While I do not wish to enter into the debate on equal marriage here, I must comment on John Deighan's rather odd choice of Thomas More as a champion for the "the inviolability of conscience", or even human rights (Journal, August 2012, 5).
Despite the peaceful toleration of faiths promised in his Utopia (and let's not forget its contempt for atheists), it seems he only took the decision to resign when his own beliefs were threatened. He had singularly failed to resign when as Lord Chancellor of England he presided over a legal system which was still burning heretics and imprisoning others for simply possessing a bible translated into English, or other banned books.
While historians disagree on the level of his personal involvement in torture, it is clear that he did not take any public exception to being head of the system which used both it and the stake to impose its own views. Presumably, and to a modern view incredibly, such actions did not conflict with his beliefs. It is regrettable in my view that some regard him as the patron saint of lawyers.
It seems, therefore, it should not be More who should be regarded as a champion for the inviolability of conscience and human rights but instead the heretics who were burned at the stake on his watch. At least they had not been responsible for the execution or torture of others for their beliefs.
I emphasise this is my personal view only.Alisdair Matheson, Edinburgh