The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, has warned that Judges risk sparking riots by making ‘disturbing and dangerous’ rulings in religious discrimination cases. What? Christians causing civil unrest in Great Britain!
Other religions perhaps but surely not Christians, especially Anglicans, a significant minority of whom are used to being walked over even within their own church by their so-called brothers and sisters in Christ. To be fair, if it had not been for Mrs Thatcher and her strict Methodist upbringing we would never have heard of George Carey but after she plucked him out of relative obscurity in Bath and Wells he managed to upset just about everyone including his own evangelical friends. So should we take the retired Archbishop seriously?
Gary McFarlane, a relationship counsellor, challenged his sacking by Relate in 2008 for refusing to give sex therapy to gay couples because the service had refused to accommodate his Christian beliefs. In another case last year it was ruled that Lillian Ladele, a Christian registrar, was breaking discrimination laws by refusing to conduct civil partnerships ceremonies. More recently there was the case where B&B owners wanted to turn away gay couples.
The 2001 census for England and Wales in which people were invited to indicate their religious beliefs resulted in 167 religions being recorded including 390,127 Jedi Knights. No system can make exemptions to take account of the huge variety of beliefs people say they hold. Even if it were possible there would be problems dealing with the significant differences that exist just within Christianity, particularly on the subject of homosexuality.
Some would argue that the Established Church should have special privileges, a view many will have sympathy with after the judgements against the wearing of Christian crosses in a Christian country but to allow people to opt out of professional obligations on religious grounds is not in the same league and would result in chaos.
Sorry Lord Carey, I fear that civil unrest would be more likely if people were permitted to refuse to perform their duties because of their religious beliefs.