Thinking Anglicans

Bishops attack equality legislation again

The former archbishop, Lord Carey has written a letter to the current prime minister, David Cameron. This is reported in a news article by Tim Ross under the headline Only half of Britons say UK is a Christian country. The text of the letter itself doesn’t appear to have been published yet.

In the letter to the Prime Minister, Lord Carey said Christians were too often “ridiculed” and dismissed as relics of “a bygone age”.

“Notwithstanding its vast and varied contribution to our society, there appears to be a suspicion about the validity and value of the role that the Christian faith plays in our national life,” he said.

“This has been highlighted by the spate of recent instances in which ordinary Christians who have sought to manifest their Christian faith in the workplace and have allowed their Christian conscience to direct their public service have fallen foul of new employment practices and then discovered that rather than protect them, the law has sided against them.”

Lord Carey suggested that recent legislation was unclear on where the balance of rights fell between different groups. One particularly contentious subject has been the clash of rights between homosexuals and Christians.

“Whatever the explanation, this situation needs urgent review and action from government,” he said.

“It is a remarkable state of affairs that, in such a short space of time and in a country that has been so shaped by, and benefitted so significantly from, a Christian foundation, those who hold traditional Christian viewpoints, in common with millions across the globe and across history, can suddenly find their position labelled discriminatory and prejudiced and then discover that it has effectively become a legal bar to public service.”

Earlier, on a BBC radio news broadcast, the Bishop of Winchester, Michael Scott-Joynt also criticised the legal system. Again the Telegraph has the story, see Bishop of Winchester: legal system discriminates against Christians by Rosa Prince.

Bishop Scott-Joynt told the BBC’s World This Weekend: “The problem is that there is a really quite widespread perception among Christians that there is growing up something of an imbalance in the legal position with regard to the freedom of Christians and people of other faiths to pursue the calling of their faith in public life, in public service.

“Probably for the first time in our history there is a widespread lack of religious literacy among those who one way and another hold power and influence, whether it’s Parliament or the media or even, dare I say it, in the judiciary.

”The risk would be that there are increasingly professions where it could be difficult for people who are devoted believers to work in certain of the public services, indeed in Parliament.

“Anybody who is part of the religious community believes that you don’t just hold views, you live them. Manifesting your faith is part of having it and not part of some optional bolt-on.

“Judgement seemed to be following contemporary society, which seems to think that secularist views are statements of the obvious and religious views are notions in the mind. That is the culture in which we are living.

“The judges ought to be religiously literate enough to know that there is an argument behind all this, which can’t simply be settled by the nature of society as it is today.”

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Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

“Lord Carey said Christians were too often “ridiculed” and dismissed as relics of “a bygone age”.”

Oh really? Why ever would people think that?

“One particularly contentious subject has been the clash of rights between homosexuals and Christians”

Oh – that’s why. I bet a lot of people actually know that “Christians” and “homosexuals” are not mutually exclusive categories.

I realize the second quotation is probably not Lord Carey, but the writer Tim Ross. Still,if that’s the level of discourse, no wonder people might think Lord Carey and his friends are old fuddy-duddies.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

I’m getting very tired of how people like Lord Carey hijack the term Christian.

But I do wonder about all their colleagues who never seem to get up and challenge them publicly after outbursts like this.

Where are the Christian bishops who don’t define themselves by this nonsense and who are willing to stand up and reclaim the label “Christian” before the public genuinely believes that we’re all like that?

SW
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SW

It is bizarre when people like Lord Carey, who live in privilege and power, want to be thought of as victims. Strict adherence to some pieces of Christian tradition will foreclose some career paths. Someone who embraces the pacifist part of our tradition would be “discriminated” against in regard to military service. It isn’t a question of discrimination, but of professional standards. The ominous court cases Lord Carey alludes to are nothing more sinister the demanding a standard of professional conduct from certain professionals. Lord Carey is right in suggesting that religious convictions must be lived. But that isn’t a… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

It’s humorous enough when, in my own country, where Christians far outnumber every other religion, where there has never been a non-Christian president, where Christmas is a national holiday, Christian leaders claim “discrimination” every time they are challenged to follow the dictates of a totally non-discriminatory law.

