Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Archbishop and persecution claims

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued an ecumenical Easter Letter to fellow church leaders: Christians need to “witness boldly and clearly”. The press release says:

In his ecumenical Easter Letter to fellow church leaders, the Archbishop of Canterbury urges those living in politically secure environments to offer practical support as well as prayers for suffering Christians around the world, particularly in Zimbabwe, Mosul, Egypt and Nigeria.

“We need to keep our own fears in perspective. It is all too easy to become consumed with anxiety about the future of the Church and society. We need to need to witness boldly and clearly but not with anger or fear; we need to show that we believe what we say about the Lordship of the Risen Christ and his faithfulness to the world he came to redeem.”

The full text of the letter is below the fold.

Martin Beckford in the Telegraph reports this as Archbishop of Canterbury rebukes claims of ‘persecuted’ Christians in UK.

Riazat Butt in The Guardian has Archbishop of Canterbury rebukes clergy over ‘persecuted’ Christians.

Ekklesia has Archbishop of Canterbury issues challenge over ‘persecution’ claims.

Full text of the letter:

When St John tells us that the disciples met behind locked doors on the first Easter Day (John 20.19), he reminds us that being associated with Jesus Christ has never been easy or safe. Today this is evident in a wide variety of situations – whether in the terrible communal violence afflicting parts of Nigeria, in the butchery and intimidation of Christians in Mosul in recent weeks, in the attacks on the Coptic faithful in Egypt, or in the continuing harassment of Anglican congregations in Zimbabwe. As we mark the thirtieth anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador, we acknowledge that Christians will never be safe in a world of injustice and mindless fear, because Christians will always stand, as did Archbishop Romero, for the hope of a different world, in which the powerful have to let go of privilege and rediscover themselves as servants, and the poor are lifted up into joy and liberty.

This hope is rooted in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. His rising from the dead shows the world that death does not have the last word – whether the death of love, the death of security, even physical death itself. On the first day of the week, the first day of the new creation, God walks once again in the garden and begins to re-shape the whole world of our experience and our possibilities; the Second Adam wakes under the tree of the cross and promises fresh life, freedom and forgiveness, to the entire human world.

Wherever fear prevails, this promise will be seen as dangerous. But people still have the courage to identify themselves as Christians because they know that the resurrection demonstrates that Jesus is beyond all human power and violence, that ‘all authority in heaven and on earth’ is given to him (Matthew 28.18). The Christian may suffer and die witnessing to this truth, but death itself cannot extinguish the abiding power of Christ to transform and renew; the martyr knows this and fixes his or her eyes on that joyful vision.

We who live in more comfortable environments need to bear two things in mind. One is that fellow-Christians under pressure, living daily with threats and murders, need our prayers and tangible support – by personal contact, by continually reminding our governments and media of these things. To a Christian experiencing these threats, it matters more than most of us could imagine simply to know that they are not alone and not forgotten. But the second point to remember is that we need to keep our own fears in perspective. It is all too easy, even in comfortable and relatively peaceful societies, for us to become consumed with anxiety about the future of Church and society. We need to witness boldly and clearly but not with anger and fear; we need to show that we believe what we say about the Lordship of the Risen Christ and his faithfulness to the world he came to redeem.

The world will not be saved by fear, but by hope and joy. The miracle of the joy shown by martyrs and confessors of the faith is one of the most compelling testimonies to the gospel of Jesus. In whatever way we can, we must seek to communicate this joy, however dark or uncertain the sky seems. All authority belongs to Jesus, and into his wounded hands is placed the future of all things in heaven and earth. To him be glory for ever.

Rowan Cantuar: +

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 9:49pm BST | Comments (5) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | News | Opinion

new Anglican Primate of Nigeria

updated Maundy Thursday

Archbishop Peter Akinola has retired as Primate of All Nigeria. His successor as primate, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, was installed on 25 March and gave this sermon.

Riazat Butt has written in The Guardian about the new primate’s views as expressed in his sermon: The new archbishop’s old prejudice. Archbishop Okoh of Nigeria has been trotting out the same anti-gay rhetoric his predecessor, Peter Akinola, was famous for.

Ruth Gledhill has blogged about this in the Times: Nigerian Anglican primate speaks out on fear of women.

Ademola Oni has written in The Punch (described in its masthead as “Nigeria’s most widely read newspaper”) that Anglican Primate advises politicians on selfless service.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi at AllAfrica writes that Anglican Primate Vows to Fight Homosexuality.

Archbishop Okoh referred in his sermon to the the bishop of Liverpool’s address to his diocesan synod that we linked to here and here.

update

Pat Ashworth reports this in the Church Times as New Primate glad to be anti-gay.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 31 March 2010 at 2:27pm BST | Comments (10) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion | News

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Los Angeles suffragan consents - more reactions

The Fulcrum Leadership Team has published Where do we go from here? in response to the consents to the election of Mary Glasspool as bishop suffragan in the diocese of Los Angeles.

In response Matthew Davies at Episcopal Life has published ENGLAND: Conservative group denounces consent to Glasspool’s election in Los Angeles.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 30 March 2010 at 5:03pm BST | Comments (14) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion | ECUSA

religious rights of Christians

Updated Maundy Thursday

This weekend’s Sunday Telegraph carried a letter from Lord Carey and five other bishops which the paper headlined The religious rights of Christians are treated with disrespect.

Jonathan Wynne-Jones reported this in the Telegraph as Senior bishops call for end to persecution of Christians in Britain.

Maev Kennedy reported this in The Guardian as Bishops claim lack of respect for Christians.

The BBC has Christians discriminated against, bishops warn.

Jonathan Bartley at Ekklesia writes that Bishops should substantiate or desist over ‘persecution’.

George Pitcher in the Telegraph argues that British Christians aren’t persecuted, but they are held in contempt.

Colin Coward of Changing Attitude writes Bishops who complain about crucifix ban maintain prejudice against LGBT people.

Mary Kenny in the Irish Independent writes that Christians are at their best when persecuted, marginalised, disrespected and denied their rights.

Update

Ed Beavan reports this in the Church Times as Christians are discriminated against in UK, say bishops.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 30 March 2010 at 11:05am BST | Comments (16) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: News

Saturday, 27 March 2010

opinions before Holy Week

Giles Fraser in the Church Times writes that Salvation is found in the pit of death.

Pierre Whalon writes an essay for Anglicans Online Haiti and the Devil and ponders the question “Are national sins punished by natural catastrophes?”

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph: You’ve made a fortune - now let it go. There are sound religious and social reasons for giving your millions away, he says.

Nicholas Papadopulos writes in the Times on The lure of last words. Lent is traditionally the time to contemplate the final words uttered by Christ on the Cross.

Jonathan Sacks has a Credo article in the Times: If faith schools are so bad, why do parents love them? It may not be the faith in faith schools that makes them different, so much as the communities that build, support and sustain them.

William Doino Jr writes in the Times about Remembering Romero. Today [24 March] marks the 30th anniversary of the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador.

And finally a warning for those still planning their Palm Sunday services.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 27 March 2010 at 10:47am GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church

updated Maundy Thursday

The US Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops has published a draft of the 95-page report titled “Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church”. This is really two reports, one from the “Traditionalists” and one from the “Liberals”.

Episcopal Life has this story: Bishops’ theology committee publishes draft report on same-gender relationships which includes useful information of the report’s status. It starts:

The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops, concluding its six-day retreat meeting at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas, has posted a draft of the long-awaited 95-page report titled “Same-Sex Relationships in the Life of the Church” on the College for Bishops’ website here.

“For a generation and more the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion have been engaged in a challenging conversation about sexual ethics, especially regarding same-sex relationships in the life of the church,” Theology Committee Chair and Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley wrote in the report’s preface. “The hope of this work is that serious engagement in theological reflection across differences will build new bridges of understanding.”

A notation on the report’s table of contents page cautions that the report “has been edited in several places” following a discussion among the bishops on March 20. “The responses of several pan-Anglican and ecumenical theologians will be added to this study in the summer, along with some further editing, before a final edition is published,” the note concludes.

Episcopal Café reports this as House of Bishops posts same-sex report(s).

update

Bill Bowder reports this in the Church Times as US theologians have words over gay marriage.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 25 March 2010 at 6:09pm GMT | Comments (44) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Equality Bill latest

The Equality Bill received its third reading in the House of Lords yesterday. Reports of the debate are online at They Work for You and Lords Hansard. The amendments to clause 202 (amendments 4 and 5 in the debate) that we detailed earlier were carried. The bill now returns to the House of Commons for consideration of these and all the other Lords amendments.

Martin Beckford writes in the Telegraph Government insists vicars will not be sued for refusing ‘gay marriages’ in churches.

