Comments: Lord Carey's witness statement

This is a strange statement

It seems that Lord Carey disagrees with the law, does not like the judgments of senior judges and believes this is all a plot against Christians.

He believes that a specially chosen group of judges will come to a conclusion closer to his own.


I don't entirely blame Lord Carey for being taken in by this small group of activists who have clearly used this tiny number of cases for political purpose. I have seen them operate at close hand and they have skills!

Their influence is not to be underestimated - they can summon up fairly impressive gatherings at the House of Lords and Ruth Deech has recently been spouting their propaganda as gospel.

But I do find this statement poor and misguided.

Those lawyers who are promoting this had clearly persuaded their clients that they had a high chance of winning their suits - with all failing, and those few left also likely to be lost, it is their new strategy to attack the judges.
It's breathtaking in its arrogance.

Just one small point on Lord Neuberger's judgment upholding the appellate tribunals decision, he did in fact regret the decision of the Local Authority making all Registrars, Civil Partnership Registrars - he felt that this whole matter could have been differently handled as the law allowed. I don't see any prejudice here!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 5:42pm BST

Lord Carey says 'I am bound by my commitments as former Archbishop of Canterbury to defend the spiritual requirements of the Anglican Communion and of all sincere Christians. I am also bound to consider the rights of religious minorities'

Is this in the job description of the ABC? I don't remember any previous holder of the office taking upon himself to pronounce years after his leaving office.

'The Christian message of ‘love’ does not demean or disparage any individual (regardless of sexual orientation); the desire of the Christian is to limit self destructive conduct by those of any sexual orientation and ensure the eternal future of an individual with the Lord'.

So this allows 'Christians' to intervene and promounce on the lives of others if they don't like what they see, all in the name of saving us.

'My heart is in anguish at the spiritual state of this country'. Oh dear.

And finally if we don't get our own way I threaten civil disobedience. That's the tactics of the bully and his legal advisers ought to tell him that this is incitement. The whole things is absolute nonsense and he ought to be ashamed of himslef.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 6:06pm BST

" My heart is in anguish at the spiritual state of this country."

I will pray for the former archbishop because he is troubled.

I honestly think he is psychologically troubled by what he perceives as the ebbing away of the tenets he regards as integral to his view of a Christian country.

I guess, I, as a transsexual christian, am part of that ebbing away. I guess those gay or lesbian partners, inside and outside the church, who seek to consecrate their fidelity and most intimate relationships before God, may be part of that ebbing away.

Then there is the whole challenge of a multi-faith, multi-cultural Britain, and continuing immigration. Such things might be seen as contributory to an ebbing away of a fundamentally Christian way of life.

Lord Jesus said, "Set your troubled hearts at rest" and I sincerely pray that for George, because I think he is frightened, alarmed, and caught up in a kind of reactive dismay.

I don't actually think he *needs* to be as frightened as he is. The solution to the impending "crisis" in the political life of the Anglican Communion is not actually politics or even law cases... but finding wholeness and trust in God, and our shared union and oneness in Christ, which alone is the reality of unity, whether we like it or not.

So I pray peace. Let us rest in the God who holds us all, and in whom alone we find our true, our complete community of grace.


Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 6:39pm BST

Ruth has done a first class job here - and throughout this story.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 6:43pm BST

'sincere Christians'. Would someone kindly unpack that adjective for me??

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 7:25pm BST

I wonder where George is planning to chain himself up ? - some villages still have stocks and ducking stools I understand !

Do not members of his own family circle need his help ?

Posted by Rev Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 7:34pm BST

"the desire of the Christian is to limit self destructive conduct by those of any sexual orientation"

Um, the desire of THIS Christian, is to judge and "limit" the conduct of ONLY myself, thank you.

As far as Lord Carey's theocracy goes, count me out! [Y'know, if those of his hivemind should try to install such a regime on the left side of The Pond. And they have tried! O_o]

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 8:21pm BST

I WAS Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 - 2002.
I WAS the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury,and
I WAS responsible for the spiritual welfare of 70
million Anglicans in the world-wide communion.
I WAS created Lord Carey of Clifton on retirement.

Compare the "I WAS" with the felicity of the I AM:

I AM the Bread of Life
I AM the true Vine

Where is Mishpat (True Justice) in these two?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 8:28pm BST

As I remarked over at Ruth's blog, to argue thus, Carey is either a liar or a fool. I was inclined to be charitable and assume him a fool.

Then Richard Ashby kindly drew my attention to the sentence "I am bound to consider the rights of religious minorities."

IIRC, wasn't Carey of Clifton one of the lordly fops who voted to constrain the religious freedom of Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Jews?

I guess he's not a fool, then, and the alternative is the case.

Howe'er it is, George Carey is a disgrace to the Church and to the Gospel.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 9:10pm BST

If you're interested I've offered a detailed engagement with Carey's witness statement

Posted by Doug Chaplin at Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 10:32pm BST

Paranoia anyone?

Posted by David G at Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 10:43pm BST

And who is this kicking Rowan Williams when he was down over the Sharia Law fiasco?

