Right. This is where two principles slam right into each other. They are frankly irreconcilable. They can’t both be fully accommodated, any more than two bodies can occupy the same space.

The Catholic Church is to go to war over new legislation on rights for homosexuals, vowing to create “gay rights martyrs” if the laws are passed. In a change of tactics, Church officials now say they will not close down adoption agencies as a result of new laws forcing them to deal with applications from gay couples. Instead, they will deliberately break the law in order to bring a case to court. The Church believes it could then challenge a guilty verdict through Article 9 of the Human Rights Act, which upholds the freedom of religious expression.

One wonders if it will succeed. One imagines that it might; and that would be a disaster.

This is a perennial problem in the US, as I’ve mentioned before, because of the free expression clause of the First Amendment. That clause is sometimes held to invalidate legislation. How broadly judges define ‘the freedom of religious expression’ is probably going to be an increasingly worrying issue as time goes on. The more broadly it is defined, the less possible a secular state becomes. That is deeply alarming to those of us who don’t want the Vatican or imams or preachers dictating terms for all of us.

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