The row about whether Catholic adoption agencies should be allowed to refuse to give children up to gay couples has already caused a great deal of controversy, and there is a very, smart article on the issue at The Devil’s Kitchen blog which takes a pretty firm libertarian line on the matter. In my view, if a Catholic or any other religious organisation wishes to refuse to hand over children entrusted to it to certain sorts of people on grounds of religious doctrine, then one can certainly object to those views, but they should not be banned, in my view.
The problem, however, is that such adoption organisations receive money from the taxpayer: you and me. I am not a Catholic (although my wife is) and I am not happy that I may be financially enabling people to act on views I regard as wrong. This in my view demonstrates the great dangers of encouraging charities to receive tax moneys or indeed to get involved in state initiatives of any kind. By receiving such moneys, these bodies will slowly but surely lose their autonomy. The Catholic charities that are involved in areas like adoption may choose to sever any links with the state apparatus, and I strongly urge them to do so.
This government, remember, is one that regards autonomous institutions, be they businesses, charities, or any associations of people, as a threat to its power and designs. It wishes to bend these institutions to its corporatist, collectivist ends. In a sense, this is in fact a profoundly fascist government, in that it maintains the appearance of tolerating private property rights and institutions, but in fact seeks to regulate them so closely as to turn them into empty husks.
I hope this whole episode drives home in people’s minds the extent to which civil society, traditionally understood, has been weakened by this government. It was the late Tory MP, Nicholas Budgen I think, who once remarked that NuLabour would no longer seek to nationalise industries. Instead, it would nationalise people.