Thinking Anglicans

Hereford case: hearing concludes

Updated 27 April

The employment tribunal hearing of the discrimination case against the Hereford Diocesan Board of Finance concluded on Monday in a long hearing that went from 10.20 am to 6.30 pm.

Judgement was reserved and will not be published for several weeks.

The day’s events attracted some press coverage:

Western Mail Church in a ‘shambles’ over homosexuality, says Synod member and an earlier version Church stand on homosexuality ‘a shambles’ with longer quotes.

BBC Judgement reserved at tribunal and Church’s gay policy ‘shambles’.

Norwich Evening News City diocese joins gay tribunal row and Norfolk Eastern Daily Press Anglican attitude to gays attacked.

Coventry Telegraph Bishop facing ‘gay bias’ claim.

My own report is due to appear in the Church Times on Friday. Last week’s report by Bill Bowder is here: Bishop: No extra-marital sex for leaders.

Press releases:
For the Claimant: John Reaney’s claim against the Diocese of Hereford closed today
For the Respondent: STATEMENT FROM THE DIOCESE OF HEREFORD…

Update The Church Times carried this report of mine on 20 April, Reaney judgment awaited. A copy of this article is reproduced below.

Reaney judgment awaited by Simon Sarmiento Church Times 20 April 2007
The employment tribunal completed its hearing of John Reaney’s discrimination claim against the diocese of Hereford on Monday (News, 13 April).

It heard, among other things, that the Church of England had “no firm position on homosexuality”. It then said that judgment would be reserved for several weeks.

Sue Johns, who has been a member of the General Synod for the diocese of Norwich since 1990, gave evidence in support of Mr Reaney. She had known him since 1997, when he became a youth officer in her diocese. The Church could not afford to lose the work of a man of his calibre, she said.

Noting that the Synod had never debated Issues in Human Sexuality (CHP, 1991), on which the Bishop of Hereford had relied earlier in the tribunal, she referred to documents from the General Synod sessions in February, as evidence of the current approach in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. These included the Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential address, the House of Bishops background note (GS Misc 842B) for the debate on lesbian and gay Christians, and the resolution passed by the Synod.

Mrs Johns told the tribunal: “The Church of England has no consistency and no firm position on homosexuality. In addition, there are vast differences from one parish to another.”

Counsel for both sides then presented submissions, and were questioned by the tribunal chairman. Most facts in the case are undisputed, and it turns largely on the interpretation of the religious-exemption clause in the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003, which make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal (News, 5 April), and also on the identification of a “comparator” for testing the question of discrimination.

Counsel for the diocese insisted that the only correct comparison should be with an unmarried heterosexual man who declared that he had recently left a long-term sexual relationship. The Bishop had said that such a person would be subjected to exactly the same requirement of abstention from sexual activity as was Mr Reaney.

Counsel also argued that it was reasonable for the Bishop not to be satisfied with the undertakings given by Mr Reaney: that he would abstain, and would consult the Bishop if his circumstances changed.

Counsel for Mr Reaney argued that the High Court’s judicial review of the Regulations (News, 30 April 2004) had established that the religious exemption must be interpreted extremely narrowly to ensure that it remained compatible with European law; the tribunal was bound by that decision.

The scope of the exemption could not be extended to a lay employee merely by the Bishop’s choosing to describe him as a “minister of the gospel”. She argued that, in law, Mr Reaney would not be employed for the “purposes of an organised religion”.

Afterwards, Alison Downie, John Reaney’s solicitor, said: “My client has received many messages of support from outside and within the Churches — for which he is very grateful. All my client seeks is fair treatment in accordance with the law.”

A spokeswoman for the diocese of Hereford said: “We will comment further when judgment is received.”

