Comments: Nottingham Tribunal: Judge calls it a "busted flush"

Judge: "busted flush."

CofE (notionally): "Doctrine is what we say it is. And we are harmed whenever a priest asserts otherwise."

Even if the Bishop had put this reasoning forward convincingly, it doesn't sound as though it would cut much ice in this tribunal.

Posted by Jeremy non P at Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 4:50pm BST

sounds like he's not defending the church policy at all -- just telling the tribunal to give a judgement on it -- he might be happy if the tribunal found it unjustifiable

Posted by Spirit of Vatican 2 at Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 5:00pm BST

Well, this match is going to be over in three sets. My spies had told me that the bishop was essentially acting under orders, i.e. he took advice, lots of it, and made his decision accordingly. Why would an acting bishop play it any other way on an issue that was clearly seismic? Now it seems that Lambeth and Church House have an audit trail that distances themselves from the decision and puts the focus back on the bishop. He has admitted that it was his personal decision, based on his oath of honour and obedience, under authority, presumably of God. The archbishops of course have remained, and will remain, silent on the matter. All the bishop needed to do this week was to stick rigidly, mantra like, to the House of Bishops Pastoral Statement which, although far from convincing, at least gave some reasons to support the current doctrinal position. The church will come out of this seriously damaged, but the just cause of further supporting those who identify as LGBTI will have been greatly enhanced.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 5:44pm BST

The bishop seems to have thrown in the towel.

The exemption in the Equality Act only applies to sexual orientation discrimination which is imposed "(a) because it is necessary to comply with the doctrine of the organisation, or (b) to avoid conflict with strongly held convictions within sub-paragraph (9)."

Necessary is a big word. The bishop's case now seems to fall short of it.

Posted by badman at Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 5:46pm BST

What does " busted flush" mean ?

Posted by robert ian williams at Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 6:07pm BST

So the bishop agrees that his own case is 'a busted flush'. Hard to see how the C of E case can recover, but would welcome Peter Ould's view (as also on Schuth from an earlier thread).

Posted by Iain McLean at Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 6:54pm BST

This judge is astute. The question of what or who is harmed, or not, should guide the moral compass of the church. What does it say about the "teachings" if ignoring them with inclusion does good and following them with exclusion is exceedingly hurtful?

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 7:14pm BST

Inwood's quoting Francis Urquhart's "You may say that ...." gives me great pleasure.

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 7:29pm BST

Grateful for the term "busted flush" which I've never encountered and had to look up. I'm afraid my first thought was of lavatories, and thought the Judge's comment a bit rude.

But it is a useful phrase, given its meaning in this particular Card Game. It strikes me that much of the C of E position on sexuality is in this position: a half-reliance on principles of natural law simply cannot hold. It's either the whole package (including a bar to contraception) or you've lost the rational rationale, such as it is.

Of course, if this is a card game, perhaps it is Patience after all.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 9:00pm BST

I'm surprised that there are not more poker players among our readers.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 9:12pm BST

Having literally a busted flush in our house at the moment, in the lavatorial sense, I'm afraid I didn't even realise this was relevant until I was reminded by another member of my family. I went straight to the card-related meaning - which reflects on the proclivities of my youth, and also seems to reveal my advancing age - "you thought it was worth something, but actually it's worthless". I was going to put "but actually it isn't worth a hill of beans" before realising this might make the situation worse.

If it weren't so serious for the people involved, it would be funny.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 9:55pm BST

I must admit to being puzzled by +Richard Inwood's input here. On the surface it seems inept in the extreme and just begging for the tribunal to find in favour of Jeremy Pemberton.

And I just cannot - for one second - believe that the bishop made this decision without any reference to an archbishop (although I can quite believe that such a reference was done in such a way as to enable the archbishop(s) to maintain full deniability).

Perhaps I am reading too much into this, but what comes across to me is someone who has been left swinging in the wind by an archbishop (or two) and who quite frankly isn't making much of an effort as a result.

Posted by David Chillman at Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 10:56pm BST

Inwood does himself no credit here: playing the "I was only obeying orders" card with one breath; then with the other, admitting that he suspended Pemberton's license at his own discretion. At no point does it appear to have dawned on him that he should refuse to obey immoral orders, let alone that, as a diocesian bishop (even acting), he's not supposed to take them.

Honor, for him, lies in being a company man. That speaks volumes. I'm glad that Sentamu's no longer a party, 'cause this isn't on him. Whatever "advice" he gave, it's Inwood's decision, and he's at last being forced to take responsibility for his own actions.

