If Bishop Bay must lower the barrier to enable gays to become priests, how low must it go?

The Human Rights Tribunal, one of the namby-pamby bits of nonsense set up to give folks an even break, has a fascinating challenge on its hands.

It must decide who should decide the rules for becoming a priest.

That requires it to decide if matters of church doctrine should be determined by the church or whether in some cases – like this one – church rulings can be over-ridden by a sectarian outfit.

Doubtless it is fair busting to lay down the law in its own favour and tell us that its authority is greater than church authority on matters ecclesiastical

Yep. It’s utter bollocks.

But it’s what happens when we spawn outfits like Human Rights Commissions, and Equal Opportunity Commissions, and Race Relations Commissions, and all the other tribunals and what-have-you that are part of a growing societal urge to ignore our obvious differences and treat everyone the same.

In this case we have a bloke whose point of difference is that he is a poofter, but he nevertheless wants to be a priest in a church that is apt to get somewhat hung up on having poofters preaching from the pulpit.

TV3 News gave us the nub of the issue (here) last night –

A homosexual man has told a Human Rights Tribunal he feels humiliated and disappointed after being rejected for training as a priest because he was in a same-sex relationship.

Geno Sisneros wanted to be ordained by the Anglican Church, and says his exclusion amounts to discrimination, but the church says it’s just following its own rules.

Yep. The church wants to train priests according to its own rules.

But those rules preclude this fellow.

So he has gone to a higher authority – or to a tribunal he regards as a higher authority, at which point he should be seriously questioning his priestly ambition, because the only higher authority that should be consulted in this matter is not to be found on this earth.

Becoming a priest is his ambition, however.

We are told Sisneros spent years hoping he’d be trained and eventually ordained.

But after being rejected he and his legal team have laid down a challenge to Anglican Church leaders at the Human Rights Tribunal.

“It was denied to him on the basis that he was in a same-sex relationship,” says Mr Sisneros’ lawyer David Ryken.

“The plaintiff comes to the tribunal seeking a declaration that such action is on contravention to the act and therefore, in terms of the domestic law of New Zealand, is unlawful.”

Sisneros told the tribunal he’d been humiliated and treated without dignity. He spent six years of his life studying for a process that he wasn’t allowed to enter into and he watched as many of his colleagues completed the same work and were successfully ordained.

A bishop has been branded the bad bugger in this – Sisneros says he was denied the chance to become a priest by the Anglican Bishop of Auckland, Ross Bay.

But whoa. What does church doctrine have to say?

Oh, yes. In order to be a minister you have to be in a heterosexual relationship or celibate.

The church – as anyone could have told the complainant – has pretty firm ideas on these matters, regardless of what Parliament might have done when it made homosexuality legal, then allowed gays to enter civil unions, and now – well, two blokes can become man and wife.

“The church is currently in a process of discussing these matters in a more general sense and I would prefer to be having that discussion in that context,” says Mr Bay.

And Mr Bay’s lawyer says that’s where the discussion should be held – in church, not in court.

“We say that the domestic tribunal and courts of a country have no place telling a church what it believes or ought to believe,” says Mr Bay’s lawyer Bruce Gray QC.

He says making a ruling about how doctrine should be interpreted would in itself be a breach of the church’s legal rights.

Gotta say that’s how it seems to Alf, too.

Think about it.

If the dictates of human rights legislation can over-ride church doctrine – what next?

Blokes like Brian Edwards, who proudly proclaims he is an atheist, would be able to demand a job as priest.

Muslims, Buddhists and Druids, too.

And Alf would be entitled to demand employment as a rabbi.

As you can see, it’s nonsense.

But we are very good at upholding nonsense, in this country.

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