Simon Caldwell and Martin Beckford also wrote in the Telegraph before the Lords third reading debate that Equality Bill could be amended by Lords to benefit Catholic adoption agencies but the amendment referred to (number 7 in the debate) was not moved.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 24 March 2010 at 10:51am GMT | Comments (8) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

General Synod - questions and answers

The answers to the questions asked at last month’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod are now available.

Questions with Answers February 2010

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 24 March 2010 at 10:04am GMT | Comments (5) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Monday, 22 March 2010

Poon on the Covenant

Michael Poon has written a paper The Anglican Communion as Communion of Churches: on the historic significance of the Anglican Covenant.

It is available in various formats from Fulcrum and Global South Anglican.

The paper aims to draw out the historic significance of the Anglican Covenant for the Anglican Communion. It begins by examining the nature and reasons of the “ecclesial deficit” of the Anglican Communion. It points out that the ecclesial status of the Anglican Communion has never been clarified. The Anglican Communion arises historically as an accident. It has never been constituted as an ecclesial body. The paper traces the transformations in the Anglican ecclesiastical map amid powerful global undercurrents in the second half of the twentieth century. It reflects on the emergence of the status of the See of Canterbury as “focus of unity” of the Anglican Communion. It proceeds to point out how uncritical adoption of the term “instruments of unity” from Protestant ecumenical dialogues led to confusion and mistrust among Anglican Churches. The paper then explores the potentials of communion-ecclesiology for the Anglican Covenant. It goes on to argue that the Anglican Covenant, grounded in the New Covenant, provides the canonical structure of the Anglican Communion. It constitutes the particular Churches to be a confident Communion of Churches. The inter-Anglican structures of the Anglican Communion should in fact be the ecclesiastical embodiment of the Anglican Covenant.

The Revd Canon Dr Michael Poon is the Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia, Trinity Theological College, Singapore.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 22 March 2010 at 11:33am GMT | Comments (34) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Bishop of Chelmsford

From the Number10 website.

Monday 22 March 2010
Diocese of Chelmsford

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Stephen Geoffrey Cottrell, BA, Suffragan Bishop of Reading, for election as Bishop of Chelmsford in succession to the Right Reverend John Warren Gladwin, MA, on his resignation on the 31st August 2009.

Stephen Cottrell (aged 51) was born and brought up in Essex. He was educated at the Polytechnic of Central London where he took a BA in Media Studies in 1979. He then worked in the film industry and for a year at St Christopher’s Hospice in South London. He trained for ordination at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. From 1984 to 1988 he was a Curate at Christ Church Forest Hill, Southwark. From 1988 to 1993 he was Priest-in-Charge at Parklands St Wilfrid’s, Chichester and Assistant Director of Pastoral Studies, Chichester Theological College. From 1993 to 1998 he was Diocesan Missioner, in Wakefield and Bishop’s Chaplain for Evangelism. From 1998 to 2001 he was Missioner with Springboard the Archbishop’s initiative for evangelism and Consultant in Evangelism in Wakefield. From 2001 to 2004 he was Canon Residentiary at Peterborough Cathedral. Since 2004 he has been Area Bishop for Reading in the diocese of Oxford.

Stephen Cottrell is married and has three teenage children. His interests include music, he plays the guitar and tries to play the ukulele banjo, writing, he is the author of many books on evangelism, catechesis and spirituality and one book of short stories for children, cooking, poetry and film.

The diocese of Oxford has a press release: Bishop swaps Reading for Chelmsford.
And so does the diocese of Chelmsford: Next Bishop of Chelmsford comes home “hungry for us to be a Church that connects with every person and every community”.
As does the Church of England: Next Bishop of Chelmsford comes home “hungry for us to be a church that connects with every person and every community”.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 22 March 2010 at 8:18am GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Saturday, 20 March 2010

equinoctial opinion

Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, gave a lecture on Faith, hope and charity in tomorrow’s world at Lincoln Cathedral recently.

Hans Küng writes in the National Catholic Reporter about Ratzinger’s Responsibility: ‘Scandalous wrongs cannot be glossed over, we need a change of attitude’

Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian about Celibacy and child abuse. Many people blame celibacy for Catholic sexual abuse. But it’s much more likely to have played a role in the cover-up.

Theo Hobson in The Guardian If Quakers were more Christian. I admire the Quakers’ anti-authoritarian and minimalist ethos. But they’ve thrown the baby Jesus out with the bathwater.

Antony Lerman in The Guardian Embracing the religious marketplace. Faith leaders are naive to think that religion is marginalised. It benefits from a previously unimaginable freedom.

Geoffrey Rowell has a Credo column in the Times: Verses that lead us towards a greater understanding. The two great commandments that Jesus gave us are the love of God with all our heart, mind. soul and strength, and the love of our neighbour as ourselves.

Christine Allen in a Guardian Comment is free column writes Romero, a beacon of hope for the poor. Oscar Romero died 30 years ago. Yet he can still teach us much about good Christian values.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about A Primatial problem in Parliament.

Sebastian Bakare in the Church Times asks Who is behind the persecution? The plight of Anglicans in Harare raises questions of responsibility.

In a Sacred Mysteries column in the Telegraph, Taking the God out of good, Christopher Howse reviews The Rage Against God by Peter Hitchens

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 20 March 2010 at 12:21pm GMT | Comments (15) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 19 March 2010

CEC comments on Equality Bill and Adoption Agencies

The Cutting Edge Consortium has issued a press release:

CUTTING EDGE CONSORTIUM URGES HOUSE OF LORDS TO VETO MORE RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS IN EQUALITY BILL

The Cutting Edge Consortium (CEC) deplores the tabling, yet again, of an amendment to the Equality Bill, this time by Baroness Williams of Crosby, designed to provide an explicit exemption for religious fostering and adoption agencies from anti-discrimination law. The aim of Equalities legislation should be that services targeted at various population groups are provided in the overall context of achieving a more equal society, not to institutionalize discrimination.

(continued below the fold)

Equality Bill

Attempts to amend the Equality Bill to provide a new exemption specifically for religious fostering and adoption agencies have been repeatedly rebuffed in both Houses of Parliament. Recent attempts were made in the House of Lords by Lord MacKay of Clashfern and by Baroness Butler-Sloss. CEC agrees with Baroness Murphy’s comment at Committee stage:

“I would defend to the death the rights of religious groups and organisations to believe what they want to believe but, when it comes to how those religious groups behave in relation to the rest of society, they cannot exercise a right that so diminishes the rights of other groups. … these amendments are deeply, offensively, homophobic.”

CEC’s Maria Exall said:

“Everyone committed to promoting equality and non-discrimination will be alarmed that charities providing key services in the public interest will be able to act in a prejudicial way to LGBT people if these amendments are passed.”

CEC notes that claims are often made that this involves a matter of religious ‘doctrine’ but, for example, Catholic teachings on sexual orientation are not to be considered as “core doctrine”, and are officially recognised by the Vatican and Catholic theologians world-wide as Third Level teachings and subject to development. As such they require “religious respect” from Catholics but are also capable of conscientious dissent. Such dissent does not excommunicate anyone from the Catholic Church. The avoidance of conflict “with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers” ignores the reality that many people of faith exercise their right to dissent in this area of religious teachings across a number of faiths and denominations.

CEC urges all Peers to use the final stages of the Equality Bill to close any loosely worded loopholes in existing legislation and to reject the amendment to Schedule 3 of the Equality Bill tabled in the name of Baroness Williams of Crosby for consideration at Third Reading on 23 March 2010.

Catholic Care & the Charity Commission

The CEC notes with concern this week’s High Court judgment in the case brought by the Leeds-based Catholic Care child-care agency. CEC urges the Charity Commission to take careful account of how other Catholic adoption agencies have dealt creatively with this matter, before accepting the arguments that Catholic Care will now have to make in order to pursue its case.

Catholic Care seeks to change its charitable objectives so that it will be lawful for it to discriminate against same-sex couples seeking assessment as prospective foster-carers or adoptive parents. These revised objectives would expressly state:

“The Charity would only provide adoption services to heterosexuals…”

The Charity Commission must now consider whether the benefits of the charity operating in this discriminatory manner outweigh the disbenefits of it not operating at all.

That need arises solely because Catholic Care has itself decided that if the change is not approved, it will close down rather than follow one of the alternative routes used by other Catholic adoption agencies in responding to the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007.

The majority of other Catholic adoption agencies have not closed down. A minority has chosen to discontinue adoption work while still providing other services. Over the past 30 years, many of these agencies have never discriminated against either single homosexual people or, more recently, same-sex couples since legislative changes enabled such joint adoption. They do not propose to do so now. It is also crucial to note that children placed with such agencies are in the legal care of the local authority, not the agencies themselves. No local authority would wish to place a child with a charity which it perceives as discriminatory.

