New law forces UK retreat houses to tolerate black masses

New rules forcing UK Catholic retreat centres to accommodate militant gays or even satanists have been met with a flurry of complaints.

The Universe reports that complaints against the new Equality Act are coming from Christian business operators of retreat centres and guesthouses.

The director of one leading Catholic retreat centre, the Jesuit run Loyola Hall on Merseyside, said he would rather go to court than let a black mass be celebrated on the premises by a guest. Other Christian bed and breakfast establishments have also promised to ignore the legislation which they say conflicts with their Biblical beliefs.

The law was introduced last October but as the holiday season gets underway, Catholics are anxious that militant gay rights campaigners or satanists will try to make a test case by checking into a retreat or conference centre.

Fr Ian Tomlinson, director at Loyola Hall at Prescott said: "I have no problem with a satanists wanting to come and have a discussion about their beliefs.

"But I would not allow them to stay here and certainly not allow them to celebrate a black mass in their room. I would rather go to court. It would be deeply offensive to allow something like that to happen here."

He also said that it would conflict with his obligations as a priest.

Speaking in a personal capacity, Hilary Sutton, press officer for the Catenian Association, also opposes the new legislation.

"If I did run a bed and breakfast establishment, I think I should be entitled to choose who I allow to stay there," he said.

A Home Office spokesperson confirmed ministers had been inundated with letters from Christians angry at the new legislation, and the responsible government Department has also received scores of written protests.

Under the legislation providers of services to the public will not be able to refuse to deal with individuals or groups because of their religion or sexual orientation, but Christian groups are demanding an exemption.

"Homosexuals have human rights, but so do religious people, and potentially there's a clash between them," said Dr Don Horrocks of the Evangelical Alliance.

Fury Over New Rules for Guest Houses (The Universe 29/3/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Loyola Hall, Merseyside
Home Office - Equality and Diversity

B&B law sparks Bible backlash (The Guardian/Associated Press 29/3/06)
Dutch Christian builds modern Ark (Independent Catholic News 29/3/06)
Government Accused of Conducting a Policy of Indoctrination (The Universe 29/3/06)
Priest Attacks Scotland's First Minister Over China Relations (The Universe 29/3/06)

30 Mar 2006