Audio: BBC’s Moral Maze to debate Christian B&B case

BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze will tonight debate the implications of a court ruling against a Christian-owned guesthouse that restricts double rooms to married couples.

The show will examine the conflict between religious belief and human rights law, asking whether the Human Rights Act is turning into a political ideology to persecute Christians.

Scheduled to air after the 8pm news tonight on BBC Radio 4, the matter will be debated by Michael Portillo, Claire Fox, Matthew Taylor and Clifford Longley.

Turning point

The show’s presenter, Michael Buerk, said: “The back bedroom of a family hotel outside Penzance is an unlikely moral battleground. But history may see it as a key turning point for the way we order our lives.

“The judgment against the hotel’s Christian owners for refusing to allow a homosexual couple to share the room is just the latest case in which the dictates of Christianity have been legally trumped by the new doctrine of human rights.

“This time though the judge set out its wider significance pretty starkly. ‘Its no longer the case’, he said, ‘that our laws must or should automatically reflect the Judaeo-Christian position’.

Moral thinking

“But without those precepts and the basis of our laws and moral thinking for two thousand years, do we even have the language to arbitrate between conflicting rights?

“Is it really a good thing that state-imposed liberties for some should leave no room for the conscience of others? And is a society with no higher principle than the selected sanctity of self, rather a dystopian view of a better world?”

Last week a court ordered Peter and Hazelmary Bull to pay £3,600 in damages to Steven Preddy and his homosexual civil partner Martyn Hall, who were denied a double room at the guesthouse.

The judge granted leave to appeal, saying his ruling “does affect the human rights of the defendants to manifest their religion and forces them to act in a manner contrary to their deeply and genuinely held beliefs.”

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