Requiem for the Magna Carta|
from the 'International' topic
Source: In House
Author: Dr. Scott Lively
One of the oldest and most venerable pillars of constitutional law has been toppled: Britain’s Magna Carta. For almost 800 years, since it was first drafted in 1215, the Magna Carta Libertatum (Great Charter of Freedoms) has been a symbol of liberty throughout the world. More than just a human rights manifesto, the Magna Carta is one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy.
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Requiem for the Magna Carta
Scott Lively, J.D., ThD.
On June 15, 1215, an intrepid group of English lords stood on the field of Runnymede and faced down the leviathan of arbitrary governmental power, represented at that moment by the heavy-handed King John. They called the list of concessions which they extracted
from him that day the Magna Carta Libertatum, and this "Great Charter of Freedoms" has served as a mighty foundational pillar of constitutional law and human rights law for nearly 800 years.
From the Magna Carta have come such legal essentials to democracy as the right of habeas corpus (clauses 36, 38-40) and the right to due process of law (clause 29). But the clause to which the barons gave preeminence, placing it first in the list, was the one which provided that "the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished,
and its liberties unimpaired."
On March 21, 2007, another group of English lords, those seated in the upper house of the English Parliament, dealt the death blow to that great clause, which has protected not only the integrity of the English Church, but the notion that the church can stand as a moral authority independent of a nation's ever-changing social policies and political currents. Ironically, this long-standing freedom was cancelled by the approval of the Sexual Orientation Regulations of the Equality Act, a document which has all the appearance of a human rights instrument. In its implementation, however, this set of rules
will have the effect of (among other things) prohibiting private Christian schools throughout the United Kingdom from teaching students the Biblical position that homosexual sexual behavior is morally wrong, and that it violates the evident heterosexual design of the human body.
This prohibition is one result of the tireless campaign of dedicated homosexual agitators to curtail freedom of speech in any case where its exercise would allow the expression of disapproval of homosexual practice. This sort of rule is necessarily arbitrary, since it
addresses any speech which has "the effect of violating…dignity, or creating…[an] offensive environment" in the opinion of a self-styled homosexual person, a person who defines him- or herself solely by feelings and behavior. Thus it is impossible to conceive of any speech critical of homosexual behavior, however reasonably founded on medical, psychological or experiential bases, which would not be found dignity-violating or offensive to some homosexual person. And the church, to the extent that it bases its teaching on the Bible, is not at liberty to choose its position, or even its wording when teaching from scripture.
To the global homosexual political movement, the freedom to speak certain words from the Bible is a freedom which cannot be allowed. Wherever this movement has obtained power, it has exercised it to deny freedom of speech. In January of this year a Catholic member of the Kamloops (British Columbia) City Council was fined $1,000 by the local
Human Rights Commission for stating his opinion that homosexuality was "not normal or natural." The Human Rights Commission, following the law in all such cases, then paid the $1,000 directly to the homosexual complainant (this law has provided the incentive for complaints, true or false, by homosexuals all over Canada). In 2004, in Borgholm, Sweden, Protestant pastor Åke Green was sentenced to one month in prison for reading a sermon in his church on the Biblical view of homosexuality. In 2006, nine Glasgow firefighters were ordered to undergo "intense diversity training," and one was demoted with a large reduction in salary, because they refused to put on their uniforms and distribute fire-safety fliers at "Scotia Pride," a homosexual event in which participants publicly lampooned Christianity. Similar news items are now available everywhere in the press, the broadcast media, and on the Internet. Those who wield power in the homosexual movement have not concerned themselves with the niceties of their critics'
It is as a reversal of the larger course of human rights history that this "repeal" of the first clause of the Magna Carta has its most profound effect. Upon the philosophical foundation of the Magna Carta is built the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution, and on that foundation rests the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the basis of human rights provisions throughout all of contemporary international law. And it is no accident that the freedom of the church figured so importantly in that crucial early step in the development of human rights law. For the medieval church, though a flawed human institution in many ways, was the permanent repository of the concept of the value of the individual human soul, its essential dignity and worth. When selfish and arrogant kings and warlords wielded power for their own ends, there was often asylum for their victims in the church and respite in its courts.
It is within this history that the whole ideology of human rights took shape, the placing of certain individual human freedoms beyond the reach of temporal powers. These freedoms alone support the democracies which have sprung up everywhere on our planet. We should be deeply grieved that this great backward step has been taken, merely at the insistence of a determined interest group which will brook no opposition.