Had a number of things I was going to blog about tonight, but got sidetracked by responding to comments instead. Anyway, here's one for starters. I was listening to Any Questions earlier today, and thought John Harris was pretty good on the issue of the registrar who didn't want to officiate at civil partnership ceremonies because of her Christian beliefs.Here's the Observer on it, and, in the interests of fairness, the Daily Mail.
John Harris asked why someone's beliefs should be accorded more respect because they're based on a belief in God. He gave the example of what would happen if he, as a vegetarian, got a job on the tills at Tesco's and refused to scan any meat that came through. His employers would obviously be entitled to say that he wasn't right for the job. He admitted it wasn't the best analogy, but the underlying point he makes is valid. (Perhaps a better analogy would be a vegetarian chef in a restaurant; if they could be kept fully occupied just doing the desserts and salads, do they have a right to demand this? Or should they just go get a job in a vegetarian restaurant instead?)
Actually, that reminds me that as a newish MP I was roped in at the very last moment to serve on an SI committee. It was only when I arrived that I realised it was something to do with giving milk to school pupils in certain parts of the country (or something like that). On the one hand, I didn't agree with it; on the other, it seemed a pretty trivial issue to rebel on. I'd been roped in by the whip as a last minute substitute, on the understanding I could leave if all the other members turned up, to take part in a debate in the Chamber. They all did, so I was allowed to scarper, and didn't have to make that decision. But if I had, would my 'issue of conscience' have been given the same respect as that of a Catholic who is anti-abortion? (Even I'm not sure if it should be; I feel strongly enough about not drinking milk to have foregone it for nearly 17 years but I don't recoil in horror whenever I walk past the dairy section in a supermarket. I accept that most people drink it, and will continue to do so - 'though that doesn't stop me doing my little bit to make the case for turning vegan on this blog).
The 'is being a vegan on a par with being a Catholic' issue hasn't come up again. Yet. Or if it's vegetarians cf. Catholics, I guess it's vegans cf. members of Opus Dei?