“Natural law ” ? or the law of the land ?


Peter (Dobbie) here with news of Europe Today on air 1700 GMT. Following on from the post below I wanted to let you know we’re discussing this news story on the show tonight as well.

We’ve been speaking to Rocco Buttiglione, an Italian MP, who’s very close to the Vaticans thinking on this. He has some very – er- forthright views. It’s a strong interview, and I’m sure you’ll find it thought provoking. Do let us know on ET what you think about this, or you can post here. Later :o)

*********                         Britain has an Equality Bill currently going through parliament.

The Government here says it’ll make this country a fairer place , protecting people from discrimination in the workplace and elsewhere.

The Pope doesn’t agree. He says :

the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs.”Ann Widdecombe – a Catholic Conservative MP – has also entered the discussion…

“This isn’t a debate about homosexuality, this is a debate about religious freedom.”

And another MP- also a Catholic but on the Government’s side, Stephen Hughes , hit back :

“I am appalled by the attitude of the Pope. Religious leaders should be trying to eradicate inequality, not perpetuate it.  Instead of criticising the UK’s plans to improve its legislation, the Pope should ensure that ….(it)… is properly applied in the Vatican.” 

So which should take precedent ? “natural” or religous law ? or the law of the land ?

43 Responses to ““Natural law ” ? or the law of the land ?”

  1. 1 Nigel
    February 2, 2010 at 12:36

    Natural law is the law of the jungle.

    Religious law has caused more hate and wars than any other single reason over time.

    Law of the land has been put together by politicicans to help preserve their positions of power

    Have your choice.

    • 2 Ronald Almeida
      February 2, 2010 at 14:39

      Yes, lets have lawlessness for a change. May be the best alternative.

      • 3 Ibrahim in UK
        February 2, 2010 at 15:49

        Isn’t that way atheists clame God/Religion was “created” in the first place? People didn’t like the lawlessness.

    • 4 andrew zalewski
      February 2, 2010 at 19:55

      This is a reductivist hobbessian thought and nothing whatever to do with the ‘natural law’ as espoused by Aquinas (based on the logical precepts of Aristotle). Thomist thinkers have been able to argue agaist the politics of the conquistadores who wanted to regard the Indians as subspecies on the account of their religion (See Lloyd and Grossman Jurisprudence) as there ‘is equal capacity in all men’. This politics of ‘equality’ is merely a vehicle for secular biggotry no different to the conquistadores, the Bolsheviks, the Nazis or the French Revolution as described in the ‘Animal Farm’ and is seriously harming benevolence and tolerance in our society. I suggest all of you here read a little Aquinas before engaging in an argument with the Pope.

  2. 5 Jonathan (starry San Francisco)
    February 2, 2010 at 12:43

    Oh, thanks for reminding me about this one! I heard it on BBC radio yesterday and collapsed in helpless, hysterical laughter. It was just a quick flash, something like this:

    The Pope has weighed in on pending equal rights legislation in the UK, warning that the laws might force the Church to employ homosexuals in positions of authority, including sensitive posts involving contact with children.

    Laughed so hard I forgot to tweet!

    I would have said, “…force the Church to employ homosexuals in positions formerly reserved exclusively for child molesters!”

    I don’t think the Church has a leg to stand on, but if it does, it sure won’t be the old “protect the children” hogwash. And as for acting in accordance with its stated beliefs, I can only quote Gandhi–asked how he felt about Western civilization, he said it sounded like a fine idea. If the new laws would stop it, what’s been impeding it for 2,000 years?

  3. 6 Jagjit Singh Mukandpuri
    February 2, 2010 at 12:59


  4. 7 Idris Dangalan
    February 2, 2010 at 13:33

    I don’t think all the religions should have the total freedom to pratice what they want. Like US system seperate religion and government but here in Nigeria religion bodies play a vital in so many sector, like election system,if muslim candidate want to win he must nominate a christian running-mate, if not religion scholars would against you. With the above reference UK should avoid such motion because such may affect both security and economic sector.

