An Example of the State Trying to Control Christian Doctrine

According to VirtueOnline, a new proposal in Great Britain would criminalize the teaching of one viewpoint held by many Christians and Christian churches.

After this April's implementation of the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SOR's), British religious schools may no longer be allowed to teach school children that the Christian viewpoint on sexual morality is "objectively true," a government report says.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights, made up of members from Parliament and the House of Lords, has issued a report on the implementation of the Regulations recommending that religious schools be required to modify their religious instruction to comply with the government-approved doctrine of "non-discrimination".

Although religious schools will be allowed to remain open and may continue to give instruction in various religious beliefs, instruction must be modified "so that homosexual pupils are not subjected to teaching, as part of the religious education or other curriculum, that their sexual orientation is sinful or morally wrong."

The report says the Regulations will not "prevent pupils from being taught as part of their religious education the fact that certain religions view homosexuality as sinful," but they may not teach "a particular religion's doctrinal beliefs as if they were objectively true".

I think that this idea that Christians should be forced to teach in this way illustrates the lack of intestinal fortitude by those who dislike certain Christian doctrines and teachings. Rather than meet the issue head on and defeat it in the marketplace of ideas, they prefer to use the power of the state to suppress a viewpoint that they dislike. Let me give an analogy to explain what I mean: If a school were to open in my neighborhood run by radical Islamicists that taught that all Jews were evil and unworthy of life, would it be appropriate to use the governmental power to tell the school that it is illegal to teach such a thing. Keep in mind, I think that such a teaching is reprehensible and racist. Personally, I would never teach children such a thing and I would use almost any tools I have available to counter the message of hatred coming from the radical Islamicists. But that is not the same thing as using the power of the government to limit the content of their speech and their religion under penalty of criminal prosecution. I think it would not be appropriate because I value free speech and freedom of religion entirely too much. The only appropriate way to deal with disfavored teachings -- especially wrongful teachings by a religious group -- is to counter them by teaching otherwise in every venue available. In other words, don't limit their freedom to teach what they think is God's will; teach the reason why God wouldn't want that more loudly.

The people in Britain who favor this law seek to limit free speech and freedom of religion in the name of their view of tolerance. But why should anyone be willing to accept such a limitation? If you think that the view on homosexulaity that has been taught nearly unanimously by the Christian church for nearly 2,000 years is wrong, then the correct means to counter those teachings is through reasoning and debate. Any law that limits one sides ability to express their viewpoint because it doesn't correspond with the prevailing viewpoint of the legislators should be rejected by every thinking person.

Equally importantly, Christianity is a religion of objective truth. Christians teach that the Bible isn't simply true for me or true for us Christians, but true for everyone regardless of what they believe. In other words, if you don't believe that God exists that doesn't make Christianity untrue for you because whether or not God exists is true or false in a reality that extends beyond such beliefs. Even if you don't believe that Jesus died to redeem you for your sins doesn't make it any less true because the truth of Christianity's claims about Christ are not made false for a particular person simply because that person may believe the claims to be false. Christianity believes in what Francis Schaeffer used to call "true truth." Christians believe that the teachings of Christianity are true not only for us but for everyone, everywhere throughout history. Christians support these claim using reason and rationality. A person can accept our arguments or reject our arguments, but no one can say that Christianity is "true for me but not true for you" or some other nonsense about it's claims being relative to the person without seriously misunderstanding the Christian claims. Christianity is either true or false for everyone, but it isn't just true for me while false for you.

This proposed British law tries to strike at the heart of that understanding. It tries to make the Christian claim nothing more than a mere predilection of the person holding it. The law is intended to make it appear that Christianity isn't true but merely a preference of the Christian and trying to have the teachers at these Christian schools teach that God's word is merely someone's opinion with no more weight than any other opinion. By asking the teachers at Christian schools to teach in such a fashion, the state is asking them to discount the reality of God's teachings to something akin to saying whether someone prefers eating carrots or peas with dinner. This law seeks to reduce the Christian message to a claim that is only subjectively true. That is completely unacceptable. Christians should fight against the marginalization of their faith to mere relative beliefs.

If this article is correctly stating the proposed law and if this law is passed, it becomes illegal in a Christian school for a Christian to teach that Christian beliefs and morals are objectively true. Granted, it is only some beliefs that the teacher has to claim are subjective, but I don't know how a teacher can stand before a class and say "well, this part of the Bible isn't objectively true, but the rest is objectively true." I think that students would find that puzzling, to say the least.

I, for one, find such a law limiting what a Christian school can teach about Christianity onerous and overreaching. It makes it illegal for Christian schools to teach part of their doctrine which, if followed, would cede the control of doctrine to the state. The state should have no part in trying to control the teaching of the church, and the church should reject any effort on the part of the state to control what the church teaches.


Puritan Lad said…

I would even ask non-christians to consider where the source of our freedom comes from. If it comes from the state, then the state can take it away. Sounds similar to the First Century Jewish proclamation, "We have no King but Caesar". That same state would ultimately destroy them.
slaveofone said…
Being Libertarian, I wholeheartedly agree that this is nothing other than tyranny...but what do you expect from the UK?

At any rate, I think Christian schools should at least take the wisdom to heart--that being since none of us are objective...all of us view everything through the lens of our environment, culture, experiences, biases, etc...we should not think to make objective claims. That does not mean there is nothing objective outside us or no absolute truth--only that we have no claim to that objectivity in and of ourselves. Naive Realism is not a good thing.

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