Although these agencies may no longer have the local Diocesan Bishop as a Trustee, they remain Catholic charities, retaining a majority of Catholic Trustees, fundraising in the Catholic community, pastorally supported by their relevant Bishops, Dioceses, local clergy and people, and have not changed their principle charitable aims/objectives apart from, in some circumstances, a change of name, e.g Caritas Care (Lancaster), Cabrini Childrens Society (Arundel & Brighton, Portsmouth, & Southwark), Faith in Families (Nottingham). Other Catholic agencies, such as Westminster Catholic Childrens Society and Catholic Care Leeds, have never accepted lesbian or gay applicants singly or as couples.

Most of these agencies remain members of Caritas Social Action, the officially recognised social welfare agency of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England & Wales.

It remains open to the Charity Commission to find that, on the evidence presented to it in this specific case such a change would not overall result in public benefit or gain. CEC believes that evidence should include the experience of other similar agencies.

The judge also noted that his decision was not a carte blanche for other religiously-based charities which provide public services and receive public funding to simply change their charitable instruments to introduce an expressly discriminatory element. Each case has to be evaluated by the Charity Commission on its merits.

Note for Editors:

The Cutting Edge Consortium, launched in November 2009, consists of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered groups, political and social justice activists, people of all faiths and none, trades unions and professional associations. It includes: a:gender, British Humanist Association, Centre for the Study of Christianity & Sexuality, Ekklesia, Inclusive Church, Interfaith Alliance UK, Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement, LGBT Consortium of Voluntary & Community Organisations, Liberal Judaism, Muslim Education Centre Oxford, National Secular Society, Pink Triangle Trust, Progressive British Muslims, Trades Union Congress.

Further information: cuttingedgeconsortium1@googlemail.com

Martin Pendergast - 020 8986 0807
Maria Exall - 07714 206404

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 March 2010 at 6:08pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

Archbishop of Dublin on the Anglican Covenant

The Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd John Neill, thinks that a two-tier fellowship may emerge in the Anglican Communion as the member- Churches debate signing the Anglican Covenant.

Dr Neill, who was speaking recently to members of the Marsh Society in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Dublin, said: “I don’t like two-tier fellowships, but it may be a way forward at the moment.”

Read the full article from the Church of Ireland Gazette:

Archbishop of Dublin fears emergence of ‘two-tier’ Anglican Communion by Patrick Comerford (scroll all the way down)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 March 2010 at 5:59pm GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Civil Partnerships: Ireland

The Republic of Ireland is considering a Civil Partnership Bill.

See this earlier report on what the Evangelical Alliance Ireland said about it.

The Church of Ireland Gazette has a report this week on what the Church of Ireland is doing in relation to it. See C. of I. delegation on Civil Partnership Bill (scroll down for item).

…”The group expressed the view that many in the Church of Ireland would welcome the legislation and that it was important that Government legislated for all its citizens. They did, however, raise issues relating to freedom of conscience and property.”

In response to a request for further information on those issues, the Gazette was told that some members of the delegation had expressed concern over freedom of conscience issues for registrars who may have objections to participating in civil partnership ceremonies for same-sex couples.

The issues of property, we were told, related to the availability of parish halls under the Equal Status Act in respect of goods and services. We were told that clarity was also sought on the issue of Church halls that were not made commercially available, and that Department officials had said they would respond on that point…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 March 2010 at 5:35pm GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion | equality legislation

Equality Bill: more Church Times reports

First of all, the articles, letters previously listed from last week are now all available without subscription.

Second, this week’s news report written by me can be read now, see Alteration proposed for Bill.

…The effect of the amendment is to require that the approval of in­dividual religious premises for the registration of civil partnerships needs consents from a “person spec­ified, or a person of a descrip­tion specified” in new regulations to be laid before Parliament after con­sultation with various religious bodies.

The present rule forbidding the use of any religious premises for civil-partnership registrations re­mains in force in the mean time. The amendment specifically allows for distinctions to be made, not only between religious premises and “other premises” but also between different kinds of religious premises. For example, the arrangements for Quakers might be different to those for Liberal Judaism. Nor would it be necessary for the regulations govern­ing civil partnerships to be identical to those relating to civil marriages in the same venue.

A spokesman for the Archbishops’ Council confirmed on Wednesday that the amendment took account of discussions held with the Govern­ment. The Church of England’s con­cern, he said, was to ensure that the regulations provided for an opt-in or opt-out at denominational level. The C of E (and other denominations) wanted to be able to nominate a national body to declare a position on this issue, before individual ap­plications could be made. This was what the Quakers themselves had done (Comment, 12 March)

And the CT blog has noted that Equality Bill: Amendment allowing civil partnerships in church buildings could be lost, and linked to the letter already published here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 19 March 2010 at 8:57am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Thursday, 18 March 2010

High Court rules in favour of adoption agency

Updated

The Chancery Division of the High Court has published its decision in the case of Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds) v Charity Commission for England and Wales & Ano[the]r.

You can read the ruling in full here, as web pages, or here as an .rtf file.

Earlier documents in the case (mentioned in the above) can be found here.

A press release from Catholic Care can be found here, and one from Stonewall can be found here.

There are newspaper reports:

The Times High Court reverses ban on Catholic Care’s anti-gay adoption policy by Ruth Gledhill and Rosemary Bennett and see also Catholics win latest stage in gay adoption battle on Ruth’s blog.

Guardian Riazat Butt Catholic adoption agency can turn away gay couples

Telegraph Matthew Moore Catholic adoption agency wins gay rights exemption ruling

Press Association Adoption society wins gay ruling

Reuters Catholic charity wins gay adoption ruling

Independent Sarah Cassidy Catholic group granted gay adoption exemption

Updates

Some of the press reports give an erroneous impression of what has happened so far. This report by Joshua Rozenberg is more reliable: While Catholics Care, Children Suffer, and the Christian Institute is remarkably muted in tone in this report: Glimmer of hope for RC adoption agency.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 18 March 2010 at 8:34am GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

Equality Bill: another letter to The Times

From here:

Trying to celebrate civil partnerships

Sir, On February 23 you published our letter, signed also by several senior Anglicans, urging the House of Lords to support Lord Alli’s amendment to permit civil partnerships to be held on the premises of Quakers, Liberal Judaism and Unitarians. You also published a powerful leader, “Equal before God”, in support of our letter.

Lord Alli’s amendment was carried in a free vote by 95 to 21 in the face of opposition from both front benches. Several speakers quoted our letter or your leader. The Government has now accepted it, but if the Equality Bill is incomplete at the dissolution of Parliament, it goes into what politicians call “wash-up”. Only the parts acceptable to both main parties survive; the rest fall.

We hope that, as they start to campaign for the general election, they will all give an express promise to protect the amendment.

Iain McLean, FBA
Professor of Politics, University of Oxford

Diarmaid Macculloch, FBA
Professor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford

Previous letter and leader article are here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 18 March 2010 at 8:11am GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Los Angeles suffragans complete consent process

Updated Saturday morning and Monday morning

Both suffragan bishops recently elected in Los Angeles have now completed the process of church-wide consents.

Los Angeles diocesan announcement: Episcopal church consents to Glasspool’s ordination

Los Angeles Bishop-elect Mary Douglas Glasspool has received the required number of consents from diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction to her ordination and consecration as a bishop, according to a March 17 statement from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s office.

Statements from the Los Angeles bishops-elect: Consent process complete for Bishop-elect Mary Glasspool

ENS report: Los Angeles Bishop-elect Glasspool receives church’s consent to ordination

Some initial press reports:

Los Angeles Times Episcopal Church approves ordination of openly gay bishop in Los Angeles

Associated Press Episcopal church approves 2nd gay bishop

New York Times Episcopalians Confirm a Second Gay Bishop

Update

Living Church Lambeth Regrets Consents for Canon Glasspool

…This is the full statement from Lambeth Palace:

It is regrettable that the appeals from Anglican Communion bodies for continuing gracious restraint have not been heeded. Following the Los Angeles election in December the archbishop made clear that the outcome of the consent process would have important implications for the communion. The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion reiterated these concerns in its December resolution which called for the existing moratoria to be upheld. Further consultation will now take place about the implications and consequences of this decision.

Living Church Communion Partners on Bishop-elect Glasspool

Fulcrum Fulcrum Response to Consents being given to the Consecration of Mary Glasspool

Further update

LGCM Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement welcomes confirmation of Mary Glasspool as Suffregan Bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 18 March 2010 at 7:25am GMT | Comments (30) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA

Monday, 15 March 2010

Equality Bill: more civil partnership amendments

New amendments have today been filed, for consideration at Third Reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday 23 March.

