Robert Hampton

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30th March 2013

Couldn’t Carey Less
Posted by at 11.47am | Gay, Politics | No responses

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, a Christian festival, and the law says that all shops over 280 square metres must close or face fines. When kids return to school after the Easter holiday, most will sit through a regular act of collective worship, which the school is obliged to provide under the law. In the House of Lords sit 26 “Lords Spiritual” – Church of England bishops who can take part in debates and vote, simply by virtue of being a Church leader. Last year, when a court ruled that a council could not hold prayers before meetings, Eric Pickles rushed through legislation to reverse that decision.

Given all the above, it’s a bit surprising to hear the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, whining about an agenda of ‘aggressive secularisation’ that the coalition government is supposedly pursuing. He says that Christians are ‘persecuted’ and ‘marginalised’.

Yes, Christian viewpoints are marginalised. That’s why Lord Carey’s opinion piece only appeared on the front page of the Daily Mail, and was obediently picked up by the BBC who had it as the second headline on their web site and radio news bulletins all morning.

It’s not even the first time the Archbishop has said this; he made very similar comments just over a year ago. But what is it that’s got him all fired up this time? You’ll never guess… (Daily Mail link)

As David Cameron knows, I am very suspicious that behind the plans to change the nature of marriage, which come before the House of Lords soon, there lurks an aggressive secularist and relativist approach towards an institution that has glued society together for time immemorial.

By dividing marriage into religious and civil the Government threatens the church and state link which they purport to support. But they also threaten to empty marriage of its fundamental religious and civic meaning as an institution orientated towards the upbringing of children.

Yep, it’s the gays and their insidious plan to get married and be happy, which will RUIN every single heterosexual marriage that has ever existed.

It’s amazing that Lord Carey can cite same-sex marriage as evidence of the Government’s secularist agenda. The same-sex marriage bill contains numerous, well-documented contrivances to “protect” the Church of England from those nasty godless gays. The Church of England (and other religious organisations) are not forced to conduct marriages, not forced to approve of them, not forced to participate in them in any way.

Yet again, the Church is banging on about gay rights while other areas, which you would think would be more of a target for Christian love, are completely ignored. Polly Toynbee in Thursday’s Guardian wrote about the savage benefit cuts which start to be phased in from Easter Monday. They will leave many of the most vulnerable people in society much worse off and force a significant chunk of the population into a downward spiral of poverty and misery. Why is the Church not speaking out about that?

If the Church of England is marginalised, it is not because of any aggressive secular agenda, but simply because the Church, its leaders and spokesmen, are completely out of touch with modern life.

25th July 2012

In Thy Image
Posted by at 10.53pm | Politics | No responses

During my lunch break I usually leave my office and go for a stroll through Liverpool’s throbbing retail heart. Over the past year or so, my sojourns have been disturbed increasingly frequently by small groups of religious campaigners who set up camp at various points in town.

Aided by some A5 flyers, a microphone and a battery-powered amplifier, they deliver their familiar spiel: they have found eternal salvation, hear the Good News, accept Jesus into your heart, for Judgement Day is coming soon and the sinners will be cast into Hell for all eternity.

Occasionally I see firebrand left-wing student types hurling a few choice insults their way, but for the most part the shoppers ignore them and hurry into Primark (now with extended Sunday opening hours).

Me, I just chuckle quietly to myself and carry on, because I think that the only thing the preachers are achieving is damaging the image of Christianity.

I know there are plenty of Christians out there who adopt a less judgmental approach and follow the whole “forgiveness and love” doctrine that’s in the Bible. However, in the UK only 15% of the population go to church regularly. For the other 85%, the angry old man yelling at passers-by could be their only exposure to Christianity.

The moderate Christians should take back the debate. If the “fire and brimstone” Christians are allowed to dominate, the Church is doomed.

(I’m an atheist, so I’m not that bothered. Just thought I’d put it out there)

11th February 2012

Christians Cross
Posted by at 7.03pm | Gay, In the News | No responses

The Daily Mail claims that Christianity is under attack because of two recent court rulings.

In the first case, the Christian owners of a guest house in Cornwall lost an appeal against a fine for discriminating against a gay couple who were refused a double bed. The hotel owners claimed that they did not allow any unmarried couple to share a bed and therefore the discrimination was not on the grounds of sexual orientation, but the Court was not convinced by this argument.