He writes:
"a legal marketplace in which people opt in and out based on religious affiliation opens the door to a parallel system of justice"

The former archbishop says that accommodating sharia law would lead to further demands. "This is absolutely inevitable, since questions to do with the separation of 'church and state' are largely new to Islam. Sharia law trumps civil law every time."

He adds: "Many Muslim interpreters of sharia believe that it supersedes secular law and assume that its 'God-given' status would lead to the point of eventually replacing civil law."

"His conclusion that Britain will eventually have to concede some place in law for aspects of Sharia is a view I cannot share.

"There can be no exceptions to the laws of our land which have been so painfully honed by the struggle for democracy and human rights."

Go on have a guess ,,,

Let me give you a clue. His surname rhymes with FAIRY.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 15 April 2010 at 11:32pm BST

Simon, I think there's a typo in the title.

Shouldn't that be "witless statement?"

Posted by Malcolm+ at Friday, 16 April 2010 at 3:16am BST

Now, it appears that George Carey is a silly little man who has lost his power. He no longer has his throne as "king" of Canterbury. I saw him at his lowest ebb when he visited America two years ago. He fit right in with the right wing Southern Fundamentalists and they just loved him. It is time for him to leave the stage. Perhaps we should use one of those old vaudeville hooks to pull him into the wings so that he may exit Stage Right with all of the other wing-nuts. He is an embarrassment. He is also dangerous. Shame on him.

Posted by Chris Smith at Friday, 16 April 2010 at 4:32am BST

I'm surprised there's been so little comment on the warning about "civil unrest!"

Is Carey threatening riots? He's been around Akinola too long!

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 16 April 2010 at 4:41am BST

Carey is using the "bully's veto" or "heckler's veto": Either I get my way or we'll riot. Either you stop this liberal from speaking or we'll shout her down. Either you stop that Jew from being an MP or we'll disrupt Parliament.
It is especially distasteful that he should invoke his former office to use the bully's veto.
This is somewhat far-fetched -- I hope -- but if a gay counselor refused to advise a Roman Catholic or conservative CofE couple, because the the churches these couples are members of persecute gay people, Lord Carey would be apoplectic, and demand punishment in the public stocks, followed by an auto da fe. But if a Christian counselor refuses to advise a gay couple, why that's perfectly all right. And if the counselor doesn't get his way, Christians will riot in the streets.
Can Lords be defrocked? Delorded? Can the PM or the Queen be persuaded to perform the honors?

Posted by at Friday, 16 April 2010 at 5:47am BST

I do not agree with Carey's implication that to be a sincere Christian one has to adhere to certain views on sexuality.

On the other hand I am finding some views in the media about Christians 'bleating' about persecution misplaced.

For me, the key in this witness statement is:

"18. I am concerned that judges are unaware of these basic issues on the Christian faith; further it is difficult to see how it is appropriate for other religions to be considered by the Judiciary where the practices are further removed from our traditions."

There are at least two causes of the angst, confusion and recrimination that we are seeing around the notion of Christian culture:

a) State-driven policy that has equated religious practice with ethnicity and ultimately identity. Carey is saying to the Establishment: "You cannot have your particularistic tray of identity eclairs and eat them": If once you have conceded Sharia Law, whether de facto or de jure, for example, there's no going back to a supposed universalism. Carey is being cunning here though since what he appears to be doing is to say that one *can* return to a universalism, one with a particular cultural stamp on it, a Christian one.

b) It may be correct to point out that Jesus prepared individual followers to be persecuted but this is not an obligation of Christian faith, in the same way that going on the Hajj is for Muslims. Certainly I do feel that Christian culture is being undermined, quite systematically. This has often little to do though with the cases that Carey cites as evidence. The alternative of course is to be strong in one's confidence in God. However, I do not find a lot of the journalism around these issues to be very good at all: just because certain individuals mistakenly interpret a personal matter as an attack on the body of Christianity does not mean that there is not a very powerful lobby that would itself be irrationally delighted to see off religion, and continues to see Christianity as the soft underbelly of faith.

Posted by Achilles at Friday, 16 April 2010 at 6:35am BST

"Certainly I do feel that Christian culture is being undermined, quite systematically. This has often little to do though with the cases that Carey cites as evidence. The alternative of course is to be strong in one's confidence in God." - Achilles -

I do hope, Achilles, that you will not think me a bit of a 'Heel' in taking issue here with your supposition that former Abp. Carey is right about his blaming the British government for side-lining the Christian faith. If Christianity is being undermined, conservatives like Lord Carey and +Winchester & Co., are themselves part of the problem. Their insistence that, in a multi-cultural society like the U.K. Christianity should have 'most favoured nation' status in an eclectic population of mostly British Commonwealth citizens is divisive, rather than a nation-building ploy.

If UK Christianity, at its best, is capable of the sort of hospitality to strangers that Jesus exemplified, and yet falls short of that high standard, then don't blame the government for trying to 'fill the gap'. Wherever religious leaders try to police the behaviour and life-style of other people - on the basis of their own narrow moralistic standards - the subsequent outcome can be hostility from those who might have been more accepting of an ethic based on the idea of a patient loving deity, whose forgiveness exceeds her/his desire to exact punishment and hellfire.
Sometimes we Christians can be God's worst enemy.