First, here is the main new amendment filed:

Clause 202
LORD ALLI
BARONESS NOAKES
BARONESS NEUBERGER

Page 125, line 25, at end insert—
“(2B) Provision by virtue of subsection (2)(b) may, in particular, provide that applications for approval of premises may only be made with the consent (whether general or specific) of a person specified, or a person of a description specified, in the provision.
(2C) The power conferred by section 258(2), in its application to the power conferred by this section, includes in particular—
(a) power to make provision in relation to religious premises that differs from provision in relation to other premises;
(b) power to make different provision for different kinds of religious premises.”
Page 125, line 29, at end insert—
“(3B) “Civil marriage” means marriage solemnised otherwise than according to the rites of the Church of England or any other religious usages.
(3C) “Religious premises” means premises which—
(a) are used solely or mainly for religious purposes, or
(b) have been so used and have not subsequently been used solely or mainly for other purposes.”

Now, here is the wording of Clause 202 as already amended, and showing in bold the effect of the above new amendment on that Clause:

Civil partnerships
Civil partnerships on religious premises
The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is amended as follows. 20
Omit section 6(1)(b) and (2). In section 6A, after subsection (2), insert—

“(2A) Regulations under this section may provide that premises approved for the registration of civil partnerships may differ from those premises approved for the registration of civil marriages.” 25

(2B) Provision by virtue of subsection (2)(b) may, in particular, provide that applications for approval of premises may only be made with the consent (whether general or specific) of a person specified, or a person of a description specified, in the provision.

(2C) The power conferred by section 258(2), in its application to the power conferred by this section, includes in particular—
(a) power to make provision in relation to religious premises that differs from provision in relation to other premises;
(b) power to make different provision for different kinds of religious premises.”

In section 6A, after subsection (3), insert—
“(3A) For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Act places an obligation on religious organisations to host civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so.”

(3B) “Civil marriage” means marriage solemnised otherwise than according to the rites of the Church of England or any other religious usages.

(3C) “Religious premises” means premises which—
(a) are used solely or mainly for religious purposes, or
(b) have been so used and have not subsequently been used solely or mainly for other purposes.”

And finally, below the fold is the wording of the amended clauses of the Civil Partnership Act 2004, to show where it would end up, if this new amendment is passed.

There are two other minor amendments filed:

Clause 216
LORD ALLI
BARONESS NOAKES
BARONESS NEUBERGER
Page 134, line 9, after “sections” insert
“202 (civil partnerships on religious premises),”

Schedule 27
LORD ALLI
BARONESS NOAKES
BARONESS NEUBERGER
Page 234, line 24, at end insert—
“Civil Partnership Act 2004 Section 6(1)(b) and (2)”

Civil Partnership Act 2004 as amended

Section 6 Place of registration

(1) The place at which two people may register as civil partners of each other—

(a) must be in England or Wales,
(b) must not be in religious premises, and
(c) must be specified in the notices, or notice, of proposed civil partnership required by this Chapter.

(2) “Religious premises” means premises which—

(a) are used solely or mainly for religious purposes, or
(b) have been so used and have not subsequently been used solely or mainly for other purposes.

(3) Subsections (3A) and (3B) apply in the case of registration under the standard procedure (including that procedure modified as mentioned in section 5).

(3A) The place must be—

(a) on approved premises, or
(b) in a register office.

(3B) If it is in a register office, the place must be open to any person wishing to attend the registration.

(3C) In this Chapter “register office” means a register office provided under section 10 of the Registration Service Act 1953.

Section 6A Power to approve premises

(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer may by regulations make provision for and in connection with the approval by registration authorities of premises for the purposes of section 6(3A)(a).

(2) The matters dealt with by regulations may include—

(a) the kind of premises in respect of which approvals may be granted;
(b) the procedure to be followed in relation to applications for approval;
(c) the considerations to be taken into account by a registration authority in determining whether to approve any premises;
(d) the duration and renewal of approvals;
(e) the conditions that must or may be imposed by a registration authority on granting or renewing an approval;
(f) the determination and charging by registration authorities of fees in respect of applications for the approval of premises and in respect of the renewal of approvals;
(g) the circumstances in which a registration authority must or may revoke an approval;
(h) the review of any decision to refuse an approval or the renewal of an approval, to impose conditions on granting or renewing an approval or to revoke an approval;
(i) the notification to the Registrar General of all approvals granted, renewed or revoked;
(j) the keeping by registration authorities of registers of approved premises;
(k) the issue by the Registrar General of guidance supplementing the provision made by the regulations.

( ) Regulations under this section may provide that premises approved for the registration of civil partnerships may differ from those premises approved for the registration of civil marriages.

(2B) Provision by virtue of subsection (2)(b) may, in particular, provide that applications for approval of premises may only be made with the consent (whether general or specific) of a person specified, or a person of a description specified, in the provision.

(2C) The power conferred by section 258(2), in its application to the power conferred by this section, includes in particular—

(a) power to make provision in relation to religious premises that differs from provision in relation to other premises;
(b) power to make different provision for different kinds of religious premises.

(3) Without prejudice to the width of subsection (2)(e), the Chancellor of the Exchequer must exercise his power to provide for the imposition of conditions as mentioned there so as to secure that members of the public are permitted to attend when two people sign the civil partnership schedule on approved premises in accordance with section 6(3A)(a)

(3A) For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Act places an obligation on religious organisations to host civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so.”

(3B) “Civil marriage” means marriage solemnised otherwise than according to the rites of the Church of England or any other religious usages.

(3C) “Religious premises” means premises which—

(a) are used solely or mainly for religious purposes, or
(b) have been so used and have not subsequently been used solely or mainly for other purposes.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 15 March 2010 at 2:59pm GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Reforming the House of Lords - 2

See earlier article here.

From Cif belief Goodbye to the bishops by Polly Toynbee:

Today an ICM poll for Power2010… shows that 74% of voters think unelected bishops should have no place in the legislature, and only 21% believe that they should. Even more persuasive is that 70% of Christians want the bishops gone, and only 26% are in favour of keeping them.

And, from Ekklesia ICM Survey of attitudes to bishops in Parliament and religion in public life:

The population of the UK is equally split over the importance of institutional religion in public life, but three-quarters believe it is wrong for bishops to have reserved places in the House of Lords.

The findings come in an ICM poll commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, as part of the Power 2010 initiative of which the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia is a member.

They are the first major survey of public opinion with regard to the place of bishops in the House of Lords. It was carried out on 10-11 March 2010.

Findings included:

  • 43% of people believe it is important that institutional religion plays a role in public life, whilst 41% feel it isn’t important.
  • Many more Muslims (84%) than Christians (50%) believe that it is important that ‘organised religion should play a role in public life’.
  • 74% of the population - including 70% of Christians - believe it is wrong that some Church of England Bishops are given an automatic seat in the House of Lords.
  • 65% say it is important that anyone who sits in the House of Commons or House of Lords and votes on laws is elected
  • Support for the place of Church of England bishops in the Lords is least in Scotland, where only 20% of the population believe their presence is significant.

Read the full survey results here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/content/survey_on_bishops_icm.pdf

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 15 March 2010 at 12:10am GMT | Comments (13) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Uganda: religious groups speak about the bill

I have not posted here about the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill for a whole month.

However, the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda has this week issued a statement. This body consists of: the Roman Catholic Church in Uganda, the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, the Church of Uganda, the Uganda Orthodox Church and the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

The statement can be found here (H/T Warren Throckmorton).

See also the analysis of this statement at Box Turtle Bulletin.

The earlier statement from the Church of Uganda was reported here.

Also, this article was published by the Washington Post on Friday In Africa, a step backward on human rights by Desmond Tutu.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 14 March 2010 at 10:10am GMT | Comments (15) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Canadian-African Dialogue

The Anglican Church of Canada has issued a Communiqué from the Dialogue of African and Canadian Bishops.

For a little over a year, five Canadian and six African dioceses have engaged in diocese-to-diocese theological dialogue on matters relating to human sexuality and to mission. With one exception, each diocese has established a theological working group to prepare papers and responses which were shared with their partner diocese on the opposite continent (see below for list of participants). Ontario and Botswana exchanged documents related to sustainability in the context of mission. These dialogues have emerged from, and are a deepening of, relationships established during the Indaba and Bible Study processes at the Lambeth Conference of 2008…

From February 24 to 26, the bishops of these dioceses met at the Anglican Communion Office, St. Andrew’s House in London, England. In a context grounded by common prayer and eucharistic celebration we reflected together on our local experiences of mission and the challenges facing the Church in our diverse contexts. Though the initial exchange of papers had been related in most cases to matters of human sexuality and homosexuality in particular, our face to face theological conversation necessarily deepened to explore the relationships between the Gospel and the many particular cultural realities in which the Church is called to mission…

There is a further report from ENS by Matthew Davies, see African, Canadian bishops engage in theological dialogue.

