Rev Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James Piccadilly, handy for Fortnum and Mason

The Invisible Magic Friend’s holy virus turns out to be even worse than we thought. There’s only one thing to do, keep believing in the Invisible Magic Friend. Pray to him to make his holy virus go away, or at the very least, just kill somebody else. It’s the only possible thing to do. You know it makes sense.

5 thoughts on “Rev Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James Piccadilly, handy for Fortnum and Mason

    1. It is serious, but it is interesting to see where the argument lies. Proponents of religious exemptions have given up on creating legislation that is specifically anti-gay. What they are looking for is exemptions from any anti-discrimination laws based on religious grounds. In other words, it’s not that the law can discriminate, but it might be that organisations can.

      Don’t get me wrong, this would be a very bad thing. But no government branch, either at federal or state level, can claim a religious exemption, as they are specifically banned from being religious in any way. It is only private organisations that can make this claim.

      The Bostock decision (voted for by Gorsuch and Roberts) made it illegal for all covered employers to discriminate against employees for reasons of sexuality, with the exception of what are known as Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications. To quote from the Wikipedia page:

      One example of bona fide occupational qualifications are mandatory retirement ages for bus drivers and airline pilots, for safety reasons. Further, in advertising, a manufacturer of men’s clothing may lawfully advertise for male models. Religious belief may also be considered a BFOQ; for example, a religious school may lawfully require that members of its faculty be members of that denomination, and may lawfully bar from employment anyone who is not a member. Fire departments can require firefighters to be able to lift a given weight to demonstrate that they will be able to carry fire victims out of a burning building.

      While religion, sex, or national origin may be considered a bona fide occupational qualification in narrow contexts, race can never be a BFOQ. However, the First Amendment will override Title VII in artistic works where the race of the employee is integral to the story or artistic purpose. (This consideration is not limited to race.)

      Bona fide occupational qualifications generally only apply to instances in which the BFOQ is considered reasonably necessary to the normal operation of a particular business. For example, a Catholic college may lawfully require such positions as president, chaplain, and teaching faculty to be Catholics, but membership in the Catholic Church would generally not be considered a BFOQ for occupations such as secretarial and janitorial positions.

      Mere customer satisfaction, or lack thereof, is not enough to justify a BFOQ defense, as noted in the cases Diaz v. Pan Am. World Airways, Inc. and Wilson v. Southwest Airlines Co. Therefore, customer preference for females does not make femininity a BFOQ for the occupation of flight attendant. However, there may be cases in which customer preference is a BFOQ – for example, femininity is reasonably necessary for Playboy Bunnies. Customer preference can “‘be taken into account only when it is based on the company’s inability to perform the primary function or service it offers,’ that is, where sex or sex appeal is itself the dominant service provided.”

      I suspect this case might end up as a setback (as do others). But we should be careful about seeing it as an inevitable slide into theocracy. As I said, Bostock was a very wide-ranging extension of LGBTQ rights, and it was voted for by two conservative justices. The next few years might be difficult in the US, but with a democratic president the situation can still be on a good trajectory. Certainly opinion polls in the states overwhelmingly support LGBTQ rights, even in Texas. In the longer term, the religious right is fighting a loosing battle.


  1. The issue of Barrett’s religiosity, and Steve’s disquisitions on what it might mean in practice, are much more interesting than Lucy Winkett’s weekly fretting about the virus. Today she informed us that Christianity doesn’t offer a quick fix, but comes into its own in the long haul. I wonder if she’s ever looked properly at its history. The long haul of Christianity has encompassed intolerance, persecution, cruelty, oppression and superstition; and after 2000 years of it all, Jesus is still nowhere to be seen. Still, we can be sure that, if a reliable vaccine is developed, Lucy and co will give all credit to the IMF and its once temporarily visible but now even more absent second part.


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