Is belief in the Bible "incompatible with human dignity"?

On Tuesday, a British court ruled that belief in the Bible was “incompatible with human dignity.” This has probably hit the headlines elsewhere in the UK, but the news itm thatwas forwarded to me appeared here.

I suspect this topic belongs in Dead Horses, but all the threads there seem to die without issue so I'm trialling it here.

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Comments

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Are you able to tell us the court which reached that finding please? It does not appear from the article.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    Since at the moment I can’t access the Employment Tribunal’s decision anywhere, and most of the reporting seems to lean heavily on the account given by the person who lost the claim, or his advisers, I don’t feel able to comment.
  • cgichardcgichard Shipmate
    No, all I've seen is that article, sent to me a friend with the comment "Words fail me". But surely it must have made headlines elsewhere unless, of course, it's fake news. In which case I'm guilty of spreading it.
  • I'm sure the piece selectively quotes the judgement, but I would expect the judgement that a medic should respect the gender identity of their patients is accurate.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    "Believing in the Bible" wasn't the issue. Refusing to accept that transgender people exist and insisting on misgendering them, thereby refusing to treat them with respect, was.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/christian-doctor-transgender-woman-she-david-mackereth-a9133496.html

  • Oh look, it's the "Christian" "Legal" Centre giving a bad name to Christians and lawyers everywhere. Again.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    BroJames wrote: »
    Since at the moment I can’t access the Employment Tribunal’s decision anywhere, and most of the reporting seems to lean heavily on the account given by the person who lost the claim, or his advisers, I don’t feel able to comment.

    It would be shocking if the Christian Legal Centre were to misrepresent the outcome of a case. Surely they would never do that ....
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    And yes to the OP. Having a literal, flat, cookbook belief in it is. Even having an 'historical-grammatical' belief in it is. Or 'magisterial' or anagogic or extremely 'allegorical'.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Ricardus wrote: »
    BroJames wrote: »
    Since at the moment I can’t access the Employment Tribunal’s decision anywhere, and most of the reporting seems to lean heavily on the account given by the person who lost the claim, or his advisers, I don’t feel able to comment.

    It would be shocking if the Christian Legal Centre were to misrepresent the outcome of a case. Surely they would never do that ....

    Certainly not. After all, they've even got the word "Christian" right in their name.
  • Prayers (again) for the good people of the Diocese of Chichester who are saddled - sorry, "blest" - with Ms Minchiello Williams to represent them at General Synod.

    It takes something for people, and an organisation, to be described by the EA as the "eccentric fringe": but then among previous statements by AMW you'll find that the Olympic diver Tom Daley is gay "because his father died" while others claim that cancer can be a punishment for a sinful life.

    All I know is that whenever I hear this woman's name I get, as if inspired for a crossword puzzle, the words poisonous, toxic, fascist and wicked floating into my mind.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Didn’t Jesus say something about not judging others. Did the Good Samaritan help someone from s race his nation liked.
  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    While there are bits of the Bible that seem to condemn same-sex sexual activity between men (if you assume that the cultural meaning of those acts hasn't changed), I am unaware of any part of the Bible that states it's impossible to have a woman's soul in a man's body or that otherwise rule out people being trans.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    edited October 4
    Dafyd wrote: »
    While there are bits of the Bible that seem to condemn same-sex sexual activity between men (if you assume that the cultural meaning of those acts hasn't changed), I am unaware of any part of the Bible that states it's impossible to have a woman's soul in a man's body or that otherwise rule out people being trans.

    Aye. I've made reference to this on threads previous - for all the shouting some people do about being trans, the subject is not mentioned once in the Bible. Which is odd considering the loudest shouters outside the Vatican (and quite possibly including it) are allegedly Sola Scriptura
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Well, well, well (concerning the link in the OP)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Daily_Wire

    They've been known to publish false stories intended to stir up racial hatred: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/is-mohammed-popular-name-netherlands/

    The whole of these articles is worth reading. They're basically a bunch of extreme right-wing hatemongers with a tenuous grasp of the concepts of truth or accuracy.
  • Dave WDave W Shipmate
    A PDF of the record of the Final Merits Hearing of the tribunal is here (link from the New York Times.)
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Dave W wrote: »
    A PDF of the record of the Final Merits Hearing of the tribunal is here (link from the New York Times.)

    Skim reading this, it appears that "belief in Gen 1:27" in the document does not refer to any belief in the above verse, but to this particular individual's expression of that belief as presented as a supposed protected characteristic.

    In other words yes, it was selectively quoted.

