Monday, 6 October 2008

Stock Exchange chaplain criticised

Updated again Tuesday afternoon

The chaplain to the London Stock Exchange, Peter Mullen is in trouble.

According to the Evening Standard , in a report by Robert Mendick and Simon Kirby Chaplain: Gay men should have sodomy warning tattoos

The chaplain to the London Stock Exchange is under pressure to quit today after demanding gay men should be forced to have “sodomy” warnings tattooed on their bodies.

The suggestion is contained in a series of comments on the internet blog of the Rev Peter Mullen.

The Bishop of London today branded Mr Mullen’s comments “highly offensive” and Stonewall, the gay rights charity, said he should resign…

…the bishop today also rebuked Mr Mullen for his remarks.

In a statement issued to the Evening Standard, a spokesman said: “While clergy are entitled to their own personal views, we recognise that the content of this text is highly offensive and is in no way reflective of the views of the Diocese of London.”

A source at the Diocese said the chaplain may now face a disciplinary inquiry over his comments. The source said: “These comments are now being looked at internally within the Diocese and he faces disciplinary procedures.”

Other newspapers are following up:

Telegraph Aislinn Simpson Homosexuals should carry warning tattoos, says chaplain

Guardian Riazat Butt Vicar could be disciplined for blog slurs against gays and Muslims

Press Association via the Independent Rector condemned for ‘sodomy’ remarks

BBC Tattoo gay people, priest writes

Andrew Brown has noted this item at Comment is free in A taxi-driver, oops, vicar writes.

Ruth Gledhill has Peter Mullen should have his bottom spanked!

And Times Online finally has a report, Chaplain’s blog calls for homosexuals to be tatooed.

Now, after a day of this, second stories:

Press Association Clergyman apologises over call to tattoo gay people

BBC Priest ‘sorry’ for gay comments

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 3:57pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Poor Peter Mullen, he keeps on saying the most outrageous things, and I had thought that there wasn’t anybody left who paid attention to his obscene ramblings.

My own experience warns me that usually only the most repressed of closet gays believe the world is under attack from gay missionaries or are obsessed by anal intercourse and oral sex.

I hope nobody sacks him or does anything unnecessary to this fellow – the Stock Exchange now more than ever needs the ludicrous distraction he offers and as Rowan Williams would be keen to remind us - his views are shared by the largest part of the World wide Anglican community.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 5:02pm BST

I'm all for free speech. But what you say in public in one venue certainly can reflect from your competence in another area. I'm a teacher. If I were to say publicly that I thought all teenagers should be kept in medically induced comas until the hormones wore off, I might expect it to get back to the Head of my school, and I might expect that my Head to think that my statements impinged on my ability to do my job.

Posted by: BillyD on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 5:13pm BST

Ah yes, the good Rev. M does us all favors now. His remarks are satirical, he says, and yet quite to the point of an analysis of traditional prejudice belief dynamics and factors involved in these most traditional religious beliefs about queer folks.

So he helps make the ongoing point: a whole generation of traditionalistic believers indeed does believe these things, even if they do not always spell them out. Even the good reverend's own remarks clarify: I do not dislike queer folks, I only wish not to know so much, so often, so clearly - about the different problems my traditionalistic negative prejudices, my false witness against them as neighbors, might cause them in daily life? (Why can't the queer folks just keep silence, remain invisible, like the good old days?) Such contradictions would trouble me if I had to hear about them and take them seriously, so better not to hear, to know, to be pulled to empathisize with folks I clearly find perverse and unnatural.

Gee with religious friends like this .... as the cliche goes.

Still. A favor of sorts, highlighting the deep and rich veins of prejudice that run right through beneath all the traditionalistic negative beliefs. A demonstration case.

Better not to cover it up, even if it is problematic and embarrassing - all these old flat earth negative beliefs. Honesty, light, air and a million other naturalistic-empirical factors will help heal the wounds of prejudices - only first we have to realize that we are pledging them, still, rooted in them, still.

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 5:51pm BST

"is in no way reflective of the views of the Diocese of London."

But they are certainly relfective of the views of a good many dioceses outside London, like any of those in GAFCON. I await the conservative defence of this kind of thing as "evangelism", and the aggrieved denials that GAFCON think anything like this, as though the evidence of it is NOT as plain as the nose on your face.

"What I have got against them is the militant preaching of homosexuality."

