Is Christian inquiry whipping up more division?

Publish Date: 24/11/2011

The Clearing the Ground inquiry is hearing evidence from a number  of Christian organisations  who feel they are being marginalised and unprotected by the law.

The enquiry has not been widely reported, but the articles that have appeared have focused on cases where Christians have been found to be discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people – as examples of how Christians are being forced out of public life.

Church Times quoted the case of Lilian Ladele - a Christian registrar was dismissed from her job for refusing to carry out Civil Partnerships to lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

The Evangelical Alliance have reported on the Clearing the Ground inquiry and reference the case of the Christian hoteliers who were ordered to pay damages to the courts after they stopped a gay couple from sharing a room at their hotel .

The leader of the Maranatha community, Denis Wrigley, told the inquiry that there was “a struggle taking place for the soul of the nation”, and Christians were losing the ability to speak freely and express their convictions.

But did the inquiry hear about some of those convictions? The Council for Health and Wholeness (CHW), a Christian organisation based within the Maranatha Community refer to the  "destructive homosexual lifestyle" and claim that "there is a disproportionately greater number of homosexuals among paedophiles."

Andrew Gilliver, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation’s Communications Manager and Faith Lead said: “This inquiry must strike a balance. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities have fought hard for our rights and protections, we know what it feels like to be the minority and we don’t wish to push anyone out of public life.

“But at the same time we don’t want to be discriminated against, many of the cases that have been mentioned in the press around this inquiry have involved people refusing to provide public services to lesbian, gay and bisexual people, which is against the law.  It’s not breaking the law to have different beliefs, but it is against the law to deny services to people, purely because of their sexual orientation.”

Gavin Shuker MP, who is part of the Clearing the Ground Inquiry, said: "Too often it seems like we're living in a world that doesn't understand religion, but it needs to. Hopefully this inquiry will help everyone understand religion a little bit better."

This comment, is all the more pertinent given that it is Inter Faith week, and it’s important to understand that there are many lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in faith communities.

Hopefully this inquiry will remember them.