It is beyond belief, however, that such goes on in a nation with an established Christian church, whose head of state is head of that state, whose leaders sit–by right–in its parliament.

Malcolm French+
Guest

Perhaps if George Carey didn’t consistently conduct himself like a ridiculous relic of a bygone age . . .

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

I hope there is video tape of those B&B owners demanding a marriage certificate from their opposite sex guests…

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

SW
“Lord Carey’s sense of privileged entitlement seems to tell him that he should be allowed to have it both ways: strong convictions and no price to be paid for them.”

There is always a price to pay, only that Lord Carey is asking gay people to pay the price for his convictions instead of paying them himself.

badman
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badman

Scott-Joynt is about to retire and Carey is long since retired. The current and next generations of Church of England bishops have learnt from their mistakes. No-one has more than a limited time in the public discourse and a missionary church has to choose its message. Homophobia was the wrong choice. For the consequent loss of credibility and influence suffered by the established church, such as Carey and Scott-Joynt may take their share of responsibility, but now we must live in the present and look to the future and these men may hope that their successors do better than they… Read more »

sjh
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sjh

“He (Carey) warned that reforms introduced under Labour promoted “tolerance, equality and fairness” at a cost of eroding Christianity as the foundation of British culture and society.” (from the Telegraph article) Hmmm – so he admits that Christianity is incompatible with tolerance, equality and fairness. No wonder people are turning away from the church. In the end it is all about whether Christians are allowed to discriminate against gay and lesbian people. That of course is ok, indeed moral, in their eyes. Should it be the other way round then they start throwing their toys out of the pram big… Read more »

Dallas Bob
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Dallas Bob

The 3 posts by Cynthia Gilliatt, Erika Baker, and SW are some of the finest I have ever read. Please read them and then read them again. Talk about game, set and match!

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

I meant “whose head of state is head of that CHURCH…” of course

jnwall
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jnwall

I am disgusted that people like George Carey and the Bp of Winchester persist in identifying homophobia as an attitude essential to someone’s Christian identity. These are people who claim to worship the God who insists that justice roll down like the waters and righteousness like a mighty stream, a God who commands that we regard those different from us not as strangers but as fellow children of God, a God who welcomed outcasts to dine with him, who said that when we care for the least of these we show our love for him. Have these people no shame,… Read more »

Grandmère Mimi
Guest

The talk of Christians as victims in England gets tiresome. No wonder the likes of Lord Carey and Bp. Scott-Joynt are seen as relics. Look to the Christians in Nigeria, Pakistan, Iraq, and the Philippines if you want to see persecution. Look and be ashamed of your moaning.

“One particularly contentious subject has been the clash of rights between homosexuals and Christians.”

Lord Carey, what about Christian homosexuals? Have you no care and concern for the gay and lesbian members of the flock?

drdanfee
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drdanfee

O dear, O dear, O dear. Lord Carey still sawing away, urging us to replace empirical facts about queer folks with legacy dogma and prejudice – all negative as read by Carey? – disguised as conscience and as sacred revelation. The only reason, really, that anybody thinks following Jesus of Nazareth today involves/requires prejudice/discrimination to unfairly burden queer folks is? That Lord Carey and other outspoken traditionalists keep preaching that this is necessarily the closed, categorical case. Once a slave, always a slave; once a userer, always a userer; once a king divinely appointed, always a king? – so saith… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Unfortunately for Lord Carey, Christianity, and particularly the CofE version is a minority interest now and no amount of posturing about ‘persecution’ is going to change that. Indeed, his obsession with homosexuality just adds to the impression that he and Christians in general are completely out of touch with the world as it is.
See http://www.humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-belief-surveys-statistics/british-social-attitudes-survey

And this is rather good too. Pat Robertson says that the snow is ‘God’s way of punishing those who were going to do something gay’.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andy-borowitz/pat-robertson-snow-is-god_b_801755.html

Fruitcakes all. (Oops, am I allowed to say that)

Chloe
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Chloe

As a gay Christian (and very active member of his church), presumably our former Archbishop thinks I don’t exist?

