Thinking Anglicans

Christians to be persecuted?

The Church of England Newspaper published an editorial last week which suggested the Equality Bill, which was published last month and had its second reading on Monday, was all part of an anti-Christian plot. The full text of this editorial is reproduced below the fold.

I will be reporting here on the progress of the Equality Bill through Parliament, with emphasis on those aspects which are of particular interest from a Church of England viewpoint, as I have reported on many previous items of anti-discrimination legislation.

Those who are looking for more material along the lines of this CEN editorial will find it at such places as the website of the Christian Institute and at the website of Christian Concern for our Nation.

CEN editorial 8 May 2009

Anti-Christian discrimination on the rise

The government had better start building more prison space — for Christians and moral conservatives generally. We are now used to hearing of such folk being sacked and losing their appeals for daring to air any view which criticises or disapproves of gay sex. The new Equality Bill issued by Harriet Harman last week lumps together groups needing special legal status to ensure them against discrimination including disabled people, women and homosexuals, for example. The Bill aims to permeate all society with the requirement that employers in all sectors show they have a percentage of such group in their workforces, in the various echelons of seniority, that their specific requirements are being provided for. The news media focused on the issue of women’s pay and the need to ensure it gains total equality with that of men, and that the figures be published accordingly. The homosexual component was kept very quiet, but is clearly there. The ‘Christian Institute’ website is worth consulting on this issue, at the very least for information on the legal facts.

The extraordinary success of the gay rights campaign in securing a special place for practitioners of gay sex in the legal framework is now moving ahead to suppress any who dissent from their agenda. It seems that the clause inserted into the recent Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill by Lord Waddington, guaranteeing freedom of speech to religious people who disagree with gay sex, has been over turned by a whipped vote in the Commons. So the steady build-up of the gay agenda is accompanied by the steady removal of dissent, even for religious groups. This has all been achieved by the success of making homosexuality a fixed ‘identity’, and removing the focus of discussion from activity. Homosexuals are defined into a legal distinct group, joining minorities similarly defined into existence by government diktat. It should be said that the Anglican Communion, according to its Lambeth Conference of 1998, disagrees with this pseudo-scientific labelling of people, and so do the more intelligent secular commentators, see for example Professor Weeks’ contribution to this secular seminar.

So Christians, and of course Muslims and others who just disagree with the Stonewall line, are being told to shut up and get into their closet — the gays are not tolerant of dissent and have got the state to crackdown. This agenda is also being pursued in schools. Section 28, banning the promotion of homosexuality in schools, has been totally inverted and children are to be educated in the moral neutrality, indeed the moral merit, of gay sex. The Times last week worryingly said that the right of parents to withdraw children, as young as 11, from such sex lessons, was to be stopped. Now churches and mosques up and down the land will not be happy with this, and parents are bound to want to withdraw their youngsters from lessons with a major component of the Stonewall ideology woven into them. A time of persecution is at hand.

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Pat O'NeillDavis d'AmblyChristopher ShellSimon SarmientoFord Elms Recent comment authors
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Davis d'Ambly
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Davis d'Ambly

This is very, very disturbing.

Davis d'Ambly
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Davis d'Ambly

This is very, very disturbing.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“Oh heaven forfend! I will have to treat homosexuals the same way I treat ‘normal’ people! My children will be exposed to something I disagree with! Oh, the persecution!”

Meanwhile, gays continue to be threatened with firings, beatings, etc. The gall!

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“Oh heaven forfend! I will have to treat homosexuals the same way I treat ‘normal’ people! My children will be exposed to something I disagree with! Oh, the persecution!”

Meanwhile, gays continue to be threatened with firings, beatings, etc. The gall!

BillyD
Guest

European (and for the sake of argument I include the UK in Europe) approaches to free speech are much more constricting than American ones, so if the Equality Bill really is forbidding people from expressing themselves about homosexuality then it is, indeed, disturbing for this American. If, on the other hand, the bill merely provides for the equal treatment of gay people in the public sector, I’m not so sure what the CEN’s problem is. Surely firing someone from their job because they are gay is not the same as considered dissent, is it?

Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

The CEN piece reads just like something from “The Sun” about 20 years ago. Is that really the niche in the market that we are now occupying?

It does seem increasingly as if the lunatic fringe in the Church of England has a completely free hand to wreck our public image, and no-one dare stand up to them.

Una Kroll
Guest

God loves all people, and specially sinners of all kinds. None of us is perfect. None of us can call ourselves ‘good’ in the sight of God. If you do not sin in one way, you certainly do in another. And yet God loves you as He does all people. Heterosexual sinners are treated as human beings bedfore the Law unless they break State Law. The same should be true for homosexual people whatever we think about them. How is it that adulterers can get jobs in the Church of England and homosexuials cannot. How is it that you can… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

Our New Overlords, the “practitioners of gay sex” versus the Wretched-of-the-Earth “religious people who disagree with gay sex”? How are possibly supposed to take this screed seriously?

The CEN really would be better served by shutting the (virtual) talking hole, if they can’t stop *obsessing* about that other one… ;-X

Graham
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Graham

Very sad to see this sort of fundamentalist bigotry in a CEN editorial. The presumption that there is only one “Christian” opinion on this, and that is one that “disapproves” of “gay sex” (and certainly not one that disapproves of discrimination). The favourable reference to Section 28 is almost laughable.

Kennedy Fraser
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Kennedy Fraser

You may have noticed that the Presbyterian Church of Scotland (on the Episcopal Church)are about to determine a case involving a gay minister at their General Assembly in Edinburgh next week. See http://tinyurl.com/dkzfzr The opposition to the appointment has been led by Forward Together, an evangelical group within the CofS. One of their leading lights, Rev Ian Watson, preached a sermon on Sunday where he compared campaigners for gay rights to the forces of Nazism in WWII (some irony there!). See http://tinyurl.com/qjt4cm Surely this language is straying very close to the situation that this law is trying to deal with.… Read more »

James Mackay
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James Mackay

The Church of England Newspaper, if memory serves, is not the newspaper of The Church of England. The Church Times is, I believe, the COE newspaper.

Simon Sarmiento
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If by “of” you mean”official organ of” then neither of these is that. Indeed there is no such thing. Both CEN and CT are privately owned, commercial publications.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

“This has all been achieved by the success of making homosexuality a fixed ‘identity’, and removing the focus of discussion from activity.”

Interesting quote in the light of previous comments here that the anti-gay-evangelical-fundamentalist lobby are obsessed by sexual activity. By emphasising issues of ‘identity’ have they been deprived of their sexual ‘thrills’? How awful that they can’t still revel vicarioulsy in the sexual activities of those they profess to ‘love’. How dull life is going to be for them.

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

The old adage tell us, Be careful what you pray for, you might just get it. In this sad, sad, sad instance – the sound bites have gone global, more or less. Welcome to the fray, UK. Did you think you would escape the culture wars? Okay, so certain believers embrace entirely nasty and really terrible beliefs about queer folks. How does that common sensically imply that they must have special, clear privileges to use law or public policy to act negatively towards those same queer folks? The missing link here is the utterly flat earth nature of most of… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Always lovely to hear your voice Una !

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“So Christians, and of course Muslims and others who just disagree with the Stonewall line, are being told to shut up and get into their closet — the gays are not tolerant of dissent and have got the state to crackdown.” – C.of E. Newspaper – This sort of attack on the fundamental human rights of women and the LGBT community is just what one might expect of this conservative newspaper. What worries me is that the general public might think that the C.E.N. is the official voice of Anglicanism in the U.K. Speaking of ‘closets’, the hypocrisy of those… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

“religious people who disagree with gay sex”

I had many undergraduate students who would enter dicussions about being gay by saying they ‘disagreed with’ homosexuality. I would say, not likely to any effect but my own satisfaction, “That’s like saying you ‘disagree with’ the laws of gravity.”

