A new Global Charter has been issued by academics and activists to uphold the right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The drafting of the Global Charter of Conscience was overseen by English author and critic, Dr Os Guinness, and German sociologist, Dr Thomas Schirrmacher. They hope that the document will bring religious tolerance back to the centre of public debate and safeguard the freedom of future generations to engage in public life.

The document calls for a public square that maximises freedom for all and asks people to have respect for those with differing views.

Both evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders are on their high horses about this religious freedom thing at the moment. Having lost the intellectual argument on such issues as same gender marriage they are now concentrating on getting exemptions for their churches from secular law when they don't agree with it.

They may have a case in some instances. As religion is voluntary in most non-Muslim countries and in many Muslim countries, why shouldn't religious groups have the right to demand a different behaviour code from their membership than that followed outside of their group? As long as they don't break the core moral law by, for example, offering human sacrifices to their god, I am sure their moral deviance from the norm could be accommodated. If any of their members don't like their bosses' attitude then they can fight for change within the organisation or simply leave. Proper freedom.

But, the churches have disqualified themselves from being the recipients of such a live and live policy within the nations they reside. They have scuppered their own boat by being, as is so often the case, massively hypocritical. Basically, how can religious groups demand the freedom to follow their own moral code within their own faith community if they are actively engaging in trying to stop everybody else from following a different moral code in their own communities?

A perfect example of this hypocrisy is the same gender marriage saga in California. As far as I am aware, at no time did the state legislature indicate that they would be making it compulsory for any religious group to conduct same gender marriage ceremonies on their own property or insist that ministers of religion had to marry same gender couples even when doing so would be against their conscience or the conscience of the denomination they belong to. When same gender marriage was rendered legal by the Californian legislature the result was a first class example of a live and let live policy. The churches could do as they liked on the matter within their own jurisdiction whilst those outside their jurisdiction could take advantage of the new law as they wanted.

But this wasn't good enough for various faith groups such as the Mormons and the Roman Catholics. They couldn't stand the thought that they were not getting their own way outside of their cultic groupings; that they couldn't tell people who had absolutely nothing to do with them, what they could or could not do. So they actively campaigned, not for exemptions (they didn't in this case need them) but for the overturning of the law within secular society. And they won, and they did not offer any exemptions for those within the state of California who wanted to continue to conduct same gender marriage services.

So, lets face it, the US legislature's insistence that Roman Catholics et al should be subject to new healthcare legislation, without exemption, is only fair. There might once have been a reason to follow the recommendations of this "Global Charter" but not anymore. The Roman Catholics and evangelicals of the world have shown themselves completely incapable of following their own suggestions about freedom. They don't want freedom for different ideologies. They don't want freedom at all, not for their own people or for anybody else. They want to be in complete control of everybody. They have proved by their past and continuing political actions that they are not prepared to extend the freedoms they are demanding for themselves to anybody else, particularly not those who disagree with them.

Getting into bed with religionists on this Global Charter would be like willingly jumping into a pit of poisonous snakes. Or as Walt Disney would put it...

Never smile at a crocodile;
no, you can't get friendly with a crocodile.
Don't be taken in by his welcome grin;
he's imagining how well you'd fit within his skin.



  1. The Vatican and their minions (the middle managers they call bishops) believe that everyone should be free to believe what the Vatican wants them to believe.

    The Pope will enter into communion with anyone who pledges fealty to him.

    How much more freedom could anyone want?

  2. This is a brilliant unpacking of the issue, MP. I’ll be passing this on to folks I know on both sides of the issue. Thank you!

  3. “They couldn’t stand the thought that they were not getting their own way outside of their cultic groupings”

    I’m not sure if it’s that they think that what happens “outside of their cultic groupings” will inevitably shape what happens INSIDE same, or if they simply can’t accept that there IS an “outside”! [Back in the days of the Inquisition, Popoids didn’t tolerate No Stinkin’ “Outside” No How No Way!]

  4. To play devil’s advocate, really, it’s the “influence” on their kids and other’s kids in their church they seem to worry most about. To be honest, I don’t really see how this could possibly be any worse than priests fiddling little boys…interesting how issues are carefully chosen, isn’t it? As for me, my mantra is…if you don’t like gay marriage then don’t marry a gay, shut up and leave everyone else alone. I wish people would spend more time with their nose in their own business and stop spending so much time in other people’s biz. Tolerance, love, mutual respect, understanding and other positive behaviors will do so much more to bring about God’s Kingdom than all the silly bickering about details that just don’t matter in the end.

  5. BTW, I’d hate to live in California and have to keep voting for the same dang thing over and over again only to be told by some right wing nosey nut that my vote was “wrong”.

  6. Peter Pan – the perfect metaphor for the la la land “freedom for me and my way or the highway” set.
    I see in it the heresy of pollution. If California (or parts of the Anglican Communion) allow marriage equality, then by association I will be morally polluted, and I can’t have that happen, can I?
    I’m never going to see the happy end to this in my lifetime, am I?

    • Sorry to say it depends on how long you live. If you’re 98, then unlikely…if you’re 15, maybe. I think it’ll happen when people here in the US get tired of hearing from those kinds of folks that our votes will finally be heard.