Metroblog

A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

12 February 2007

Prisoners of Conscience?


Over at The Questionable Authority Mike Dunford posted regarding the effect of religious prejudice on health care.

We've already heard some of the horror stories that allowing "freedom of conscience" in this sort of matter leads to in the US. Women turned away by "Christian" pharmacists who refuse to give out the "morning-after" pill. Kids who can't get condoms because their local druggist won't sell them. Girls who request the pill from their physician and get outed to their parents.

In Saskatchewan, a marriage commissioner is fighting board discipline over charges that he discriminated against a gay couple by referring them to another comissioner. As a Baptist, he feels gay marriage is wrong, so he refused to perform it.

His argument is that it's his rights being violated. After all, he sent them to someone who would marry them, right? So they weren't discriminated against, apparently. But if he is penalized for failing to do his job, his freedom of worship is allegedly violated.

The example people who wish to excuse such excrable behaviour often use is Quakers in the military:

"Quakers are pacifists, and are allowed to serve in the military in areas such as the medical corps, to help them avoid violating the strictures of their faith."

Therefore, runs the logic, personal prejudice should be an applicable standard in the provision of professional service.

Bullshit.

Quakers wind up in the army only under conscription (doubtless there's an exception or two, but statistically they're insignificant). Otherwise, they find occupations in which killing people is a less-than-likely duty.

No-one is forcing Nichols to be a marriage commissioner. He was licensed by the province to sanction such marriages as are approved of in Canada. This now includes gay marriages. If he doesn't like that, figures it's not what he signed up for, I'm sure there's other work for him.

Nichols has surely married one or two couples who were shacking up, too, and seems to have had no objection, despite what Baptists think of sex before marriage. Or indeed sex in general. I'm sure he's married people who drink, too. And maybe even people who danced!

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