Monday, 18 August 2014
Vicky Beeching comes out as a lesbian
Last week Patrick Strudwick in the Independent broke the story about Vicky Beeching: Vicky Beeching, Christian rock star ‘I’m gay. God loves me just the way I am’.
Another interview by Jonathan Merritt appeared at RNS Christian rock star Vicky Beeching comes out as gay: An RNS interview.
Channel 4 News had an interview which is included in this report: ‘They made me feel like they thought I was demon-possessed’.
The BBC Radio 4 Sunday interviewed her in the last ten minutes of this episode.
Comments on the matter from others have included:
Eddie Green Outwards and Upwards
Accepting Evangelicals have issued a press release: Evangelical support for Vicky Beeching.
Symon Hill at Ekklesia Vicky Beeching and the EA: Who represents evangelicals?
Peter Ormerod at Comment is free Why Vicky Beeching coming out matters.
Sunday, 17 August 2014
Letter to Government - Iraq and IS
Updated Sunday evening
Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds, has sent a letter about Iraq and IS to the Prime Minister. The bishop has published the text of the letter on his blog with this explanation.
Recognising the complexities of such matters and the difficult role of the Prime Minister in them, I wrote the letter as a constructive stimulus to discussion of the wider questions provoked by what is happening in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. Attempting to fix the immediate will prove costly in every respect, if we don’t have a long-term, overarching and holistic vision for what we – along with other governments, agencies and partners (such as the churches) – need to achieve. The lack of clarity about such a comprehensive and coherent vision is being commonly remarked upon, and my letter seeks concisely and respectfully to elicit some response to these serious questions.
Mark Townsend writes in The Observer today that Church launches bitter attack on PM’s ‘incoherent’ Middle East policy.
The Church of England has delivered a withering critique of David Cameron’s Middle East policy, describing the government’s approach as incoherent, ill-thought-out and determined by “the loudest media voice at any particular time”.
The criticisms are made in an extraordinary letter to the prime minister signed by the bishop of Leeds, Nicholas Baines, and written with the support of the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Seen by the Observer, it describes the UK’s foreign policy as so muddled and reactive that it is “difficult to discern the strategic intentions” of the government’s approach to the region…
[The Observer’s link to the full text of the letter is broken; it should be Dear prime minister: what is the UK government’s strategy in Iraq and Syria?]
The Telegraph has Church of England attacks Government response to Iraq crisis.
This morning’s BBC Radio4 Sunday programme covers this story with an interview with the Bishop of Manchester [starting at 1 minute 6 seconds].
The Church of England website has this page on Iraq.
Symon Hill writes that Nick Baines is mistaken: Cameron’s policy is coherent, but morally foul.
Nick Baines has some “comments of explanation”: As I was saying…
EHRC calls for evidence on religion or belief issues
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched a major call for evidence from individuals and organisations about how their religion or belief, or that of other people, may have affected their experiences in the workplace and in using the services and facilities they need in everyday life. People can give their feedback at www.equalityhumanrights.com/religion.
The Commission wants to gather as much information as possible from members of the public, employers, providers of services, legal advisors and religion or belief organisations. This will be used to assess how employers and service providers are taking religion or belief into account and the impact this has on individuals. The work covers all faiths and beliefs and experiences in England, Scotland and Wales. We want to hear about the issues people face and how they find solutions. The Commission will also use the evidence as part of its work looking at how effective the current legislation is proving in practice.
Despite a number of high profile legal cases involving the manifestation of religion or belief, very little is known about how frequently these issues occur in practice…
More background on the policy objective Shared understandings: a new EHRC strategy to strengthen understanding of religion or belief in public life.
Some further detail is below the fold.
Andrew Brown has written about this consultation: This attempt to redefine religious bias marks a shift from hard secularism
Continue reading "EHRC calls for evidence on religion or belief issues"
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has launched a consultation on whether it is handling religious equality appropriately. This marks a significant unease with the way in which equality law has dealt with Christians, in particular since 2010. The central question is whether there is anything more to Christian discontent than whingeing about the progress of gay rights…
…So the Evangelical Alliance, which claims to represent 2 million Christians, is asking its followers to write to the EHRC about their concerns. Given the strength of evangelical feeling against homosexuality, this could result in a lot of letters. The difficulty is that most of the alliance’s cases appear to the outside world to be Christians claiming that unless they can discriminate against gay people, they are themselves the victims of discrimination. This is not a view with wide appeal…
Saturday, 16 August 2014
Christina Patterson The Guardian The Good News Bible taught me the power of words, but also stole my youth
For lovers of mediaeval church architecture, James Alexander Cameron writes on Great Mistakes in English Medieval architecture.
