"Some would call it the Devil's work. Two ancient religions have locked horns in a bizarre "freedom of speech" row that is echoing around the corridors of one of Scotland's oldest academic institutions. The University of Edinburgh has granted permission to the Pagan Society to hold its annual conference - involving talks on witchcraft, pagan weddings and tribal dancing - on campus next month. Druids, heathens, shamans and witches are expected to attend what is a major event in the pagan calendar.
But the move has enraged the Christian Union, which accuses the university of double standards after banning one of its events on the "dangers" of homosexuality. Matthew Tindale, an Edinburgh-based Christian Union staff worker, claimed some faiths and beliefs appeared to be more equal than others on campus. "This seems to be a clear case of discrimination," he said. "It's okay for other religions, such as the pagans, to have their say at the university, but there appears to be a reluctance to allow Christians to do the same. All we are asking for is the tolerance that is afforded to other faiths and organisations."
The Union has won strong backing from the Catholic Church in Scotland, whose spokesman, Simon Dames, felt that allowing the pagan festival to go ahead while barring the Union meeting was an example of "Christianphobia". "This appears to be a clear case of double standards," he said. "The principles of a pluralistic democracy revolve around an acceptance of competing ideas and universities should be enshrining this principle. Anti-racism groups would never be asked to put up posters saying there are alternative views."
The row has its roots in last year's decision by university officials to ban the Christian Union from using campus premises to run a course which claimed that gay sex was morally wrong. The course was deemed to be in breach of university anti-discrimination guidelines although a compromise measure was later offered to allow the course to take place if posters offering differing views were prominently displayed. Much to the displeasure of some campus Christians and the Catholic Church, no such conditions will be attached to the pagan gathering.
(For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.)