    Moreover, it's clear the doctor could believe whatever he liked, and say what he believed. The problem was when he intended to impose that belief on transgender clients.

    Quelle surprise.
  • Hugal wrote: »
    Didn’t Jesus say something about not judging others. Did the Good Samaritan help someone from s race his nation liked.

    I don't judge AMW as a person but I do judge her pronouncements and those of her Christian Legal Centre/ Christian Concern. Perhaps I've been influenced by her treatment of an aquaintance (transgender M to F) who AMW referred to as "he", "him" and (directly) "sir" in a meeting?
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    edited October 4
    @KarlLB Yes that is my reading too. The quote is from paragraph 197 and at first glance looks quite bad:
    Irrespective of our determinations above, all three heads, belief in Genesis 1:27, lack
    of belief in transgenderism and conscientious objection to transgenderism in our
    judgment are incompatible with human dignity and conflict with the fundamental rights
    of others, specifically here, transgender individuals.

    But if we scroll back to paragraph 194, it's clear that 'belief in Genesis 1:27' is a shorthand used by the complainant and accepted by the judge for convenience:
    As we state above there is no dispute that Christianity falls within art. 9 of the
    Convention and/or s. 10 EqA. The issue before us relates to the beliefs Dr Mackereth
    relies upon and we adopt the shorthand used by Dr Mackereth to describe the three
    sub-sets of the belief he relies upon (see [ET1/5]) namely belief in Genesis 1:27, lack
    of belief in transgenderism and conscientious objection to transgenderism.

    And if we scroll further back, we find what it's a shorthand for:
    “His belief in the truth of the Bible, and in particular, the truth of Genesis 1:27:
    “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him;
    male and female He created them.” It follows that every person is created by
    God as either male or female. A person cannot change their sex/gender at will.
    Any attempt at, or pretence of, doing so, is pointless, self-destructive, and sinful.
    (“Belief in Genesis 1:27”)
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Oh look, it's the "Christian" "Legal" Centre giving a bad name to Christians and lawyers everywhere. Again.

    All now clear.
  • For all that I sometimes disagree with shipmates, the responses on this thread are why I like you all.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    Some interesting things in the judgment
    106. We find that the way Dr Mackereth recounts the purpose of the meeting with Mr Owen being to interrogate him, his being called out of a consultation, which we find was not the case, what he states was pressure to renounce his beliefs and what he described as his subsequent suspension lead us to conclude he was a poor witness whose perception of events was skewed and save where it is supported by another witness or documentary evidence his account should be given little weight.
    107. We remind ourselves that:-
    “Remembering is a constructive process. Memories are mental constructions that bring together different types of knowledge in an act of remembering. As a consequence, memory is prone to error and is easily influenced by the recall environment, including police interviews and cross-examination in court.” and it was common ground that Dr Mackereth was upset by the whole situation. We find those matters being so, he was not deliberately attempting to mislead the tribunal but instead his memory was in error.
    and
    We find based on what Dr Mackereth told us… that the suggestion to go home came from Dr Mackereth not Mrs Harrison, Mr Owen, the DWP or APM and in no sense could that be construed as them suspending him.

    ‘Belief in Genesis 1.27’ is the tribunal’s shorthand for
    “His belief in the truth of the Bible, and in particular, the truth of Genesis 1:27:
    “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” It follows that every person is created by God as either male or female. A person cannot change their sex/gender at will. Any attempt at, or pretence of, doing so, is pointless, self-destructive, and sinful.
    Later in the judgment they quote in more detail the argument that Dr. Mackereth made
    “17. The Bible, in Genesis 1:27, teaches: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
    18. Several important points follow from this verse:
    a. Man was created by God, in “the image of God”. This is true of all humans regardless of biological sex.
    b. God made humans “male and female”. That leaves no scope for any other sex or gender. This is completely inconsistent with the theory of ‘gender fluidity’.
    c. God’s creation was perfect or “very good” (Genesis 1:31). When God made mankind perfect, he made them male and female.
    21. The law of God in the Old Testament forbids cross-dressing: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5). ...”
    it would have been more accurate I think to have referred to this as Dr. Mackereth’s ‘belief in the implications of Genesis 2.27 as he understood them’.
  • BlahblahBlahblah Shipmate
    Ok, I'll bite: yes belief in the Bible is incompatible with human dignity.

