Comments: Moral, But No Compass

"Church of England feels Marginalised, Excluded and Neglected" is, not surprisingly, the head-line of Stand Firm. But the Bishops do sit on the House of Lords still - or am I very much mistaken?

I must admit I find this kind of complaining less than edifiying...

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Saturday, 7 June 2008 at 5:17pm BST

Yes, let's have a minister for religion, like the Scandinavian countries. And let one of the minister's first tasks be to ensure that all religions in the UK respect human rights and do not discriminate against women or gay people. Sounds great to me!

Posted by Fr Mark at Saturday, 7 June 2008 at 5:34pm BST

Why do the words 'pot', 'kettle' & 'black' come to mind ?

Fr Mark I think there is lot to be said for your idea.

Why doesn't the C of E just get on with it ?

cf Matthew 25 --loads to be getting on with there

Posted by L Roberts at Saturday, 7 June 2008 at 6:55pm BST

Pathetic.

The arrogance of the church never ceases to astound me. They should be treated like any other interest group with opinions, not given some sort of 'special place' in society.

The role of the CofE in the community life of the country is, for most people, almost non-existent.

Its time to remove religion to the private sphere and have a proper secular democracy.

Posted by Merseymike at Saturday, 7 June 2008 at 9:19pm BST

Is this a stealth effort to promote disestablishment? How very odd to hear the church accuse the state of religious illiteracy. With the quality of teaching emerging from the church in recent years, it is no wonder people give up on it. Educator, teach thyself...

Posted by Tobias Haller at Saturday, 7 June 2008 at 9:39pm BST

This isn't a Church of England report, but an independently produced report commissioned from the Von Hugel Institute in Cambridge by the C of E. The accounts so far have been selective and sensationalised. There's a lot more to come.

Posted by Simon Barrow at Saturday, 7 June 2008 at 10:19pm BST

I take your point SB and have amended the intro line. Though I think if the CofE is paying, it can be argued they own it...

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Saturday, 7 June 2008 at 10:44pm BST

I think it fascinating that, after a decade of leadership from a prime minister who was considered the most publicly religious politician in Britain in decades that the Church should come out and say his party is unsupportive of Christianity or religion in general.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Sunday, 8 June 2008 at 12:12am BST

"The report, commissioned for the Church of England and to be published on Monday, accuses the Government of discriminating against the Christian Churches in favour of other faiths, including Islam."

Take away their PRIVILEGE, and they squeal "Discrimination!"?

Clearly, the ConEvs are at work here...

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 8 June 2008 at 3:47am BST

Simon S: "Though I think if the CofE is paying, it can be argued they own it..."

It is published by Matthew James and has received funding from several church-related sources, but not the C of E centrally, as far as I can tell - other than for the copies being purchased for General Synod members and others.

It describes its position thus: 'The government is “moral, with no compass” and needs to recover a principled approach to public service reform grounded in gift, covenant, advocacy and justice. Such an approach also demands a richer appreciation of the “civic value” added to the life, identity and health of the nation by Christian institutions in partnership with the whole realm of civil society. The Church too must adapt to the changing times, overcoming its (mistaken) perception that it is well understood by society.'

I do think the coverage so far has been deliberately selective and sensationalist - though the attention-grabbing title and a couple of phrases in the introduction were hostages to fortune. Critics of the church are likely to feel, with justification, that their concerns have not been adequately represented in a number of areas - for example the substantial Nov 2007 'Quality and Equality: Human Rights, Public Services and Religious Organisations' report from the BHA, which was backed by the TUC and others.

Posted by Simon Barrow at Sunday, 8 June 2008 at 4:06pm BST

Simon Barrow is right to draw attention to the 2007 BHA report.

From my perspective it has been quite alarming to see the Church being ever more marginalised by its opting out of mainstream equality issues. The reaction to the churches continued hostility to women and LGBT’s has been withering – and the lobbyists with “church” or “Christian” on their House of Commons passes have become so synonymous with “nasty” and “vicious” (and failure!) that we are becoming even more alarmed.

Just as many conservative Christians are seeing LGBT issues as the defining issue – so, it seems, are many in government (and far more interestingly also within the Civil Service) – and they are refusing to take anyone seriously who things ill of gay people.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 8 June 2008 at 4:33pm BST

How odd, how telling - that when some conservative believers bump harshly up against wider social or cultural or political or economic considerations of even-handedness and fairness - they should suddenly and distinctly feel terribly pained, victimized in public and in private, and complain with great force of anguish that such standards in wider social life are deliberately meant to disenfrachise them in their trash talk about others, not to mention their vigorously traditional mis-treatment of others?

Has Gledhill, for example, ever met a queer citizen or a non-believer or an alternative believer with whom she felt humanly let alone spiritually equal before God?

So this much touted high conservative believer holiness just cannot breathe and be itself, because it is called to account on grounds of bearing false witness so often, and unfair treatment so often.

Alas. Lord have mercy. Is this exactly how we shall all realign the worldwide communion in nothing but such self-serving conservative directions? Is this the sure foundations for new Anglican policing and new Anglican punishments among us?

Posted by drdanfee at Sunday, 8 June 2008 at 8:55pm BST

can you say
Disestablishmentarianism.

Oh good, I knew you could!

Posted by IT at Monday, 9 June 2008 at 5:51am BST

Isn't it the Labour Government, so "hostile to Christianity" which allowed the Church to opt out from the legal requirement not to discriminate against gay people? That looks to me more like shameful complicity with Church leaders to deny human rights to their members, not hostility to them.

Posted by Fr Mark at Monday, 9 June 2008 at 7:53am BST

What would Jesus say? What did he see and praise in (a) the 'impure' woman; (b) the ruler Jairus - in yesterday's readings? What he he say about public and private morality? Have we the courage to apply that?

Posted by A D Gracey at Monday, 9 June 2008 at 8:56am BST

Apollos:

The question, of course, is "which church"? Just the CoE? (As an American, the question would be "just the Protestants?")

And if religious-connected agencies accept government funding, they should be required to follow the same rules as non-religious-connected agencies. Nobody's forcing them to take the the Queen's shilling, are they?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Monday, 9 June 2008 at 3:41pm BST

I'll be covering this but not for a week or so, and then by inviting some short essays.

For the first wave of coverage of almost *any* issue related to churches (especially the CofE) or anything said by Bishops, we may as well listen to a tree of ring-necked parakeets.

There may be some stuff worth taking time reading when they have stopped squawking and started thinking.

I'm slightly cynical about media commenting on religions that they assume they understand (as opposed to Islam which they assume they don't understand and swallow particular interpretations whole).


Posted by Matt Wardman at Monday, 9 June 2008 at 5:18pm BST

Matt Wardman, do you know how condescending that sounds ?

Posted by L Roberts at Monday, 9 June 2008 at 7:54pm BST

In recent times, church representatives have openly lobbied to withhold dignity and resources from certain groups (e.g. GLBTs), have argued and engineered their organisational forms to contain and limit freedom of expression for some (e.g. women).

They now want to purport to be the best moral compass to run a civil society? By their own conduct they have proven that they are selfish, cruel, deceitful, complacent and aggressive.

Their great moral underpinning needs to be under public scrutiny, just like any other faith or lobby group, or the secular government themselves.

They have demonstrated that they do not move within the full grace of God because they deny grace to the marinalised and "other". They have no right to make a "holy" calling that claims to be above human accountability.

There are many passages where God makes it clear that shepherds who seek to provide only for their kind are contemptuous of God's wishes e.g. Isaiah 5:8, Ezekiel 34:21-22, Zechariah 11:15-17, Matthew 6:1-4 or 23:13, Matthew 7:6-13

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Monday, 9 June 2008 at 10:04pm BST

Ok, so let me get this straight: Christians are called to be "counter cultural"? No argument here. When one criticizes the prevailing culture, one can expect to be excluded from said culture. Again, seems reasonable. I mean, if you point out the flaws of society as you see them to be, you can't expect society to be all that welcoming. Ergo, I would expect marginalization to be the expected state for the Church if She is doing what She is supposed to do. So far forth as it frees Her up to do Her work without the burden of having to compromise Her message in favour of political stability, which She has been doing these past 1700 years, I'd say it's a good thing. So why the consternation, unless it is actually anger at no longer being able to control what everybody else does? Well, we were never called to that anyway, so maybe it's a good thing that after 1700 years prostituting ourselves to the State, we can finally cease our "whoring in the wilderness." I cannot understand how Evangelicals, who seem on a mission to purify the Church of anything they see as corruption seem at the same time so Hell bent on preserving our position of power in society, since it is the inevitable compromises that we have had to make with the State that have led us to where we are. Is it that sex is so much more inherently sinful than politics or economics?

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 10 June 2008 at 2:58pm BST

To Gnosticists longing for the "Purity" of Abstinences, it is - all the way from Alexandria and Hellenism.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 12 June 2008 at 6:38am BST
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