NewsMon Jun 12, 2006 - 12:15 pm EST
Church of England Warns New Laws Will Force Church to Bless Gay Unions
By Peter J. Smith
LONDON, England, June 12, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Church of England has raised the alarm against new government proposals that will force churches, groups, and individuals to provide services to homosexuals, including blessing “marriages” or civil partnerships, or providing communion under pain of legal prosecution.
The 2006 Sexual Orientation (Provision of Goods and Services) Regulations, which are due for adoption October 2006, prohibit the discrimination of services based on sexual orientation, in the same manner in which discrimination based on race or sex is illegal.
The government’s consultation session on the law, which began March 2006 and ended last week June 5th , indicates that Christian churches and individuals will have to sacrifice their religious convictions or face prosecution. According to Anglican Mainstream, “[the Government’s] consultation makes it explicit that any discrimination between married heterosexuals and those with Civil Partnerships will be direct discrimination.” It will alsoÂbe illegal for churches to deny homosexuals a venue for “civil partnership ceremonies” or re-affirming civil partnership ‘vows’,Âsince they offer the same thing for heterosexuals. Under the government’s view of services, clergy in the United Kingdom would be required to bless same-sex civil partnerships or face legal action.
Under the new Regulations, if a clergyman denied Communion to homosexuals he would have broken the law, since Communion falls under the Government’s definition of a service, according to the consultation.
Christian Concern for Our Nation, a coalition of Christians in Britain opposed to the imposition of homosexuality on the consciences of Christians, predict the new Regulations will affect “churches, faith organizations, charities, groups, and individuals who are said to deliver almost 40% of voluntary care in the UK.” Across the Atlantic, that prediction was proven when Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination laws forced Boston Catholic Charities to stop their adoption service when they decided they could not place children in homes of homosexual couples.
However, Aileen McColgan, an employment law expert, and a law professor at the University of London, predicted in comments to CNSNews.com that the government would provide a religious exemption, but said of the ability of religious organizations to discriminate, “I suspect it’ll turn on whether religion is central to the service being provided.”
This does mean, however,Âthat individual Christians running things from dance halls to publications to bed-and-breakfasts would have to accept homosexual couples for their venue or face legal action for discrimination, despite their religious beliefs.Â
The Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir Ali denounced the regulations saying, “In the proposed regulations there is no clear exemption for religious belief even though it is widely known that several of the faiths in this country will have serious difficulty with the regulations.” He emphasized, “Religion affects every area of life and cannot be reduced to just worship.”