Sadly, the ex-Archbishop's stance is being replicated by those haughty prelates of the Anglican Communion who will shortly be gathering in Singapore to bring down the wrath of their god upon others in the Communion whom they have already consigned to hell in a handbasket - simply because they have a different interpretation of the radical inclusiveness of the Gospel Mission.
These 'christians' are not content with maligning other religious traditions; they want to proclaim themselves the Holy Orthodox elite of Anglicanism.
But.. God is not mocked. They will have their come-uppance. And the Gospel will continue to be preached - wherever God can find humble and willing followers of the Christ who died to save us all. Christ is risen, Alleluia!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 16 April 2010 at 10:16am BST

Am I ignorant, or isnt there a passage in the New Testament that tells us to make peace with our adversary, and not as Christians take them to the civil court. Leave alone threaten civil unrest.

Fundamentalists of whatever faith are the enemy of civil society, and its cohesion.

Fr John (Scotland)

Posted by Fr John at Friday, 16 April 2010 at 4:31pm BST

"'sincere Christians'. Would someone kindly unpack that adjective for me??"

That's easy - it means those who agree with Lord Carey.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Friday, 16 April 2010 at 5:38pm BST

Father Ron Smith - I didn't think I would take issue with you but...

"Their insistence that...Christianity should have 'most favoured nation' status in an eclectic population of mostly British Commonwealth citizens is divisive, rather than a nation-building ploy."

First of all, I don't know whether that *is* exactly what George Carey is doing but let's take it at face value.

Therefore, secondly, we are not 'mostly British Commonwealth citizens'. I think I know what you mean but this is very loose, and it betrays I feel the unarticulated but profound inclination to deracination that self-identified liberals generally deploy - albeit selectively (another, 'you can't have your cake and eat it' scenario which identity politics tend to create).

But that is not the main issue here: even in those terms, many of the people who have come from the Commonwealth will be precisely Christians. Will you suggest that they, having been colonized, return to a 'native' faith, because it seems just too God awful that they might be allowed to persist in an apparently historical aberration by joining what is after all the majority faith and preponderant cultural matrix here? This is not meant to be personal but this is not the context of New Zealand, I am afraid. I have the feeling that you inappropriately use this argument to underpin your own persistence in a 'foreign' faith, but this is the UK, an intrinsically European country.

Thirdly, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander - in other words, you cannot have it both ways, insisting on the unreconstructed nature of other faiths while deconstructing another - but this is the dead end that identity politics have brought us to; if Carey is guilty of anything in my view it is to take up this self-same language and to shoehorn something that is larger and grander, more noble and more generous, but no less informed by the culture, history and geography of these islands (there is a nation to build, as you imply, after all), into a mean and demeaning vessel.

I don't think that Carey is asking the Government to plug any gaps in the way you suggest: what he is doing is (unwittingly) presenting to the Government the monster for which it has provided the conditions of inception.

Posted by Achilles at Saturday, 17 April 2010 at 8:46am BST

Achilles, I'm afraid I don't quite 'get your argument here. I mentioned the category of British Commonwealth Citizens as descriptive of the prevailing majority - bearing in mind that Brits are a constitutive part of that ethnic mix - as are many of the immigrants. Because Britain has become part of the European Union, this did not automatically rob the U.K. of its membership of the British Commonwealth - whatever name you choose for its present status. The Queen, after all, is still the Queen - and Head of The Commonwealth, of which the U.K. is still a part.

Regarding your comment on what you call 'the main issue', I did not in any way suggest that Brits might or should be all Christians. Such a state would lend more credibility to Lord Carey's case. On the contrary, the sheer diversity in the ethnic and religious mix of the U.K. population is the very reason why the sort of theocracy that Carey is suggesting would be neither just nor proper.

Happy Easter-tide, Achilles!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 18 April 2010 at 12:38pm BST


Do you want to step up to the plate and deny that Christianity in the UK, which happens to be a political entity in its own right, is the "majority faith and preponderant cultural matrix here?"

Thanks for the blessings but could you please actually respond?

Posted by Achilles at Tuesday, 20 April 2010 at 3:59pm BST

"Do you want to step up to the plate and deny that Christianity in the UK, which happens to be a political entity in its own right, is the "majority faith and preponderant cultural matrix here?" - Achilles -

A: It really depends on what you mean by 'faith' when you speak of the UK as being predominantly 'Christian' and the dominant culture.

If you are speaking nominally, you may indeed be right. However, if by 'faith' you actually mean
church-attending 'faithful' you may not be quite in line with the statistics.This is not a criticism about religious observance in the U.K., by only an observation that a growing number of U.K. residents are not practising Christians, and perhaps there is a need for religious tolerance.

I was not actually presuming to offer a blessing, as such; merely to share my joy at the Feast of the Resurrection. My apologies if you were in any way offended. It was not meant to offend. I just presumed you might be Christian yourself.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 22 April 2010 at 10:31am BST
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