Daily Mail columnist: ‘Church’s opposition to gays marrying shows its irrelevance’

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A columnist for The Daily Mail has published a blistering attack on the Church of England and the Catholic Church for arguing against same sex civil marriage. Abjijit Pandya says “fear and disgust towards homosexuals” is “the last great prejudice of our times.”

The newspaper is more usually associated with the columnist Melanie Phillips, named Stonewall’s Bigot of 2011. The column was published this afternoon on the newspaper’s popular website, but it is not immediately clear if it will be re-published in the print edition.

The writer says that opposing same sex marriage “goes against the spirit of the humanist movement of the last five hundred years that has been, with enormous difficulty, moving man from barbarity to moral civilisation.”

Unusually for a Daily Mail columnist, Mr Pandya praises prime minister David Cameron for his support of allowing gay couples to get married. The writer is a former candidate for UKIP, which has condemned the prime minister’s support of same sex marriage.

The writer says: “It is odd that the institution that should be fighting this prejudice the most, the Church, is in fact doing the most to not just preserve these prejudices, but also heighten them through its continued opposition to the legalisation of gay marriage.

“Of course there are civil partnerships – but why can’t they be called marriage? This denial implies unequal treatment and imputes that civil partnerships are something less than marriage. A society, and a Church, that values equal treatment of belief should not be opposing this.

“In holding this prejudice the church has, perhaps, missed the entire point of the life of Christ. The religious prejudice against homosexuals is, and always has been, a construction of religion, not of Jesus.”

He adds that “The dis-entitlement of homosexuals from marriage embodies a human construction of prejudice, and has to be fought just as other arbitrary human prejudices such as those based on against race, religion, gender and nationality.”

The writer points out that Christ never condemned homosexuality in any way and argues: “If we are to progress as human beings, over the coming decades and centuries, our humanity has also to increase. Our views towards those who have differing beliefs, including sexual orientation, have to move from tentative tolerance to firm acceptance of differences, if we are to be more humane in coming centuries.”

Pointedly he asks “if the Church feels that homosexuals are to be condemned and vilified as outcasts by not granting them marriage, then how different is that treatment for those who rebuked, with prejudice, and forced the execution of Jesus for only his different beliefs?”

The columnist argues that by denying civil marriage to gay couples, a society demonstrates that it “still moulded by arbitrary discrimination as opposed to a rational evaluation of human worth, based on characteristics such as courage or charity.”

“The human journey over time is about overcoming such vulgarities. Where previous centuries have seen racial prejudice support slavery, today we see such physical differences as irrelevant to the inner worth of a human being.”

He ends stating that “David Cameron is right to have said in the Conservative Party conference that gay marriage should be allowed.

“Perhaps he has understood, as organised ecclesiastical religion has so often failed to do, that the story behind Christ’s life is also a very human one – of overcoming and confronting mass, and institutional, prejudice towards what is different conduct and opinions of a minority.”

The views of Mr Pandya are unfortunately newsworthy because the Daily Mail is more usually associated with publishing distinctly unpleasant columns relating to the LGBT community.

Last year, Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips took on strong competition to be named Stonewall Awards to become the charity’s Bigot of the Year. Phillips was chosen by the Stonewall supporters as the figure to most notably have “gone out of their way to harm, hurt or snub lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the last year”.

In January 2011, she accused the government of trying to brainwash children by including references to gays in lessons about censuses and population movement, and by teaching about the roles of the male in other species.

It was, she said, an “an abuse of childhood”, part of a “ruthless campaign by the gay rights lobby to destroy the very ­concept of normal sexual behaviour.”

Last February, PinkNews.co.uk sent Ms Phillips a Valentine’s Day Card after she celebrated the day writing “The argument – that people with different sexual lifestyles must be treated identically – is exactly the same [as the argument for legalising bestiality]”.

She claimed that in some parts of America, campaigns are underway for zoophiles’ sexual rights and the implication is clear that this must be a slippery slope.

To be fair, a disclaimer was included: “Before the hate mail starts, I’m not suggesting gays are on a moral par with zoophiles.”

Further down, she argued: “The sole reason marriage has universal value is that it is vital for the healthy nurture of the next generation. This is because children need to be brought up by the two people who created them.”

This argument conveniently sidesteps the thousands of children being brought up by loving gay parents and suggests – but fails to show how – future generations will be damaged by gay marriage.

Marriage would become a “meaningless joke” if gays were allowed to marry she wrote. “Truly, we are fast reaching the stage where upholding Biblical sexual standards will become the morality that dare not speak its name.”