Bid to protect right of religious schools not to teach about same-sex marriage rejected

A bid to protect the right of religious schools not to teach that same-sex marriage and opposite marriage are equivalent has been rejected by the House of Commons.

The bid was one of a number voted on yesterday during a debate on the British government’s same-sex marriage bill.

The failure to win an explicit protection for religious schools means they may one day be forced to teach that same-sex marriage and opposite-sex marriage are equivalent.

In addition, attempts to create legal safeguards for individuals teachers and registrars who don’t believe in same-sex marriage were also defeated.

These were among a series of amendments to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill tabled yesterday.

Earlier, in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, 17 Church ministers and one archbishop expressed their concern about the consequences if the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is passed in its current state.

The letter said: “If the Bill passes into law without much clearer protections for freedom of speech and freedom of belief, teachers and public-sector workers will have to choose between their conscience and their career, as many will be deterred from a public-service career or from charity involvement.”

The Church leaders said there are 150,000 in their combined congregations, 50,000 of whom are aged between 13 and 30.

The letter said: “For many in this rising generation, marriage is the union of sexual opposites, and the thread that binds generations”.

The letter was signed by The Rt Revd Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark, Revd Vaughan Roberts rector of St Ebbe’s Oxford, and Revd John Stevens the National Director of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches among others.

Excerpt from transcripts

Column 936

Mr Leigh: I wish to speak to new clause 6, which has 44 co-signatories and is based on a ten-minute rule Bill I introduced earlier this year. It states:

“The protected characteristic of religion or belief may include a belief regarding the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.”

It addresses the important issue of what would happen to people who believe in a man-woman marriage and goes to the heart of the concern many have about the Bill, irrespective of our views on same-sex marriage. We are told that the Bill is all about freedom, but what about the freedom of those who disagree with it? Surely their freedoms are as precious as the freedoms of the people who support the Bill. We believe that new clause 6 provides the bare minimum of protection that such people would need.

The Equality Act 2010 outlaws discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief, gender reassignment and so on—it is pretty comprehensive. One would have thought that a person’s belief on traditional marriage, which may go to the heart of their most sincere beliefs, was covered by “religion or belief”. However, the evidence of all the cases I have studied and that we have seen in recent years is that it does not: there is no protection for these people. Whatever our views on the Bill, we are worried about what will happen in the workplace and ensuring protection for people who take a traditional view of marriage.

The Government have apparently done a lot of work to protect churches from being compelled to approve same-sex marriage by having to solemnise them. I give credit to the Government, although they overstate the case slightly when they say that the Church of England is now entirely happy. The Church of England briefing on Second Reading stated:

“we doubt the ability of the government to make legislation watertight against challenge in the European courts or against a ‘chilling’ effect on public discourse.”

It is important to bear in mind that “chilling” effect, something I mentioned in my intervention.

**Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): **Although I understand the hon. Gentleman’s argument about the chilling effect, I think he has fundamentally misunderstood the original Equality Act. No belief—transubstantiation, the virgin birth, the resurrection or any other belief—is expressly mentioned in the Act, so to elevate this single viewpoint, which may be held by a religious or non-religious person, in the Bill is surely bizarre. :eek:

A secular version of the Reformation. Looks like " obedience " or fines and/or prison. The age of Recrusants has returned.

On the queen’s death the eyes of the persecuted remnant of the old faith turned hopefully towards James. Their hopes were doomed to disappointment. That prince took himself seriously as head of the English Church. He chose rather to be the successor of Elizabeth than the avenger of Mary Stuart, and continued the savage policy of the late queen. The year after his accession an Act was passed “for the due execution of the Statutes against Jesuits, Seminary priests and other priests”, which took away from Catholics the power of sending their children to be educated abroad, and of providing schools for them at home. In the course of the same year a proclamation was issued banishing all missionary priests out of the kingdom. The next year is marked by the Gunpowder Plot, “the contrivance”, as Tierney well observes, “of half a dozen persons of desperate fortunes, who, by that means, brought an odium upon the body of Catholics, who have ever since laboured under the weight of the calumny, though no way concerned”. Soon afterwards a new oath of allegiance was devised, rather for the purpose of dividing than of relieving Catholics. It was incorporated in “An Act for the better discovery and repression of Popish recusants” (a recusant Catholic was simply one who refused to be present at the new service of the Protestant religion in the parish church), and was directed against the deposing power. The Holy See disallowed it, but some Catholics took it, among them being Blackwell the Archpriest. Twenty-eight Catholics, of whom eight were laymen, suffered under James I, but that prince was more concerned to exact money from his Catholic subjects than to slay them. According to his own account he received a net income of 36,000 a year from the fines of Popish recusants (Hardwick Papers, I, 446).


