Thinking Anglicans

LGB&TI Anglican Coalition Response to the House of Bishops

Press Release

The LGB&TI Anglican Coalition is appalled by the House of Bishops’ recently-issued Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage, especially in the light of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential address in which it was stated that differing views should be accepted in a spirit of ‘good disagreement’. In this document we see no acceptance of disagreement at all, but instead a heavy-handed and legalistic imposition of discipline.

The new guidance emphasises the well-known fact that same-sex couples will not be able to marry in Church of England churches even when equal marriage takes effect. Furthermore, despite the recommendation of the Pilling Report, the prohibition on blessing same-sex couples is reinforced. While these iron exclusions are in place it is simply ludicrous to speak of the Church ‘Welcoming’ lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGB&TI) people, or to pretend that this statement is in any sense ‘pastoral’.

The guidance also excludes people married to members of the same sex from ordination, and forbids LGB&TI clergy to marry same-sex partners. This is cruel and unjust to clergy who have faithfully served the church, hitherto with the full knowledge and support of their bishops, and it will impoverish the ministry by driving away LGB&TI ordinands. Only those who are prepared to lie will remain.

The statement was made without any consultation with openly gay people, and fails to acknowledge that some of the bishops who are signatories are understood to be gay themselves. This heightens the corrosive sense of hypocrisy and cynicism with which this issue is surrounded in the Church.

We are aware that the position taken in this statement was partly or even mainly driven by fears about the unity of the Anglican Communion, and that bishops who wished to take a less harsh line were told that the Communion would not stand for it. In some large African provinces which are threatening to secede over this issue the Anglican Church helps supply the theology which backs the violent persecution of LGB&TI people. We believe that it is simply immoral for the Church of England to appease these provinces by sacrificing the rights and freedoms of LGB&TI people in this country or any other, or to place the cause of institutional unity above the cause of justice and humanity.

This guidance is wrong in tone and content, and will further damage the Church’s mission, not only to LGB&TI people, but to all people of goodwill who respect justice and truth. It may seek to carry disciplinary authority, but it has no moral authority and cannot command respect. We hope and pray that it will be swiftly withdrawn.

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Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

Seems to me that now there can be no Pilling process. Not much point to ‘facilitated comversations’ if the Bishops have already made up their minds. That in itself is no bad thing per se, they would have been a sham process in any case.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Wow. Stunning release. Nails it. The outrage pouring out in response to the equal marriage ban is something to behold. The bishops have really crossed the line this time. I strongly suspect that they know it, too. Ball’s in their court. The longer they hold off on issuing a full retraction and apology for their appalling statement, the worse it’ll get for them. I know they think in terms of realpolitik first and foremost. Guys, realpolitik is screaming at you to get this situation under control. The right thing to do is also the smart thing to do. I hope… Read more »

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

This bishops, when asked for bread, gave us a stone. How many people, and not just LGBT’s will the bishops drive from the church, and indeed from Christianity? And all to appease countries where they hunt gay people down in the streets and murder them, egged on by the American evangelical/television right. Knock, and it will be slammed in your face. I have just had the Sacraments brought to me by a group(of heterosexuals) from my church, as I am housebound at the moment. All deplored the state of the C of E and rejoiced in the Christian and prophetic… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

This is very well done.

It scolds the bishops, and properly so, for their sacrilegious doubletalk.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“We hope and pray that it will be swiftly withdrawn.”

It won’t be, for the “unity” reasons that the release so aptly demolishes.

The guidance will, however, be swiftly disobeyed.