    The only Christians who are 'compatible with human dignity' are those with enough gravitas to contextualise the words of the Bible in favour of humans.
  • Blahblah wrote: »
    Ok, I'll bite: yes belief in the Bible is incompatible with human dignity.
    I think that's a pretty big bite. "Belief in the Bible" covers a lot of ground, some of which unquestionably asserts human dignity, while other parts not so much. Interesting that the verse in question here is Genesis 1:27, the primary assertion of which is that humanity is created in the image of God—a pretty radical assertion of human dignity at the time. Pity that this doctor failed to understand the implications of that assertion.

    The only Christians who are 'compatible with human dignity' are those with enough gravitas to contextualise the words of the Bible in favour of humans.
    Put another way, some interpretations of the Bible are incompatible with human dignity, while other interpretations of the Bible are not incompatible with human dignity.

    That seems to me a better of putting it than belief in "the Bible" is or isn't compatible with human dignity. The idea of "belief in the Bible"—which I realize was used the court decision as a short hand for a particular interpretation of one verse in the Bible—seems to me to be so vague as to be meaningless.

  • BlahblahBlahblah Shipmate
    Yes. I think it's about the level of contextualisation and, dare I say it, thought that has gone on about the biblical texts.

    Those who say "I believe the Bible" actually really mean "I believe this and that and that, supported by a straight reading of this and that and that Bible verse" because it is impossible to believe it all. Because if you did, you would have to believe opposite things and probably disappear in a puff of logic.

  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    I'm sure the piece selectively quotes the judgement, but I would expect the judgement that a medic should respect the gender identity of their patients is accurate.

    More than selective quotes. Nowhere could i find in the judgement where it says anything like
    Bible was “incompatible with human dignity.”
    as stated in the OP and the link therein.
    The judgement is about manifestation, not belief. One can believe what one wants, but one has obligations in application that supersede this.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    To the OP's basic question; the bible can be problematic, depending on who one reads it. This certainly doesn't mean that a belief in the bible has to be incompatible with human dignity.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    It's the old trick. They actually quoted " belief in Genesis 1:27, lack
    of belief in transgenderism and conscientious objection to transgenderism in our
    judgment are incompatible with human dignity " from para 194.

    Their commentary was then to parse "belief in Genesis 1:27, lack
    of belief in transgenderism and conscientious objection to transgenderism " as "belief in the Bible" to make the statement:

    'Belief in the Bible is "incompatible with human dignity"'

    So, to be fair, the bit they put in inverted comments was in the report. They however rather altered its intent in the way they quoted it.




  • roybartroybart Shipmate
    I don't know ( or much care) if " belief in the Bible" is compatible or incompatible with human dignity. Obviously the answer to the question depends on how you define the terms and, most important,where this belief is asserted. I.e., the setting, circumstances, and the effect of your beliefs on the people who you are being paid to serve.

    In this case the good "Dr." Macketeth was working on the public payroll (Department for Works and Pensions) as an health and disabilities assessor in a department with transgender clients. He refused to abide by Dept. policy which stated that transgender persons should be addressed according to their preference.

    One wonders why he chose this job where clashes between his own view of the Bible was bound to clash with official policy, not to mention the feelings and interests of the clients he was hired to serve.

    According to the NY Times article this morning, there is a parallel case in West Virginia, where a high school teacher refused to refer to a transitioning student with masculine pronouns.

    I was astonished to learn that the UK government estimates that there are 200,000 to 500,000 transgender persons in the UK. So, the actions of Christian hard-liners -- which seems to be orchestrated by a group of evangelical Christians with passionate beliefs and deep pocket is a BIG story -- can only become more divisive if the courts don't shut it down vigorously. Ugh!
  • @Nick Tamen has it. "Belief in the Bible" is at best misleading and at worst meaningless. Dr. Mackereth doesn't "believe in the Bible" he believes his interpretation of it. This "I believe in the Bible and you don't" is ground we cannot allow the fundamentalists to claim. They do NOT believe in the Bible in the sense they mean that phrase to have. No one does. It's not possible.
  • BlahblahBlahblah Shipmate
    Yeah. Trouble is that they've taken over the middle ground. Or whatever you want to call it.

    When these people speak, they talk as if they are the only Authentic Christians and that their reasoning/understanding is the only available option. And it is really hard to break through that narrative.
  • Blahblah wrote: »
    Yeah. Trouble is that they've taken over the middle ground. Or whatever you want to call it.

    When these people speak, they talk as if they are the only Authentic Christians and that their reasoning/understanding is the only available option. And it is really hard to break through that narrative.

