30 April 2010

a column worth reading

This column notes an interesting verdict in a British court. Over there, a former archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, argued that Britian should set up special courts so that when he and his co-believers want to discriminate against someone, they court would be likely to discriminate for them. The idea is wrong on so many levels that Carey had he any sense of shame should be embarrassed for even mentioning it.

A great deal of religious belief has to do with how the world should be ordered. Jews, Moselms and Christians tend to agree that it should be ordered so that something we call "justice" happens. We then disagree completely on what "justice" is. Christians disagree with other Christians about the definition and the same splitting can be found in Judaism and Islam.

All of us, with the exception of Lord Carey however, can probably agree that when we seek justice from a secular court we would like to at least imagine that court is likely to decide based on the law, not a prejudice favoring a particular side (it might not be our side!) Now we all know that in fact, judges, juries and lawmakers all have viewpoints. We ask them to be aware of theirs and to set them aside so that they decide the law. But not Carey.

Carey wants the courts to find those who are sympathetic to his side and then give them jurisdiction over cases involving his side's desire to have special rules that favor it. Carey frames this desire as "Christianity," which may help to explain why so many young people in both the US and England think of that as a negative word.

Do read Brown's column. He nails the silliness Carey inter alia are advancing and his discussion of the court's response is both entertaining and hopeful.


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