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Erika BakerNPLaurence RobertsHugh of LincolnFord Elms Recent comment authors
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Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

The Bishops and others have been behaving like this for years with impunity. But no-longer! Now their words and other actions will have to be justified in public, on the basis of public policy. Public scrutiny and accountability will make all the difference to the behaviour of bishops. It is long overdue. The judgement of this tribunal will make it very clear that the Church cannot treat people in the cavalier fashion, any longer. Having myself been threatened with deposition from post, and homelessness with my partner, and an elderly bed-ridden member of our family, I do have rather strong… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Is not the point that the scripture “upheld” in Lambeth 1.10 should be applied by people of integrity in both their public and private lives?

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Why is ‘No extra-marital sex for Christians / Christian leaders’ a *headline*? Where have people been for the last 2000 years? In a bubble where everyone is the same as them and their media-type friends?

Clement Freud (while he was still a politician!) once cited ”’I lied” says politician’ as something that could not possibly qualify as a headline – because ‘It is too every-day’.

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Perhaps the “point” is as the bishop of London says:
“The Church of England has not always been clear about the relative weight and authority of the documents it produces and the contexts in which they should be construed.”

“Lambeth resolutions have a considerable moral authority but they are strictly advisory in the polity of the Anglican Communion as we actually have it.”

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

Lambeth 1.10 is null and void, not least because it is self-refuting and contradictory. In attempting to uphold some parts of it, bishops have failed to adhere to the following sections:

“…all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;”

Clearly gays are less then full members of the Body of Christ at the present time.

“…calls on all our people … to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals”

Describing homosexuality as an “acquired aberration” and supporting punitive measures against gays without censure, many bishops are not following Lambeth 1.10 to the letter.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

NP,
I thought Reaney was doing exactly that. He was not in a relationship and stated he would not start one. How is that going against Lambeth 1.10? Homosexuals are called to celebacy, yet even when a gay person publically proclaims his celebacy, that still isn’t enough. What then is enough? Repentance? I doubt any of us would be able to carry out a penance you would find satisfactory. Thankfully, you’re not God. trust me, I have that on good authority.

charity
Guest
charity

The issue is whether the same standards are applied across the board. I can’t for a moment imagine that the diocese would have turned down a single male heterosexual youth worker solely on the grounds that he might enter into a new relationship in future and potentially have sex with his girlfriend.

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

Does anyone have any idea what the proportion of married to unmarried diocesan youth workers is?

C.B.
Guest
C.B.

Ford – I think you have it right. There is an intense contradiction here. It is not that gays and lesbians must be celibate. It is that they must renounce their sexuality and declare it an abomination. (The occasional transgression of having sex can be forgiven after all). So, under the circumstances shouldn’t it read, “…all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, who denounce and renounce homosexuality as an abomination are full members of the Body of Christ”? That would at least clarify what the standard really is. Then, let’s see how that goes over with the… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

CB, To be fair, they would see this as a reasonable attitude towards all sin. The fact that this is hardly what’s practiced is beside the point. All the same, I’d like to see us require revilers, slanderers, usurers, and the divorced held to the same standards. But the ones who erect these standards are the very ones to be affected, so I doubt we’ll ever see a request for gossips to publically denounce their acts as abominations, or the divorced to repent in sackcloth and ashes, that is, unless the divorce was as a result of the homosexuality of… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Given that Mr Reaney more than met the bishop’s apparent requirement then trying it on that his “lifestyle had the potential to impact on the spiritual, moral and ethical leadership within the diocese” smacks of the disingenuous to say the least. I hope the bishop loses this case heavily and it will do something to stop the duplicity of which Susan Johns spoke.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

‘Given that Mr Reaney more than met the bishop’s apparent requirement then trying it on that his “lifestyle had the potential to impact on the spiritual, moral and ethical leadership within the diocese” smacks of the disingenuous to say the least. I hope the bishop loses this case heavily and it will do something to stop the duplicity of which Susan Johns spoke.’ Pluralist. Yes, this needs to happen, and I have little doubt that it will. This is how progress has been made in all other fields. Noting what the diocese has said, I notice that it would have… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Ford – as I understood it, the bishop took a view as a pastor that the man’s had been too recently contradicting church teaching to be able to promise to obey it credibly. Maybe a wise pastoral decision? Maybe in the plaintiff’s interests in the longer-term?

