Hilary White

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Clergy, legal experts not buying ‘protections’ for churches in UK gay ‘marriage’ law

Hilary White
Hilary White
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LONDON, January 30, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Promises of “safeguards” for churches in the UK’s proposed gay “marriage” law are empty and unenforceable, given the UK’s Equalities law and connections to the European Union, according to a top legal expert.

According to Aidan O’Neill QC, wording in the bill, scheduled to go to the vote on February 5th, that he government claims makes it illegal for the Church of England and Church in Wales (Anglican) to conduct same-sex “weddings” is “eminently challenge-able”. O’Neill has told the government that the wording is in fact illegal, and will be overturned straight out of the gate.

The comments come in response to a blog post by Maria Milller, the Culture Minister who introduced the bill on Friday, in which she said, “I have always been crystal clear that I simply will not introduce any new law that does not provide protection for all religious organisations and individual ministers of religion.

“Our Bill will both protect and promote religious freedom in this country, so that religious organisations can continue to act according to their own doctrines and beliefs.”

The legislation contains wording that forbids the Anglican churches, as the officially established church, from conducting same-sex “weddings”. But this does not extend to the Catholic Church and other Protestant denominations or religious groups like Jews or Muslims.

Miller wrote, “Tolerance is a two-way street,” adding that the government has taken its cue from the “Quakers, Liberal Jews and Unitarians – who said they wanted the opportunity to marry same-sex couples, and so we decided to build that into our plans.”

“After all, we are very clear that this decision is entirely up to individual religious organisations and their ministers, but in principle who are we to stop those religious bodies from conducting same-sex marriages if they want to? Allowing them to do so promotes religious freedom.”

O’Neill’s concerns were echoed today by Education Secretary Michael Gove who said that government could be “powerless” to stop teachers being sacked for refusing to teach “gay marriage.” The Daily Telegraph reports that “a senior source” in the department of education said the UK is not “in control” of its own legal situation and that the ultimate decision might “inevitably” be made by the European Court of Human Rights.

The source said, “We have had legal advice; the problem is that there is this inherent uncertainty about such matters.”

“These are all under the control of nine guys in Strasbourg, it is just fundamentally uncertain because Britain isn’t in control of this.”

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Gove is not alone among ministers in expressing doubts. It is now estimated that at least 100 MPs will vote against the bill, although this is far too few to defeat it.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has also raised concerns about the ‘robustness’ of protections. Hammond said that “gay marriage” is not a priority for voters, adding, “I believe the introduction of civil partnerships has removed the elements of practical discrimination that existed against those in same-sex relationships.”

“I do not believe there is a compelling reason to prioritise legislation to go further at the present time and I have concerns about the robustness of the protections for religious organisations that are being put in place.”

While the government continues to focus almost exclusively on the potential conflicts for clergy, Aidan O’Neill has already given testimony to the government’s consultation that creating “gay marriage” in law would automatically throw a wide array of lay religious believers and other conscientious objectors into conflict with their employers and leave them open to litigation with little or no legal recourse. He particularly highlighted teachers as those who could be sacked for refusing to endorse same-sex “marriage,” and also argued that parents would have no right to withdraw their children from classes that endorse gay “marriage.”

Meantime, no one in the Christian community seems to be willing to trust the assurances that they will be protected from being forced to violate their consciences. Earlier this month, 1067 Catholic priests, including 13 bishops and abbots, signed a letter warning of a return of formal persecution of believing Catholics should the change go through. In an interview, the new archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, said he could see himself ending up in prison for his refusal to bow to the zeitgeist’s interpretation of marriage.

At a meeting with concerned Catholic lay groups this week, Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark said he remains unconvinced that the government’s promises of a “quadruple lock” in the bill will stand up in court. He warned that Catholic schools might face a similar fate as the Catholic adoption agencies that were either closed or forced to secularise when the government enacted the Equality legislation requiring them to consider same-sex “couples” as adoptive parents.

John Smeaton, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has said that the emptiness of government promises has already been demonstrated dozens of times. Smeaton wrote today that since the passage of the Abortion Act 1967, successive governments have repeatedly promised and failed to protect conscientious objectors to the various gains of the Sexual Revolution, from abortion to explicit “sex education” in schools to enforcing acceptance of homosexuality.

The government’s promises are ringing even more hollow in the face of a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights in a set of four cases brought by Christians complaining of religious discrimination in the workplace. A week before the government brought its marriage bill forward, the ECHR ruled against three of the plaintiffs, ruling in two cases that Christians with conscientious objections were not allowed to refuse to participate in same-sex civil partnerships or counsel same-sex couples.

The ECHR found that the sacking of relationship counsellor Gary McFarlane and of marriage registrar Lillian Ladele were “not disproportionate” and that the sanctions were in keeping with employers’ legitimate “equality and diversity policies”. Under the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, the European courts have the power to overturn the laws of member states if they are found to conflict with European law.

In dozens of cases large and small, Christians have been the targets of homosexualist activists using the current Equalities law to punish any public opposition to the political agenda. From these cases alone experts have said that it is clear that the new law will affect ordinary working people in a wide range of professions outside the clergy, including marriage registrars and government officials of any kind, nurses, building managers, teachers, amateur street preachers, foster parents, counsellors, hoteliers and bed and breakfast owners.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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