Sister Mary
Guest
Sister Mary

Are there not surveys which indicate that public opinion about homosexual persons has changed considerably over the past 3 decades? Increasingly, individuals will identify themselves as other than heterosexual. Many of us have encountered this new openness among our own friends and kin – people whom we know and value. To learn something more about them that we hadn’t been aware of does not lower our affection or esteem for them. Surely the hierarchy also have LGBT friends and relations? The Episcopal Council repeats the traditional teaching. Equivalent to Common Law? But how about Equity? Just because the union between… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

So; despite the recommendation from the Pilling Report that the Church of England would do well to facilitate the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions. the House of bishops has turned their backs on this! The message, though rather muddled in some ways, is very clear about the continuing homophobia that will likely prevent any Gay or Lesbian Candidates from applying for Ordination in the Church of England. and those within that ministry will have to be even more careful and subversive about their intrinsic sexuality than ever before. UNLESS, there is a rebellion on the part of those in the House… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“We believe that it is simply immoral for the Church of England to appease these provinces by sacrificing the rights and freedoms of LGB&TI people in this country or any other, or to place the cause of institutional unity above the cause of justice and humanity.”

The salient point. Glad that the LGB&TI Anglican Coalition spoke this truth.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

A fantastic statement, thank you all who contributed to writing this.

Jean Mayland
Guest
Jean Mayland

A brilliant statement.I agree with it entirely

Thank you

FD Blanchard
Guest
FD Blanchard

My advice to LGBT’s in England: When you see a C of E bishop, run. When they smile, run faster.

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Strange isn’t it, how there wasn’t the same outpouring of invective when Evangelicals and Anglo Catholics were seeking a place within the church and the net was slowly closing in on them?! One can’t have one’s cake and eat it too.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

For the sake of all the decent gay and lesbian individuals and couples who are otherwise demeaned and diminished by this blatant discrimination, please don’t resign over this. When I read the bishops’ statement a couple of days ago, I was physically shaken. It is outrageous. I was honestly appalled. I urge individual priests *not* to resign, but to act *collectively*. What is needed is a coalition of resistance, a coalition of conscience… backed up by local PCCs. It is a *myth* that the C of E as one body is against blessing of gay and lesbian couples (in whatever… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

(continuing… post 2 of 2)… What I think is needed is this: The creation of an alliance. A coalition of conscience. Formed of maybe 100 churches, with the courage to insist on the exercise of their consciences. After all, since when was desire for blessing people a sin? What madness is this? And then, it should be a case of one out, all out. Individual priests will just get picked off, but a coalition could decide on collective action: collective blessings from a given date. Refusal by PCC’s to accept any other priest, if a dissenting priest is removed. Actions… Read more »

Commentator
Guest
Commentator

Benedict –
They were given extended episcopal oversight so that they could (& can have) a bishop who honours their interpretation of Scripture and ecclesiology. Perhaps you’d care to extend the same courtesy to same-sex couples and homosexually accepting Christians?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Benedict
“One can’t have one’s cake and eat it too.”

Can’t one? I thought you guys were happy with the provisions proposal so many liberals helped to negotiate?
Why the spite?

FD Blanchard
Guest
FD Blanchard

And while many right wing Christians are complaining that they are being discriminated against because their right to discriminate against some populations is no longer recognized, this is happening in Nigeria:

http://www.news.com.au/world/mob-attacks-men-they-believe-to-be-gay-in-nigerian-capital-abuja/story-fndir2ev-1226828336527

Father David
Guest
Father David

Seems to me that Benedict makes a valid point. A church like a nation is judged by how it treats its minorities.

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Why the spite Erika? I can’t believe you have interpreted my statement as spite. It is simply emphasising how attitudes change when one is affected directly. And memories are very short. Post November 2012 we Anglo Catholics were absolutely vilified by the liberal constituency as being the cause of the vote disaster etc. In one liberal parish magazine in the York Diocese catholic clergy were referred to as blackshirts. It’s not spite, it’s reminding liberals that they haven’t a monopoly in the Church of England on feeling rejected.

sjh
Guest
sjh

It looks like the bishops are determined to push this through and abandon LGBT people. The church is irredeemably homophobic, in my view and I think we all have to decide whether we can accept that or leave. Fighting this will just drain energy away, better to fight from outside and ensure the church has as little influence in society as possible. Regretfully, but that is the reality, I fear.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“One can’t have one’s cake and eat it too.”

We’re talking about justice, not cake. Discrimination is immoral. It’s hurtful, and the bad theology behind it is fueling murder, torture, and imprisonment in some corners of the Anglican Communion.

