Comments: Equality Bill: more on the amendment

That's some pretty unpleasant scaremongering by the Bishop of Winchester there. Evil homos will use their liberal lawyer friends to allow them to solemnise their sodomy in St. Grindles, Little Grindling. Even though that's not actually what this amendment does. Delightful, Your Grace.

Scott-Joynt seems to have a problem with this whole, you know, freedom of religion business. People are allowed to have religious views different from the Church of England. Sacramental tests are, like, sooooooo 1710. People not in the Church of England are allowed to do things that don't fit with the C of E's ludicrous Issues in Homosexuality policy.

I think his real reason for worrying about this is that by removing the legal bar on civil partnerships being celebrated in church, it will allow the Church of England's policy on the issue to corrode from below, as parishioners ask for the right to be civil partnershipped in church and clergy, little by little, decide to chance their arm and allow them to do so.

And from his point of view, he's right to be concerned about it. From mine, I think it's great.

Posted by Gerry Lynch at Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 3:00pm GMT

Both the Times and the D.Tel stories seem to swallow the Scott-Joynt line very uncritically - Times in the story, D. Tel in the headline (but it has been seriously demoted on their website now).

He has replied to my original 'Open Letter' and I have replied to that. If he agrees to make the correspondence public I will post it, im

Posted by Iain McLean at Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 4:02pm GMT

Heterosexuals get very well het up about things don't they ? Everything is about *youse -- I've never understood that.

So gays fall in love hets must opine !
Gays wish to live 'in sin' or Brighton or whereever and hets get het up again !

And WE want to do the right thing and cp or marry or commit and they get het up again --and so it goes on.

Nothing is ever allowed to be about gays for long, we always have to listen to *you, consider you, suffer you. *

By you in this instance I mean the heterosexual majority who seem to feel SOooo very threatened by lesbian and gay and trans and bi people doing simple everyday things which the majority take for granted and feel so entitled to.

(Yet, strangely threatend) *Your paranoia is exhausting (me) after a lifetime of humouring *you.

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 6:14pm GMT

"Both the Times and the D.Tel stories seem to swallow the Scott-Joynt line very uncritically"
- Iain McLean -

Iain and Gerry, this is exactly what newspapers do. The bigger the putative 'SCANDAL' they can whip up, the more they sell their papers. I'm sure this is the value of stringers like dear Ruthie Gledhill. They are employed to massage the reality of what actually might be going on - even though they may do so often with tongue-in-cheek.

Having said that: we all know how poisonous is the rhetoric of people like the Bishop of Winchester; which is the reason you can now see why the song-writer bothered with that great song -"Winchester Cathedral, you're getting me down" only now, it's the Bishop whose headlining, with his hypcrotical stance on the reality of Gay Clergy and Gay relationships. (When is he due to retire to ACNA - with Nazir-Ali and Tom Wright, by the way?)

The sooner the Augean Stable of Bishops in the House of Lords is cleaned out, the sooner the Church of England can settle down to the real task of 'Telling the Good News' of the love of God through the Jesus of the Gospels.

The dust will eventually clear - when the dear old Church of England realises how many LGBT people they have within the ministry and in the congregations - who (albeit under cover) are actually "feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and letting the oppressed go free" - all in the name of Christ! Roll on the resurrection!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 6:31pm GMT

Ruth Gledhill is not a stringer, but a staff journalist at The Times.

A stringer, in England at least, is a freelance journalist (like me) who gets paid only for what is published.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 6:55pm GMT

On this claim about a risk of being sued, let's notice for a start that the CP Act prohibits a minister of religion from being a CP registrar in the first place. So there is no possibility at all of a claim against a minister for that reason.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 6:57pm GMT

Scott-Joynt's fearmongering is manifestly false.

There are two possibilities here.

1. Scott-Joynt, despite his pretty MA from Cambridge, doesn't understand the difference between "permit" and compel.


2. Scott-Joynt knows full well that what he is saying is completely false.

In other words, it's possible that he's thick rather than dishonest.

Either way, though, he's not fit to be a bishop.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 8:13pm GMT

This is painful and odd. Clearly there can be no legal case whatever for litigation.

An entirely different matter is that, say, if marriage per se both religious and civil were opened to same sex couples as I see no legitimate reason not to do for the reasons that were laid out in the House of Lords debate then C of E priests might celebrate such marriages whether or not it had been approved by the C of E.

That however isn't a problem for the Government but for the Church and its own internal management and discipline. I don't see that the state, the gays or other faiths should have their interests subjected to the internal bickering of the C of E and its difficulty in maintaining discipline or wanting to buy the luxury of not having to face an issue at others' expense.

I really don't see what the problem is and either with Civil Partnerships or civil marriage there's not going to be any recourse in law.

Some bishops are showing a pathetic, silly and petty vista of the C of E's public face.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 10:20pm GMT

While I said above that it was the CP Act itself that prohibited a minister of religion from acting as a CP registrar, in fact it is Clause 11 of the The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) Regulations 2005 which reads as follows.