Mind you, it IS pretty funny to hear him fulminate about being persecuted and not listened to – from his bench in the House of Lords.

david rowett
Guest

Some of us have had to endure on the BBC news tonight an outburst from a representative of ‘Christian Voice’ apropos Elton John and his partner’s acquisition of a child via a surrogate mother. For what came across wasn’t an intelligent discussion of the ethics of surrogacy but the ‘children need a mother and a father’ mantra…..

Chloe
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Chloe

To those wondering why Carey’s erstwhile colleagues haven’t spoken out to disagree with him, it’s worth pointing out that a few have in the past, including Rowan Williams:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/apr/04/rowan-williams-christian-suffering-easter

Gerry Lynch
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Gerry Lynch

Badman has nailed it on the head – the Church of England, once you pierce through the comfort blanket of establishment and televised enthronements of the Archbishop of Canterbury – is a missionary church. It operates in a country where, although 70% of the population claim to be Christian on the census, it would surprise me if half could say the Lord’s Prayer. In this context, would you say the best way for a retired senior prelate and member for life of the Upper House of Parliament to re-evangelise the English people would be to: a – go back to… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“Look and be ashamed of your moaning”

Thank you, Grandmere Mimi!

Fr Mark
Guest

badman: “Scott-Joynt is about to retire and Carey is long since retired. The current and next generations of Church of England bishops have learnt from their mistakes.” I’d like to think that too, but unfortunately the article by the recently-appointed Bishop of Truro on the thread below would appear to indicate just the opposite. (He says in the Telegraph, if I recall correctly, that gay couples can make good adoptive parents; but that marriage is all about children, and therefore closed to gay couples; that civil partnerships are quite different from marriages, but that the Church can’t bless them because… Read more »

Judith Maltby
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Judith Maltby

Might it be possible to start a ‘Not in Our Name’ campaign for Christians in Britain feeling misrepresented in a fairly serious kind of way by Lord Carey and +Winchester?

D. Henry
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D. Henry

I reminded why it is important to work for tolerance within the Church. Secularists with power may be fighting intolerant Christians by requiring a free-from-faith litmus test for public servants, and who can blame them? Perhaps Christians should heed our most important commandment to love thy neighbor and remember that violence only begets violence.

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Yes, most of these comments will find a comfortable place in the liberal heart, but the fact is that these bishops and their strange lawyer friends have found willing partners in the media and their propaganda has taken hold of many. What is more shocking is how few bishops are willing to stand against this veil of half truths, outright deceit and stirring up fear that has strong parallels to anti Jewish/Roma/Moslem rhetoric found elsewhere ….. There are those in certain quarters – the Ekklesia think tank – who do recognise the real danger lying behind this drip drip fearmongering… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

Try living in Baghdad – + George – then you and + Michael might just begin to know what real persecution of Christians feels like!

William
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William

I have to echo Martin Reynolds – reading these posts made me feel increasingly like a chorister being preached to by his fellow-choristers. Why is it that “our” moderate views have so little traction in the wider church, most of whose members, I would imagine, agree whole-heartedly with Mr. Carey?

The challenge is not the antediluvian Archbishop, per se. It is that “Christians”, generally, are nasty, bigoted people, whose hearts and minds have not been won over by the missionaries of a loving, fulfilling God.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Chloe, yes, some have spoken about Christian suffering in the context of Easter. But that doesn’t quite have the same effect as someone with integrity jumping up the minute Lord Carey spouts hatred against gays from the benches of the House of Lords and saying loud and clear that this is not how most Christians think and believe, that this is not what Christianity stands for. This is not about someone occasionally making a weighty speech, this is, as Martin Reynolds rightly says, about every day bishops who “are willing to stand against this veil of half truths, outright deceit… Read more »

