodox Jews religious beliefs.

    Similarly, the framework used to construct the laws which allowed Ladele to be sacked for “discrimination” assume a thought framework that works for many people but was too rigid for orthodox Christians. Effectively it restricts the rights of orthodox Christians more than those of other groups, especially those people of no faith, without any real substantial benefit to the groups that are being protected by the laws.

    My argument is that the framework of the anti-discrimination law is discriminatory because it assumes that what you do for your employer is not your moral responsibility unless the law says it is. But for many Christians the law is not the only or primary arbiter of right and wrong!

    As long as “anti-discrimination” law doesn’t allow for having reasonable and proportionate regard to people’s religion as a legitimate reason to dissent, “anti-discrimination” laws are themselves unjustifiably discriminating against such people!

    • Morning David,

      point taken re the JFS case – I didn’t read your comments attentively.

      However, not sure that that argument works on the Lillian Ladele case (didn’t think she was sacked by the way…?). At the top of the thread Peter quotes para 74 of the judgement which says that Islington could have not designated her a civil partnership registrar, and that this likely would not have fallen foul of the regulations. If this is so then arguably it’s not the case that the law “restricts the rights of orthodox Christians more than those of other groups” – though maybe Islington’s application of the laws and its own policies in this case, had that effect.

      in friendship, Blair

      • though maybe Islington’s application of the laws and its own policies in this case, had that effect.

        And I wonder if that may form part of the case going to the Supreme Court.

        Be great to get your comments on my lengthier analysis.

        • Thank you – will if I’ve time. Have sporadic internet access only at moment (how I love BT…) so have to be sneaky at work or use internet cafe…

          Also on another note I’ve just had a mischievous thought – is anyone going to quote Romans 13:1-5 in the context of Lillian Ladele’s case?

          in friendship, blair

          • “Also on another note I’ve just had a mischievous thought – is anyone going to quote Romans 13:1-5 in the context of Lillian Ladele’s case?”

            Rather than being mischievous, I think the verse you quote from Romans raises an important and very pertinent point Blair. If for example, the Government passed a law saying that all UK citizens must worship images of Gordon Brown then most Christians would not obey the governing authorities let alone the secular population.

            Yet the Manhattan Declaration appears to be drawing a line as to where Rom 13:1-3 ought tso be obeyed. So my question is how do Christians decide whether they should obey the governing authorities or not? When does the “Governing Authority” cross the line and Rom 13:1-5 becomes inapplicable to them?

            • Thank you. I think you ask good questions too though I don’t claim to know how to answer. It seems to me there must be circumstances in which civil disobedience is called for – I’m thinking of a case from the ’90s where some peace activists threw some computer equipment related to the Trident missile system, to the bottom of a loch. But as you say the question is how to discern when these circumstances are. Quakers’ Advices and Queries say:

              “Respect the laws of the state but let your first loyalty be to God’s purposes. If you feel impelled by strong conviction to break the law, search your conscience deeply. Ask your meeting for the prayerful support which will give you strength as a right way becomes clear” (no. 35).

              I think that could be one helpful starting place: note that that paragraph assumes you’re part of a worshipping community which can help in your discernment. But I’m not trying to imply that’s anywhere near a full answer.

              in friendship, Blair

  9. Going back to Blair’s point about whether Ladele was sacked, does anyone know if she actually was or not? ( I assumed she made her objections and was out of a job.)

    I read a bit about it last night and there seemed to be some suggestion that Islington Council redeployed her registering births and deaths? If this was the case and if the pay was the same, I can’t see what grounds she would have to complain? It would seem to me then that her employers made more than reasonable allowances for her objections and that, in fact, they were inconvenienced as much as she was – if not more.

    • Hi Sue,

      quoting para 5 of the judgement: “she remained employed by Islington as a registrar until she resigned with effect from 30 September 2009”.

      in friendship, Blair

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