And what does this mean? I find it really funny that demanding that we not be treated as subhuman is somehow "militant". And "preaching" certainly implies that one expects an outcome of such preaching, like maybe the conversion of a whole bunch of innocent straight people to homosexuality, since we all know being gay is so attractive to straight people that, given half the chance, they will form same sex couples en masse if anyone speaks positively about us. What a sleveen! I like biting satire as well as the next person, if he'd said it to me over a pint in a pub, I'd probably have laughed, and joined in on the joke. But he said it publically, where he knew people could be hurt by it. That kind of disregard for others is unbecoming of a clergiman. I wonder what other group of human beings he'd be willing to be so publically rude to.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 6:21pm BST

The Reverend Peter Mullen is entitled to his remarks. We supposedly live in a society that protects freedom of speech, no? Liberal Anglican has ruined the Church. The word 'thinking' as used in the context of the title for this site, thinking Anglican, surely is an oxymoron?

Posted by: Damo Mackerel on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 6:23pm BST

Sorry to be deflected from the main story, but I really think that BillyD is on to something there. It would save education costs and solve the problems of league tables as well as the hormone issue.

Posted by: poppy tupper on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 6:30pm BST

Do I see an honorary canonry winging its way from Abuja (or possibly Kampala) to Cornhill?

Posted by: cryptogram on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 7:20pm BST

"a whole generation of traditionalistic believers indeed does believe these things, even if they do not always spell them out."

Actually, drdanfee, they do spell them out. A lot of what I address here is the ways in which they spell these ideas out. But given the choice between understanding how their utterances reveal thier attitudes and opposing the evil liberals heathens who are trying to stop them from spreading the Gospel by pointing out such "unimportant" things, they always seem to make the latter choice. Fighting against one's own oppression, however contrived and self-inflicted it is, is far more attractive than treating your fellow human beings in a Christian manner. Ah well, at least it makes it easy to see their true colours.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 7:47pm BST

Damo Mackerel: you've popped up from nowhere to tell us we're not thinking people. Would you like to expand on what you mean and why?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 7:53pm BST

"We supposedly live in a society that protects freedom of speech, no?"

Indeed we do. But we also practice a religion that has two commandments: Love the Lord thy God, love thy neighbour. He is a leader of that religion. Thus, he has a responsibility in his public statements to reflect that love of God and neighbour. Unless you want to make the rather bizarre claim that his comments express Christian love for gay people, you have to admit that, by making these statements publically, he has broken that Second Great Commandment. Now, we all do, and I argue very strongly that there is no issue with him saying such supposedly satirical/sarcastic things in private. I have said similar, and would probably have joked along with him had he said these things to me one-to-one over a pint. He didn't. Sorry to burst your bubble, this is not the unjust silencing of a good person speaking his mind. This is consternation that a clergiman could think that it was acceptable to publically ridicule others in this fashion. What would you think if, say, an Anglo-catholic clergiman made the public statement that Evangelicals should have tattoos on their foreheads saying "Danger, brain not functioning due to lack of use"? That'd be freedom of speech, after all, but if my rector said it, I'd be upset, regardless of how I think about the issue. But, if you'd rather let the trends of the world dictate how you behave, go right ahead.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 7:59pm BST

Tattooing homosexuals : wasn't Hitler the last one to tattoo homosexuals? As they arrived at the concentration camps and before they were worked to death or shot?

Posted by: dodgey_vicar on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 8:26pm BST

You would think that the "chaplain to the London Stock Exchange", of all people, would understand that REAL danger these days in getting (involuntarily!) scr*wed up the *rse is NOT coming from homosexuals! [i.e., stock exchange, heal thyself!]

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 8:32pm BST

The LSE has issued a disclaimer, saying that he has no formal links with them, and is therefore Not Their Problem, according to the Telegraph article.

You gotta worry if the LSE thinks you're so loathsome they need to distance themselves in the midst of certain other things which might be keeping them busy right now....

Posted by: Joan of Quark on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 11:01pm BST

The stock exchange has a chaplain?

What's next? Brothels and crack houses?

Posted by: JPM on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 11:11pm BST

JCF, yes, I thought the same.

The whole thing is more than pathetic, really.

Posted by: Jay Vos on Monday, 6 October 2008 at 11:59pm BST

I'm sure that Damo Mackerel really meant that homosexuals should merely be forced to wear pink triangles on their shirts or jackets.

After all, that was good enough for the Reichsführer, so why go to the trouble of tattooing?

It sure sounds like a freedom of speech issue to me, Damo.

Are there any other classes of people you would like to identify for special markings, and treatment? We obviously need to "think" just as you do, and for my part, I'll really try.

I do crave your approval.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Tuesday, 7 October 2008 at 3:46am BST

"The Rev Peter Mullen, who ministers in the City of London, said he had gay friends and the words were "satirical". He suggested in his internet blog that homosexuals should have their backsides tattooed with the slogan: "Sodomy can seriously damage your health".

