A relationship counsellor's bid to challenge his sacking for refusing to give sex therapy to gay couples has been turned down by the High Court. Said counsellor, Gary McFarlane from Bristol, said: "I have the ability to provide counselling services to same sex couples; however, because of my Christian beliefs and principles, there should be allowances taken in to account whereby individuals like me can actually avoid having to contradict their very strongly-held Christian principles."
One would assume that Mr McFarlane, on the basis of his Christian principles, also discriminates against couples who are not married. If not, then why not – or is he only selectively bigoted against gays?
A Christian is, by definition, someone who adheres to the teachings of Jesus. If anyone can show me a single pronouncement attributable to Jesus on homosexual discrimination then I will eat my hat. Jesus was at pains to point out the evils of discrimination and I would suggest that there is no place for discrimination of any sort within true Christianity.
I wonder how Mr McFarlane would react is someone refused him service simply because he happens to be black (which he is), and the person discriminating against him had deeply held religious convictions about black people being inferior – as Christians once did. Religion is no more than one opinion among many, dressed up in spiritual mumbo-jumbo to give it weight.
If we are to cater for Christian beliefs when making laws, then we must also give equal weight to all religions’ beliefs – and that is plainly impossible unless we allow people to decide under which laws they wish to live. But what then happens when people of different religions are in legal conflict?
It is a truism that when people are given choice, then inequality is a logical consequence further down the path. Politicians who advocate choice in public services should take note of this when proposing choice in health or education. Choice, however, is also the mother of innovation.