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest

¨It is not you who are being persecuted. It is you who do not see how much God loves you, despite your sin.¨ Una

It is them that will notice the burden of fear and hate will be gradually relieved/lifted after the fearfilled self-deciving has no place left to hide.

Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

What is so offensive about this is the opposition of Christian and gay. How is it supposed to make people who are gay AND Christian feel?

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

It is worth dissecting Una Kroll’s comment as one can expect it to represent the more thinking end of her ‘party’ or ‘wing’. (1) Main shortcoming: Not distinguishing between (on the one hand) sinning and knowing it is wrong and (on the other hand) sinning and calling it right (especially when it happens to fit in with an already-preferred lifestyle). If we are sinners at all, and Una agrees that we all are, one of the ways in which we are certainly liable to sin is to try and make God’s agenda fit in with our own desires’ agenda. (2)… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“Dissenting from a 1960s self-indulgent worldview.”

Ah, *that’s* where your problem is, Mr. Shell. It’s not the 1960s any more. It’s the 21st century. That whole gay rights movement thingee turned out not to be a fad, after all.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Laughable. Christians are not being ‘persecuted’, but some sure do like to make themselves into victims.

Anyway, I thought evangelicals loved the idea of persecution.

The only thing they have to do is not actively discriminate against gay and lesbian people and understand that, like racism, anti-gay discrimination is essentially unacceptable in civil society and this should not be applied. Their problem is they cannot understand that elements of their religion are inherently prejudiced and, so, unacceptable.

Thankfully, private prejudices are tolerated although not given official approval.

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

To which we can add various observations on the citation of 1 John 4 ‘God is love’: (A) ‘God is love’ is a quotation from the very apostolic writings which are in other respects being opposed. So why should one believe that ‘God is love’ is true if it comes from sources which are sometimes false? It is worthwhile here to remember that we can agree with [parts of] any writing in the world provided we pick the right bits out of it. But since it is the parts we already agreed with that we pick, it would be simpler… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

Christopher: Once again, you argue from the idea that “either it’s all true or none of it is.” If that is the case, then either the Genesis account of creation is true or the entire Old Testament is a fairy tale. The idea that “God is love” and the idea that homosexuality (both the inclination and the activity) is a perfectly natural part of the world–and therefore not a sin because God does not create sin–are ideas from two entirely different realms of understanding. The first is theological–our Christian understanding of the divine. The second is biological–a scientific understanding of… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Christopher: Once again, you argue from the idea that “either it’s all true or none of it is.” If that is the case, then either the Genesis account of creation is true or the entire Old Testament is a fairy tale. The idea that “God is love” and the idea that homosexuality (both the inclination and the activity) is a perfectly natural part of the world–and therefore not a sin because God does not create sin–are ideas from two entirely different realms of understanding. The first is theological–our Christian understanding of the divine. The second is biological–a scientific understanding of… Read more »

Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

Oh dear, Christopher Shell, you’re always settig up these faux logical syllogisms and then proving them false. It’s not a helpful approach to this sort of subject, one feels (and I’ve done Aquinas too!).

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“make God’s agenda fit in with our own desires’ agenda.” Something conservatives have shown themselves to be very good at. “Assenting to biblical Christianity.” An innovative invention of the Reformation. For 1500 years there was no such thing. “Assenting to historical Christianity.” Since this is something Evangelicals and you yourself do not do, I fail to see how you can accuse another of it. “Assenting to majority contemporary Christianity.” Oh, you mean like Arianism or to iconoclasm? They were both the majority of contemporary Christianity once. But we didn’t assent to them. Or assenting to the Imperialism of “Christendom” that… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“It is useful to have so many of what I take to be the cliches of the inclusive movement clustered in one comment, since it helps us to focus on them and on the logical errors in them.”
– Christopher Shjell –

Au contraire, Christopher. This site is for ‘Thinking Anglicans’. Some of us think that you may just feel more at home with *Virtueonline* – which is mprobably more suited to your philosophical meanderings.

