Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wise words from the UK

From the Guardian Andrew Brown calls out the hyperbole of the Archbishop of York who claims civil marriage equality is "dictatorship":
In Britain the state and the church have long disagreed about the definition of marriage. As soon as civil divorce and remarriage between men and women was allowed, and I think the relevant date is 1915, the state had redefined marriage; and over the next century, the church shuffled slowly into line behind the state and behind society. 
The spectacle of "dictators" doing so is not convincing either. I can't think of a single dictatorship that has legalised gay marriage. There have, it is true, been dictatorships that were profoundly hostile to the family – Soviet Russia comes to mind. But they were not correspondingly in favour of gay marriage or even gay equality. They just wanted nothing to stand in the way of the power of the state. 
What the religious conservatives are facing here is not a "dictatorship" but a genuine change in popular morality. Equality has come to seem a sacred value, one which unites society in as much as we all submit to it. And the more grossly this value is defied economically and politically, the more people will treasure it elsewhere. 
If a majority of the population favours gay marriage, or can't see what all the fuss is about, and the government makes it legal it is not imposing, as a dictator might, its views on an unwilling people. It is not even directly imposing them on an unwilling church. No one is going to have to celebrate gay marriages in their churches if they do not want to.
Wise words just as accurate for our own religious conservatives to heed.

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