One can sometimes admire a bit of clever satirical writing, but this does rather remind me of an oxymoronic blog called 'Virtue-on-line', which has a similar take on the presence of women and gays in the Church. The trouble with this sort of blog is that it is a direct incitement to division and discrimination - not just for Christians, but also for other members of the public who might be reading the blog, who may be persuaded to think that this is the current attitude of the Church to gays and women.

It behoves us all not to be too serious about our posturings on the Web. But, there is a line beyond which we ought not to go - when the dignity of a despised minority might be impinged upon by our clever but distasteful references to them and their assumed behaviour.

God save us from bigots; but also from defamatory belittlement of a section of the community which happens to be different from ourselves. Has the esteemed reverend gentlemen who made these offensive remarks kept his job, I wonder?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 7 October 2008 at 5:50am BST

I actually liked Gledhill's article. She made it clear that these types of comments are not unusual from this man. He might go on to be as big an asset to GLBTs, women, liberals and other "unsuitables" as Akinola is.

May God give all such souls bold and honest tongues, so we can hear what they really think.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Tuesday, 7 October 2008 at 9:10am BST

Mad Priest has republished the (now pulled) posting:
It deserves to be read in it's entirety; claims of satire are exposed for the lies they are when you read the rantings of a bigot who presumes to speak for all believers. I wonder how his "dear friends [who] have been and are of that persuasion" feel about "light-hearted jokes" such as this one: "we [believers] disapprove of homosexuality because it is clearly unnatural, a perversion and corruption of natural instincts and affections, and because it is a cause of fatal disease. The AIDS pandemic was originally caused by promiscuous homosexual behaviour.".

Posted by: Graham Ward on Tuesday, 7 October 2008 at 9:26am BST

Someone (not me) has now set up a Sack the Rev Peter Mullen group on Facebook

Repeatedly, the bishops assure us that homophobic hatred has no place in the C of E, and yet, time and time again, we see clergy saying the most horrid and offensive things about gay people and yet retaining their employment. Can the Bishop not simply remove this man's licence?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 7 October 2008 at 12:18pm BST

"The stock exchange has a chaplain?"

I know. And I doubt he or any conservative can fathom what the job of a chaplain to such an institution should actually be.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 7 October 2008 at 1:00pm BST

""we [believers] disapprove of homosexuality because it is clearly unnatural, a perversion and corruption of natural instincts and affections, and because it is a cause of fatal disease. The AIDS pandemic was originally caused by promiscuous homosexual behaviour."."

I'm of "that persuasion", in fact, I've often been persuaded of it! But I digress. I find the above hilarious, actually, especially when you think about how in Godly Christian Africa, where they stand valiantly for the Gospel against the Western heathens, it is heterosexuals who are spreading AIDS all over the place, corrupt governments stand in the way of delivering what treatment IS available to sufferers, and valiant True Christians can't seem to understand that condemning and threatening people whose lives are at risk from this might not actually be a good public health initiative. Really funny coming from a chaplain of Mammon. Does he realize, I wonder, that there are many who consider what he does very much like he would consider a chaplain to a gay bar, encouraging, or as we would say here "huldering", them in their sin? Typical, though, you can support the "right kind" of sinner, just not the paraiahs.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 7 October 2008 at 1:40pm BST

Fr Mark
it's not just that the comments are horrid and offensive, they are also factually wrong, scientifically ignorant and plain stupid. I almost mind that more, because it make this priest either thick (not good in his job) or a liar (even worse).

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 7 October 2008 at 3:25pm BST

I am surprised that no one has commented on how hateful also are Mr Mullen's remarks about Muslims (reported by my colleague Riazat Butt in her Guardian article).
A couple of years ago when I was the paper's correspondent, Mullen approached me (somewhat to my surprise) to ask whether the Guardian would be interested in printing an article he had written criticising Rowan Williams for some remarks made in a Radio Four interview. He told me the Guardian had published articles of his in the past, so I said I would have a look at it.
When I saw the article (having also previously heard the Williams interview) it became apparent that not only had Mullen perversely and malignly misinterpreted the archbishop's remarks but had actually predicated his article on diametrically the opposite of what he had actually said.
I told Mullen this and advised him to listen again to the interview so that he did not misrepresent the archbishop. Four days later the same article, entirely unaltered, appeared in the Sunday Telegraph. He clearly did not bother to revise the article in the light of what the archbishop actually said, as opposed to what he hoped he had said.
This is a splenetic, disappointed and malevolent polemicist on whose word, charity or integrity it would be unwise for anyone to rely. There is nothing remotely humorous or satirical in his remarks. And I believe many folk in the City believe so too.