    Especially since The Media™ want to simplify everything, and so grasp onto their self-acclamation as accurate, and relay it to the public at large.
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    Blahblah wrote: »
    Yeah. Trouble is that they've taken over the middle ground. Or whatever you want to call it.

    When these people speak, they talk as if they are the only Authentic Christians and that their reasoning/understanding is the only available option. And it is really hard to break through that narrative.

    Unfortunately, this attitude seems to be the prevailing cultural ethos. My local Methodist church is a reconciling congregation, which means that we uphold the LGBT community as full members of the body of Christ. So far so good. Alas, the congregation's response to the unfortunate action of the General Conference on this issue is to seek out ways to split from the main body and form a new denomination with like-minded congregations. Instead of seeing our understanding as our cross to bear in witness to all Christians, it has become a flag to rally our tribe against the rest of the body of Christ. Jesus wept.
  • Medical reviewers are not entitled to sit in judgement nor to impose their beliefs on to their professional judgements and behaviour in any way. Cultural awareness and culturally-informed practice require professionals to specifically set aside personal beliefs and to enter the world of others, in a way that registers their awareness of their own biases and beliefs such that those biases and beliefs are set aside. If they cannot do this, they must not be medical reviewers at all. Reviewers may not accept the role if they cannot do this. There's no personal belief "out". The only situations in which a consultant can intervene is if there is a direct and clearly defined harm from the cultural belief.

    I do actually know some things about this within a Canadian context. We would suggest that the doc consult with colleagues about discomfiture following properly interacting. That's what peers are for.
  • Martin54 wrote: »
    Having a literal, flat, cookbook belief in it is.

    "Cookbook belief" is a brilliant way of expressing this, and I propose to steal it forthwith (with due acknowledgment where possible). Thank you.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Martin54 wrote: »
    Having a literal, flat, cookbook belief in it is.

    "Cookbook belief" is a brilliant way of expressing this, and I propose to steal it forthwith (with due acknowledgment where possible). Thank you.

    I wish I could claim it, but I can't! I got it from a limited pool inhabited by Rob Bell, Steve Chalke and few others. I'll do some research (aka googlin'). One dips in to a cookbook almost randomly is the assumption, it's all equally valid.
  • What I took away from it was the idea of seeing the book in question as a set of precise instructions, seeking to follow them, and expecting exactly the same result as when the book was written, as if that was its intent. But tthis is probably the wrong thread for that conversation.

    (Although the Bible does sometimes remind me of a cookbook we have here that has a whole section on jam-making with a list of reasons why one's jam may not have worked: "didn't boil long enough; boiled too long; too much sugar; not enough sugar;... etc.).
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Yeah! I see that. Thanks. It's one continuous, historical-grammatically correct menu of recipes, for Babette's Feast.
  • The life and teaching of Jesus is the very prescription of how to treat human beings with dignity. Everything he said was derived from the OT: he is its interpretation, its fulfilment. Belief in the Bible is compatible with human dignity.

    As Paul said, wrangling over words does no good and ruins those who are listening (2 Tim. 2).
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    The life and teaching of Jesus is the very prescription of how to treat human beings with dignity. Everything he said was derived from the OT: he is its interpretation, its fulfilment. Belief in the Bible is compatible with human dignity.

    As Paul said, wrangling over words does no good and ruins those who are listening (2 Tim. 2).

    Which is all well and good, but how does that work out in actual real life, and how should it be applied in the light (or otherwise) of situations like in the OP? I daresay that the doctor in question fully believed he was bringing Christ into his workplace, being salt and light and that. And he had the OT (or his reading of it) on his side.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Yep. Jesus played good and fast and lose with it. Conservatives don't.
  • KarlLB wrote: »
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    The life and teaching of Jesus is the very prescription of how to treat human beings with dignity. Everything he said was derived from the OT: he is its interpretation, its fulfilment. Belief in the Bible is compatible with human dignity.

    As Paul said, wrangling over words does no good and ruins those who are listening (2 Tim. 2).

    Which is all well and good, but how does that work out in actual real life, and how should it be applied in the light (or otherwise) of situations like in the OP? I daresay that the doctor in question fully believed he was bringing Christ into his workplace, being salt and light and that. And he had the OT (or his reading of it) on his side.
    He would be fun to talk to, in depth. And hear him address things like the fundamental dignity of human beings, their diversity etc.

    Some of these people seem to be looking to be martyrs about their faith. They seem to be looking to demonstrate something in a self-centred way. I don't think this is the Jesus way. And it is really bad professional practice.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    KarlLB wrote: »
    Dave W wrote: »
    A PDF of the record of the Final Merits Hearing of the tribunal is here (link from the New York Times.)