Chloe
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Chloe

Oh William, I’m not nearly so pessimistic. Firstly, I believe it simply isn’t true that the majority of those in the CofE’s pews would agree with Carey and Scott-Joynt. Stonewall’s regular attitude surveys, for instance, show that people of faith are accepting of homosexuality, often more so than those without faith. Love Thy Neighbour was their report on this, and makes interesting reading: http://www.stonewall.org.uk/documents/love_thy_neighbour.pdf According to their report Living Together from 2007: ‘More than four in five people and 83 per cent of ‘people of faith’ are in favour of protection from anti-gay discrimination in areas including health care and… Read more »

David Shepherd
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David Shepherd

And in the 1st century, who was more bigoted (as measured by several liberal comments on this page) than that out-of-step Torah-basher, John the Baptist?

Imagine how he hijacked Jewish morality for his own ends and imposed his warmed-over Pentateuchal views of marriage on Herod Antipas and Herodias (who only wanted to declare their mutual love to each other and the world). Jews everywhere must have felt misrepresented.

What the Herodians needed was an Equality Act, but fortunately beheading was just as effective in shutting him up!

Rosemary Hannah
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Rosemary Hannah

William, I think in most Anglican British congregations, most people have no problem with other Christians being gay and in relationships. They certainly do not in the congregation I now attend, or the one I belonged to before, or the one I was part of for a short time while looking for a ‘church home’. I admit to being in Scotland of course…

Davis Mac-Iyalla
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Davis Mac-Iyalla

I am a gay Christian (Anglican) surely bishop Carey and his likes with their views and outburst are “Not Speaking in My Name” Equality and Human Rights for All in and outside the gospel.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

William, I think most Christians are deeply involved in their parish and not interested in wider church politics. My own parish is quietly inclusive without anyone making a big fuss about it. They hear someone like Lord Carey speak and shrug and get on with whatever they’re each doing for our parish life. Many of them are elderly retired people, they’re not activists, they’re not church politicians. They just live out their faith as best as they can in their daily lives. That may not be as helpful for the national church as we would like it to be, but… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Simon, in yesterday’s Times Ruth Gledhill wrote a good piece about Liberals having to stop playing victims. She makes the point that Jeffrey John himself apparently once said it wasn’t right that the Archbishop should shoulder the whole weight of speaking out against conservative forces, where were the liberal voices battling on his side? It’s not enough liberals being disappointed in him if they did nothing to support him when it mattered. I’m addressing this to you because of a basic question: bearing in mind that we cannot link to Times articles any longer, are we still allowed to quote… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

That is a nice, if brief, letter. Where are the Cof E clergy, including bishops, who will speak out against Lord Carey et alia? Silence in the face of hatred and bigotry is tacit approval.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

From the Stonewall Survey:-

‘More than half of the population thinks that public prejudice is caused by religious attitudes’ – That’s more than the tabloid press.

60% of respondents thought that gay people are most likely to conceal their sexual orientation in the religious sector. That’s higher even that in the sports, a notoriously homophobic arena

And the reason why?

‘In general, older white British men are least likely to support legal equality for lesbian and gay people. They are more likely to believe that anti-gay prejudice is not an important issue and should not be tackled’

Fr Mark
Guest

Cynthia: “Where are the Cof E clergy, including bishops, who will speak out against Lord Carey et alia?”

There are some clergy doing their best… but the powers-that-be get mighty displeased with those who rock their gerontocratic boat, so anyone who speaks out in the C of E has to have a means of earning a living independent of episcopal control.