…The Rev. Canon Phil Groves, facilitator of the Anglican Communion Listening Process, told ENS he was “delighted” by the dialogue. “This initiative of the Anglican Church of Canada is a direct response to the call of ACC 13 for participation in mutual listening,” he said, referring to Resolution 12 passed by the 13th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, the communion’s main policy-making body.

Speaking about the meeting of African and Canadian bishops, Groves said: “It was a privilege for me to be invited to participate in their final day and to hear of their common commitment to mission in the way of Christ. Such dialogues build up trust and are a source of hope for the future of the communion.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 14 March 2010 at 8:00am GMT | Comments (4) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Canada

Saturday, 13 March 2010

mid-March opinion

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about In defence of cash and the City.

This week The Question in The Guardian’s Comment is free section has been Should religious leaders tell us how to vote? Is political activism on the part of church, mosque or synagogue, in the run-up to an election, acceptable?
Here are the replies.
Terry Sanderson The dangers of dishonesty. Religious influence on the political process is at its most pernicious when it is hidden.
Harriet Baber Render unto Caesar … Religious groups are free to express their opinions, but these should not be accorded any special privilege in the secular realm.
Nick Spencer Pope Gregory’s ghost. We’re haunted by the idea that religious figures might influence the political process. But would that be such a disaster?
Tehmina Kazi My vote is my choice. General guidance is all very well. But it’s not the place of religious leaders to provide a list of approved candidates.
Austen Ivereigh The Catholic bishops get political. Terry Sanderson paints the Catholic bishops’ pre-election statement as a cliche-ridden ‘damp squib’. Judge for yourself.

Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, has given a lecture on The finality of Christ in a pluralist world.

In a Sacred Mysteries column in the Telegraph, The way Jesus read the Bible, Christopher Howse looks at ‘Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI’.

In a Credo column in the Times Roderick Strange writes that Penance should not be a burden but the key to joy. Let’s use prayer and penance this Lent to discover a new awareness of the divine presence.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 13 March 2010 at 11:18am GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 12 March 2010

Equality Bill: new JCHR report

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has today published another report which considers the Equality Bill. Read the report starting here, or there is a PDF version here. For their earlier report, see over here.

Here is the summary of their latest findings on the Equality Bill:

In this Report, we return to two issues raised in our autumn 2009 report on the Equality Bill: employment by organisations based on religion or belief and school admissions.

Employment by organisations based on religion or belief

The Bill as introduced (and as passed the Commons) permitted a requirement to be of a particular sex, sexual orientation, marital or partnership status or not to be transsexual to be applied to employment for the purposes of an organised religion, but only if it could be shown to be a proportionate means of complying with the doctrines of the religion. The Bill also included a definition of what constituted employment for the purposes of an organised religion. Both of these qualifications have been removed in the House of Lords and the Government has stated that it will not try to restore them when the Bill returns to the Commons. The original wording of the Bill would have ensured that statute law accurately reflected case law, in the light of the Amicus judgment. The Lords amendments run the risk of generating uncertainty about the law and may mean that this provision does not comply with the relevant EU directive.

We also note further issues concerning the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 and the Education and Inspections Act 2006 and question why sections 58 and 60 of the former Act are exempted from the Equality Bill.

School admissions

We do not find persuasive the argument that it is necessary to allow faith schools to discriminate in their admissions on grounds of religion and belief in order to avoid a breach of the parents’ rights under Article 2 Protocol 1 of the European Convention. Another argument is that discrimination is necessary in order to maintain the distinctiveness of religious schools and so maintain the plurality of provision which, it is argued, is required by both Article 9 and Article 2 Protocol 1. This argument is weakened by evidence which suggests, in relation to Church of England schools, that plurality of provision has been preserved even where those schools do not have faith-based admissions criteria. It carries more weight in relation to other faith schools, however. In consequence, the exemption permitting faith schools to discriminate in their admissions on grounds of religion or belief may be overdrawn in this Bill.

In their subsequent detailed discussion of the first of these issues, they refer to the recent EC Reasoned Opinion and in a footnote provide a link to the complete text of it as a PDF. The concluding paragraphs of that discussion say:

1.11 In the absence of any narrowing or clarification of either Schedule 9(2) or 9(3) we share the view of the European Commission that UK law does not comply with the Framework Equality Directive

1.12 We note that further issues exist in respect of sections 58 and 60 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (SSFA), which in reserving a certain proportion of posts in state-maintained or aided ‘faith schools’ for individuals who adhere to the religious beliefs and ethos of the school in question may be in breach of the Framework Equality Directive 200/78/EC, on the basis that the reservation of such posts is not restricted to circumstances where it can be shown that a genuine, legitimate and justified occupational requirement to adhere to a particular religious belief can be said to exist.

Their Conclusions and Recommendations state:

Employment by organisations based on religion or belief

1. In the absence of any narrowing or clarification of either Schedule 9(2) or 9(3) we share the view of the European Commission that UK law does not comply with the Framework Equality Directive. (Paragraph 1.11)
2. We note that further issues exist in respect of sections 58 and 60 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (SSFA), which in reserving a certain proportion of posts in state-maintained or aided ‘faith schools’ for individuals who adhere to the religious beliefs and ethos of the school in question may be in breach of the Framework Equality Directive 200/78/EC, on the basis that the reservation of such posts is not restricted to circumstances where it can be shown that a genuine, legitimate and justified occupational requirement to adhere to a particular religious belief can be said to exist. (Paragraph 1.12)
3. Provisions of Section 37 of the 2006 [Education and Inspections] Act have also widened the ability to reserve certain posts filled by non-teaching staff. These provisions may constitute a breach of the principle of non-regression in EU law. (Paragraph 1.13)
4. We question why sections 58 and 60 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 are exempted from the Equality Bill. (Paragraph 1.14)

School admissions

5. The exemption permitting faith schools to discriminate in their admissions on grounds of religion or belief may be overdrawn in this Bill. (Paragraph 1.21)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 March 2010 at 6:18pm GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

Equality Bill: Church Times coverage

There is a leader today, Legal protection for clerical consciences.

A LITTLE historical perspective might help those who are alarmed at the consequences of the amendment to the Equality Bill passed in the House of Lords at the end of last month. The effect of it, if the Bill survives intact, would be to permit same-sex partnerships to be solemnised in Quaker meetings, Unitarian churches, and Liberal synagogues. Much attention was given last week to the fears expressed by the Bishops of Winchester and Bradford that clerics would be compelled to register civil partnerships, under threat of legal action for exercising discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. Political parties are considering the possible con­sequences on votes in the forthcoming election. There is even a petition being got up to have the amendment thrown out.

Two points are perhaps worth bearing in mind…

The article mentioned in the leader Quakers seek liberty for gay couples is subscription-only until next Friday. So also are several letters, and a discussion of newspaper reports in the Press column.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 March 2010 at 9:40am GMT | Comments (6) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Equality Bill: CofE Statement

The Church of England has published a note entitled Lord Alli’s amendment - civil partnerships. I am told that this was published on 5 March.

Key points regarding Lord Alli’s amendment to the Equality Bill:

  • the legislation has not yet completed its passage through Parliament so may not yet be in its final form
  • even once Royal Assent is achieved Ministers have to decide when each of its provisions are brought into force
  • and in this case there will also have to be fresh amending regulations before there is the possibility of places of worship becoming locations for civil partnerships
  • so, there is much that remains unclear for the moment and will remain so for quite some time yet.

Lord Alli’s amendment inserts a new clause into the Equality Bill that would remove provisions in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 that prevent all ‘religious premises’ being approved for the registration of civil partnerships. It does not, however, mean that anyone who wishes to do so will now be able to register a civil partnership in church - the legislation has not yet completed its passage through Parliament.

First, the Government need to consider whether the amendment, as drafted, is adequate or whether further amendments are needed to achieve what it intends; including the intention that it should not place “an obligation on religious organisation to host civil partnerships”.

Secondly, the new provision, if contained in the Bill as enacted, would not have effect until it was brought into force by order made by the Secretary of State. Given that existing Regulations make it impossible for religious premises to be approved for civil partnership registration, those Regulations would have to be amended before the new provisions could be brought into force. Amending those Regulations will, itself, require careful consideration.