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Mr. Shell’s repeat juggling of negative religious categories sounds golden. We can neatly hear all the balls whirring round, conformed. Till we start having to mess with the real world facts. Ancient cultures had no notion of sexual orientation, any more than the later west. (Old tribal cultures did occasionally have some positive notions, often these days tagged Two Spirit Views?) The sexual orientation idea gradually emerges in Europe, late nineteenth. What ancient near eastern cultures did have was a clear acquaintance with three forms of same sex behavior: (1) dominant male rape of conquered men, usually later tortured to… Read more »

Dennis
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Dennis

perhaps, Mr Shell, we could turn our attention to the cliches of the exclusive movement and the many errors in that perspective?

Let’s start with the basic one, the old chestnut about being gay somehow offending God. While it may appear that some mistranslated verses support your old exclusionist cliche, the evidence of faith, reason, and tradition (the threefold source of our Anglican identity) say otherwise.

It would seem to me that the cliches of the perspective of exclusion are the ones deserving (if not demanding) the hardest examination.

Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

Hi Dennis- I thought the anglican triad was ‘scripture, tradition, reason’ not ‘faith, tradition, reason’. Faith (or the content of faith: what is believed) being the end product of all 3 combined. It has often been pointed out that scripture (i.e. primary documents) are themselves a part of tradition, and cannot therefore be set in opposition to tradition. Indeed they are generally the most important part of tradition bar none, because the oldest. You are making quite a big and sweeping generalisation about mistranslated verses. More importantly, it is a generalisation about as untrue as it is possible to be… Read more »

Sam Roberts
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Sam Roberts

‘If that is the case, then either the Genesis account of creation is true or the entire Old Testament is a fairy tale.’

Quite – and then you have to decide which creation story is true, as Genesis generously gives us two of them.

BillyD
Guest

“…either the Genesis account of creation is true…”

Oh, dear.

*Of course* the account(s) of Creation in Genesis are true. I think the vast majority of Anglicans believe that. The question is “In what sense is Genesis true?” Answers vary.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

Of course I meant “literally true,” BillyD, as in the amount of time, the order of creation, etc.–not “allegorically true,” as in providing us with a lesson regarding the world, man, his place in that world, and his relationship with his creator.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

Of course I meant “literally true,” BillyD, as in the amount of time, the order of creation, etc.–not “allegorically true,” as in providing us with a lesson regarding the world, man, his place in that world, and his relationship with his creator.

BillyD
Guest

“Of course I meant “literally true,”…”

And of course I was making a point that “literally true in all its details” and “true” are not nearly the same thing at all.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“God loving us despite our sin is something firmly accepted by all Christians and something that fits very well into their overall scheme of thinking. As for the very different scenario of God loving us despite our determination to continue sinning…well, he loves us still but the relationship is broken, so much good may the love do us.” – Christopher Shell – This sounds a bit like the old chestnut that the sexual knowledge of Adam and Eve was what brought about the Fall, when we all (should) know that it was the decision to deliberately thwart God’s considered plan… Read more »