Thursday, 14 August 2014
Church of England Finance Statistics 2012
Record amount from parishes to fund ministry and mission, show 2012 stats
14 August 2014
Parishes across the country raised a record amount of £929 million in 2012 to fund the ministry and mission of the Church of England across the country according to statistics published today. Parishes raised these funds from a combination of investments, legacies and donations despite the reduced gift aid rates*. The figure represents a modest increase on £916m in 2011.
In addition to funding the work of the Church at a parish, diocesan and national level, Parish Churches also continued to give generously to other organisations donating more than £46m to other charitable organisations, exceeding the £43.3m raised by Children in Need.
The statistics also show that after three years of deficits, parishes have successfully reduced their expenditure and encouraged more giving, to reach a break-even point in 2012. After adjusting for inflation, the data show that expenditure increased between 2002 and 2009 but has been steadily declining since.
Dr John Preston, the Church of England’s national stewardship adviser said: “The 2012 figures show the Church’s continued commitment to give generously despite the economic environment. It is a real testimony to the generosity of people in the pews that despite the reduced gift aid rates they have raised the largest ever amount of money to support the ministry and mission of the church. The Christian principle of stewardship is clearly alive and well.”
The information in the Finance Stats document is collated from the annual parish returns (excluding the Diocese in Europe).
For further Church of England statistics see https://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/facts-stats/research-statistics.aspx.
Saturday, 9 August 2014
Statement from Archbishop of Canterbury on Iraq
The Archbishop of Canterbury issued this Statement from Archbishop Justin on Iraq yesterday (Friday).
“The horrific events in Iraq rightly call our attention and sorrow yet again. Christians and other religious minorities are being killed and face terrible suffering.
“What we are seeing in Iraq violates brutally people’s right to freedom of religion and belief, as set out under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is extremely important that aid efforts are supported and that those who have been displaced are able to find safety. I believe that, like France, the United Kingdom’s doors should be open to refugees, as they have been throughout history.
“The international community must document human rights abuses being committed in northern Iraq so that future prosecutions can take place. It is important and necessary for the international community to challenge the culture of impunity which has allowed these atrocities to take place.
“With the world’s attention on the plight of those in Iraq, we must not forget that this is part of an evil pattern around the world where Christians and other minorities are being killed and persecuted for their faith. Only this week I received an email from a friend in Northern Nigeria about an appalling attack on a village, where Christians were killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Such horrific stories have become depressingly familiar in countries around the world, including Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
“We must continue to cry to God for peace and justice and security throughout the world. Those suffering such appalling treatment in Iraq are especially in my prayers at this time.”
Press reports include:
Edward Malnick The Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury urges Britain to open doors to persecuted Iraqi Christians
Sam Jones and Owen Bowcott The Guardian Isis persecution of Iraqi Christians has become genocide, says religious leaders
Oliver Farry New Statesman What should happen to churches as religion recedes?
Peter Stanford Third Sector Faith and Good Works - the weakening of traditional links
Giles Fraser The Guardian Just how far does the concept of Christian solidarity extend?
Wednesday, 6 August 2014
Archbishop of Uganda says anti-gay law still needed
Last Friday, the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 was declared invalid by a Ugandan constitutional court, because it had been passed by Parliament without a proper quorum.
See reports of this, such as Uganda Anti-Gay Law Struck Down by Court in the New York Times or Uganda anti-gay law declared ‘null and void’ by constitutional court in the Guardian.
There are now reports that Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, Primate of Uganda, has called for its prompt re-introduction:
Religion News Service Uganda’s Anglican leader doubles down on anti-gay law
Uganda’s top Anglican leader criticized the constitutional court for striking down the country’s controversial anti-gay law on a technicality, saying the law is still needed to protect children and families from Western-imported homosexuality…
Episcopal News Service Uganda’s Anglican leader says anti-gay law still needed
…Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali called the decision a disappointment for the Church of Uganda, religious leaders and many Ugandans.
“The ‘court of public opinion’ has clearly indicated its support for the Act, and we urge Parliament to consider voting again on the Bill with the proper quorum in place,” Ntagali said on Aug. 4.
Uganda’s religious leaders had widely supported the law, but opposed an earlier clause threatening the death penalty for some homosexual acts. Most Ugandan church leaders say homosexuality is against God’s order and African cultures. Such a law was needed to protect families, children and youth, the leaders stressed.