As matters currently stand it remains the case that civil partnerships cannot be registered on religious premises. Precisely how that position may change remains to be seen.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 March 2010 at 8:21am GMT | Comments (20) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Churches and the General Election

The Mission and Public Affairs Division of the Church of England has updated its guidance note on “Countering far right political parties, extremist groups and racist politics”. You can read the January 2010 version here: Countering Racist Politics. (PDF also available)

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland has very comprehensive information at general election churches getting ready including two resource documents:

  • Faith in Politics: Preparing Churches for the General Election 2010
    Document covering a range of the most important policy issues, such as children and young people, criminal justice, the economy, education, environment, health, migration, poverty, and others.
  • Planning a Hustings Meeting
    Guidelines for local churches, Churches Together groups or Christian organisations thinking of organising a hustings meeting. This is also available in Welsh.

These can both be downloaded from here.

And there is a Find a Hustings page.

CCFON has announced that the former Bishop of Rochester, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is to host a series of General Election Hustings across England in order to help local Christians question candidates for Westminster seats.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 12 March 2010 at 8:17am GMT | Comments (1) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church in Wales | Church of England | News | Scottish Episcopal Church

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Reforming the House of Lords

Ekklesia has a press release, Bishops urged to play leading role in reform of House of Lords.

The religion and society think-tank Ekklesia has today teamed up with democracy campaign Power2010 in an initiative to urge Church of England bishops to take a lead in reforming the House of Lords.

Local churches and others are being encouraged to contact bishops, and ask them to continue in their support for the ‘bottom up’ campaign to reinvigorate democracy, which saw 100,000 votes cast, many in support of a reformed Second Chamber.

Several bishops have previously spoken favourably about Power2010, which aimed to identify five key political reforms.

A public vote, which finished on 22 February 2010, saw an all elected second chamber supported as the third most popular reform…

And a further article is titled Come on board for Lords reform, bishops urged.

From today, people are able to email all the bishops with a fully customisable message set up through the Power2010 website: http://www.power2010.org.uk/faith Hundreds have done so already, say organisers.

(At the time of writing this article, over 16,000 emails have been sent.)

From the Power2010 blog, there is Join our call for Bishops to back reform of the Lords.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 11 March 2010 at 6:10pm GMT | Comments (15) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

News from around the USA

From Los Angeles, we learn that Mary Glasspool has now received the required number of consents from standing committees of TEC dioceses. Consents from the bishops with jurisdiction are still awaited. See Los Angeles diocesan report here, and ENS report over here.

From South Carolina, there is news of resolutions to be considered at the 26 March diocesan convention. See the full text of these resolutions (also available as a PDF). ENS has a report titled Convention to consider resolutions on Episcopal identity, diocesan authority.

Hearings are due soon in lawsuits in both Fort Worth and Virginia:

  • The Court of Appeals for the Second District of Texas has announced that it will hear oral argument on the writ sought in the case of the Diocese of Fort Worth on Wednesday, April 14. For some of the background to this case, see here. For the views of those who have seceded from TEC, see this page and also this page.
  • The Virginia Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia during the week of April 12-16. See diocesan press release. Documentation is all available here. Press release from ADVA is over here.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 March 2010 at 10:57pm GMT | Comments (19) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Supreme Court declines to hear Ladele appeal

In Islington registrar loses appeal we reported on the Court of Appeal decision last December.

Now, Lillian Ladele has been refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

See Martin Beckford Telegraph Christian registrar denied leave to appeal gay wedding refusal.

Other reports from the Press Association, and from the BBC.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 9:06pm GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

Responses to James Jones and variety of ethical conviction

Updated Tuesday evening

In our latest weekend round-up of opinion we linked to an address by James Jones, the bishop of Liverpool, to his diocesan synod about allowing a variety of ethical conviction in the church.

The diocese has issued a press release: Bishop of Liverpool calls for Anglicans to “accept a diversity of ethical convictions about human sexuality”.

Ekklesia has reported the address as Evangelical bishop “in sympathy” with same-sex partnerships.

Colin Coward of Changing Attitude has welcomed the bishop’s address in James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool calls for Anglicans to “accept a diversity of ethical convictions about human sexuality”.

But Andrew Goddard at Fulcrum does not agree with most of what the bishop has written: Accepting Ethical Diversity?: A Critical Appraisal of the Bishop of Liverpool’s Presidential Address.

And Anglican Mainstream has Bishop James Jones muddies the waters again.

Update
Colin Coward has written a response to Andrew Goddard’s article: Reactions to the Bishop of Liverpool – Andrew Goddard on Fulcrum.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 10:40am GMT | Comments (26) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | Opinion

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Lord Alli replies to the Bishop of Winchester

Lord Alli has written on the Telegraph website about the amendment passed in the House of Lords last week, and the ensuing discussion, see A victory for religious freedom. It reads in part as follows:

…There was nonetheless huge concern from the Church of England and the Catholic Church that they would be forced – against their will – to host Civil Partnerships.

But we had included a specific provision in the amendment to ensure religious freedom which stated quite plainly: “For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Act places an obligation on religious organisations to host Civil Partnerships if they do not wish to do so.”

Religious freedom means letting the Quakers, the Unitarians and the Liberal Jews host Civil Partnerships: a decision that they had considered in prayer and decided in conscience.

But religious freedom also means respecting the decision of the Church of England and the Catholic Church – decisions also made in prayer and taken in conscience – that they do not wish to do so.

That is what we agreed during the debate, and trying to pretend otherwise is to entirely misrepresent the way which this decision was taken.

I was therefore saddened by the Bishop of Winchester, who tried to characterise this debate by suggesting that Church of England vicars will be forced to host Civil Partnerships in their building.

Let’s not pretend that this amendment forces anything onto anyone. Let’s not pretend that individual clergy are going to face litigation. Let’s not pretend that churches will have to close just for obeying Church of England law.

This amendment was all about allowing religious groups to obey their own law, and the Bishop of Winchester should be above sensationalising the issue.

I was also saddened that the Bishop of Winchester was able to condemn our decision in the press, but didn’t turn up to listen to the debate, or indeed to cast a vote.

Out of the 26 bishops entitled to be there, only two made the effort to join the discussion – despite it being an otherwise well-attended debate.

You have to ask the question: if it was so important, if the consequences of this decision were to be so catastrophic, why were they absent from a debate which had been on the diary for weeks?

So let me assure the Bishop of Winchester and all those concerned: unless their religious organisation wants it, or unless Parliament changes the law, there is absolutely no risk of being forced to carry out any ceremony if they do not wish to…

The newspaper edition reports the story in a separate article, see Lord Alli attacks bishops in ‘gay marriage’ row.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 7 March 2010 at 2:12pm GMT | Comments (27) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Saturday, 6 March 2010

opinion for early March

Lord Carey has complained that Christians are being bullied in the UK; see for example this Church Times report.
In response Riazat Butt in The Guardian asks Who’s bullying who? Lord Carey thinks Christians are being bullied by the political establishment. In reality, they enjoy many privileges.
And Frank Skinner in the Times writes Persecute me – I’m after the Brownie points. We Christians thrive as a minority. A bit of strict us-and-them keeps up the quality.

Theo Hobson writes in The Guardian about The whited sepulchres of Anglicanism
Bishops praising religious liberty are as phony as Thatcherites praising compassion

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Gormley leaves a note at St Paul’s.

Richard Harries writes in the Times How could I be a Catholic, stuck in the past?
and Dwight Longenecker responds with Is there any such thing as a “Catholic-minded Anglican?”

Edward King, bishop of Lincoln, died on 8 March 1910. To mark the centenary, the archbishop of Canterbury had spoken to Crosslincs, the Lincoln diocesan magazine: Bishop of the Poor: Edward King reinvented the role of diocesan bishop.

Christopher Howse in the Telegraph asks How can God be inside us?

Peter Townley in a Times Credo column writes For human endeavour, we should read divine initiative. The key theme is power and how we use it as we journey with the Lord into the desert this Lent.

James Jones, bishop of Liverpool, gave an address to his diocesan synod today about allowing a variety of ethical conviction in the church.

Just as Christian pacifists and Christian soldiers profoundly disagree with one another yet in their disagreement continue to drink from the same cup because they share in the one body so too I believe the day is coming when Christians who equally profoundly disagree about the consonancy of same gender love with the discipleship of Christ will in spite of their disagreement drink openly from the same cup of salvation.

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 6 March 2010 at 4:06pm GMT | Comments (14) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion

Friday, 5 March 2010

Quakers respond to the Bishop of Winchester

Update

The Quaker position is admirably explained in a booklet, available starting here: We are but witnesses: same sex marriages (also there is a PDF version linked from there).

Ekklesia has two items:

Symon Hill writes about Scaremongering and religious liberty and he concludes:

…Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester, has predicted (with no evidence whatsoever) that the Bill will lead to clergy being sued for refusing to carry out such ceremonies. It is frustrating that the media should pay so much attention to such an unfounded prediction, let alone that a national daily paper should lead with a headline wording this prediction as fact.

