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Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali Attacks Britain’s Gay Marriage Push

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali Attacks Britain’s Gay Marriage Push


Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has become the next senior religious figure in the United Kingdom to speak out against civil marriage equality proposals, saying that any government assurances that churches would not have to solemnize or otherwise recognize marriage equality could not be trusted.

Reports the Telegraph:

“The church is not in this to protect its own interest, it is in this discussion for the sake of wider society in this country generally,” he said.

“On this issue the church is not just talking about themselves and their rights, they are talking about the wider good of society and therefore must be listened to.”


He added that in light of a string of recent court cases in which religious people with strongly held views have clashed with equality legislation, the Government reassurances on religious marriage could not be relied upon even if sincerely made.

He said: “Given the direction that legislation has taken recently where conscience has not been legally recognised, how can we be sure that any assurances given to the church at this time will not later be overtaken first by an amendment which allows such marriages to take place in religious premises and later on a case is brought by someone which rules that it is discriminatory not to do so?”

As to Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali’s concern regarding churches being forced to carry out or otherwise recognize same-sex marriage if civil marriage equality is recognized, it is important to note that Britain’s equality laws protect a right to religious belief and expression. While not giving belief unlimited scope to manifest in the public sphere, any church not wishing to solemnize same-sex marriages in a religious and private context is already protected from being forced to do so, and is further protected under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, if the bishop is especially concerned, the marriage equality legislation put through Parliament could be specifically amended to reinforce this point.

While an appeal to history is not always fruitful for proof of an argument, noting that Britain’s churches have never once been required to solemnize or hold civil unions against their wishes is important — indeed, past legislation has specifically provided wording to prevent such a requirement and the marriage equality legislation being proposed would seem to echo that given that it deals solely with civil marriage.

Whether churches who wish to be able to solemnize or cater for a religious same-sex marriage should be able to do so is a separate issue, but one that should perhaps give the bishop pause as he, and other religious figures and groups, seem to be trying to categorize this as a clear-cut fight between religion and gay rights when in fact groups like the The Movement for Reform Judaism have come out in favor of marriage equality.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien has recently had to defend comments he made that legalizing civil same-sex marriage is the same as legalizing slavery.

This follows former Archbishop Lord Cary last month making a concerted, if fact-free, assault on the government’s plans to legalize same-sex marriage.


Related Reading:

Cardinal Defends ‘Gay Marriage is Like Slavery’ Comparison

British Cardinal Compares Gay Marriage to Legalizing Slavery

Lord Carey’s Fact-Free Case Against Gay Marriage Examined

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Image used under the Morguefile user license with thanks to Mensatic.

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11:50PM PDT on Mar 13, 2012

Sure there are pedophiles in the various church denominations and God will deal with those-I wouldn't want to be in their shoes. Ministers opposing gay marriages are just saying what God says in Holy Scripture. The bible is not a fairy story but the word of God and absolute truth. If you don't like it then stiff cheese- the loss is yours because the truth will set you free

12:16PM PST on Mar 9, 2012

I would have more respect for the Catholic Church and their Bishops if they had spoken out about the priests who abused children. They hid this away for years and condoned the behaviour by sending those priests they knew were abusing children to different parishes. That's shameful behaviour. To attack gay marriage and to see themselves as morally superior is hypocritical. Gay marriage will happen because everyone deserves to marry the person that they love.

4:35PM PST on Mar 8, 2012

Ironic that someone named Nazir-Ali would advocate against any minority population?! How would he feel if the government banned Islamic/Arab/Middle Eastern Origin from marrying?

4:16PM PST on Mar 8, 2012

Russell you are an idiot for talking like that We are all people and everyone deserves to be equal no matter who you are and why does it matter to you who a person chooses to marry. It shouldn't everyone should have equal rights to marry who ever they want. Everyone deserve love and by you and other stupid people you are denying people the right to love and marry the people they care about the most. You truly are a horrible man for speaking the way you do about the LGBT community you should be ashamed of yourself for treating another human being the way you are. That is wrong sir and you need to be stopped along with all of the others who are denying people there natural human rights and Russell just so you know not every one follows the bibles teachings so you should stop pushing it into peoples lives because it is never going to work that way.

4:12PM PST on Mar 8, 2012

Sorry, but the church does not try to make society better. They should be working on getting rid of the pedophiles within their ranks.

3:11PM PST on Mar 8, 2012

Not surprising that Russell W. is buying into this, obviously not very intelligent.

1:05PM PST on Mar 8, 2012

@ Russel W.. Good luck on your attempts to write coherently. An ESL course might help. As a history buff I am delighted that bishops can’t have people burned alive any more. Someone should inform this bishop of thst.

12:44PM PST on Mar 8, 2012

It is not supposed to accept with gay marriage as equality marriage. It was written by Apostle Paul according to the bible scriptures. There are alot of rules that we should know about it. It will be tolerable than sodom just what our Lord Jesus Christ said. It will be more worse in our time. We must avoid these unacceptable wicked act!!

12:34PM PST on Mar 8, 2012

Is it Michael Nazir-ali or Michael Nazi-rally?

11:17AM PST on Mar 8, 2012

It seems to me to be careless reporting not to say what church Nazir-Ali is a bishop of! Here in the US, many evangelical pastors declare themselves to be bishops. In the UK I suppose Nazir-Ali must be Roman Catholic or Anglican - but that is an important difference, as the UK has a state religion.

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