  5. 8 Cabe Searle
    February 2, 2010 at 13:38

    Everyone wants to be born Free but with freedom comes responsibility and we Must self regulate! So in the end no one is really ‘free’ we just chose a certain set of rules that suit us at the time…..
    We are all saying that what the Pope is saying is unjust because its convenient, ‘fashionable’ and suits our society to go out and Vote for gays, women priests, abortion, free porn, assisted suicides etc etc etc, and bypassing all or any consent from our own religions!
    By constantly diluting our values this eventually Does erode Everything and we then have the consequences of a seamlessly ‘Free’ but valueless society. To our credit, we do have the law of the land and the law of the Church, but we also have the law of a liberal population who constantly muddies the boundaries without much thought of consequences or where it will leave our future generations. No one cares anymore about the moral/ethical – or call it what you will – climate we all live in – so if the Pope does, and he wants to remind us of it – Well Good for him ! Well Done and Yay – Go for it Pope !

  6. 9 patti in cape coral
    February 2, 2010 at 14:04

    The law of the land, of course.

  7. 10 Guido, Vienna
    February 2, 2010 at 14:15

    There should be religious freedom, that means the rules of the church do only apply to its followers. The Catholic Church should not interfere with national laws.

    I for myself ask everybody to think for themselves and not mindlessly adapt the positions of his/her religious leader.

  8. 11 Dun
    February 2, 2010 at 14:34

    The Pope is afraid; freedom threatens his empire

  9. 13 bevx
    February 2, 2010 at 15:04

    The Pope causes more trouble than most. Why does he give statements that lead to the creation of more problems. Don’t we have enough already.
    Lucifer in disguise!

  10. 14 Gary Paudler
    February 2, 2010 at 15:51

    In the US, and elsewhere, the Catholic church asserted their superior law and prevented the lowly laws of mere humans from being applied to their Ordained Special Shepherds who, worshiping the Holy Laws of God, raped children. In Los Angeles every effort was made to subvert the law to hide and defend persistent criminal assault on the theory, I suppose, that the child molesters will repent and be saved or will be punished after they die. If that occurred in any other organization it would be prosecuted as organized crime and criminal conspiracy, no wonder the Pope doesn’t care for the legislative process.

  11. 15 Josiah Soap
    February 2, 2010 at 15:57

    I am not religious, but good for the Pope! I respect his views. As part of their faith, Catholics do not accept gays into the priesthood. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to practice their views. We are not all equal, and it is impossible to live in a society without discriminating against people. The equality bill will never make us equal, because we are not all equal.

    I don’t understand why there is such as outcry against Catholics. I wonder what would happen if Muslims were forced to accept homosexuals into mosques. But that would never happen, because it would be politically incorrect.

    • 16 patti in cape coral
      February 2, 2010 at 17:40

      I really don’t understand the fuss. Doesn’t the Catholic Church already aid and abet sexual deviants?

      • 17 Saut
        February 2, 2010 at 20:21

        Patti, you don’t understand the fuss because the Catholic Church does not aid and abet sexual deviants. I think you confused cover-ups, which are criminal acts, as legal sanctions.

      • 18 patti in cape coral
        February 3, 2010 at 16:24

        Hi Saut- Sorry my response is not under yours, but there is no reply button on your comment. My original message appears to have been moderated, so I will try again. According to the definition of aiding and abetting, that is exactly what the catholic church is doing with the sexual deviants in its employ. What I’m saying is, considering the church’s history with sexual deviants, you wouldn’t think they would be so homophobic. I don’t equate homosexuals with sexual deviants, but the catholic church doesn’t appear to make that distinction.

  12. 19 Aoibheanne
    February 2, 2010 at 16:46

    I am sorry, but this is just silly. The catholic church is a century old institution. They didnt come up with their beliefs and “rules” just last week during tea.

    The catholic church does not accept homosexuality. A fact since who knows when. So why would you be part of a religion if you do not agree with them? Don’t be a catholic if you can’t stand behind the religion 100%. So let them do their thing.