Jon
Guest

Perhaps Mr. Reaney more than met the requirements. On the other hand, the bishop may have been concerned by what he heard from Mr. Reaney about the circumstances under which Mr. Reaney left his previous job with the CoE, especially if the spin Mr. Reaney gave to that departure was as negative as I recall hearing.

Jon

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Ford – as I understood it, the bishop took a view as a pastor that the man’s had been too recently contradicting church teaching to be able to promise to obey it credibly. Maybe a wise pastoral decision? Maybe in the plaintiff’s interests in the longer-term?” Benefit of the doubt to you on that one, NP, though I find the implications of your last statement a bit disturbing. Similarly, then, given that a Baptist or a Congregationalist or a Pentecostal convert to Anglicanism was only recently contradicting the teaching of the Church, should such a person be allowed to sit… Read more »

AnglicansforTruth
Guest
AnglicansforTruth

Time for the church to face the truth, society has moved on to recognise humans are diverse and complex. One size fits all morality never worked and now looks stupid and bigoted. As a christian I often have to explain to friends that I am not with the bigots and the people who hate gays -it’s so embarrassing. Then along comes the C of E with a case like this. This is why people can’t be bothered with the church any longer. Frankly, Peter Tatchell has done more for the oppressed and is more christ like than the men(some of… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

NP: “the man had been too recently contradicting church teaching to be able to promise to obey it credibly”…

…too soon after Damascus? 😉

Steven
Guest
Steven

Hugh:

I doubt this fellow is any Saul of Tarsus–quite the opposite apparently, nor have I heard that he had a Damascus Road experience.

This does not discount the possibility of real repentence and commitment to celibacy. But, judging this is pretty tricky in the first place, and second-guessing the judgment made by those that were present and in authority is even more tricky.

Hmmm. A dicey candidate leading to the necessity of making a dicey judgment leading to a dicey review of that judgment. There seems to be a pattern here.

Steven

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

But if the Claimant’s lifestyle was not a barrier to faithful lay ministry in the Diocese of Norwich, why should he be called to repentance in Hereford?

By all accounts he was a good candidate not a “dicey” one.

“There seems to be a pattern here” – Sorry, I don’t follow your argument.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“But, judging this is pretty tricky in the first place”

I’ll say. Could be why a Certain Someone said “Judge not, that ye be judged”?

William R. Coats
Guest
William R. Coats

Reading the comments from you Brits on this matter is painful. While I can tolerate a modicum of hypocrisy in public life (with all of us there is a gap between saying and doing) this Hereford matter has reached the level of madness. You block a person who fulfills Lambeth 1: 10 because you guess what he will be like in the future, but never apply this or any other test to heterosexuals about their sexual future. This is insane. Now you can see why many here in the US, having been the target of the Global South and some… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Sorry but for my money, I would tilt towards distrusting the folks who so publicly love to procalim and valorize their own and others’ celibacies. It is this presuppositional framework of alleged higher purities that needs as much careful scrutiny as all the other forms of sexuality and embodiment, in my view. None is higher than any of the others, innately and categorically, apart from what is actually going on in people’s relationships, hearts, motivations, and openness to caring for the other. I wouldn’t trust some celibate believers as far as I could throw a space shuttle. Yet others do… Read more »

IT
Guest
IT

The point has been well made already, but bears repeating:

Would a straight unmarried young man with equivalent qualifications (by all accounts, far from “dicey”) been challenged as to whether he might have sex with a new girlfriend?

It’s just like Jeffrey John: gay people cannot be trusted even if they promise celibacy. straight people are given every benefit of the doubt.

