NEWS: Religious Freedom = Discrimination?

Helen Carter of The Guardian has reported on a recent case of alleged discrimination against a same-sex couple. Michael Black (aged 62) and John Morgan (aged 56) had booked a double room in a guest house in Berkshire, only to be turned away by the owners on the grounds that they could not be allowed to share a room. By way of a defence for their actions, Mr and Mrs Wilkinson cited their religious beliefs, saying that ‘[w]e are Christians and we believe our rights don’t have to be subordinated. We have religious freedom and we are not judging that but we are not prepared to have that sort of activity under our roof.’

Discrimination on the grounds of sexuality is outlawed in the UK by the Equality Act 2006 and it seems likely that Mr and Mrs Wilkinson will soon receive a visit from their local constabulary. Although Mr Black and Mr Morgan agree that the Wilkinsons were not abusive, the couple ‘claimed they were treated like lepers as a result of their sexuality.’ Whatever, the outcome of the police investigation, this case does raise many interesting points relating to personal freedom, religious freedom, tolerance and discrimination, and more importantly how we balance these conflicting beliefs.

Church–State Relations in Europe
By Russell Sandberg and Norman Doe
(Vol. 2, September 2007)
Religion Compass

Theology and the Lure of the Practical: An Overview
By Mary McClintock Fulkerson
(Vol. 2, February 2007)
Religion Compass

Homophobia
By Joseph Bristow
From Dictionary of Cultural and Critical Theory

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