Thinking Anglicans

Traditionalists in the CofE running out of hiding places?

Andrew Brown at the Guardian has written Church of England traditionalists are running out of hiding places.

A backlash against the female bishops vote and gay marriage ruling has put church conservatives on the back foot.

On the face of it, this autumn has seen two resounding defeats for the liberals in the church of England, over female bishops and gay marriage. But it may be just as true that these have been two really pyrrhic victories for the traditionalists.

On female bishops it looks already clear that the best the traditionalists can hope for is an orderly retreat. I don’t think they had any idea how angry their opponents would be, nor how numerous. It really has been something like a revolution, in that the old power structures are quite inadequate to contain the real power of the laity. You can see that from the way that the supposed representatives of the laity in the General Synod, the house of laity, were the people who most diverged from sentiment in the pews.

Even in the house of laity the opponents were a minority, but they were a significant minority. That significance may now be over…

And he concludes with this:

…Where gay marriage is concerned the position is not nearly so stark. Fear of a wider evangelical backlash (for all I know, quite justified) led the bishops into their “quadruple lock” jail where now a liberal Anglican who wants to marry a gay couple is breaking the law in the way that no other minister of religion would be. It seems to me inevitable that some vicar nearing retirement will carry out a gay wedding in his church once these are legal and then wait for martyrdom. The resulting kerfuffle will only dramatise the difference between legal establishment, where the church’s bureaucracy is bound into the state, and what one might call emotional or effective establishment, where the church is a natural theatre of society’s self-understanding – a way to think about who we are, both as individuals and as a country. That’s not a distinction to which a wise archbishop would want to draw attention, but it’s going to be hard to avoid.

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CynthiaJane CharmanLabarumLaurence RobertsErika Baker Recent comment authors
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Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“It seems to me inevitable that some vicar nearing retirement will carry out a gay wedding in his church once these are legal and then wait for martyrdom.”

But that is precisely the point of the fourth lock – that vicar won’t be able to do this because the couple will leave the church as unmarried in the eyes of the law as they entered it.

The church got the protection it wanted and it is a watertight one.

Labarum
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Labarum

“I don’t think they had any idea how angry their opponents would be, nor how numerous.” I don’t think that is true. I am retired. I have PTO in an English Diocese and PTO in a Diocese that is not part of the C of E. When in UK I do my bit as a “supply priest”, but when I am not tasked I go to my nearest church, the FIF/ABC church 500 yards down the road – it’s a bit ‘igh for me, but I am supporting my local church. What is clear to me is that they expected… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

I would phrase it a bit differently–traditionalists are running out of places where a double standard in their favor might apply.

Original Observer
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Original Observer

This ignorant fool should get his facts straight. The CofE could not carry out a same-sex marriage because of a conflict between what would be a new statute law defining marriage to admit same-sex couples and the church canons, also enshrined in statute, which define marriage in the conventional way. It would be perfectly possible to change this, but the church would first have to change its canon law, something which has not even been contemplated. The church has not asked to be banned from performing same-sex marriages – it would be a legal impossibility for it to do so.

Counterlight
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Counterlight

For 35 years, the gay boogey man was a guaranteed winner and vote getter for right wing politicians in the USA (though over time, the margins of victory for the right in gay rights decisions became smaller and smaller). This year, the tide turned dramatically with gay marriage up for a vote in 3 states and winning in all 3. The voters in a fourth state defeated an amendment to their state constitution that would ban same-sex marriage in perpetuity. In 2004, the specter of the gay boogeyman drove voters to the polls to give President George W. Bush a… Read more »

Geo Noakes
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Geo Noakes

The existing traditionalist bishops can give at least a further 25 years of traditionalist episcopal ministry. During that course of time the CofE will become increasingly Evangelical and therefore much more amenable to traditionalists. The appointment of traditionalist bishops will then become much easier again.

Nicholas Elder
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Nicholas Elder

It would be foolish of a cleric thus to seek martyrdom on the altar of equality (?inequality) by officiating at the marriage of a same-sex couple, as (even if identical marriage registers are to be used for same-gender unions as those we have at present) there would be a question about the validity of the marriage in Civil Law. Whatever else one’s responsibility, it does seem sensible to make sure that at any wedding the couple walk out of church together validly married in the eyes of Church and State.