Awdry Ely
Guest

The Christian church has standards which we wish to show to the world. These standards must apply to heterosexual people just the same as homosexual people. Those who are in authority in the church – from the level of PCC member to bishop, should give good examples for others to follow.

Awdry

Neil Barber
Guest
Neil Barber

IT, actually as with Jeffery John, the issue is much wider than that. Can this person uphold the teaching of the Church of England? Will he? Will he do it with integrity? Anyone would think that a Diocesan Youth Officer has no involvement in teaching young people?

The reality is that explicitly or implicitly this person could not publicly teach that sex belongs inside of life long heterosexual marriage between one man and one woman.

David Chillman
Guest
David Chillman

One point which I cannot see has been made so far but which could prove to be hugely harmful to the Bishop’s case is that Mr Reaney had already been employed by two dioceses, presumably whilst in an “active” relationship. It therefore becomes vital for +Hereford to explain why he could not permit Mr Reaney to be appointed when two of his episcopal colleagues could.

C.B.
Guest
C.B.

Ford – I think my point, as well, is to draw attention to the hypocrisy of the Lambeth statement “…all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ” What meaning does it really have when what is required is that people “regardless of their “sexual orientation” must denounce and renounce all sexual orientations as an abomination save one – heterosexuality. As you have pointed out, we already know that God embraces all repentant sinners. If this is the church’s position, the statement actually says nothing. It may sound like a welcome,… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

“…all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ” … provided that any expression of sexual orientation is solely between a man and a woman, ideally, but in practice not exclusively, as part of a life-long marriage, otherwise virginity and life-long celibacy are called for.

NP
Guest
NP

David Chillman, if 2 speedcops let you get away with breaking the speed limit, do you think a third one who pulls you over for speeding should let you break the law just because two others did??

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Audry wrote: “Those who are in authority in the church – from the level of PCC member to bishop, should give good examples for others to follow.”

And what, pray, is Audry’s point? That the Bishop of Hereford is a bad example?

Kennedy Fraser
Guest
Kennedy Fraser

Neil Barber said:
The reality is that explicitly or implicitly this person could not publicly teach that sex belongs inside of life long heterosexual marriage between one man and one woman.

How many remarried lay youth workers are there in the CofE

Kennedy

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

One rarely hears much in anglican circles about the pleasures, benefits, and joys of sex. The beauty of giving and taking it, of communication, of bodily, emotional and spiritual inter-course.

….The way it brings people together. The sharing and caring. The laughter and smiles. The way your skin zings and your heart sings. The way you shine, and glow and almost expire, transpire, find yourself, find another …..

You could try reading Adrian Thatcher –but why not take your love to bed ………

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Well, CB, that IS the Conservative argument. Not only that, it must be in the confines of marriage. It is very interesting that heterosexual marriage has been elevated to so high a state, since Jesus states quite clearly that in the Kingdom, “they neither marry nor are given in marriage” and Paul clearly considers it a sop for those of God’s heterosexual children who are too weak to keep it in their pants. How odd that Lambeth should reverse the definitions. Celebacy is no longer the charism, without which people should marry so as not to burn. Instead, marriage is… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

David Chillman, if 2 speedcops let you get away with breaking the speed limit, do you think a third one who pulls you over for speeding should let you break the law just because two others did??

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 19 April 2007 at 12:28pm BST

Some people seem to have all the luck !

C.B.
Guest
C.B.

Ford – This may be what conservatives want Lambeth to say, but Hugh’s point above, and I guess mine, is that such a reading actually renders the statement to be rather meaningless. And if that is the case, why say it at all. Why say “regardless of sexual orientation” when all you mean is that homosexuals who repent and denounce homosexuality like all other sinners who repent and denounce sin are full members? To do so, is to say very little indeed, if anything that needed saying at all. Isn’t it possible and more logical that the bishops as a… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Dear Awdry, If your policy was stringently applied, the parishes of central London would cease to function. Perry Butler

badman
Guest
badman

The Rector of a highly conventional Surrey parish church recently wrote to The Times saying that he couldn’t remember the last time he was asked to marry a couple who weren’t already living together.