Since the vote in the Lords, those who are afraid of religious same-sex partnerships have latched on to Scott-Joynt’s wild warnings as an excuse for opposing the legislation. Knowing how mean it would appear to refuse religious liberty to others, they claim instead that it is their own religious liberty which is under threat.

It is sad that some seem to think that a thing must either be prohibited or compulsory, and cannot be optional. It says a great deal about their world view that they are unable to envisage a situation of real religious liberty, in which different groups can promote their views and values through dialogue and persuasion rather than coercion and the misuse of law.

Iain McLean A reply to Michael Scott-Joynt over religious civil partnerships and here is an extract:

…The issues which still divide us seem to be:

Does passing the Alli amendment send us down a slippery slope? The Times and Telegraph reports on what you say about this are, I think, rather uncritical. I am surprised that the Government Equalities Office has not commented on them, since, as you know, Lord Alli and the three denominations that sought his amendment all insist that it is designed to apply only to those denominations that request it, hence the ‘for the avoidance of doubt’ clause that he added in the version that was carried in the Lords.

Neither the Quakers nor the Church of England are congregationalist. Our Yearly Meeting decided to seek what is now the Alli amendment. It is, presumably, for your Synod to discuss the same subject and come to its own view. If it does not wish to offer civil partnerships in church, how might your (and/or Lord Tebbit’s) nightmare unfold?

Case 1: an incumbent conducts a civil partnership ceremony in defiance of his/her bishop. But the ceremony would have no legal standing unless the incumbent had applied to be a ‘religious organisation’. I am sure the regulations can be drafted so as to ensure that applications to conduct civil partnerships are only entertained from the highest judicatory of the denomination.

Case 2: a militant same-sex couple apply to a church for a partnership purely in order to sue the vicar after the application is refused. First, I deplore the efforts of Ben Summerskill, Peter Tatchell and others to use the Alli amendment as a wedge to drive civil partnership into an unwilling Church of England. Nor was the letter to The Times that some of your colleagues signed so intended. I drafted it to make clear that it was not about the Church of England.

Second, I cannot see how such an action would get anywhere in a UK court in the face of the clear wording of the Alli amendment. In recent discrimination cases, the courts have been unsympathetic towards politically motivated anti-discrimination claims.

Case 3: a loving same-sex couple do the same, in sorrow rather than anger. It would be very peculiar for them to put their litigiousness ahead of their love. If they are comfortable with the usage of Friends and willing to follow the (quite onerous) requirements laid down in Quaker Faith and Practice to test their commitment, then I hope they would choose that route. I am sure the Unitarians would also welcome them.

In none of those three cases do I see any road to Strasbourg.

Maintaining the distinction between civil partnership and marriage….

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 5 March 2010 at 6:36pm GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Equality Bill: news reports

Updated

First, the Church Times has this report, written by me, on this week’s debate in the House of Lords, Religious bodies can host gay ceremonies, say peers.

Last week’s report, also by me, is now available to non-subscribers, see Civil partners: call for religious option.

This morning, Martin Beckford reports in the Telegraph that Harriet Harman could kill off ‘gay marriages in church’ plan.

In the same paper, Norman Tebbit writes about Why I tried to stop Lord Alli forcing through same-sex church ‘weddings’.

Update

Church Society has a press release, Religious Ceremonies for Civil Partnerships.

Changing Attitude has Changing Attitude’s goals and bishop’s changing attitudes.

Jonathan Bartley has Gay Church blessings and a crisis of faith: Fisking Damian Thompson.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 5 March 2010 at 8:44am GMT | Comments (10) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Civil Marriage in Washington DC

The District of Columbia in the USA recently became the sixth jurisdiction in the USA to enact a change to its civil marriage laws, to permit same-sex couples to get married. The five others are New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont.

The law went into effect this week, after the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court declined to order a delay.

The Bishop of Washington, John Chane issued this press release and these guidelines (PDF) for clergy. (The Diocese of Washington includes the District of Columbia and several counties of Maryland.)

Episcopal Bishop: Priests may preside at civil marriages in D. C.

Episcopal priests in the Diocese of Washington may preside at civil same-sex marriages in the District of Columbia under guidelines released today by Bishop John Bryson Chane. No priest is required to preside at such ceremonies.

“Through the grace of Holy Baptism, there are no second class members of the Body of Christ, “ Chane said. “We are of equal value in the eyes of God, and any one of us may be called by the Holy Spirit into holy relationships as well as Holy Orders.”

At its General Convention in July, the Episcopal Church granted bishops with jurisdiction where civil same-sex marriage is legal the discretion to “provide generous pastoral responses to meet the needs of members of this church.” Chane joins bishops in Iowa, Vermont and Massachusetts in permitting clergy to preside at civil same-sex marriages. Diocesan clergy in Washington have long been permitted to offer liturgical blessings to same-sex couples.

Chane’s guidelines do not specify what rites clergy may use when officiating at a civil marriage. “I would prefer to work that out in consultation with the clergy who will be performing these services,” he said…

For more background, see the ENS report by Mary Frances Schjonberg WASHINGTON: Priests may preside at civil marriages in D.C.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 5 March 2010 at 7:52am GMT | Comments (7) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Italian crucifix case: appeal request accepted

See Swords crossed over a crucifix for what this is about.

press release from the European Court of Human Rights:

Lautsi v. Italy (application no. 30814/06)

CRUCIFIX: THE CASE OF LAUTSI v. ITALY WILL BE EXAMINED BY THE COURT’S GRAND CHAMBER

The five-judge panel of the Grand Chamber, meeting on 1 and 2 March 2010, accepted the referral request relating to the case of Lautsi v. Italy submitted by the Italian Government on 28 January 2010. The case will therefore be examined by the Grand Chamber, which will give its ruling in a final judgment…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 6:22pm GMT | Comments (3) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

Lord Alli's amendment explained

Updated Sunday evening

The amendment passed by the House of Lords earlier this week affects two sections of the Civil Partnership Act 2004. One of these sections, 6A, was itself an amendment to the Act, and came in the Civil Partnership (Amendments to Registration Provisions) Order 2005. That order also amended Section 6 itself.

Below the fold is the full text of sections 6 and 6A, as previously amended, and marked up with Lord Alli’s amendments:

(1) The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is amended as follows.
(2) Omit section 6(1)(b) and section 6(2).
(3) In section 6A, after subsection (2), insert—
“( ) Regulations under this section may provide that premises approved for the registration of civil partnerships may differ from those premises approved for the registration of civil marriages.”
(4) In section 6A, after subsection (3), insert—
“( ) For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Act places an obligation on religious organisations to host civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so.”

The main, if not the only, other piece of legislation that would need to be revised to implement this change is The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) Regulations 2005.

Clause 11 of The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) Regulations 2005 which reads as follows, will not be amended, however.

(1) Any proceedings conducted on approved premises shall not be religious in nature.

(2) In particular, the proceedings shall not—

(a) include extracts from an authorised religious marriage service or from sacred religious texts;
(b) be led by a minister of religion or other religious leader;
(c) involve a religious ritual or series of rituals;
(d) include hymns or other religious chants; or,
(e) include any form of worship.

3) But the proceedings may include readings, songs, or music that contain an incidental reference to a god or deity in an essentially non-religious context.

4) For this purpose any material used by way of introduction to, in any interval between parts of, or by way of conclusion to the proceedings shall be treated as forming part of the proceedings.

Civil Partnership Act 2004 as amended

Section 6 Place of registration

(1) The place at which two people may register as civil partners of each other—

(a) must be in England or Wales,
(b) must not be in religious premises, and
(c) must be specified in the notices, or notice, of proposed civil partnership required by this Chapter.

(2) “Religious premises” means premises which—

(a) are used solely or mainly for religious purposes, or
(b) have been so used and have not subsequently been used solely or mainly for other purposes.

(3) Subsections (3A) and (3B) apply in the case of registration under the standard procedure (including that procedure modified as mentioned in section 5).

(3A) The place must be—

(a) on approved premises, or
(b) in a register office.

(3B) If it is in a register office, the place must be open to any person wishing to attend the registration.

(3C) In this Chapter “register office” means a register office provided under section 10 of the Registration Service Act 1953.

Section 6A Power to approve premises

(1) The Chancellor of the Exchequer may by regulations make provision for and in connection with the approval by registration authorities of premises for the purposes of section 6(3A)(a).

