From Christian Concern
From Christian Concern
A classic from 2003, by Stanley Kurtz, National Review Online
There is a mystery at the heart of the gay-marriage debate. I call it the “libertarian question.” The libertarian question (really a series of questions) goes like this: Why should any form of adult consensual sex be illegal? What rational or compelling interest does the state have in regulating consensual adult sex? More specifically, how does the marriage of two gay men undermine my marriage? Will the fact that two married gay men live next door make me leave my wife? Hardly. So how, then, does gay marriage undermine heterosexual marriage? Why not get the state out of such matters altogether?
The libertarian question is mysterious because, in modern society, we find it difficult to understand the continuing necessity of shared moral standards — and of collective taboos against actions that violate those standards. Traditional societies depend on shared moral sentiments and collective taboos. Modern democracies, for the most part, have rejected these forms of collective morality in favor of an emphasis on personal freedom. Yet the truth is, although their workings are mysterious to us, shared moral codes (and a structure of taboos that guards those codes) can never be entirely dispensed with.
Let’s approach the libertarian question about gay marriage from a new angle. The flap over Senator Rick Santorum’s remarks has raised the question of incest. If homosexual sex is declared private, why won’t consensual adult incest fall under the same sort of protection?
By Tony Perkins, FRC
In a politically correct world, the costs of running a business are a lot more than dollars and cents. For Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of a small Oregon bakery, the price is their First Amendment rights. Their dream of opening a dessert shop near Portland, Oregon turned into a nightmare when two lesbians refused to take "no" for an answer on their request for a same-sex "wedding" cake.
Exactly one year ago, the Kleins explained that they couldn't take the order because it would violate their faith to participate in a same-sex "marriage" ceremony. Furious, the women filed a complaint with the state. The story made national headlines, as the young couple became another face in the war on religious liberty. "We still stand by what we believe from the beginning," Aaron told reporters. "I'm not sure what the future holds, but as far as where we're at right now… it's almost as if the state is hostile toward Christian businesses."
And the state isn't the only one. After word spread, the harassment in the liberal suburb of Portland became too much to take. The Kleins were forced to close the shop in Gresham and operate out of their home. Even there, the family was a target. Activists broke into their company truck and painted "bigot" across the side.
Now, 12 months later, the state of Oregon is weighing in — and not on the side of free speech and free exercise. Investigators from the state Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled late last week that the couple was guilty of discrimination and ordered the Kleins to settle. If they refuse, the Bureau threatens to bring "formal charges." Herbert Grey, the bakers' attorney, was flabbergasted. "They're being punished by the state of Oregon for refusing to participate in an event the state of Oregon does not recognize." Even the state constitution defines marriage the same way as Aaron and Melissa — and they're being persecuted.
Today all freedom-loving democrats the length and breadth of the United Kingdom look to the House of Lords (once again) to defend our ancient liberties and the health of democracy against this increasingly authoritarian, censorious and coercive Government.
Last September His Grace raised concerns about the (niftily-named and immeasurably soporific) Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill. In short, a bill intended to promote transparency and ensure greater integrity in the democratic process may greatly restrict charities and other groups from speaking out on important matters of public interest. The Government denies this, insisting that charities are already exempt from party political campaigning. But lawyers, charities and a raft of respected organisations (IEA, TFA, CPS, TPA, PEN, BBW, ASI) take a contrary view. The Christian Institute has a helpful explanatory hub.
[...] If (say) your church opposes (say) euthanasia, and you support a candidate who shares those views, your church will be deemed to have assisted that candidate and so be subject to financial regulation. If you publish views contra a pro-euthanasia candidate, you can rest assured that every phone call, flyer and coffee morning will be scrutinised, assessed and the costs totted up. That's okay, you may say: my church wouldn't spend anything like £20k on a political campaign. But nationally they may certainly do so. And if they fail to make the appropriate returns, the Archbishop risks being imprisoned.