“I appeal to all God-fearing people and all Ugandans to remain committed to the support against homosexuality,” said Ntagali, whose church cut ties with the Episcopal Church, the United States-based branch of Anglicanism, after the election of an openly gay bishop in 2003…
Tuesday, 5 August 2014
Bishop of Gloucester steps back
Updated Friday morning
It was reported on Saturday that the Bishop of Gloucester, Michael Perham, who was due to retire later this year, was to step back ‘for personal reasons’ with immediate effect. It has now been confirmed that he has today been interviewed by Gloucestershire Police in connection with two alleged incidents of indecent assault in the early 1980s. He has not been arrested and was not charged. One incident concerns a woman aged over 18 at the time, and the other a woman under 18 at the time.
Further coverage in
The Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, will act as bishop.
UPDATED Wednesday evening with other reports. There is little or no extra information in any of these stories.
- The Times (subscription required)
Updated again Friday
The Bishop of Tewkesbury has published this letter on the diocesan website.
Sunday, 3 August 2014
More discrimination against clergy who enter a same-sex marriage
Updated again Monday evening
Our previous reports on this were Discussions in the House of Lords on same-sex marriage and Update on clergy entering same-sex marriages although the subject is also touched on here.
Today, the BBC reports that Gay wedding canon Jeremy Pemberton has NHS job offer withdrawn and there is an audio file of the interview that lies behind this report over here.
The first gay British clergyman to marry a same-sex partner has had an NHS job offer withdrawn because a bishop will not give the licence needed.
Jeremy Pemberton currently works as an NHS chaplain in Lincolnshire, but has been blocked from taking a new job with the NHS in Nottinghamshire…
Other media are now picking up on this story, see for example, the Independent Married gay clergyman has NHS job offer withdrawn after bishop blocks licence .
The Church Times asked its readers a question about Bishop Richard Inwood’s action last week:
Is Bishop Inwood right to withhold Canon Pemberton’s licence? Total: 571 Yes: 21.5% No: 78.5%
Andrew Brown at the Guardian has written: Church faces legal challenge after blocking job offer to married gay priest.
The first priest to marry his same-sex partner is to issue a legal challenge to the Church of England after his offer of a job as an NHS chaplain was withdrawn when his bishop refused the necessary permission.
The Rev Jeremy Pemberton, who married Laurence Cunnington in April, was informed on Friday that Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS trust had withdrawn its offer of a job after Bishop Richard Inwood had refused him the official licence in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.
“It this is not challenged,” Pemberton said on Sunday, “it will send a message to all chaplains of whom a considerable number are gay and lesbian. This is an area of law that has not been tested and needs to be.”
Anglican clergy are allowed to enter civil partnerships, but the House of Bishops has forbidden them to marry their same-sex partners, at least until a two-year discussion process within the church has been completed.
But the legal process for disciplining clergy who do so is unclear and has not been tested. Supporters of gay marriage claim it is a doctrinal issue, which is cumbersome and difficult for the church to prosecute. Opponents claim it is merely a matter of conduct, for which a simpler legal process exists.
Pemberton’s case suggests that some bishops hope to deal with the matter by ensuring that no one who marries their same-sex partner will ever find another job.
“It is tragic and disappointing that bishops think they can get away with this,” Pemberton said. “I have not been through any disciplinary process…”
The BBC has a further report which quotes a spokesperson for the Archbishops’ Council: Church of England shuns gay wedding canon Jeremy Pemberton row
The Church of England has said it will not intervene in the case of the first gay British clergyman to marry.
Following the ceremony in April, Jeremy Pemberton had his permission to work as a priest in Nottinghamshire revoked.
This led to the offer of a chaplaincy with the NHS being withdrawn - although he is still holds a licence and has a similar job in Lincolnshire.
The church, which does not accept gay marriage, said each diocese was responsible for its own decisions…
… a spokesperson for the Archbishops’ Council said it would not comment on individual decisions made by diocese.
They added: “The Church of England is made up of 42 dioceses.
“Each diocese is autonomous with the diocesan bishop overseeing and taking a lead in its ministry and mission.”
Bishops call for Iraqi Christians to be given asylum in Britain
The Observer reports: Bishops urge David Cameron to grant asylum to Iraqi Christians
The Church of England has demanded that the British government offers sanctuary to thousands of Christians fleeing jihadists in northern Iraq, warning that ignoring their plight would constitute a “betrayal of Britain’s moral and historical obligations”.
