Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 9 January 2016

John Bingham has interviewed William Nye for The Telegraph: The ‘silencing of Christians’ in the public sector.

Bob Morris The Constitution Unit ‘Living with Difference’: The Butler-Sloss Commission’s report reflects the interests of its members rather than the public interest
[also online at Law & Religion UK]

Giles Fraser The Guardian Doesn’t Bishop George Bell deserve the presumption of innocence?

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes Pope Gregory and #Primates2016 – diversity, sex, and church order

Jayne Ozanne Church of England Newspaper Resolutely passionate

Hannah Cleugh Church Times No need to patronise men with toughness

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Susannah Clark
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As Jayne Ozanne says, LGBT individuals are not ‘perverts’. I love this paragraph: “So, just to be completely clear what I’m talking about – we LGBT Christians are not going away. We’re here to stay. We’re part of the Body of Christ too – just like you. We’ve had enough pain. Enough rejection. Enough judgement. Enough of being slandered as “pedophiles and perverts”. We are your sons and daughters, your neighbours and your friends. We are decent, honourable human beings who just want to be able to live normal lives like you do – we want the joy of being… Read more »

Susannah Clark
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One of the most concerning (and arguably insidious) expressions in this whole debate is that Christians “should love the sinner, but hate the sin.” For a gay or lesbian person, this implies hating something deeply personal and precious about who they are, yet placating the conscience of the accuser by suggesting “but we still love you” – as sexual orientation is somehow detached from who a person is. To try to fathom where Justin Welby comes from in this debate – he is of course at liberty to be open and transparent, and explain for himself – it is quite… Read more »

Susannah Clark
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4. On AIDs Nicky Gumbel, in this Alpha publication, argues that “people are getting hurt as a result of God’s laws being broken.” Gay sex may not be the only example, according to Nicky, but AIDs can still be seen (and is cited) as “the inevitable results of breaking His laws”. “It can be seen as the effectus of His judgment.” 5. Nicky Gumbel then goes on to suggest what gay and lesbian people should do – namely celibacy, repentance, and healing of their sexual orientation. Quoting Tony Compolo, he asserts “I cannot help but admire these brave saints who… Read more »

Susannah Clark
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And he concludes, “talking to someone about their struggle is often the first step to bringing light into the darkness.” In other words, gay and lesbian sexuality is part of the “darkness”. This is the Alpha and HTB context that Justin grew within. Of course, both Justin and Nicky may well have evolved further in their views, but these were the teachings – embedded in Alpha literature – that taught new converts a fundamentally homophobic view of gay and lesbian sexuality. What is striking, is how similar some of its teachings are to the positions the bishops are still trying… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

Congratulations to both Giles Fraser and Charles Moore for keeping before our eyes the gross miscarriage of justice perpetrated anonymously against that great bishop George Bell of Chichester. All the secrecy surrounding this alleged and unproven misdemeanour is most disturbing especially as it destroys the reputation of a very great and brave man. It is to be hoped that in the name of British justice these allegations will be examined by the current ongoing investigation into alleged child abuse. Charles Moore describes the alleged victim as a child but Giles Fraser identifies the gender as female – something which I… Read more »

Barry
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Barry

Well said, Father David. I also have been disgusted at the treatment of the great Bishop George Bell by his former diocese. I have yet to hear of anyone who knew Bell, or has studied his life and work, who has even hinted at private misbehaviour on his part – at least until this anonymous accuser materialized. Great people may have great faults, of course, but before they are condemned for them we must be told the evidence supporting such condemnation. Charles Moore’s article on the Bell case is a magnificent example of journalism doing its job well. By contrast,… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Jayne Ozanne’s article seems part of a recent trend to see two issues, not one: 1. To accept LGBTI Christians as mull members of the church communion 2. To consider separately teaching on sexual activity I think this is entirely right, as well as being the only way forwards which might build a compromise consensus. I think anybody who opposes the first call will seem unduly hardline and liable to be marginalised. The second is much more problematic because the Church needs to update its teaching IMO on all sexualities. Even the presumption that sex within marriage is always acceptable… Read more »

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Susannah- a recent biography of Justin Welby (sorry I am away on holiday so don’t have the reference) in its chapter on the Archbishop, HTB and Alpha, traces the developing thought in Nicky Gumbel’s seminal Alpha text. I haven’t read it but I gather from the biography that in the first edition the usual homophobic HTB teaching is expounded but by the latest the whole section relating to same sex relationships and pre marital sex are expunged in order to ‘detoxify’ the Alpha brand. What is actually taught in Alpha is another matter.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

In all the discussion about Bishop George Bell please spare a thought and a prayer for those of us at the Cathedral, caught up in the middle of all this and trying to do the right thing.

I understand that it’s not too late for the forthcoming biography of Bishop Bell by Andrew Gardner of the George Bell Institute at Chichester University to include something about the allegations.

Kate
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Kate

Once I have passed, then people may say anything at all about me: if it helps the living, bring it on. I know, as a Christian, I should say the same while I still live, but my humility is a work in progress 🙁 So for me it is blindingly irrelevant whether Bishop Bell deserves the presumption of innocence. Allegations, whether untrue or not, can not hurt him in anyway. If giving credence to the allegations of the living provides them with comfort, then that must be far, far more important. In a century’s time, then historians can pick over… Read more »

Barry
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Barry

Richard Ashby, you ask us to “spare a thought and a prayer for those of us at the Cathedral, caught up in the middle of all this and trying to do the right thing.” I will gladly do so; but surely the “right thing” is to see justice done to Bishop Bell, innocent or not? We are dealing here with one of the outstanding Christian figures of the twentieth century. If his name and reputation are being blackened, we have a right to know the grounds for this. So long as we are denied facts, speculation will grow that something… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

I must agree, Barry, despite my misgivings about compounding a victim’s suffering by doubting their word. The accusation may well be true, but unless its substance and, crucially, the identity of the complainant are revealed, there’s no way to assess it. Especially when no further allegations against Bell have been made.

Barry
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Barry

James, thank you for your comment, with which I entirely agree. Your point that allegations against Bishop Bell have been made by only one person is most important. The case also raises the issue of whether we need to set a time limit within which claims of abuse can be accepted, simply recognizing the difficulty of investigating allegations fairly as years pass. I am reminded of a case where a priest was alleged (by one person) to have committed several serious offenses some thirty years previously. As the priest said, “how am I supposed to defend myself after all this… Read more »