"Religion is entirely subjective, not objective. It's beliefs and practices are therefore completely irrational and have no basis whatever in fact... The protection of religious beliefs and practices are divisive, capricious and arbitrary."(The guy who made the video noted that these words will now act as a precedent in future civil suits.)
Anyway, the bigot himself appeared on Radio Four recently and I was quite shocked to see him being sought out for an opinion, especially considering that there were no other interviewees to counter some of his ludicrous assertions (though admittedly the interviewer made a special effort to very diplomatically make up for this lack of balance).
Interviewer: The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, publishes a leaflet today, it’s called “Not Ashamed”, encouraging Christians to defend their faith which, he says, is under attack in an increasingly secular society. Among those who support Lord Carey’s alarm, Gary McFarlane is a man who’s often used as an example of some contemporary attitudes. He was a counsellor working for Relate. You may remember the story. He objected to giving therapy to gay couples because it was in conflict with his own personal beliefs. He lost his job as a result and he failed to get the high court to back him. And he’s with us now. Good morning.
Gary McFarlane: Good morning.
I: When you see what Lord Carey is saying, he argues that some people have become a bit beaten down by this and that they should be more willing to admit that they’re Christians. Is that something that reflects your own feeling after what happened to you?
GM: It is, very much. I wear my Christianity inside of me. It’s a part of me, very much, as part of being an Afro-Caribbean black man. My colour, my faith, is deeply trenched within me.
I: This is one of the interesting things of course, because there are no doubt some people who will sympathise with what the former Archbishop is saying.and say, you know, “I don’t like people being got at because they have a particular set of beliefs”. Although your beliefs aren’t beliefs that would be shared by all sects of Christians, obviously. But nonetheless they wouldn’t like to see people being beaten down. On the other hand, there are some people who would say, “Well look, this is private, so I don’t want to go around wearing ostentatious symbols or having a Bible under my arm or whatever it happens to be.”
GM: I don’t think one is talking about ostentatious symbols as such. One is just talking about the right, like any other, and for me personally it’s always just been about a level playing field. What I’m surprised at is the encroachment of an intimidatory society which is actually seeking to muzzle me, and I actually didn’t realise the ferocity of it until my case came to the fore in 2008 and I hear the judgements coming from the tribunal. I then read some of the text messages and emails which will come to me from a community that indicates we have become so very secular. And it’s as if all things Christian do not have the right as other faiths.
I: Your own position though was a very particular one because you were refusing to do something which the organisation for which you worked thought was perfectly proper. Which made it, obviously, very difficult to the job. And, of course, a lot of the criticism I’ve no doubt that you got in emails and so on, no doubt some of them quite offensive to you wouldn’t be because of your Christianity but because of your view on the sexual matters which caused you to leave Relate. So that there are two different things going on there, aren’t there?
GM: There are two different things, absolutely and we’re not necessarily going to seek to debate that so much….
I: Of course.
GM: …but essentially what we’re dealing with is my ability to live out my faith in the way that I would seek to do as other faiths are actually entitled, indeed encouraged, to do.
I: Do you think that’s changed in the last few years?
GM: Significantly so, in the sense that other faiths are given rights, are championed, if there is, for example, a festive occasion arising, then the systems, the NHS, will actually give those individuals rights. I have to look behind me, almost metaphorically speaking, to check “Where am I?” in case I’m going to have a conversation about the things of the Bible, Jesus Christ, in case it might offend somebody. I have to be cautious.
I: So you’ll be buying Christmas cards that say “Happy Christmas” and not “Seasons Greetings”?
GM: Um, I never buy Christmas cards which don’t portray something of the Christmas story: The little baby in the manger, Jesus Christ. I certainly don’t do reindeers and things like that. I really am seeking the right and not ashamed just to say “I am not ashamed to be a Christian” and want to stand up with other people.
Asides from the introductory bit at the beginning, the section I have left visible (the rest is under the cut) shows McFarlane trying to claim that he is somehow disallowed from expressing his faith in the ways that others do. This is a rather sensible way of phrasing it disguises the fact that the principles of secularism (which he claims to be opposing) are actually intended to ensure that all people can express their beliefs equally regardless of religious affiliation (presuming that expression of those beliefs do not undermine important individual rights).
The thing is that he gives no examples of how he has less rights than any other religion. Do other religions have to avoid offending people? Heck, hate-preaching Imams and Fred Phelps are both similarly barred from entering the country. Not Pope Benedict though, so I guess that gives Christianity the upper hand, wouldn't you say?
As for special effort to celebrate religious festivals, this isn't America! Christmas lights are all over the town. There is Christmas stuff everywhere. We're not celebrating Hannukah right now (BTW Happy Hanukah!!!! all those who are celebrating that right now! :)) and I've long expressed my wish to include Diwali amongst our national festivals. (Experienced Diwali night in India and loved it, y'see.) Public celebration of Christian festivals is not an issue in the UK. This is just another example of an irrational believer in the bizarre "war on Christmas" myth. Give it a rest!
(To those people who are actually Christian on my f-list, please note that I do realise that this moron is expressing a minority position amongst Christians, in the UK at least, however that's precisely why it annoyed me to see this bigot being given time to express his views on a popular national radio station.)
X-Posted to atheism