Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Aidan O'Neill on "squaring equality with religion"

Relevant, I think, to the conversation about the Court's decision to weigh in on the ministerial exception's foundations and content is this post, by Aidan O'Neill, at the U.K. Human Rights Blog.  Commenting on the (to me) striking refusal of many in the U.K. to distinguish invidious discrimination from religious exercise, O'Neill observes:

[T]he application of the norms of anti-discrimination law, even in the face of religious based conscientious objection, is interpreted by the new religious Dissenters as the State’s imposition of a required outward conformity to a new form of religious settlement: no longer Anglicanism, but a secularism which would banish religiously motivated action from the public square and confine religious belief wholly to the internal forum. . . .


Garnett, Rick | Permalink

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How does the fact that discrimination is "religious" in nature make it any less invidious? Why is a hatred and discrimination against, say, black people bad, unless you can find a pastor who agrees with you?

Or are you saying something else?

Posted by: Andrew MacKie-Mason | Mar 30, 2011 1:22:18 AM

Andrew, I *am* saying something different.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Mar 30, 2011 7:28:45 AM

OK. That is what O'Neill seems to be saying in his post: that bigotry founded on religion is somehow less bigoted than bigotry founded on some non-religious belief system. That disliking blacks, or women, or gays because of your trust in some form of twisted eugenics or racial purity is prejudice, but disliking them because of your belief in the words of the Bible as you understand them is suddenly a coherent or informed belief.

You seemed to be quoting O'Neill approvingly. Do you disagree with him?

Posted by: Andrew MacKie-Mason | Mar 30, 2011 10:26:32 AM

No, that's not really what O'Neill is saying, either. And, the way you've framed your comment strikes me as unhelpful and not really calculated or likely to lead to a useful conversation.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Mar 30, 2011 10:29:35 AM

I'm honestly trying to understand what you and O'Neill are saying. Simply telling me "no, you're wrong" when I've presented an honest and, what seems to me reasonable, interpretation of the words on the page doesn't seem like a good way of advancing a "useful conversation."

I'll provide a more in depth explanation of why I read O'Neill's post, and your seeming approval, the way I do, but if I'm misinterpreting your words or his (or your interpretation of his words) saying "no" over and over again, without explanation, won't get us anywhere.

If I seem hostile in my attitude, that's because I am hostile (and rightfully so, I believe) to what the article seems to be saying. But that doesn't mean at all that I'll continue to be hostile should it turn out that I'm actually just misinterpreting the argument.

If this isn't a good day, or you're just not in the mood to discuss this at all, you're obviously not obligated. But please don't accuse me of not being interested in an honest discussion when I present my interpretation of what is said, but explicitly leave room for the possibility that I may be misreading something.

Posted by: Andrew MacKie-Mason | Mar 30, 2011 2:03:30 PM