But this £20k limit is swept aside by a particularly sinister clause. Under the proposals, any group that spends more than £9,750 on political activity in a single constituency will have to register with the Electoral Commission. It is not remotely clear what happens if your campaign is national or geared to a wider region (whether, for example, the anti-HS2 group will need to divide their budget by the number of constituencies along the route). Astonishingly, that limit includes staff costs, which is an expenditure specifically excluded for political parties. This could greatly affect the work of churches and other non-partisan voluntary groups which may have no direct involvement in an election but which happen to employ an administrator on £10k pa. Any 'substantial' agitation by such a group may constitute political lobbying.
From the Christian Institute
In the next few hours there will be a vital vote in the House of Lords on clause 1 of the Anti-social Behaviour Bill.
Under clause 1, Anti-social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) would be replaced with Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNAs).
These injunctions will be easier to obtain and require a lower threshold of evidence.
You may remember our victory in seeking to remove the word "insulting" from Section 5 of the Public Order Act. The Government’s proposal in clause 1 would undermine the benefits of this reform.
Everyone is concerned about tackling genuine anti-social behaviour. But very senior lawyers from across the political parties agree that clause 1 is much too broad and is a real risk to free speech.
Former Chief Constable, Lord Dear, has tabled an amendment to replace the "nuisance and annoyance" threshold with the test of causing "harassment, alarm or distress". This would protect free speech while still allowing the courts to tackle anti-social behaviour.
The vote is expected to take place around 6pm today and we believe there is a lot of support within the House of Lords.
Yours in Christ,
The Christian Institute
Read also: Outlawing "annoyance" is Cameron's crassest law from Cranmer
Lord Dear: IPNAs – a threat to our freedom and a waste of police time from Conservative Home
From The Christian Institute
Police officers will be told they are no longer able to arrest people just because others might find their words or behaviour “insulting”, in new guidance issued by the College of Policing.
Last year the Government agreed to remove the word “insulting” from Section 5 of the Public Order Act after the amendment was voted in by the House of Lords in December 2012.
The important free speech reform, backed by The Christian Institute, is to become law on 1 February and will be known as Section 57 of the Crime and Courts Act.
“When the amendment comes into force”, the new College of Policing guidance states, “words or behaviour that are merely ‘insulting’, or the displaying of writing, signs or other visible representations which are merely ‘insulting’, within the hearing of someone likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress, will no longer constitute a criminal offence under section 5(1).”
The campaign to change the law was spearheaded by the Reform Section 5 group, which united an unusual alliance including The Christian Institute, the National Secular Society, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, and other civil liberties groups concerned about free speech.
From The Christian Institute
MSPs considering a Bill to redefine marriage have voted down protections for public sector workers, charities and people considering adoption.
Scotland for Marriage, which supports traditional marriage, said warnings about the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill were being ignored.
The organisation said it was encouraged by the level of support the protections attracted but it was “disappointing” they were not passed.
“The warnings about problems the legislation is going to cause are not being listened to.
“The Scottish Government is in cloud cuckoo land if it doesn’t believe these changes are necessary”, said a spokesman for the group – which has over 50,000 supporters.
by Hilary White, LifeSite News
A set of instructions for journalists by a government department that threatens professional sanctions and possible jail time for writing unfavorably about homosexuality and “gay marriage,” has raised outrage among some sections of the Italian parliament. The document is a straightforward attempt to co-opt the entire profession into the homosexual agenda, a group of 21 Deputies has said.
December 19th, 2013 Jill Posted in Civil Liberty Comments Off
By Alan Travis, Guardian
Original draft of anti-social behaviour, crime and policing bill raised fears powers could be used to stifle many forms of protest
The Home Office minister Norman Baker is to amend the government's new antisocial behaviour powers amid fears they could be used to ban carol singers, charity collectors and protesters .
Critics say the way the bill is currently drafted mean its powers could be used to stifle many forms of protest on the grounds that they might cause annoyance or a nuisance to somebody else.