I’m pleased that the original ruling has been upheld. It is not fair or right that a gay couple going on holiday should have to phone ahead and check whether the hotel owners approve of their sex life. The law reflects this, stating that no service provider can discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation. Incidentally, there are also protections for religious belief. Can you imagine the outcry if the situation described above was reversed and a gay couple turned a Christian away from their hotel? That would not be acceptable either, and there are laws in place for that reason.

The second case involved Bideford town council, who are at the centre of a row over the prayers held before council meetings. An atheist councillor, with the support of the National Secular Society, launched a court action, claiming that forcing councillors to attend prayers was a breach of human rights. Earlier this week the Court ruled that prayers are unlawful.

There was an outcry from Church leaders, and Eric Pickles took time out from lunch to condemn the ruling.

Again, I can see no problem with this outcome. Prayers now cannot form part of the formal council proceedings, but there is nothing to stop prayers being held before official council business begins. Surely this is a reasonable compromise – unless, of course, the Christian members of Bideford council feel the need to force their faith on everyone else, like it or not?

Leaving aside the issues of the above two cases, it is hyperbolic in the extreme to claim that Christianity is “under attack”. Last time I checked, there were churches in villages, towns and cities across the land, and Christians of any denomination could travel to any of them without impediment, to worship as they wished. Meanwhile, Wikipedia has a long list of countries where Christianity is banned entirely or subject to severe restrictions. For the Daily Mail to claim British Christianity is under attack is an insult to those Christians worldwide who live in fear of government-sanctioned persecution or even death because of their faith.

31st January 2012

Marrying Hate, Repent at Leisure
Posted by at 11.01pm | In the News | No responses

Some good old fashioned anti-gay opinions were spouted at the weekend from a senior figure in the Church of England, because there is apparently no more pressing social issue in the world today than two men kissing. This time it was the Archbishop of York, who said in a newspaper interview that, while civil partnerships were OK, gay marriage should not be introduced in the UK:-

“I don’t think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can’t just [change it] overnight, no matter how powerful you are,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

“We’ve seen dictators do it in different contexts, and I don’t want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way.”

Dr Sentamu fled Uganda during the rule of Idi Amin, so you’d think he’d be a bit more careful about comparing people to dictators. If the Church wants to stick to its narrow definition of marriage, I think it is wrong, but in a free society it should be free to do so. However, it cannot enforce these rules against the wider population who are not bound by the Bible (or specifically, Dr Sentamu’s interpretation of it). They should be free to marry whomever they want.

I agree with David Cameron on very little, but I hope he pushes forward with the gay marriage consultation in the face of a backbench revolt. Or should that read “revolting backbenchers”?

24th April 2011

Cardinal Sin
Posted by at 10.48am | Gay, In the News | No responses

Happy Spring Sphere Day everyone! Here’s more of that Christian love we keep hearing so much about, as the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland attacks “aggressive secularism” in his Easter sermon. And what is the worst part of that problem? You’ll never guess…

In a reference to equality legislation preventing discrimination against homosexual people, Cardinal O’Brien will denounce what he claims is the way Christians have been prevented from acting in accordance with their beliefs because they refuse to endorse such lifestyles.

Cardinal O’Brien seems to think that people like me need his permission to live our “lifestyle”. Last time I checked, that wasn’t the case.

Of course, there are plenty of Christian groups who do embrace gay people, and organisations such as the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement. It’s not as simple as the repeated “Gays v Christians” stories in the media make it appear.

18th January 2011

Room Service
Posted by at 11.04pm | Gay, In the News | 1 response

Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy wanted to do something that most couples take for granted – spend a relaxing weekend away in a country hotel. However, the owners of the hotel had other ideas, and turned them away because allowing a gay couple to sleep together in a double bed would contravene their religious beliefs.

Today the couple have been awarded compensation by the Court, and quite right too. It is 2011, and this sort of discrimination should be consigned to history, just like the horrible “NO COLOUREDS” signs which could be seen in the windows of many B&Bs not so long ago.

The usual people have been complaining about “persecution” of Christians (yes, the BBC got a quote from the Christian Institute). On Comment is Free, Stonewall’s Ben Summerskill tells them to get some perspective:-

Within the past three weeks, dozens of Christians have been murdered in acts of organised violence in Iraq, Egypt and Nigeria. In Pakistan, Sudan and Indonesia hundreds of thousands more live in fear.

They might all have something to say about the fatuous suggestion that two British hotel owners, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, are also being “persecuted” for their faith.

The rest of the article is well worth reading.