Friday, November 7, 2014

In The Name Of Tolerance

Please excuse my silence for the last couple of weeks. When I got back from Rome I hit the ground running and there has been little time to blog. Whenever I did have some spare moments I was either too tired to sit at the computer or decided to get some reading done.  So much has happened, particularly in the Church and there was so much one could say, but given the times we are now in great prudence and charity are needed and these come after the passion has passed, reason has had its say and ideas and feelings have percolated. 

Outside the Church there have also been a number of events which deserve reflection. Here in Ireland there is war over water charges. For my readers outside Ireland who are used to paying for your water it seem sound strange that the Irish should have an issue with it, but with the exception of businesses and farmers, few Irish citizens have had to pay for water, there being so much of it here. This is another tax on the backs of people who are already broken financially. There are arguments on both sides which I will not go into here, but suffice to say the government has handled it badly.

One of the more interesting developments in the water tax row is the resignation or threatened resignation of members of Fine Gael, the main government party, over the charge. The cynical are saying these guys are concerned for their seats in parliament and are deserting the ship before it sinks at the next election, hoping they'll get to keep their deckchairs. What I find interesting is that they resign over these water charges, but last year when their government was passing legislation to kill children in the womb these same public representatives had nothing to say, they went along with it, no problems at all, no resignations just excuses. I can only conclude that for them money is more important than human life.

Another issue which is featuring in the media is that of Ashers Bakery in Belfast. As you may know the owners of the Bakery are devout Christians and they refused an order for a cake which was to celebrate same sex marriage and the gay agenda. Those who ordered the cake complained to the Equality Commission and now the Bakery has been told they have to pay compensation or face legal action. Regardless of one's political or religious position, I think this situation is intolerable. For all the talk of tolerance, none is being shown to these Christians who genuinely believed that to make this cake would violate their consciences. 

Some have said that if they have a business, then they cannot refuse someone looking for their services. If that is the case then retail outlets and other businesses cannot put up signs saying they reserve the right to refuse admittance, these signs are pretty common yet no one complains about them. Given such arguments being put forward against Ashers, I wonder, then, would a gay magazine run an advertisement for homosexual conversion therapy? Would an atheist owner of a bookshop be happy to sell bibles and pious Christian books in his store? Would avid Republicans like Sinn Fein stock hagiographical biographies of British monarchs in their shops? By choice none of these would, and they don't: but should they be forced to?  Well, if we are to be consistent then yes they should and the Equality Commission, if it is to be fair, must ensure that they do or take legal action against them. If Ashers are not allowed to remain true to what they believe, then no one should, and that includes advocates of same sex marriage and the gay agenda. 

Our tolerance is measured on how much respect we give to those who disagree with us. It is obvious in this situation that tolerance is one way street and that is no tolerance at all. So up to Belfast everyone and pop into Ashers for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, time to stand in solidarity with them. 

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