Charlotte
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Charlotte

To this American, it looks as though the Church of England liberals and moderates are suffering from Hyacinth Boo-kay Syndrome when it comes to dealing with Lord Carey. You don’t know how to deal with him. He’s just too brash, too outrageous, breaks too many rules, can’t see the consternation he’s causing. You can’t bear to lower yourselves to his level and can’t see how you can stand against him if you don’t. So, as Ruth Gledhill suggests, you confine yourselves to muttering that someone — the Council? the Archbishop? — ought to do something about that dreadful nuisance and… Read more »

Gerry Lynch
Guest

I think (as some other posters have already said) people need to take a deep breath and calm down. Carey and Scott-Joynt do not speak for the broad mass of Anglican churchgoers in this part of the world, even if they think they do. Even people who are personally conservative on the matter – and churchgoers tending to be somewhat older than average, many are – tend to be much too polite to say anything to their fellow parishioners, or indeed their Vicar. Some people may not like these aggressive homosexual lobbyists Carey is always banging on about (not that… Read more »

Geoff
Guest

“The judges ought to be religiously literate enough to know that there is an argument behind all this, which can’t simply be settled by the nature of society as it is today.” Actually, even many of us who are religiously literate are beginning to clue in that, for all that “traditional marriage” advocates protest that they *have* an argument, they are much less keen on actual expressions of said argument. Over at the Anglican Journal we have a 40-comment thread in which “reasserters” have done what they do best – reassert over and over again that the “liberal” view is… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Erika
The Times should be treated exactly the same as any other publication which does not happen to be available on the web. Quote it as necessary.

This page may be helpful
http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p09_fair_use

Tim
Guest

…and what proportion of the planet say the UK *SHOULD* be “Christian”?

My path has been leading me around the borders of the field, the past few years (theologically) and months (practically) – and the more I read homophobic bile misidentifying itself as Christian, the more tempted I am to jump out of the game altogether.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

From the British Social Attitudes Survey:- Those self described as members of the Church of England consist of 23% of the population (40% in 1983). 49% of this group never attend services; only 8% of people who identify with the CofE attend church weekly. This would seem to indicate that the number of weekly attenders at CofE services is no more than the number of Gay and Lesbian people in the country. Some Christians have recently said that the small number of Gay and Lesbian people does not require their inclusion in Equality legislation. So QED why do Christians require… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

It is good to see these words from leaders of the ex-gay movement seeking forgiveness from all lgbt people and our families

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDiYeJ_bsQo

Christopher (P.)
Guest
Christopher (P.)

Simon–

A bit off-thread perhaps, but shouldn’t your advice be rather “The Times should be treated exactly the same as any other publication. Quote it as necessary.”

According to American copyright law, the fact or non-fact of web-publication has no bearing on the ability to quote according to the doctrine of fair use. Is British law different?

Pensamento Positivo
Guest
Pensamento Positivo

Dear All! The results in your British Social Attitudes Survey are similar to the ones done here in Portugal, traditionally a quite conservative Roman Catholic country. No question: anywhere else people are leaving their “stablished” Church. The problem is that it seems that the current head officials of both RC and CofE don’t care about it and worse, they seem to have unadjusted agendas to the needs of common adherents in the pews, apart some good inclusive CofE bishops and clergy and one or another open minded Catholic priest and apart that CofE is indeed a bit better than RC… Read more »

Randal Oulton
Guest
Randal Oulton

>> Lord Carey warned that reforms introduced under Labour promoted “tolerance, equality and fairness”

One almost wants to say what India Knight said in March 2010: “Holy Father, I can stay no longer in this Church of Disgust.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/india_knight/article7078888.ece

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Anybody who is part of the religious community believes that you don’t just hold views, you live them. Manifesting your faith is part of having it and not part of some optional bolt-on.” – Michael Scott-Joyntt (+Winchester) – Regarding the last sentence of this statement attibuted to MS-J; in the same way, I suppose he and Bp. Carey might consider inherent homo-sexuality as an optional ‘add-on’ to one’s personal attributes? I wonder if a review of their episcopal pension expectations would help these people to recognise that they are no longer (or, in MS-J’s case, not for much longer) ‘in… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

Thank you, David Shepherd, for proving – ONCE AGAIN – that it *is* indeed about conservative hatred and ignorance, coupled with a narcissistic martyr complex.

Good job! Bet God’s so proud!

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“Anybody who is part of the religious community believes that you don’t just hold views, you live them.”

He is absolutley right. YOU live them, you don’t force others to live them.