    As far as giving them, or any religious group for that matter, a voice in politics and law etc, no way. Religion is religion, they cannot make the rules for a country with such a diversity of people. They can rule their flock, but thats about it. IMO

  13. 20 Roseann in Houston
    February 2, 2010 at 17:05

    I would like to ask – did any of the posters take the time to follow the links and read the “Easy Read” version of the bill? Or did everyone read “Pope” and “Gays” and rush in with an opinion? The bill is a wonderful document with strengthened protections for multiple groups, and it’s impact on gays is a TINY little portion.
    Some points I’d like to make: First, I am a 55 year old non-practising Catholic who grew up in a very strict Catholic environment. When I was a kid, Catholics would have nothing to do with Jews (because they killed Jesus) and we weren’t allowed to enter a house of worship for any other religion (they all worshipped false gods). Does the world really want to follow the Catholic church?
    Second – there ARE gay priests (I know a few) and there ARE gay Muslims in mosques. Their lives are a lie, they lie by thier actions every day – which means that the priests are sinning all day long, and I would guess that it is also wrong to lie if you are a Muslim. (They do it because their religions force them to lie.) But gays who want to adopt children are being truthful about who they are – in my book it makes them better people than the liers. Why all this opposition to good people? (And please don’t give me that Bible crap – I spent an hour every day for 8 years studying the Bible in Catholic Schools, and the main thing I learned is that anyone can distort the Bible to say whatever they want it to say.)

  14. 21 Cabe Searle UK
    February 2, 2010 at 17:05

    I think the Laws of a land and the Religion of that land HAVE to rule together!

    After all, All or the majority of all our ‘Laws’ are based upon religion! – The 10 Commandments is the basis of the majority of the Christian and most other Laws around the World, and to separate politics and religion, or ignore one over the other is a Big mistake and leads to social breakdown.

  15. 22 Mountain Adam, Portland, Oregon USA
    February 2, 2010 at 17:15

    I grew up Catholic and sadly the Nazi they elected to the Papacy reinforces the distance I keep from the church.

  16. 23 Eric in France
    February 2, 2010 at 17:29

    Hello folks,

    it is rather funny to hear such claim on freedom of expression. It should be natural for a religion to be homophobic, but a state has to provide equal treatment to his citizens. I guess the magna carta has not reached the the ivory towers of the vatican state.

    At the end, it would be interesting to challenge the state of Vatican itself in front of the European court of Justice for discriminatory, homophobic and probably racialist attitudes. If the close-minded head of state of the Vatican is walking towards national-socialist, then it must be challenged and banned if not respecting the duty of any democratic government: equal treatment before the law.

    I guess that what troubles the head of Vatican state is the progressive erosion of their remaining privileges, which, anyway, should be revoked all together. The trouble in the UK is that the queen/king must be Anglican, therefore being also discriminatory.

    In the meantime, whatever your beliefs are (if any), take care.

  17. February 2, 2010 at 17:34

    religious freedom means that there is respect for the principles of that specific religion and allowing that institution to act according to their doctrinal prescripts. by forcing the catholic adoption agencies to act in a way that is not consistent with their principles is an infringement on their freedom to practice their religion and is in fact tyranny.

    • February 2, 2010 at 18:37

      It is a Muslim religeous principle to stone adulters to death,would you support that in the UK,or anywhere else,come to think of it.

      • 26 Josiah Soap
        February 3, 2010 at 21:14

        Banning gays from serving in the Catholic church doesn’t harm them (except maybe their feelings) stoning adulterers kills them. Not a very good comparison for religious freedom! Maybe a better comparison would not allowing Buddhist monks to require followers to adopt a vegetarian diet and requiring that meat eaters and sport hunters be ordained into their ranks. There would probably be an outcry if this happened, but there is no outcry that Catholics are being forced to do something against their religious beliefs.

    • 27 Jaime Saldarriaga
      February 3, 2010 at 00:21

      I agree with your statement.

  18. 28 John in Salem
    February 2, 2010 at 17:43

    There is nothing in this universe that is unnatural – human beings can only act in ways which are either beneficial to their survival or stupid.
    This debate does not qualify as beneficial.