(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.

As I understand it, none of this will be altered in consequence of Lord Alli's amendment. Some of the schedules to those regulations will need amendment however, as they refer specifically to the exclusion of religious premises.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 11:20pm GMT

"On this claim about a risk of being sued, let's notice for a start that the CP Act prohibits a minister of religion from being a CP registrar in the first place. So there is no possibility at all of a claim against a minister for that reason." - Simon Sarmiento -

I had not realised Simon that, even under the new regulations, 'ministers of religion' will still have no licence to conduct a Civil Partnership ceremony. Perhaps, then, if the Partnership relationship was able to be classed (in a new development in law) as 'Marriage', this would be the only way to overcome the present restriction on Anglican clergy being involved as 'Celebrants'

No wonder same-sex couples are asking for the word 'marriage' rather than 'civil union' -
not to undermine heterosexual marriage, as most puritans are claiming, but merely to obtain permission to combine the legal requirements with their spiritual beliefs.

Under the new regulations, there is no way for a priest to officialy preside at the Celebration of a Civil Partnership - whether hetero or homosexual (he/she simply cannot be licensed)? So what is Bishop Scott-Joynt getting all upset about?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 5 March 2010 at 12:05am GMT

Surely English Hierarch Number Four is absolutely right on this key point: the amendment *will* produce pressure on the Established Church to shift its ground? After all he only has to review how changes in the civil law of marriage have transformed the C of E position --- the C of E has continued to accept that civil marriage is marriage. So let's not minimise the implications. And thank God for the Friends, I say! Long may their sharp and prophetic ministry continue to put these pressures on us.

I wonder what Winton would have made of a sermon preached not long ago by Fr [Father/Friend as you will] Graham Shaw. Graham suggested that we sometimes get a better perspective by coming at the issues a bit tangentially, and that we ought to re-visit the arguments used on previous occasions when a major shift in understanding took place. Specifically he suggested we explore in our current context the arguments used over the course of a century by Anglican Divines to justify the novelty of a married episcopate: after all, we've just been reminded in the Vatican's invitation to the disaffected just what a scandal married bishops are in both East and West. The arguments about about salvation, fulfilment, wholeness can be put in general terms: at which point we have to wonder about why there is sauce for the ganders but not for the geese....

Posted by american piskie at Friday, 5 March 2010 at 7:02pm GMT

As Malcolm says the bishop knew he was speaking false .....

That's what troubles me deeply about this whole gay affair. The number and rank of the people who are willing to tell lies and spin a web of deceit is breathtaking and to any fellow Christian it is so profoundly disheartening.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Friday, 5 March 2010 at 11:25pm GMT

Now I'm completely confused about Clause 11 of the The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) Regulations 2005.

If point (1) "Any proceedings conducted on approved premises shall not be religious in nature" applies to CPs and Marriages alike, how could churches have continued to conduct legally binding marriages?

And where does it specifically prohibit conducting legally binding CPs in religious premises?

Iain McLean says "Since 1753, we have had the right (in England and Wales) to register our own marriages and report them to the state in due course. As far as I can see, the question of a civil registrar having to pop in and out of a civil partnership ceremony to avoid being tainted by any religious language simply does not arise with us"

Whereas you said that "Let's notice for a start that the ... Act prohibits a minister of religion from being a CP registrar in the first place.

Could you possibly clarify the legal situation for me, please?

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 6 March 2010 at 8:48am GMT

Erika: "We" in the post you quote means Quakers. I don't know the situation regarding other non-C of E denominations. My point was that the State has recognised Quaker marriage since 1753. In a Quaker marriage the only declarations are those made by the couple to each other in front of the Meeting, who are the witnesses. George Fox said "For the right joining in marriage is the work of the Lord only, and not the priests and magistrates". It seems to have taken some in the state (and state church) 250 years to realise that that is what Parliament signed up to in 1753.

Posted by Iain McLean at Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 10:23am GMT

Thank you. So are you saying that there is no signing of a register in a Quaker marriage but that the couple is nevertheless considered to be legally married by the State, without any signatures or any witnesses legalizing the process, and that they do not have to have a civil ceremony either?

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 9 March 2010 at 3:57pm GMT

Erika: yes (England & Wales only), but the whole meeting are the witnesses, and normally at the end of the meeting everybody present signs the couple's declaration. Our leaflet "We are but witnesses", at explains

Posted by Iain McLean at Wednesday, 10 March 2010 at 5:19pm GMT

so if there are legal signatures, would Clause 11 of the The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) Regulations 2005, which Simon says prohibits religious ministers from conducting legally valid civil partnerships, also apply to the Quakers?

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 10 March 2010 at 7:57pm GMT

The text of that clause is now quoted at

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 10 March 2010 at 11:46pm GMT
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