The idea that no-one has sex outside marriage except homosexuals could not be more wrong. In England, almost everyone does. If you only recruited youth workers who were virgins, or virgins before marriage, you’d struggle to find any candidates at all.

Flossie
Guest
Flossie

Perhaps the Bishop saw something else as well in Mr Reaney that he thought made him unsuitable for the post. I notice that he had to take two days off work because of ‘hurt feelings’!! Hardly the sort of stuff for the rough and tumble of youth work.

Gerry Lynch
Guest

“provided that any expression of sexual orientation is solely between a man and a woman, ideally, but in practice not exclusively, as part of a life-long marriage, otherwise virginity and life-long celibacy are called for.” You forgot the bit that goes, “and even if you say you are celibate, we won’t believe you.” We’ve already seen this happen once with Jeffrey John, but here’s further proof that if you’re gay, even if you play by their rules, they don’t want you about the place. What I love is the bare-faced hypocrisy of the episcopal gentleman in question here. He can’t… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

NP,
how come we’re not supposed to judge Don Armstrong until his trial is over, but you seem to be perfectly happy to believe that this youth worker was unsuitable?

R Browning
Guest
R Browning

Oh, to be in Hereford
(Apologies to Robert Browning)

Oh not to be in Hereford
Now that Priddis’s there,
For whoever stays in Hereford
Gets questioned unaware,
That the smallest sighs and the wayward look
Are misdemeanors brought to book,
And sexuality causes a row
In Hereford – now!

NP
Guest
NP

Erika – because the bishop made a judgment consistent with the teaching of the AC and he also made a pastoral judgment which seems sensible.

You know the man was never offered the job?

And he has no right to the job…..even if some feel it is good that he is dragging the CofE through the courts (against scripture)

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“Awdry Ely seems to suggest that heterosexuality should be a requirement for PCC membership… that really is a new one.” Not that unusual, though. When I was married to the most sarcastic atheist you can imagine I spent 3 years on my PCC, on Deanery Synod, Children’s Ministry and lots more. Now I’m living in the most loving and most committedly Christian (same sex) relationship possible, the PCC is about to take a vote on whether they think I’m still suitable to re-join them as secretary to take notes of their important theological discussions about the toilet fund…..If my wonderful… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

HE WAS offered the job on the day, at the interview, by –er— the interviewing panel !!

But I believe that in future Hereford are to fly gay couples out o Canada to be married, and so fulfil Priddis’ notion of propriety. SO that’s alright then…

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

NP: your words ‘the bishop made a judgment consistent with the teaching of the AC’ sound peculiar – do you really mean that the AC’s position is that employment should not be offered to a celibate homosexual?

Neil Barber
Guest
Neil Barber

David
Will a (currently) celibate homosexual refuse to teach the Church’s and the Bible’s position that sex belongs inside of marriage? Or will they use their position to campaign against the Church’s and the Bible’s position?
In either case if clergy or lay post with teaching responsibility, an appointment would be very unwise.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Ask them Neil, just ask them!

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Neil – that surely was an issue for the interviewing panel to assess, and rumour has it that they were satisfied. The intervention of the bishop seems to have been based, not on ministry/authority/obedience but on this business of sexuality.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

NP: your words ‘the bishop made a judgment consistent with the teaching of the AC’ sound peculiar – do you really mean that the AC’s position is that employment should not be offered to a celibate homosexual (sic) ? Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Friday, 20 April 2007 at 6:26pm BST OF COURSE NP has right. We should all be aware that the AbC., the CofE and the AC say ONE thing,and DO another. The J John affair makes that abundantly clear to all. Even Ricahrd Harries hadn’t twigged until that moment, himself. He thought Christian leaders believed what… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

I am sorry that Erika faces this vote. It’s wrong. Very wrong. You must have the fortitude of a saint.

In solidarity.