  19. 29 Alan in Arizona
    February 2, 2010 at 17:50

    I just don’t understand why religions and religious leaders don’t keep their mouths parked in neutral. If you don’t want others criticizing your beliefs or actions, don’t say anything. Just do what you want, within your organization with your members. If you don’t want someone in your organization , just say ” No Thank You! ” and let them go their own way.

    If you don’t want others meddling in your life, don’t wave a red flag at them. It’s like drinking a beer as you get in your car in front of the Police.

    The Pope speaks out on what they are concerned about. The world cry’s ” FOUL ” and words get thrown all over the place. Just because the law says you can’t discriminate over sexual preference, doesn’t mean you have to hire them. It’s your organization, you set the requirements.

    Personally! I don’t like any church or government body interfering in my life and I don’t want to interfere with theirs. But in reality we must abide by the law of the land or move to some place else were the law is easier to deal with.

    It would be nice if the world could get along, but there are to many people unhappy with their own lives , who want to screw up the lives of happy people, just so they feel semi-useful!.

  20. 30 Davinder M
    February 2, 2010 at 18:28

    I think a fair way to solve this is we give the gays equal rights, and we strip the church of all its perks.

    That way we can send a message to the Pope that we are a sovereign nation and not some colony of the Vatican.

  21. 31 Eric in France
    February 2, 2010 at 18:44

    Hello there,

    if “religious freedom means that there is respect for the principles of that specific religion and allowing that institution to act according to their doctrinal prescripts”. I wonder why we (Europeans) are involved in a war in Afghanistan. After all, here we have a foreign state (the Vatican State) that is meddling with the affairs of a sovereign country. By discriminating, is the church not promoting extremism and social unrest? Doing so, it might just prove that such religion cannot be in touch with modern society like any other religions with the same god.

    To my perspective, I will argue that tyranny comes when a few tries to impose their divisive beliefs to a majority who looks after more collaborative understanding. Most of those who are not acceptable for the Vatican leadership do not impose their differences to us all, but the inquisitive nature of the Vatican state means that we should maybe wear badges to show that we are worse working with or for them. I think it exposes the true moral values of such sect.

    Take good care of yourself without or with a big brother watching you.

  22. 32 pendkar
    February 2, 2010 at 18:56

    The era of religious ‘leaders’is over. Why is the vatican complaining that religion is being driven into a privace space? It belongs there – to a very, very private space.

  23. 33 Bert
    February 2, 2010 at 18:58

    Pope Benedict seems to create for himself contradictory situations at times. This is one of those times.

    The Catholic Church seems to be a prime example of Bill Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays. And yet, he speaks out against giving them equal rights? The Church gives them equal rights, for heaven’s sake. If he really believes what he says, he only need start the cleanup in house.

    Similarly, he has criticized westerners for their lackadaisical attitude toward faith, while at the same time criticising faiths that teach hatred and violence. It is precisely the less than rigorous take on religion that allows the majority in the West to dismiss silly, stupid, or otherwise detrimental teachings. Thanks goodness people DON’T latch on to idiotic formulas.

  24. 34 Donald Lax
    February 2, 2010 at 19:02

    Despite a lot of demoinstrably false claptrap propoganda to the contrary being promulgated by the arch-antitheistic radical contingent within academia not a single scientific or technical advance has ever been dependent upon acceptance of the unproven theory that any random chance cosmic accident rather than the volitional act of an Intelligent Creator was responsible for the advent of organic life or the presence of intelligent humans here and by all known facts no place else in the universe. That being the situation I would be most curious to see how many Christians who believe this empirically true statement as an article of their faith would be welcomed to be employed in the ranks of the hypocritical academics who shout the loudest of all protests when Christians assert a right to freedom of association in at-will employment situations where the tables are reversed.

    Don in Detroit

  25. 35 jens
    February 2, 2010 at 19:40

    what law???? be reasonable and do it my way…… 🙂

  26. February 2, 2010 at 22:57

    Too much about the Pope!; And have you at the Beeb given us the full relevant text of his statements anyway ?

