The Church of England (CoE) has reiterated that it will not allow civil partnerships for people of the same sex to be registered on their premises despite the passage of a new law in England and Wales that gives the church and other religious premises the “opportunity” to do so. A written statement released on Dec 1 by the Church’s Secretary General, William Fittall reads in part: “No Church of England religious premises may become ‘approved premises’ for the registration of civil partnerships without there having been a formal decision by the General Synod to that effect.”
Previously, under the Civil Partnership Act of 2004, civil partnerships could not be registered on religious premises . In March 2010, however, the Parliament decided during the passage of the Equality Act of 2010 to remove the prohibition on places of worship. This amendment was approved on Nov. 8, 2011 and it comes into full force beginning Monday Dec 5, 2011
The Church of England is however quick to ‘respectfully decline” to use this new “opportunity” to participate in registering civil partnerships. It justifies this stand by referring to “Clear assurances ... given in Parliament by the then Government that the new possibility for the registration of civil partnerships on religious premises would operate by way of denominational opt-in and that no Church or other religious body would be under any obligation to permit the registration of civil partnerships on its premises.”
The Christian Post, in reporting the stand of the CoE also observes that the government of David Cameron had also “issued a consultation document, reaffirming previous commitments by the previous leaders, which the Archbishops’ Council and the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops both agreed upon.”
But how would the Church marry this position with the country’s Equality Act 2010 which makes it unlawful for ‘a person concerned with the provisions of a service to the public or a section of the public’ to discriminate on various grounds, including sexual orientation, ‘against a person requiring the service by not providing the person with the service’? The Church’s Legal House claims that their decision was not discriminating in a way which was unlawful under the Act because they were “not concerned” with the service of civil partnership registrations.
“A Church which provides couples with the opportunity to marry (but not to register civil partnerships) is ‘concerned with’ the provision of marriage only; it is simply not ‘concerned’ with the provision of faculties to register civil partnerships,” the Legal Office noted. “That would be a different ‘service,’ marriage and civil partnership being legally different concepts.”
This argument thus rests heavily on the definition of “marriage” to automatically mean a union between opposite sexes. The question is how long will that definition remain valid? Evidently, changing the legal definition of marriage is the next task the gay movement has assigned itself. Rather than all these laborious process of fighting the satanic concept of same-sex marriage, how refreshing to be able to simply declare, as the Church in Nigeria is able: we oppose same-sex union because it is sin and abomination before God! Period. Nigerians must never compromise the right to freely hold such a position.
The Church of England recognizes the tenuousness of its position and concedes, as reported by the Christian Post, that “If the Parliament were to legislate for same sex marriage, however, which the Prime Minister recently suggested, the church would reassess the issue.” With the threats of fire and brimstone David Cameron is breathing down on Nigeria on the issue of same-sex marriage, there can be no doubting which direction he is taking his native country England.
In the meantime, the Church of England laboriously continues with its self-defence, explaining that the nondiscrimination requirement imposed by the Equality Act on service-providers did not include a requirement to undertake the provision of other services, in this case civil partnership registrations, that a service-provider was not already concerned with providing just because the services that it currently offered were of such a nature that they tended to benefit only persons of a particular age, sex, sexual orientation, etc.
“For example,” the church argued, “a gentlemen’s outfitter is not required to supply women’s clothes. A children’s book shop is not required to stock books that are intended for adults. And a Church that provides a facility to marry is not required to provide a facility to same-sex couples for registering civil partnerships.”
Additionally, the Legal Office commented that the church was not violating the public sector equality duty contained in the Equality Act as well because the church was not exercising public functions in making their decision to deny civil partnership registrations.
We salute the position of the Church of England, but sympathizes with their inability to simply freely declare their religious convictions based on the clear words of God without all these legal rigmarole.
(Story sourced from The Christian Post Dec. 03 2011)
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