Thinking Anglicans

churches give evidence about the equality bill

The House of Commons committee continued its hearings on the Equality Bill yesterday.

The first session of the day (third session in total so far) heard first from the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church among others. You can read a complete transcript of the proceedings, starting at this page. This part of the session continues for four pages.

Update More user-friendly link to the transcript from TheyWorkForYou here.

The session continued with a second group of witnesses, from business and trade union organisations.

Later in the day, a further session was held, which can be followed from here. And the user-friendly link from TheyWorkForYou is here.

I will have my own comments in a while about the first part of the first session of the day, at which I was present.

There was no written statement from the Church of England. The written statement from the Roman Catholic bishops has been linked previously, and is here.

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Spirit of Vatican IIPeterTheWombleFr MarkFather Ron SmithMartin Recent comment authors
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Joe
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If I read the commiteee proceedings properly, with regard to the C of E and RC Church, in cases where being a practising member of a particular religion is a genuine occupational requirement, partnered gay people (who knows whether they are sexually active or not?) are not qualified: i.e., they are not really Anglican or RC.

It sounds like a whole lot of people just got virtually excommunicated — whether or not they ever apply for such jobs….

Joe

Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

William Fittall said: “The distinction that is drawn in most employment situations between private life and the workplace does not hold where people have a representational, pastoral or teaching role.” Oh dear, we have to move on from a situation where church representatives talk like this. It wasn’t many decades ago that schools, the civil service, the armed forces and many other employers all saw themselves as having the right to pry into their employees’ private lives – all, no doubt, on grounds which they would have justified similarly to William Fittall. However, that way of viewing things has changed… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Thanks for exposure to this process. I especially like reading through the views of such a diverse panel. My general sense of it combines three themes. One theme is that it is hard to legislate fair behavior, period, if/when people feel they have very good religious or cultural reasons for unfair behavior. This seems to hold right across the boards, no matter whether we are looking at sexual orientation, disability, age, gender, or other targeted classes/clusters. In this regard, I read the Roman Catholics and the CoE mainly still wanting to eat their unfair discrimination behavior cake, and have it… Read more »

PeterTheWomble
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PeterTheWomble

I can’t quite understand how this issue of a right to a private life is relevant. If it is a right to not answer the telephone when it rings during Eastenders, then that’s one thing, but a right to behave in a way which is inconsistent with Godly living is something that no Christian has.

This is all just symptomatic of the muddle that the church has got itself in to because of the fundamental differences in opinion over issues of sexuality.

The term Anglican Communion seems to be a wonderful oxymoron.

Martin
Guest

Will the Equality Bill Committee be hearing from those who are LGBT people of faith? Yet again, it appears that there is little integration of the issues with Ben Summerskill of Stonewall quoted as speaking on the ‘sexual orientation’ side but no expertise to speak as a person of faith. William Fittall and Richard Kornicki, the latter also Chairperson of the highly partisan Thomas More Legal Centre which has led the campaign against same-sex adoption and Catholic agencies, speak for religious institutions, but not for LGBT members of those faith communities. It is hard to see how Kornicki can affirm… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

There is another dimension to all of this Church politicking – that of the are of so-called *Spiritual Direction*. Most spiritual directors I know of who have been trained in New Zealand are called to exercise a special discretion towards directees who happen to be L,G, B, or T. Presumably the Church of England will not have to issue a directive to Anglican S.D.s forbidding them to give positive ‘direction’ to LGBT people who are practising Christians? If this were the case, then that may just be the end of this helpful process in the lives of both S.D.s and… Read more »

Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

Peter the womble: “I can’t quite understand how this issue of a right to a private life is relevant…. a right to behave in a way which is inconsistent with Godly living is something that no Christian has.” You make it sound a very cut-and-dried matter to decide what is or isn’t godly, whereas I think that a pastoral attitude tends not to put things in such stark terms. We all fall short in all sorts of ways, yes, even married heterosexuals do. The issue is whether putting cameras in people’s bedrooms is a really sane or feasible way for… Read more »

PeterTheWomble
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PeterTheWomble

Fr Mark, I did not mean to come across in quite such a harsh manner re Godly living, if it came ‘naturally’ for us to live as God wants us to we’d all be in a very different situation. And as a married heterosexual I am exceedingly aware of the many ways in which I fall short in many areas of my life. The point I was trying to get at was that we should aim to be no different in private than we are in public, and the term ‘right to a private life’ seems (to me at least)… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
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The right to privacy is often enshrined in law, as in the Irish constitution. Sexuality is one sphere in which what is glorious in private can be tawdry and disgusting when made public. Indeed one wonders what people mean by “godly” sexuality. D H Lawrence had his views on this, which may be closer to the Gospel than the intrinsically hypocritical puritan ethos that has such a long innings in Christian tradition.