The archbishop issued a clarification on Friday. He
sought carefully to explore the limits of a unitary and secular legal system in the presence of an increasingly plural (including religiously plural) society and to see how such a unitary system might be able to accommodate religious claims. Behind this is the underlying principle that Christians cannot claim exceptions from a secular unitary system on religious grounds (for instance in situations where Christian doctors might not be compelled to perform abortions), if they are not willing to consider how a unitary system can accommodate other religious consciences.
Fair enough. So here’s how to deal with that: Christians cannot claim exceptions from a secular unitary system on religious grounds. Problem solved. Nobody can claim exceptions from a secular unitary system on religious grounds. See how simple that is?
You do realize what the archbish means by ‘a secular unitary system,’ right? He means the law. He must not have wanted to say what he said quite that baldly. He must not have wanted to say ‘Christians cannot claim exceptions from the law on religious grounds’ – no, one can see why he wouldn’t want to say that. But that’s what he means, and it’s a brazenly terrible idea. Helpful of him to (apart from the crucial euphemism) spell it out.