So the church has got it’s knickers well and truly in a twist. Again. Realising, their adult supporters against gay-marriage, are in the minority they are now targeting children and those too young to even vote (no surprise there) to bypass voting laws and get students over 16, and parents to sign a church worded petition against civil equality. Yes, these schools have a catholic ethos, but they are still state funded. That means taxes and the taxes of everyone including the LGBT proportion of society. They are asking state funded schools to petition against giving equal rights to people who make exactly the same contribution to society as everyone else. The church does not pay tax and only when it does should it ever have an active influence in public policy. Individual church members have the vote, as they should because individuals are not organisations, but as a tax exempt organisation, they should not be attempting to act as a political pressure group.
“Surely it is not part of its remit to promote a specific political campaign from this purely sectarian viewpoint. It is disgraceful that children are being encouraged into bigotry when they are attending a state school paid for by taxpayers.” – Terry Sanderson, NSS.
Thankfully it seems that the students are more enlightened than the teachers at one London school which caters for children from 11 to 18, many responded by buying gay pride badges and displaying them on their uniforms. The school had obviously assumed that every one of their students and teachers were heterosexual (‘Good’ Catholics couldn’t possibly be gay, after all!? Really? Lets ask all those priests and bishops who were protected by the church for raping little boys, shall we?). The head read the letter by the Catholic Education Service (I question the use of the word ‘Service’, surely ‘Blunt Instrument’ would be more appropriate?) expressing the importance for anti-equality laws, and drawing attention to a petition led by the equally outdated Coalition for Marriage, a Christian Campaign, which has worryingly attracted 466 thousand signatures. That children (16 year olds are still children, regardless of the weasel words of the CES) are being encouraged to sign this and discriminate against a substantial proportion of society is frankly disgusting.
The letter sent to 385 schools is a damning indictment of exactly how far out of touch the Church has slipped, and how far these Bishops think their authority stretches. They believe that allowing gay couples to marry will weaken what marriage is. How? It will not make take rights from others. It will not make heterosexual couples LESS married. The fact that that believe that exclusivity of certain rights to certain groups while withholding them from others, makes those rights worth more, speaks volumes about an out of date, lumbering beast of an organisation, scrabbling desperately to hold on to the last vestiges of credibility (and I use the term very loosely) without realising that it has already lost them. It doesn’t make those rights worth more, it lessens their value. Ten years of scandals and exposed cover-ups of abuse and corruption have set the rails for the Church to implode under its own weight. Apparently, their objection to allowing all people to get married (not ‘gay marriage’, as this implies it is some sort of magnanimous boon, when what it really is, is a civil right which should be available to all regardless of sexuality) is based on child protection, and keeping children in ignorance of such matters. So they circulate a letter to schools telling them all how awful they think it is, and how it must be legislated against? Yes, I know. It’s ridiculous and ignorance does not keep people ‘safe’ from anything.
The Education Act of 1996, (sections 406 and 407) prohibits the indoctrination of children in schools, for either political reasons. This letter breaches that in two respects. First, it encourages discrimination against allowing gay people equal rights, secondly it is not balanced and not does it present all marriage as special and worth ‘protection’. This issue has been in the public sphere for sometime now and the Church has never made any bones about specifically taking ownership of marriage as a ‘Christian’ act (it’s not, it’s a secular legal contract), slipping in other religions and heterosexual civil marriage as ‘acceptable alternative’ to Christian marriages as an afterthought so they don’t sound too Inquisition-like. Pretending now, that their stance has changed in order to target the impressionable, is dishonest and cynical.
The CES are also claiming right of religion based schools to educate in line with their beliefs, and that the Catholic view of marriage is religious, not political. This is true. However, circulating petitions to pupils and parents and using state funded schools as a tool so pressure groups can inflate their support base ARE political, and that means they have broken the law. If we don’t want to end up like the US, we need to nip this in the bud now, and hold the CES to account.