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Ugly Sisters – press regulation & marriage redefinition

By Julian Mann

Like two ugly sisters singing an ugly tune on a pantomime stage, the drive to restrict freedom of the press and to redefine marriage are related.

The same-sex marriage bill passed through the House of Commons by means of a politically correct consensus between self-styled 'progressive' Conservatives, Labour MPs and Liberal Democrats. That was similar to the way in which the ill-thought-through Royal Charter to regulate the British press was pushed through Parliament.

The latest briefing from the Christian Institute, which is campaigning valiantly to secure protection for religious conscience in the same-sex marriage bill, explains the grave threat to spiritual liberty from this legislation:

"Ordinary people should not be penalised in the workplace or elsewhere just because they disagree with same-sex marriage. We have been pressing the Government for explicit protections to be written into the legislation but so far the Government has not listened, saying the Human Rights Act and equality legislation will protect us!

"In one unguarded moment the Government admitted that they want commercial companies to be able to dismiss staff if they refuse to be involved with a same-sex marriage. The Government thinks wedding chauffeurs who refuse to participate in a gay wedding should be sacked. By that same logic, florists, cake makers and photographers are also in the firing line.

"We are asking for a bit more flexibility – a reasonable accommodation – for people who sincerely disagree with same-sex marriage. We are also pressing them to protect people who work in the public sector – teachers, chaplains, and foster carers – as well as organisations who hire facilities from the local council."

In the short term, clergy in the Church of England will not be required to register same-sex marriages, though such exemptions must realistically be regarded as precarious given the politically correct trajectory Britain is on. But the real concerns now are for disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ in secular employment.

Significantly, the two issues of press freedom and the preservation of the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman for life share a common spiritual bond in Christianity. Freedom of the press developed in Britain under the Protestant consensus following the 1701 Act of Settlement and was inextricably linked with the right to publish convictions rooted in the Bible without state interference.

It is no co-incidence now that the right to oppose same-sex marriage on biblical grounds is being constrained by the same political establishment that wants to restrict press freedom.

Julian Mann is vicar of the  Parish” target=”_blank”>Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire, UK

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