Baker tabled government amendments on Thursday to the anti-social behaviour, crime and policing bill reinforcing the right to peaceful protest.
The government amendments will also ensure that new injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance, known as Ipnas – which are to replace antisocial behaviour orders (asbos) – include an extra "reasonableness test" to ensure that the courts cannot grant them for no reason. This is to extend an existing test in the legislation which requires the court to consider the injunctions "just and convenient" before they are granted.
The extra civil liberty safeguards are to be included following meetings involving the Liberal Democrat minister and critics of the bill, who have included the former director of public prosecutions, Lord Macdonald, and Lord Faulks, who, coincidentally, was appointed a justice minister on Thursday.
Macdonald has said that the bill in its current form potentially empowers state interference against political demonstrations, street performers and street corner preachers in the face of shockingly low safeguards.
From The Christian Institute
A free speech reform backed by The Christian Institute is to become law on 1 February next year.
From that date police will no longer be able to use Section 5 of the Public Order Act to arrest people just because others might find their words or behaviour “insulting”.
The Government agreed to the free speech reform in January, but it has taken until now for them to decide when it will come into force.
Simon Calvert – Campaign Director of the Reform Section 5 group – welcomed the news, but warned about a new anti-social behaviour law which could again threaten free speech.
Under Section 5 one protestor was arrested for calling Scientology a “cult”, someone else arrested for saying “woof” to a dog and another for calling a police horse “gay”.
Several Christians were arrested for peaceful and lawful street preaching, and one Christian couple were put on trial for criticising Islam.
By Christopher Booker, Mailonline
Throughout all my years reporting on scores of chilling examples of what social workers are allowed to do behind the closed doors of our secret family courts, the case reported yesterday on the front page of the Daily Mail is not just the most disturbing of all.
It also illustrates how far our ‘child protection’ system has now gone horrendously off the rails. The facts are so shocking they beggar belief.
A pregnant Italian mother who was visiting Britain had her baby forcibly removed from her womb by British doctors on the orders of a secret court, before the child was handed to social workers.
This 35-year-old mother, who suffers from a bipolar condition, was visiting Britain for a two?week training course with Ryanair at Stansted airport.
Preparing to return home to Italy, having successfully passed the course, she had a bipolar episode at the airport and became over-excitable when she thought she had mislaid the passports of her two daughters who were still in Italy. She contacted the police for help.
When they arrived, she was on the phone to her mother, so she handed one of the officers the receiver. The mother explained to the police about her daughter’s mental condition and said she had not been taking the medication and needed to calm her down.
The police then apparently contacted Essex social workers — as they are routinely instructed to do in such cases — and told the woman they were taking her to ‘a hospital to check that your baby is OK’.
On arrival, she was startled to find that it was a psychiatric hospital.
She protested that she wanted to return to her hotel, but was forcibly restrained, sectioned under the Mental Health Act and told she must remain in the psychiatric hospital.
Read also: The British State owns all EU babies from Cranmer
By Adrian Hilton, Conservative Home
[...] The providential extension of materialism, capitalism and pluralism was not hindered by the maintenance of standing armies in peacetime or state repression of the people. In order to govern, our overlords had to persuade and obtain common consent: law came up from the people, not down from regime. The advancement of this social contract was a righteous mission, founded upon a Protestant understanding of the Divine Order and man’s inherent equality with man. “The idea that everyone should read the scriptures had egalitarian and democratic implications”, Hannan writes. “Protestantism also bound the peoples of Great Britain to their kindred across the oceans.” The contract of liberty became a covenant with God. And in a priceless nugget of historical insight, we learn that “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” appeared in the prologue to Wycliffe’s Bible five centuries before the phrase was appropriated by Lincoln. It was an Englishman who inspired the foundation of the City upon a Hill. If the resulting religious, political and economic freedoms were the cornerstone of the Anglosphere, Protestantism was its nascent soul.