Dennis
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Dennis

no it is faith, reason and tradition, and from those three we read the scriptures. There is no uninterpreted thing called the scriptures – each and every one of us interpret and read through certain theoretical glasses. As Anglicans we read through faith, reason, and tradition, with each of the three of equal importance. That is why when we as Christians apply our reason to the scriptures we can see that God loves gays and lesbians and blesses their relationships and that blessing same sex unions is as holy and right as blessing opposite sex unions. And that God can… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Dennis- ‘Conservative commentators’: no. I was citing commentators not by the criterion of how conservative they are but by the criterion of how thorough their commentaries are. You will need to be more specific if you are speaking about mistranslations. Which particular mistranslations do you have in mind? There are around 30 English Bible translations known to me, and some will be (deliberately) more literal than others. Getting from Hebrew/Greek to English is intrinsically an inexact science anyway. Would you be able to cite the mistranslations you are referring to? Thanks. Since you admit I am not a fundamentalist,… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Fr Mark- Any syllogisms you think are ‘faux’, point out and isolate the precise flaw. Otherwise it is a bit like Molesworth answering an exam question ‘larfably easy’ without actually giving the answer! Hi Dennis- ‘When we as Christians apply our reason to the scriptures’ – this is massively untrue. The only time it has historically been true is within a society and age *already* amenable to it. hi Fr Ron- Surely you are not still sticking by the view that it is best for grumps to complain in the corner together rather than interact with and meet those… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Christianity before the Reformation was so very biblical” Ah, but there is huge difference between this and what is usually meant by the term “Biblical Christianity” today, as you well know. That was a key point of the Reformation, getting rid of all the non-Biblical stuff, like invocation of the saints, veneration of icons, Maryology, veneration of the Sacrament, or, for even going so far as to insist that the Eucharist is nothing more than a pious memorial. And what about your question “why should one believe that ‘God is love’ is true if it comes from sources which are… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“The sort of anglicans you are referring to have a fundamentalist unexamined belief that everything in the Bible is true in some sense – usually metaphorically. “ I think you need to look up that word “fundamentalist.” I do not believe that it means what you think it means. Most Anglicans I know (indeed, most Christians I know) are aware that the Bible is neither a science text nor a history book. The details of the Genesis stories (how long did it take? what was the order of creation? what rib did God use?) are incidental to the purpose of… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“The question is not whether or not the OT and NT potentially contain both truth and falsehood. Since each claimed truth must be individually examined, we cannot but start with the presupposition that any given statement may turn out to be either true or false. Rather the question is why people (or some) tend to think the bits they like are true and the bits they don’t like are false. In the real world this would never be so neatly the case. My explanation is wishful thinking. Is there a better explanation?” Yes–a comparison between the statement in the scripture… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“The question is not whether or not the OT and NT potentially contain both truth and falsehood. Since each claimed truth must be individually examined, we cannot but start with the presupposition that any given statement may turn out to be either true or false. Rather the question is why people (or some) tend to think the bits they like are true and the bits they don’t like are false. In the real world this would never be so neatly the case. My explanation is wishful thinking. Is there a better explanation?” Yes–a comparison between the statement in the scripture… Read more »

BillyD
Guest

“If homosexuality is innate (either genetic or developed so early in infancy as to be considered an inborn part of the consciousness), then it is created by God. … I cannot believe God thinks acting on those desires is sinful.”

Hold on, Pat. There are presumably all sorts of innate dispositions that are not as benign as you and I believe homosexual desire to be in the right context – do you think that God created them, as well? Is someone acting on those desires morally in the right, simply because they have those desires?

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

BillyD:

Such as? If you’re thinking pedophilia, my understanding of current psychological theory is that that is instilled much later, usually around puberty.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

BillyD:

Such as? If you’re thinking pedophilia, my understanding of current psychological theory is that that is instilled much later, usually around puberty.

BillyD
Guest

Not necessarily, Pat. I’m not even talking about sexual dispositions, necessarily. Surely there are other desires that are one is either genetically predisposed to or take root so early in life that the idea of someone choosing them is ruled out? What you seem to be saying is that acting on desires that one has no choice in is the moral route, simply because the desires are innate. The idea that desires are good and to be indulged simply because they are unchosen seems like pretty shaky ground for Christian ethics to me. Likewise, we learn to control a lot… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Pat- You can test the honesty of your answer for yourself by checking whether there are biblical teachings that you want to be true but believe to be false, and that you want to be false but believe to be true. Let me know the answer, particularly in the second category. The way you found out about the just and loving God in the first place was not unrelated to the same source that teaches the teaching you don’t like. So why accept the one and not the other? Pls consider it a possibility that wishful thinking may be… Read more »

CHirstopher Shell
Guest
CHirstopher Shell

hi Ford- As I mentioned to Pat, the point behind my question of what criterion is used to separate what is true in the scriptures from what is false is that the ‘criterion’ often seems to coincide with wishful thinking – which is clearly highly suspicious and inadmissible from an academic point of view. If you think I am saying ‘either all the Bible is true or all of it is false’ you misunderstand. Neither am I saying it nor do I believe it. On biblical Christianity you are not grasping the nettle. Of course certain extra-biblical practices were put… Read more »