I’m glad you got your cake, Benedict. But others need basic human rights, justice, and inclusion in God’s diverse creation.

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Benedict’s intervention has one (possibly unintended implication: If the conscience of priests, PCCs, and local church communities matters with regard to women bishops… Then why doesn’t the conscience of priests, PCCs, and local church communities matter with regard to welcoming, blessing and celebrating gay and lesbian relationships, partnerships, and marriages? Perhaps a coalition of conscience could consider appealing to the Episcopal Church in the US and Katherine Jefforts Schori for temporary episcopal oversight, if the bishops attempt to remove a priest who acts on conscience (and the growing moral awareness of the British public and MPs) on issues of gay… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“the net was slowly closing in on them?!”

Benedict, your “net closing in” equates to “my priest or bishop might have a different theological opinion from mine”.

In Nigeria and Uganda and Russia, NOOSES are closing in (and not slowly). Policies like the one just promulgated by the CofE bishops re marriage equality, ENABLE the noose-tyers (rock throwers, lesbian-rapers, f@ggot-burners).

Your “cake and eat it” comparison isn’t Apples vs Oranges. It’s Apples vs Molotov Cocktails. Kyrie eleison.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

One of the most egregious aspects of the pastoral statement is the mockery it makes of disciplinary procedures intended to hear serious allegations of misconduct. It throws the CDM into disarray, and should be raised as a matter of concern by Parliament’s Ecclesiastical Committee as a matter of urgency. As pointed out on another thread, threats which are not carried out brings the whole system into disrepute. Any diocesan wishing to instigate a CDM faces significant hurdles, it seems to me, as tribunals would scarcely find grounds for ‘unbecoming or inappropriate conduct’. It would depend on the composition of the… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Andrew has hit the nail on the head.

How can the CofE credibly declare that it is “unbecoming or inappropriate” for a same-sex couple to… wait for it… marry?

On one level this is tragic and unjust. On another level, perhaps we can look forward to some serious episcopal embarrassment.

Indeed ridicule may be the best response.

Pluralist
Guest

It seems to me that either you throw down the gauntlett (like co-ordinating numbers of gay clergy getting married) or you get out. Resist and test the resiliance of the institution and its statements.

FD Blanchard
Guest
FD Blanchard

Perhaps C of E liberals should demand their own “flying bishops.”

Or, they could do what right wing Episcopalians did in the USA; split up dioceses and defect to foreign churches eager to encroach on the territory (and treasure) of the Episcopal Church. Since the Anglican Churches of Nigeria and Rwanda already have a presence in the USA, perhaps alienated English liberals could request the presence of the Episcopal Church in England. Maybe a bishop or 2 might defect, though I doubt they would try to take their dioceses with them (as American bishops tried to do).

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

The bishops’ statement is a bit like King Canute trying to stop the tide — it is doomed to look quainter with each quickly passing year.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Andrew,
I believe that right now we’re not even sure whether CDM would be used for this. But if it turned out that that is what they were trying to do, how does one mobilise the Parliament’s Ecclesiastical Committee?

Simon Kershaw
Admin

The role of the Ecclesiastical Committee is laid down by the Enabling Act — the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919. That role is to consider Measures submitted by the General Synod and to say whether it considers it ‘expedient’ that they be agreed by the Lords and Commons. There are some other details in the Act, but nothing important or relevant.

It does not extend to reviewing what the Church has done, is doing, planning to do, or might do.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Thanks Simon!

Elaine
Guest
Elaine

When will the Church realise that to be a homosexual or a bisexual person is not to be an aberration of the norm. It is to be part of the God created humanity and truly blessed as such. We love, we commit, we find joy in sex. All this is God given. If all the gay and bi clergy withdrew their services the Church would be in a very sorry state. We come with the territory! Bishops, give us the space to grow and to love and maybe do a bit of growing up yourselves!