The book chronicles the milestones which incrementally defined our liberties – Magna Carta, the Reformation, Elizabethan Settlement, Civil War, Glorious Revolution, Bill of Rights/Claim of Right, and the exemplary child of them all, the Constitution of the United States – the greatest guarantor of freedom the world has ever known. It wasn’t all picnics and plain-sailing, of course: some people’s liberties meant coercion and incarceration for others, and the spread of freedom occasionally lapsed into restraint and injustice. But this murky history is skilfully woven into Albion’s rays of sunshine and top-of-the-world optimism.
Hannan’s notion of Englishness is based not so much on the DNA of parochial consanguinity or narrow assertions of ethnicity, but on a shared inheritance that defines nationality and the common ideology that shapes Anglosphere attitudes and ethics. We talk about ‘Western’ values just to be polite to the Germans, French and Spanish. The Anglosphere is a fraternal union of the English-speaking peoples all over the world – whatever their skin colour or ocular slant. And their (or our) vocation is the extension of freedom – in the realms of politics, economics and religion: an enhanced alliance based on prosperity and common liberties. If ever there were a positive and substantive vision for the British people after European Union, this is surely it.
Like Hannan himself, this book dispels gloom and exudes positivity. And yet it has a fin de siècle feeling about it. The United Kingdom presently stands at the crossroads of destiny: we can turn left, to the incremental diminution of our ancient rights under ever-encroaching laws against ‘hate speech’, public preaching, peaceful protest and the independence of the press; or we can go right, toward freedom of speech and expression, freedom of assembly and association, freedom of religion and worship, freedom of contract and employment, and freedom from oppressive, arbitrary and punitive taxation. All of the main political parties and their leaderships have turned left: it is as though we need another glorious revolution to reassert the supremacy of the elected representative over the government official, and proclaim the primacy of the citizen over the state.
Read Reform Clause 1 – Feel Free To Annoy Me from Cranmer
From Premier Christian Media
We are saddened to report today’s Court of Appeal decision to uphold a ban on an advertisement which asked Christians to report their experiences of marginalisation in the workplace, and see it is an attack on freedom of speech.
“But this is not only a bad day for freedom of speech for Christians, it is also a bad day for democracy in general, and a very bad day at the office for the Master of the Rolls” said our CEO Peter Kerridge.
As London Christian Radio Ltd, and sister organisation Christian Communications Partnership Ltd, we objected in 2011 to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport’s decision to prohibit the advertisement after the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre [RACC] claimed that it had a political objective.
A Judicial Review in March last year upheld the decision but the Christian campaigners were granted leave to appeal.
Declaring the advertisement unlawful, the Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, said it was “directed to the political end of making a fairer society by reducing or eliminating the marginalisation of Christians in the workplace”, contrary to broadcasting legislation.
Peter Kerridge says; “This would suggest that any radio advertisement calling for data to inform public debate to help a fairer society would also be banned. But we have to ask ourselves did Parliament really intend a blanket ban on radio adverts for surveys?”
L.J.Elias, in a strongly dissenting judgement, disagreed with the Master of the Rolls and declared the advertisement to be lawful. He said that any advertisement whose purpose was to facilitate debate was not directed towards a political end and concluded; “If an advertisement does not itself constitute a partial political message, why should it be banned?”
November 14th, 2013 Jill Posted in Civil Liberty Comments Off
By Gary Isbell, TFP
During the sixties, catchy phrases such as “it’s forbidden to forbid,” circulated among the protesters that filled universities worldwide. The ideas that circulated in the spring of 1968 are now producing their rotten fruit. It is painfully evident, for example, that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a radical implementation of the idea that it is forbidden to forbid.