A number of bishops have revealed their frustration over David Cameron’s intransigence on the issue, arguing the UK has a responsibility to grant immediate asylum to Iraqi Christian communities recently forced to flee the northern city of Mosul after militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) threatened them with execution, a religious tax or forced conversion.
On Monday, France responded to the so-called religious cleansing by publicly granting asylum to Christians driven from Mosul. The Anglican Church argues the UK has an even greater responsibility to intervene, citing its central role in the 2003 allied invasion, which experts say triggered the destabilisation and sectarian violence that shaped the context for Isis to seize control of much of northern Iraq.
The bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev David Walker, told the Observer: “We would be failing to fulfil our obligations were we not to offer sanctuary. Having intervened so recently and extensively in Iraq, we have, even more than other countries, a moral duty in the UK.
“Given the vast amounts of money that we spent on the war in Iraq, the tiny cost of bringing some people fleeing for their lives to this country and allowing them to settle – and who, in due course, would be an asset to our society – would seem to be minuscule.”…
The story goes on to quote the bishops of Worcester and West Yorkshire and the Dales as well.
On Wednesday, the Archbishop of Canterbury had requested that his homepage photo be changed to the Arabic letter for “N” in solidarity with persecuted Christians suffering in Iraq. See Stand with the Archbishop in solidarity with Iraq’s Christians.
A list of the Christian organisations in Mosul that have been affected by this persecution can be found here: All 45 Christian Institutions in Mosul Destroyed or Occupied By ISIS.
Saturday, 2 August 2014
Pierre Whalon Huffington Post 40 Years Ago, Women!
Sara Miles Episcopal Café The problem with the Bible
Rowan Williams The Christian Century In the place of Jesus: Insights from Origen on prayer
Christopher Howse Sacred Mysteries column in The Telegraph Classical basilica in rural Kent
Thursday, 31 July 2014
Archbishop of Canterbury speaks about Gaza
Lambeth Palace has published this Statement from Archbishop Justin on Gaza.
Archbishop of Canterbury calls on leaders in Israel and Gaza to immediately end the violence, and urges Anglican churches both to pray and offer support to all victims of the conflict.
Following a recent update from staff at the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken publicly (after many private contacts) of his concern for the deteriorating situation in Gaza….
Follow the link above to read the full statement.
At the end, there is also a link to the Emergency appeal from the Diocese of Jerusalem for the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza. This page contains numerous further links including to pages which give details about how to donate.
Discussions in the House of Lords on same-sex marriage
The BBC reported on a Question that was asked in the House of Lords yesterday as follows: Stop Church sacking gay vicars who marry, says senior Tory.
The Independent has this: Government should stop gay vicars being sacked by Church of England, says Conservative Lord Fowler.
There is a very detailed explanation of what was actually said, and by whom, at Law & Religion UK in Lords probe Church on same-sex marriage clergy. Read this to find out more.
This article also discusses (scroll down) a question that was asked yesterday concerning the conversion of civil partnerships to marriage. An earlier article explained that the regulations for this, which were due to be debated the previous day were instead withdrawn. See Civil partnership conversion to same sex marriage – Update.
The Hansard report of the debate yesterday starts here.
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Core Issues Trust loses again in the London bus adverts case
This case was previously reported in January: Court of Appeal rules on London bus adverts case.
Further judgement was given today, here is the full text.
Christian activists have lost a High Court bid for a ruling that London Mayor Boris Johnson was personally responsible for an improper and “politically-motivated” ban on a controversial gay advert on buses. Campaign group Core Issues Trust (CIT) accused him of an abuse of power and imposing the ban for “the nakedly political purpose of currying favour with gay lobby groups” and boosting his re-election campaign in 2012.
The Trust advert that never made it to the sides of buses in the capital read: “Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!” It was meant to be a response to posters promoted by lesbian and gay campaigners Stonewall that said: “Some people are gay. Get over it!”. Those did appear on buses.
But CIT’s judicial review action, brought over Transport for London’s April 2012 decision not to allow the group’s advertisment to appear on the outside of its buses, was dismissed by a judge in London today. Announcing her conclusions, Mrs Justice Lang declared: “Mr Johnson was not motivated by an improper purpose, namely, to advance his Mayoral election campaign.”
Press releases and commentary from the losing side:
Law & Religion UK now has this: ‘Ex-gay’ London bus advert ban not improper use of Mayor’s power