    The real deal is that adoption should be focussed on the children whose biological parents cannot, or will not, perform the roles of being their offspring’s VERY OWN GROWN-UPS, especially during childhood and adolescence.
    Children are normally by a man and a woman in a sexual act; there needs to be a compelling reason to interpose medical technology into the process.
    Children should be reared by their biological parents; there needs to be a special needs to arrange, and legally sanction otherwise.
    I know gay people who have reared orphaned nieces/nephews, and rejoiced to see thegrowing up hetero.
    Adoption is for and of children; adults who adopt must accept this. Like marriage, adoption is “joy and woe woven fine, a clothing for the soul divine”

  27. February 2, 2010 at 23:09

    the law of the land would have to respect the church’s views .personally,i dont support gays adopting children cos I believe its not a healthy situation for a child to grow up in.For reproduction to take place a male and female are required.As long as people decide to be gays they choose indirectly not to have children.Hence y d need to adopt.

  28. 38 Linda from Italy
    February 2, 2010 at 23:11

    Have to admit I fell about laughing at the interview with the mad, bad but definitely not dangerous to know Rocco Buttiglione on Europe Today. When he was bounced off the EU Commission as a “Justice Commissioner” (LOL) in 2004, having made some outrageous religious fundamentalist comments about non-straight people, he went to ground, at least as far as the global stage is concerned, but he will insist on pooping up, like that poor little ground hog whose day we celebrate today, just to repeat his idiocies ad infinitum.
    Rather an easy target, and maybe preaching to the converted, but it was fun!

  29. 39 Kindi Jallow
    February 3, 2010 at 00:21

    The law of the land is about politics of the land and religion is about the spiritual being. The two should be treated seperately or as seperate entity to avoid contridictions. Politicies is about the food we eat, cloths we wear, things we do, life stile etc so its up everyone to say what he/she feels and not sideline some or disallow others. Its about democracy and the world have become a global village. I think the pope is right in reminding us our rights and obligations.

  30. 40 nora
    February 3, 2010 at 00:39

    Perhaps the Pope is afraid that the homosexuals who already have positions of power in the Church will come out of the closet and file lawsuits over promotion policy. I think the Pope is still more afraid of ordaining nuns and letting them at that sacramental wine.

  31. 41 Michael Chisnall, Christchurch, NZ
    February 3, 2010 at 08:06

    But is it really religious Law. Jesus himself noted – but not in these words – that people were born gay. The only anti-gay stuff in the bible comes from misinterpreted OT passages and from Paul who never met Jesus and whose authority is solely an invention of the church. The pope’s beliefs about homosexuality are a tradition that has no scriptural support and it would be nice if journalists and presenters would take the religous nutters to task over this.

    As to the broader question, surely the law of the land is paramount. Suppose that some little known religious group thought that child-sacrifice was essential to their religious practices. Should we let their religious ‘freedom’ come before the law? If not in this hypothetical case then why in any other?

  32. 42 Josiah Soap
    February 3, 2010 at 19:41

    The Pope is not really interfering in our laws. He didn’t say that you shouldn’t employ gays, or that they were evil, what he did say was that he didn’t want them in his “club” the Catholic church. I think this is fine. I am not allowed to be a girl guide leader because I am male, I am not allowed in womens gyms because I am male. I am not allowed to join in Muslim only days at the swimming pool because I am not Muslim, I am not allowed in the black policemans club because I am not black and the list goes on and on. Catholics don’t believe gays should serve in the priesthood, but the Government wants to force its views on the Catholic church. There are countless examples of “discrimination” where only certain types of people are allowed into certain areas. This one about gays in the church is getting so much air time because gays are a “victim group.” I have nothing against gays, but I say good for the Pope, if his religion doesn’t want to include a certain group for any reason then its up to them. I am tired of the Government trying to force its politically correct views on everyone.

  33. 43 vijay pillai
    February 6, 2010 at 04:58

    natural laws are not about people it is about nature and man made laws are about people made by people who govern the land. so racial and religious harmony is more important than strictly following ancient religious practices specially in a multi-racial ,multi faith and multi cultural society.

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