Posted by: stephen bates on Tuesday, 7 October 2008 at 4:39pm BST

Stephen, you are absolutely right. And I wish I could have expressed my feelings about him as prosaically as you.
The few posts that still survive in the Google cache don't include the particular pearl that Riazat spotted, but are very much of the same type - that of the late-night ramblings of a particularly unpleasant right winger, an anti-Muslim, homophobic, mysogynist who clearly thinks himself superior to those around him. What is more, he refers to John Peel as a "mediocrity". That's fighting talk.

Posted by: Graham Ward on Tuesday, 7 October 2008 at 7:02pm BST

Stephen: yes, you're quite right, his remarks about Muslims go with the territory, unfortunately.

The whole twisted moral outlook of Dr Mullen, viz let's kick the boot into anyone who is different or weak (whether they be muslim, female, gay or whatever), has evidently survived a career in the C of E without having been challenged by the organisation he works for, which is scary, isn't it?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 7 October 2008 at 7:04pm BST

Out pledge to free speech does not exist in a vacuum, abstracted. It is part of a citizenship context in democracy where we form a communal means of complicated discernment, including those important vitamins of agreeing to disagree while living to let live and treating people - so our religion guides us? - as if others were ourselves, our family.

Talking trash in public venues - blogs are public virtual venues, not at all like private moments or private letters - necessarily gets a range of critical responses, especially when it trots out flat earth stuff.

The boundaries that mark trash talk from traditionalistic negative views of, say, queer folks or women who know what they are doing in some skilled realms formerly reserved exclusively for men? Well these are wiggling and shifting about, not least thanks to the slow but sure trickle down of empirical knowledge that disconfirms this or that piece of the former negative claim taken for granted as closed truth.

If believers committed to these nasty traditionalistic negatives keep talking like this - pretty much as if the boundary markers were not moving - a whole generation of young citizens with gay friends and family, and with highly trained sisters, mothers, and women friends will simply stop listening. Such conservative or traditionalistic believers are simply preaching themselves out to the extreme margins of shared modern community life by indulging trash talk and failing to keep up with the changing round earth and solar system competency facts.

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 7 October 2008 at 7:18pm BST

From his "apology":

"I was not actually meaning to criticise individual homosexual persons, but the promoters of gay culture."

I guess this is evidence of his vast experience listening to gay people. Wow, with his obviously deep insight into us, why should we be anything but lovey-dovey to the good Chaplain of Mammon? I'd really like to find out what my culture is. Here all this time I thought I was a Newfoundlander, now it appears I actually have another culture entirely, one I am completely unaware of, and what's more it's being "promoted" by some people or other. I am somewhat insecure over the fact that they have never tried to promote that unknown culture to me. Am I in danger of losing my Faggot's Union card? Is it because I have no fashion sense to speak of? Is this why I have never received a copy of the Gay Agenda?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 10 October 2008 at 5:44pm BST

When I lived in the North East one of the things to enliven the week was Peter Mullen's regular article in the Northern Echo (though just what the people of County Durham had done to desrve the rantings of a City rector I never discovered). Suffice it to say that he just couldn't resist sounding off about what ever it was which had upset him that week, whether it was synods, political correctness, Common Worship, some dreadful act of the Labour Government and so on. This was coupled with accounts of the livery company dinners he had eaten and the wonderful city folk he had been banqueting with, all contributing to the riches of the nation. I wonder what he has to say now in these times of credit crunch, nationalising of the banks, plummeting stock markets and repossessions? Did he ever condemn fat cats and corporate greed from his city pulpit? I don't ever remember him doing so in his column. He is a bigot. I wonder who is the patron of his living?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Monday, 13 October 2008 at 12:05am BST

as for his offensive remarks about Muslims and the way they pray, has he ever looked at his congregation while they do the same?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Monday, 13 October 2008 at 12:12am BST

The patrons of Mullen's living are the Drapers' Company. It is highly appropriate that the living is "St Michael Cornhill with St Peter le Poer and St Benet Fink".

Posted by: cryptogram on Monday, 13 October 2008 at 10:36am BST

"Did he ever condemn fat cats and corporate greed from his city pulpit?"

But, everyone knows the fags and liberals are responsible for everything. Why just last week I single handedly bankrupted a bank in Iceland! It's been quite easy, really. I find all I have to do is kiss my partner in the street and the life savings of at least 15 families go up in smoke. No Church collusion with corporate greed, no compromise of the Gospel behind it, oh no, it's all because of us untattooed homos.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 13 October 2008 at 10:01pm BST
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