This particular phrase, which circulated at France’s Sorbonne University, essentially declares that I will not be told no. In other words, I will live my life without restraints and practice free license regardless of the evil that ensues. This declaration of anarchy is now seconded by today’s radical liberals and useful innocents alike is merely a consequence of the free love agenda of the sixties. ENDA takes sexual liberation from the public square and transfers it to the workplace punishing employers that show any displeasure towards those who chose to engage in the homosexual lifestyles.
The passing of ENDA would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees. The big problem is that it leaves “discrimination” and the concept of “gender identity” entirely ambiguous, self-defined and open to tyrannical enforcement.
October 29th, 2013 Jill Posted in Civil Liberty Comments Off
By Hilary White, LifeSite News
A council of former heads of state and government leaders has called on the European Union to establish national surveillance units to monitor citizens of all 27 EU member states suspected of “intolerance”.
The European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), a “tolerance watchdog” launched under the leadership of former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski and Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, called for the establishment of government surveillance bodies to directly monitor the “intolerant” behavior of identified citizens and groups.
The council, which includes former presidents of the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Albania, Latvia, and Cyprus, and former prime ministers of Spain and Sweden, made the proposal in a report delivered during a 45-minute speech to the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE).
These “special administrative units,” the report says, “should preferably operate within the Ministry of Justice.”
“There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant,” it states, especially “as far as freedom of expression is concerned.”
Rights exist in and of themselves. They are “self-evident”, as a right is something that we have a right to. This is not circular logic (“a right is a right because it is a right”). Instead, it is the explanation necessitated by the very nature of that which is being explained: we have “the right to have rights”. If rights are things that we do not have a right to, then those things themselves cannot be rights. Rights exist even when we are unaware of them. They are not permissions. Instead, they are what I would call “neutral realities”, similar to electricity or numbers or morality: they exist, and we are able to discern their existence and their properties, and to utilise them – but we cannot remove them from being, nor can we redefine what they are. A right, then, is not something that it is right for us to be able to do, since if it were and we were unable to do it, we could demand that somebody do it for us. As an example, the right to own property cannot be “the right to be given property if you cannot obtain your own”. Instead, the right to own property translates as “it would be wrong to not allow you to obtain your own property”.
The phrases “it is right to have” and “it is wrong to not have” might seem like mirror images, but the subtle difference between the two is the key to understanding the nature of rights. If we mistakenly believe that “it is right to have” is the same as “it is wrong to not have”, then our rights are mere positive permissions granted by man-made law rather than inherent properties gifted by God. If they are given by man, they can be taken by man. If they are given by an exterior law-giver, we are safe. The truth is our best protection. The temptation presented by “positive law” is a kind of stick-or-twist scenario: if we allow positive law to tempt us into asking for artificial (man-made) rights, we can superficially regard ourselves as better off – until such time as our inherent rights come under threat, at which point we realise we have exchanged a protection for a permission and, in doing so, left ourselves unprotected. Rights protect our abilities to access those parts of living that lead to a full experience of what it means to be human.
From European Dignity Watch
A proposed Framework National Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance was presented to members of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) on the 17th of September. It called for direct surveillance of supposedly intolerant behavior of individual citizens and groups by Governmental bodies. Put forward by an NGO, the ideas contained in the policy proposal would not only create double standards on the issue of tolerance but would severely limit freedom of speech and expression. It is part of a broader trend of such ideas becoming official EU policy.
A prominent 45-minute slot was given to the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), to present their policy proposal at a recent meeting of LIBE this week. The ECTR is an international NGO established in October 2008 by Aleksander Kwasniewski, formerPresident of Poland and Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress. Unfortunately, their understanding of tolerance turns out to be a highly problematic mixture of vaguely defined terms (such as tolerance), double standards (regarding to whom this tolerance should apply), and a radical call for public control of citizens and private groups.
According to Section 4(f) of the document: “There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant (….) especially (…) as far as freedom of expression is concerned”. And in Section 1, it broadly defines “tolerance” as “respect for and acceptance of the expression, preservation and development of the distinct identity of a group”.