    Skim reading this, it appears that "belief in Gen 1:27" in the document does not refer to any belief in the above verse, but to this particular individual's expression of that belief as presented as a supposed protected characteristic.

    In other words yes, it was selectively quoted.

    Moreover, it's clear the doctor could believe whatever he liked, and say what he believed. The problem was when he intended to impose that belief on transgender clients.

    Quelle surprise.

    And as I read the decision, it does not say that belief in the Bible is incompatible with human dignity but rather it is Dr Mackereth's understanding of what the Bible says that is incompatible. That's very different.
  • Dr. Mackereth's prejudices and spites that he blames on the Bible.
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    This "belief in the Bible" phrase really gets up my nose; for years, I heard it constantly. Earnest evangelizers would accost one in the street or on the bus: "Do you believe in the Bible?" "Do you believe in Jesus?" It made my teeth itch. I always wanted to shout, "What on earth are you asking me, you twit?" (Only I really didn't want to, because who really ever wants to talk to these intrusive dingbats?) "Are you asking whether I believe the Bible exists? Of course I do. You can scarcely turn around these days without tripping over one." Or, "Are you asking whether I think the Bible's contents are true? Explain what you think "true" means, and maybe we'll talk."

    One of the things I'll never forgive the late-20th-century devolution of American Christianity is its appalling abuse of the English language.
  • Ohher wrote: »
    This "belief in the Bible" phrase really gets up my nose;
    Just what I was thinking! Since reading it, I was beginning a post in my head to ask if someone could please explain exactly what they mean by it.
    for years, I heard it constantly. Earnest evangelizers would accost one in the street or on the bus: "Do you believe in the Bible?" "Do you believe in Jesus?" It made my teeth itch. I always wanted to shout, "What on earth are you asking me, you twit?" (Only I really didn't want to, because who really ever wants to talk to these intrusive dingbats?) "Are you asking whether I believe the Bible exists? Of course I do. You can scarcely turn around these days without tripping over one." Or, "Are you asking whether I think the Bible's contents are true? Explain what you think "true" means, and maybe we'll talk."

    One of the things I'll never forgive the late-20th-century devolution of American Christianity is its appalling abuse of the English language.
    Definitely agree with all of this.

  • cgichardcgichard Shipmate
    There's an article in The Spectator about this case that does not mention the Bible or Christianity (other than to describe Dr Mackereth as a Christian doctor).
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    The article gives the impression that the writer has not really read the judgment (except perhaps to find points of disagreement). Dr. Mackereth’s belief or otherwise In transgenderism was not at issue: his willingness to use their preferred pronouns with transgender people was the point.
  • BlahblahBlahblah Shipmate
    I don't understand how it can be said that "transgenderism was not at issue". But being unwilling to use preferred pronouns, surely the doc is declaring that transgenderism is not a thing.

    Surely the whole point of refusing to use preferred pronouns is to declare Down With This Kind of Thing.
  • BlahblahBlahblah Shipmate
    edited October 5
    Personally I would think that the doctor has a duty to deal with the person presenting to them, whether or not he agrees with something about them.

    The only situation I can see that this could be difficult is if these is some physiological distinction that needs to be specifically made relating to an illness.

    But surely he could be kind, couldn't he? If he doesn't like the pronoun, he could just refer to the patient by name to a colleague.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited October 5
    [x-post with @Blahblah ]

    @cgichard the Spectator article is guilty of the selective quoting @KarlLB referred to. As far as I can see it grossly misrepresents the facts of the case with the sole aim of complaining about judicial overreach in the UK and the politicisation (as the author sees it) of the justice system. This is surely above all a swipe at the Supreme Court ruling on Brexit, weaponising prejudice against trans people along the way with (as they see it) this convenient example.

    It seeks mostly to undermine the institution of an independent judiciary, which to this Frenchman is one of the most precious things left in the UK. That is a far more important principle to uphold than that of continuing to allow bigots, when acting in a professional capacity under codes of conduct they sign up to, to flout those codes of conduct and fundamentally disrespect the indiviual placed into their care.

    A lot of space in the article is taken up with complaining about the grammatical quality of the ruling. Either the author hasn't read many or is wilfully misrepresenting; translating legal rulings and lawyers' pleadings is part of what I do for a living and this is not particularly substandard. The argument in the paragraph held up as particularly bad is perfectly cogent and the only grammatical mistake is a full stop in place of a comma (between the words "title" and "one").
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