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

The Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament has indeed quite a limited role. But there is no reason why anybody should not write to their own MP about this issue, or to the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Tony Baldry MP, or for that matter to any member of the House of Lords that they think may be sympathetic. That is what happened when the women bishops legislation fell in 2012.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

And in the same vein, the letter from the archbishops was addressed to the entire membership of the Church of England, so writing to either or both of them, or to your own diocesan bishop, is entirely in order. Indeed it is to be encouraged.

iain mclean
Guest
iain mclean

And the letters that Simon recommends could usefully focus on the simple misstatement in paragraph 9 of the pastoral guidance. It is quite wrong to assert that this is the first time that canon law and secular law on marriage have moved apart. They moved apart over divorce in 1857 and marriage to deceased wife’s sister in 1907.

I can’t speak for Linda Woodhead or Diarmaid MacCulloch, who have also pointed out this error, but I am getting a bit tired of this. Really the C of E hierarchy should not require correcting by academics every time they open their mouths

Father David
Guest
Father David

Just one more example that the current bench of bishops don’t know their Church history. If they don’t know where we have come from how can they possibly know where we are going?

JJ
Guest
JJ

Iain, You’re right; either the bishops are woefully ignorant or wilfully disingenuous. Mind you, their memories aren’t good – they claim to have been enthusiastic supporters of civil partnerships.

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

I absolutely do not think anything other than people of single sex orientation are created by God and that their sexuality as valid as my own heterosexual orientation. For me that does not mean that this automatically invalidates the church of England’s historical teaching that marriage being between a man and woman is suddenly wrong. Current understandings of these things might mean that this teaching could be re-examined, but until it is, expecting a furious reaction, I find the house of bishops statement logical. It does not mean those of us who are “conventional” on this do not care deeply… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Stephen, you’ve heard what equal marriage means to lesbian and gay people. There’s more than sufficient testimony. This isn’t a difficult question to be debated. If you care deeply and desire the flourishing of all, change your mind. It’s that simple.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Stephen,
“It does not mean those of us who are “conventional” on this do not care deeply and desired the flourishing of all.”

At what point in this conversation will people then listen to when we tell them that we experience this care as deeply hurtful, dismissive, divisive and likely to kick us out of the church?

I mean, what matters here – your perception of your aims and of what you’re doing or the reality of how we experience what you’re doing?

JCF
Guest
JCF

“For me that does not mean that this automatically invalidates the church of England’s historical teaching that marriage being between a man and woman is suddenly wrong.” Didn’t you leave out THE key word there, Stephen? What you *meant* is “marriage being between [ONLY] a man and woman is suddenly wrong” If the State will “suddenly” permit same-sex marriage, and two (e.g., faithful, Anglican) persons of the same sex believe themselves called to marry, then, contra what you wrote, marriage *limited to only* a man and woman IS suddenly wrong. Can you not see that word “only”—that limiting, that POWER-OVER—you’re… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Again and again, I have to tell love-expressing/domination-wielding straight people: you CANNOT do both. Love? Or Domination? Choose _only_ one.” Yes! Thank you JCF, this is the crux of the matter. It is power, and straight people (and apparently gay bishops who feel their stock depends on going with the dominant power group) are exercising their power over the a vulnerable group, LGBT people. And it is antithetical to love. Alas, the English CoE leadership don’t have any sense of how badly they are abusing their power and hurting people in the process. They are a rather thick and obtuse… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“[T]hey are proclaiming their power rather than listening to LGBT people, or the Jesus, or the Holy Spirit.”

Not quite. They are deluded by the continuing power of the British imperial dream, more than 60 years after the Empire collapsed.

Bishops of the Church of England, stop serving Africa and Asia. You have duties to only one province. Serve England.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Not quite. They are deluded by the continuing power of the British imperial dream, more than 60 years after the Empire collapsed.
Bishops of the Church of England, stop serving Africa and Asia. You have duties to only one province. Serve England.”

If only your bishops had the attitude that “what’s good for England is good for the rest of the world,” and gave head to the multitudes of CoE Anglicans who support marriage equality and the sacrament of marriage in the church!

Alas, they seem to see that sustaining their power depends on pandering to human rights abusers.