Rosie Bates
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Rosie Bates

The reason Andrew Brown can write an article like this is largely thanks to people like Simon and others keeping Thinking Anglicans extremely well informed. I have tried to make space in my heart with as much Christian grace as I can muster for Traditionalists, as this has always seemed right and proper. Sadly, I now believe that too many of us gave way on too many fronts in a hopeless quest for unity. All Christians of all denominations are encouraged to pray for Parliament. I believe this time of prayer to be of God. The standard of the debate… Read more »

Clive
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One might mischievously observe that what we’re seeing is the fulfillment of Sir Humphrey Appleby’s prophecy, that when choosing a bishop in the Church of England one has a choice between a queen and a knave.

Counterlight
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Counterlight

In this country, the USA, as churches get smaller, they become more and more dominated by their fanatics. It seems that a similar process may be happening in England.

JCF
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JCF

When I saw the post header, “Traditionalists in the CofE running out of hiding places?”, my gut reaction was “Hiding places?! You mean sniper’s nests!”

…but then I thought (esp in light of this past week’s tragedy in Connecticut) that that was poor-taste hyperbole.

But then in reading the thread, I saw this: “They are also expecting to be forcibly ejected from the church which is their birthright.”

Having a bishop who ordains women (or *gasp* is a woman herself) IS NOT “FORCE”. There’s NO prospect of them to be “forcibly ejected”. Can we have a mutual truce on the hyperbole?

bookguybaltmd
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bookguybaltmd

This is a genuine question, not intended to be advocacy on either side. I wonder if someone can explain to me why any reasonable person would ever want to be associated with an institution which systematically excludes women from leadership positions? Whatever the other values and possible virtues of the organization, the evil of such an exclusion pretty much discredits anything else the institution might to say for itself. Why isn’t this a “no-brainer?” This may sound like an attack to some, but it is not intended that way. I am genuinely puzzled as to why such a debate would… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“In this country, the USA, as churches get smaller, they become more and more dominated by their fanatics. It seems that a similar process may be happening in England.” TEC is posting growth in 1/3rd of the dioceses, including my diocese and my parish. In our diocese, the growing parishes typically have amazing female clergy and are affirming of LGBT persons. Our sense of mission is robust and we are highly active in the work of the Gospel locally and abroad. Programs and advocacy for the homeless and challenged families, for a couple of examples. I think folks need to… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

This is perhaps the key, poignant question for many. ‘Indeed, how are we to retain our own faith if we are faced with a church with such an obviously discredited position?’ And it does lead on to this distressing question. ‘ If they would lie to us about this, what else have they been lying to us about?’ Posted by: bookguybaltmd on Wednesday, 19 December 2012 at 10:49pm One of the most disillusiuoning experiences of my life has been the dishonesty and cynicism of some bishops and also of other ministers. It is corrosive of both one’s soul and one’s… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“If they would lie to us about this, what else have they been lying to us about?” I agree that women as priests and bishops should be a no brainer and I believe this kind of thinking is what happens when people ignore science, psychology and human rights and when they base all their thinking around nothing but their own texts, ignoring everything else as “counter cultural” and declaring those who read their own texts differently as simply not convincing. But these people do not lie. They are very genuine people and the majority of them truly believes that God… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

bookguybaltmd wrote: I wonder if someone can explain to me why any reasonable person would ever want to be associated with an institution which systematically excludes women from leadership positions? Whatever the other values and possible virtues of the organization, the evil of such an exclusion pretty much discredits anything else the institution might to say for itself. Why isn’t this a “no-brainer?” I’ll try. For many of us who believe in God, being in community is important. In community we created sacred spaces and liturgies that open our hearts and minds to the Great Mystery of God and our… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

What an inspiring and uplifting post from Cynthia.

Labarum
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Labarum

“This is Redemption and Liberation, finally.”

Finally? Now there is a bold claim.

Jane Charman
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Jane Charman

Erika, I think you make an important point and one of the very few that causes me to feel some genuine sympathy for traditionalists. The Church has given succour to sexist views and has told those who hold them that they can do so with integrity. It may now wish to change that narrative but it cannot do so retrospectively

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“This is Redemption and Liberation, finally.”

“Finally? Now there is a bold claim.’

Yes it’s bold, but it’s so nice to get to work on the Good News instead of the Exclusive News.