If this passes then what is going to end up happening is that the bible will have to be re-written as “gay marriage” is against the law of God…What kind of a world do we live in where nothing matters anymore??..Quite a shame…

The Bible can’t be rewritten, that’s what the Protestants tried and look what it got them. What needs to happen is that the government needs to stay out of our business and allow us to teach as we see fit. If a parent doesn’t want their kids exposed to religious ideology then they can send them to a non-religious school. This is blatantly trampling on religious freedom.

I really, really hate our government.

I’m surprised you’re so far behind the Canadians. Ontario courts ruled that Catholic schools are obligated by law to set up Gay-Straight Alliance groups over a year ago.

Unfortunately, what happens in Canada, doesn’t necessarily stay in Canada.

Yeah, if Canada and the EU are any indication, it’s going to get very bad for the Church in America soon…

[BIBLEDRB]Revelation 22:18-19[/BIBLEDRB]

That will not be happening.

Have any of you in Canada, EU or anywhere else these kinds of laws have been in effect discovered a way to avoid complying with such heinous laws?

Can you give us in the US any suggestions?

Prayer is powerful. Can we somehow organize to pray, as one, for solutions to this atrocity and a way to abide by how God wants us to live?

I’m not really up on these matters. but I wonder if the way to deal with this should it pass this is to split the matter up between the secular and the religious.
If a religious school is required to teach that same sex unions are equal to opposite sex unions (marriages)…they can only be forced to teach this within the framework of civil law and the legal protections granted to SS couples.
Such a requirement should in no way bar a religious school from properly teaching the religious understanding on these matters.

In fact…should this occur it could prove to be quite helpful in clarifying to our young people how we as Christians should approach the matters.

A teacher might express the matter in this way…
“While our faith teaches that homosexual behavior is sinful, the government has decided to allow same sex unions and provided certain civil protections etc to such people. So in civil matters a Same Sex couple has many of the same rights as an opposite sex couple.”
From this point forward the lecture and/or conversation can deal with how Christians can and should deal with the issues involved.

Just a thought


You can expect it. Wager on it. And don’t be surprised if many liberal Catholics join in the cause.

The Book of Common Prayer is an Act of Parliament and they will surely amend: “For be ye well assured, that so many as are coupled together otherwise than God’s Word doth allow are not joined together by God; neither is their Matrimony lawful.”

I really, really hate our government

There’s a long queue expressing the same.

I’m really, really appalled at how David Cameron and his government are going to great lengths to legalize SSM. Is the gay vote THAT much valuable? Gosh, aren’t there more pressing issues in Britain to discuss? Politics is a dirty game.

2 years ago he even said they would ban aid for African countries that don’t respect gay rights. Fair to say all nations that responded told him he can keep it, if there are such prerequisites.

Theresa May, the home secretary, even said last year in a parlianentary session that “…SSM strengthens the concept of marriage…” brilliant!

If I’m not mistaken, some adoption agencies were closed due to not granting SSC adoption rights. Well, so be it. The religious schools should not back down as well.

I don’t understand this. Does this bill or any other law in Britain define what religious schools should teach or not teach like they do in Canada?

Disgusting, and I too am worried that it will someday make it here to the USA.:mad:

As much as I hate the idea of the government forcing religious school to teach that which violates their conscience, I wonder when this would ever come up. Perhaps my memory is fuzzy, but I’ve only been out of high school for three years and I don’t remember ever being taught about marriage. In fact, I can’t remember being instructed on social or moral issues whatsoever. There were times in various classes where issues such as abortion were discussed, although I seem to recall that it was student initiated. There was one student speech made in support of a homosexual lifestyle, but that was the extent of my school’s foray into homosexuality. I should point out that this was coming out of a Canadian public school.

I think the best course of action would be for religious school not to teach about marriage. Catholic Schools in particular are blessed in that they can focus entirely on sacramental marriage (where same-sex unions don’t even enter the discussion). That way, religious schools aren’t forced to teach in opposition to their faith and parents can decide how best to approach these issues with their children.

While this ruling is unfortunate, as long as the government can’t force schools to teach marriage I don’t think it’s catastrophic.

At present, faith communities have the freedom to govern and teach according to respective moral doctrines. It does not appear that it will be the case in future if the Bill is passed as currently drafted.

If British Catholic schools stop receiving tax funding then I do not think they will be forced to teach about homosexual marriage.

Even then, I seriously doubt they’d cease to harass faith schools being that “inclusion” will continue to be the mantra against it.

But it’s not written in the bill that religious organisations will have to start teaching that ssm is equivalent to traditional marriage right?

BTW, they talk about the Church of England and Wales in the bill. Those are Anglican churches right? What about the Catholic Church?

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