(2) The matters dealt with by regulations may include—

(a) the kind of premises in respect of which approvals may be granted;
(b) the procedure to be followed in relation to applications for approval;
(c) the considerations to be taken into account by a registration authority in determining whether to approve any premises;
(d) the duration and renewal of approvals;
(e) the conditions that must or may be imposed by a registration authority on granting or renewing an approval;
(f) the determination and charging by registration authorities of fees in respect of applications for the approval of premises and in respect of the renewal of approvals;
(g) the circumstances in which a registration authority must or may revoke an approval;
(h) the review of any decision to refuse an approval or the renewal of an approval, to impose conditions on granting or renewing an approval or to revoke an approval;
(i) the notification to the Registrar General of all approvals granted, renewed or revoked;
(j) the keeping by registration authorities of registers of approved premises;
(k) the issue by the Registrar General of guidance supplementing the provision made by the regulations.

( ) Regulations under this section may provide that premises approved for the registration of civil partnerships may differ from those premises approved for the registration of civil marriages.

(3) Without prejudice to the width of subsection (2)(e), the Chancellor of the Exchequer must exercise his power to provide for the imposition of conditions as mentioned there so as to secure that members of the public are permitted to attend when two people sign the civil partnership schedule on approved premises in accordance with section 6(3A)(a)

( ) For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Act places an obligation on religious organisations to host civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 9:44am GMT | Comments (0) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

What were the bishops doing?

Dave Walker has the answer:

Cartoon: What the bishops were doing whilst civil partnerships in church were being voted on

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 at 5:16pm GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

AAC view of Anglican Communion governance

The American Anglican Council (a body which is closely associated with ACNA) has published a document entitled COMMUNION GOVERNANCE The Role and Future of the Historic Episcopate and the Anglican Communion Covenant by Stephen Noll.

The document itself is a PDF file available here or as web pages here.

There is an introduction and explanation of it by Phil Ashey which can be found at Introduction to “Communion Governance”. The key summary is:

1. The conclusion of this essay is that the one matter of principle that cannot be abandoned without abandoning our particular catholic and Anglican heritage is the responsibility of the ordained and bishops in council in particular, to rule and adjudicate matters of Communion doctrine and discipline.

2. If this is true, then the Lambeth Conference and the Primates’ Meeting (with the Archbishop of Canterbury presiding as primus inter pares) must be seen as the primary organs to deal with articulation of the faith, as happened at Lambeth 1998, and with breaches of the faith, as has not happened since then.

3. There must be only one track: those who adopt the Covenant are members of the Communion; those who do not adopt it are not. Bp. Mouneer Anis is right: when a sufficient number of Provinces have adopted the Covenant, the ACC and its Standing Committee should stand down and be constituted solely from Covenant-keeping Provinces. (pp. 48-49)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 at 4:56pm GMT | Comments (22) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Equality Bill: Lord Alli's amendment succeeds

Updated again Wednesday afternoon

The amendment proposed by Lord Alli was passed in the House of Lords by a vote of 95 to 21.

News reports:

PA Civil partnership church ban lifted

The Times Peers vote for church civil partnership ceremonies

Daily Mail Gay couples now able to marry in church after House of Lords lifts ban

Telegraph Peers vote to allow homosexuals to marry in church

Ekklesia Parliament votes to recognise religious same-sex partnerships

BBC Church gay ceremonies ban lifted

The Bishop of Bradford spoke against the amendment and voted against it.
The Bishop of Newcastle voted in favour of it.

Others voting in favour included Lord Harries of Pentregarth, who also spoke.
Others voting against included Lord Eames.

Updates

Hansard report of the debate on this amendment starts here. For the PDF version go over here.

For the official news report see this page.

And for an official analysis of the voting patterns see this.

Afternoon update

Reuters Gay activists welcome vote on religious civil partnerships

Independent Gay weddings to be allowed in church

Ruth Gledhill Bishop of Winchester slams gay marriage in church ‘fudge’ headline changed to: Bishop of Winchester warns clergy could be sued over gay marriage

Andrew Brown Civil partnerships win in the Lords

George Pitcher Lords vote for “gay weddings” – so what?

Colin Coward Civil Partnerships in religious buildings - at last, ‘moderate’ dissent among the bishops, and dishonesty from one who should know better

Peter Ould Lord Alli’s Amendment Passes

Evangelical Alliance Churches must be free from fear of lawsuits over civil partnerships, says Evangelical Alliance

Stonewall House of Lords votes by majority of 74 for civil partnerships in religious premises

Ekklesia Same-sex partnership change highlights need to overhaul marriage law

Quakers in Britain Quakers welcome debate on equality

Christian Institute Homosexual unions allowed in churches

LGCM Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement celebrates the decision by the House of Lords to allow civil partnerships to be performed in places of worship

CCFON House of Lords vote to allow Civil Partnerships to take place in Church

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 3 March 2010 at 7:15am GMT | Comments (28) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

civil partnerships: still more on the amendment

Updated twice

Several articles opposing the Equality Bill amendment proposed by Lord Alli have appeared.

Fulcrum has an article by Andrew Goddard Civil Partnerships and Religion:Some Cautions and Questions.

Andrew Carey has written in the CEN and republished by Anglican Mainstream Bishops facing real issues.

Peter Ould has written Blessing Civil Partnerships in Church.

All of these were written before the revised amendment text was published, although Andrew Goddard has made some changes to take account of it.

Peter has now also commented on the new amendment here.

On the other side of this debate, Colin Coward has written Civil Partnerships in religious buildings - at last, ‘moderate’ dissent among the bishops, and dishonesty from one who should know better.

Second Update

Gavin Drake has weighed in with Let’s all play ‘Pin the tail on the law’ with Lord Alli.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 2 March 2010 at 12:10pm GMT | Comments (17) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Monday, 1 March 2010

US Supreme Court denies certiorari

From a press release by the Los Angeles diocese:

The U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it has denied a petition to hear an appeal from a breakaway congregation seeking claim to the property of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church of La Crescenta, California. The court posted its action, together with dozens of other petitions denied, on its web site.

Meeting in conference on Feb. 26, the high court declined to hear the petition filed by St. Luke’s Anglican Church of La Crescenta, whose members voted in 2006 to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Go here to read a statement by the Bishop of Los Angeles.

ENS report: LOS ANGELES: U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear La Crescenta petition on property case

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 1 March 2010 at 10:52pm GMT | Comments (12) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA

civil partnerships: more on the amendment

There was a letter in the Guardian this morning from the three denominations seeking this change: Church partnerships.

Richard Harries has written an article, now available at Cif belief Commitment we should encourage. Here is part of what he says:

…Some Church of England bishops, who were hardly enthusiastic about civil partnerships in the first place, fear that if this is allowed it would blur the distinction [between] them and marriage. But this is a fundamental issue of religious freedom. On what grounds can any body claim religious freedom for itself but deny it to others? The bishops may or may not approve of what Quakers, Liberal Jews and Unitarians want, but that is beside the point. What these bodies want would harm no one, and it accords with their deepest religious convictions. Religious freedom is indivisible. The only reason for denying it must be that of John Stuart Mill, namely if some public harm would result.

The harm to be taken into account need not be only physical, as race relations legislation shows. So it could be argued that allowing some faith communities to perform civil ceremonies on their premises was harmful in the sense that it undermines the institution of marriage in our society. But just the opposite is true. If we accept the argument that we need to retain both the term marriage and the term civil partnership, and that they are not identical, it seems to me clear from a Christian point of view that a ceremony in which two people commit themselves to a faithful, lifelong relationship before witnesses, partakes of the nature of a marriage. As such, from a Christian point of view, it can also express the biblical truth that such a relationship reflects the undeviating faithfulness of God towards us and which, according to St Paul, has its prototype in the relationship of christ to his church…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 1 March 2010 at 4:16pm GMT | Comments (18) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation

Equality Bill: revised amendment on civil partnerships

from here

LORD ALLI
BARONESS BUTLER-SLOSS
BARONESS CAMPBELL OF SURBITON
53* Insert the following new Clause—

Civil partnerships

Civil partnerships on religious premises
(1) The Civil Partnership Act 2004 is amended as follows.
(2) Omit section 6(1)(b) and section 6(2).
(3) In section 6A, after subsection (2), insert—
“( ) Regulations under this section may provide that premises approved for the registration of civil partnerships may differ from those premises approved for the registration of civil marriages.”
(4) In section 6A, after subsection (3), insert—
“( ) For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Act places an obligation on religious organisations to host civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so.”

Analysis:

This is a substantially changed amendment. The original version read (changes marked by lining through):

(a) section 2(5) is omitted;
(b) section 6(1)(b) is omitted;
(c) section 6(2) is omitted;
(d) section 93(3) is omitted;
(e) section 137(5) is omitted.

The main effect of the changes is to retain the requirement that “No religious service is to be used while the civil partnership registrar is officiating at the signing of a civil partnership document”. Also the scope is now limited to England & Wales.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 1 March 2010 at 10:26am GMT | Comments (11) | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation