Comments: Equality Bill - further reactions

In his article the Bishop of Winchester says of the Church "...we have argued consistently for a long time for the second version of a liberal society – one where difference is allowed to flourish and is not subjected to a single version of morality imposed on everyone."
I trust that the gay and lesbian partnered clergy and lay people in the Diocese of Winchester (and other Dioceses in the C of E) find this to really be the case. +Winchester and some of his colleagues seem to have consistently argued that there IS a single version of morality concerning the issue of homosexuality, and the impression given is that they would like to impose that version on everyone. If that is not the case, why is there such a fuss about the issue in the Anglican Communion?

Posted by Canon Andrew Godsall at Thursday, 4 February 2010 at 9:40am GMT

"In the passage of the equality bill, the Church of England has repeatedly expressed its support for the aims and objectives of the bill. We do not believe that people should be discriminated against on grounds of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, marital status, religion or belief." - The Lord Bishop of winchester -

Can the Bishop's tongue really be so far into his cheek that it appears to have exited the cheek and wrapped around his neck and strangled him?

I cannot recall one statement from this Bishop that ever affirmed the place of L.G.B. or T persons within the Church or outside of it. His obvious distaste for acknowledging the good of any ministry of his Church that featured even closetted Gay people has embarrassed him into his present situation of having to admit that there actually are any homosexual clergy within his own Diocese of Winchester. (Horror or Horrors!!)

The sooner the rank duplicity of Bishops like my Lords of Winchester, Chester, and others in the House of Lords who voted against the Government Bill (which would have outlawed discrimination against the emplyment of Gays in the Church) are dragged out of the dark 'closet of un-knowing', the better for the moral health of the Church.

Il Papa would have been mightiliy pleased by the negative stance of these Anglican Prelates, whose ongoing hypocrisy on matters of gender and sexuality - as they already have been revealed within the lives of clergy in the Church - can only cause harm to the crediibity of both Churches

"Nothing happens in the dark which will not be revealed in the daylight". This scriptural injunction may yet prove the downfall of those forms of 'magisterium' which rejoice in the ongoing perpetuation of myths that defy the application of ordinary common sense. Scripture, tradition and REASON used to be the basis of Anglican spirituality. Alas, the dehumanising term *Magisterium* seems to be displacing the more eirenic quality of 'Reason' - even in the espicopal ranks of the Church of England.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 4 February 2010 at 11:26am GMT

I'm glad to see the Bishop of Winchester has read his J Neville Figgis, perhaps mediated by my late lamented friend David Nicholls. But the C of E is a somewhat late convert to his views, and the bishop must surely realise the logic of the Pluralist State is disestablishment. Perhaps he's right in saying the balance was wrong. I suppose the lines drawn now will continue to need testing in the courts but I agree with Jonathan Bartley that much damage is done by being seen as the Church of "opt outs". As a judge friend of mine said...having lost the working class the C of E seems to be losing those of the professional middle class who still stick with it.

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 4 February 2010 at 12:25pm GMT

Philosophically I am (ironically) on the same page as the church folk here (eg Archbishop of York). Equally, a lot of the people I end up on the same side in the arguments we have would not agree with this viewpoint (they would no doubt state that this is merely to make concessions to bigotry and after the Pope's recent and not so recent interventions I have sympathies for this view).

The way that I've put it in the past is to emphasise the principle of negotiation between groups of people around their needs and so there's a degree of autonomy carved out for freedom of speech and association generally as well as the freedom of religious expression.

I part company, though, in two respects.

One is that church leaders seem to want to push this to a point of absoluteness that equals lawlessness and an undermining of civil authority as well as undermining the basic decency of protecting individuals from discrimination and the harm it does. Indeed as we have seen they verge on identifying discrimination with the essence of Christianity such that employing a homosexual to clean your drive (to give an example) means you stop being a church at all - what an appalling view of society that represents (homosexuality as modern day leprosy where any contact is a contamination of sorts). While I can agree to there being exempt posts as part of that process of negotiation in an open and diverse society, allowing complete disregard for the law is asking for too much as part of that process.

The second respect in which I part company from our current religious leaders is the manner they present themselves, the victim mentality and their co-optation of the right wing agenda that is happy to disparage and tell falsehoods about secular equalities legislation and the use of the techniques of the 'Religious Right' for which this philosophy is an attempt to find a justification within polite society, an intellectual justification for something far uglier for when the mask slips - as it has this last few days, sadly

Posted by Craig Nelson at Thursday, 4 February 2010 at 5:57pm GMT

Gay people are already (and always have been) in all the so-called 'exempt posts'.

But is 'Don't ask Don't tell' really an ethical basis for the treatment of those of us from minorities ?

What of our current C of E bishops who happen to be gay, and other ministers ?

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Thursday, 4 February 2010 at 7:55pm GMT

If we adopt Rabbi Sacks distinction between English-American vs French Revolution iterations of rights and religion for a passing moment, I then would surmise that the good rabbi has failed to apply this very distinction to the Pope's preachments. The current Vatican's antigay sermonizing is much more tilted towards the animosities, punitiveness, and cruel-inhuman perfectionizing forces of the worst of that French Revolution, than not. This pope clearly needs to mistreat queer folks, for their own good, lots of the time. He wants us to be mean, too. The hoarse religion cries danger to justify the meanness it stands ready to do, and to justify.

Besides distinctions of style and context, the pope is also clearly urging flat earth religious ideas about queer folks upon us all without exception as the eternal truth - not intellectually compelling in any case. Few contemporary queer citizens will in fact wish to live as far down in all gutters as the pope's nasty expectations and beliefs automatically consign them. B16 and others are doing themselves very fine service. Completely misses the real truth which is that the honesty involved in Coming Out opens both towards individual and communal ethical goods.

These popes, these bishops have never met a gay man or lesbian who wasn't sorry, so sorry deeply, for not being heterosexual. Maybe we've got to stop letting these holier than thou celibates tell us what human embodiment and sexuality are supposed to essentially be, as they completely miss ethics in citizenship and pairbonding as major occasions of modern queer daily life in our current era?

Posted by drdanfee at Friday, 5 February 2010 at 8:43pm GMT

Big picture but off topic:

We consistently hear on these blog threads that no evidence does exist or can exist for biology of sexual orientation, when in fact the real truth is something else categorically. USA's Psychology Today blog articles summarize the biology and other research facts rather clearly.

See: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/200906/could-homosexual-genes-be-naturally-selected

See: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200804/finding-the-switch

From now on, I suggest that any poster who wishes to repeat the No Biology Evidence trope must first show how he or she has read the two linked articles, as well as the extended research bibliographies they summarize?

Posted by drdanfee at Friday, 5 February 2010 at 8:49pm GMT

Most of this comment emphasizes procedural matters, paragraphs about competing rights, balancing rights, and the dire dangers of fairness as a controlling value that can - must? - shove religion out of public life.

But of course this is mainly about queer folks, so far as these religions go - so sidestepping the pesky hot button queer folks is not all that helpful. Let alone helpful to erect grand structure of abstract theorizing, which is in fact mainly about what church and/or society does with its queer folks.

The comments fail because queer folks as decent-good citizens are the invisible elephants in most of these rooms. One the one hand stands our immense empirical literature calling all the dirt and danger preachments into large question. On the other hand, stand our time-honored legacy preachments, mainly all about dirt and danger when it comes to queer folks.

Procedures are hardly an effective, sufficient end run around the sharp contradictions. Alas. Lord have mercy. The popes, bishops, believers who pride themselves on never having read the science so far, are nevertheless weighed in its empirical truth scales and found wanting, more often than not. Bad cases make poor law, and even odder public policy. What grand legacy theologies, though?

Posted by drdanfee at Friday, 5 February 2010 at 9:00pm GMT
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