The wider question is how on earth such a man could ever have been ordained, let alone raised to the purple.

Posted by James Byron at Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 11:23pm BST

This is quite fascinating.

Am now beginning to wonder whether the bishop thinks that the orders that he was under were ridiculous.

He's certainly playing the part of one who imposed doctrine for doctrine's sake, but couldn't really justify it to himself.

"No harm to the trust or the church."

Left unsaid: "But harm to the Anglican Communion."

Of course, if the bishop had said that, then we all would have had proof that Canon Pemberton is being denied his license in order to placate homophobes in Nigeria.

Posted by Jeremy (non P) at Friday, 19 June 2015 at 2:47am BST

I'm not sure I share @James Byron's relief that +Sentamu is no longer part of this. Much of the responsibility for this situation must, surely, lie at his door. Not only has he previously intervened in a matter outside his own diocesan jurisdiction, taking advantage of a vacancy-in-see and knowing that the acting bishop would comply; I simply cannot believe his 'advice' to +Inwood was in any way neutral. This has got the new papal style of archiepiscopal 'leadership' written all over it.

Posted by Will Richards at Friday, 19 June 2015 at 7:47am BST

One hardly dares to hope. One thing's certain: the attempts of our wretched archbishops to put a firewall between themselves and these proceedings will fail.

Things are changing. Last night my wife was reading our son a story. The princess, disguised as a boy, so impressed the Sultan that he offered his daughter in marriage. The princess agreed. Quoth 9 year-old Tommie: 'Love knows no gender'. Like Susanna, I'm against church schools.

Posted by John at Friday, 19 June 2015 at 9:52am BST

The image that comes to my mind is that of the crumbling house in the path of the motorway under construction somewhere in China ( The ancient owner refuses to budge so the contractors wait for the inevitable.

Posted by Fr William at Friday, 19 June 2015 at 10:20am BST

I'm puzzled by the willingness of many here to complain about Richard Inwood's role in this. To be a bishop, at least since Rowan's time on matters of doctrine, is to express only the position of the House of Bishops. What +Inwood seems to be doing is show how ridiculous this particular position is, at some cost to himself. That the issue is seen by some as a licence to blatantly misrepresent what he has said (does anyone have a more complete record than the C of E website extract?) illustrates a wider problem. The whole theological fabric of the Church is riddled with this kind of incoherence, effectively requiring anyone responsible for representing it to collude with muddled thinking and institutional hypocrisy. That's not one bishop's problem.

Posted by David Marshall at Friday, 19 June 2015 at 10:52am BST

I understand that an unofficial transcript of the full hearing, including all the witnesses' evidence, will become available in a few days' time. Surprisingly, to me, there is no official transcript taken of the proceedings at an Employment Tribunal. Commentators of whatever opinion will then be able to make up their own minds regarding what was said.

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Friday, 19 June 2015 at 4:53pm BST

David Marshall,
The bishop was very clear that he supported the position of the House of Bishops.
But the pastoral statement did not stipulate what would happen if anyone went against it and married. This was left to the individual bishops.

The point made was that the bishop had said to Jeremy in a meeting that he had 4 options open to him, one being to do nothing, one being to issue a rebuke, one being proceedings under CDM/EJM and one being not issuing a license.
It was clear that he would be making the final decision.

Whether any pressure was brought to bear on him we cannot know.
But in legal terms, Diocesan bishops do not take direct instructions from anyone and are responsible for their own actions in their own Dioceses.

It therefore follows that the bishop deliberately and personally chose which action to take and that he need not have taken this particular action.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 19 June 2015 at 5:42pm BST

Erika - a small correction of fact:

At the one meeting I had with Richard Inwood his Registrar outlined for me four possible consequences of my having married:
1. No action
2. A written rebuke
3. Removal of my PTO
4. Action under the CDM (the EJM was not mentioned)

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Friday, 19 June 2015 at 11:36pm BST

I believe it is now also possible to obtain the original witness statements from the tribunal. Is anyone planning to do that and publish them?

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 20 June 2015 at 8:33am BST

"To be a bishop, at least since Rowan's time on matters of doctrine, is to express only the position of the House of Bishops" @ David Marshall. Er... no actually. The Bishop of Lincoln could have withdrawn Jeremy Pemberton's Licence or refused to renew it for the NHS post he holds in Lincoln Diocese, but chose another course. +Richard Inwood had clear latitude on this, but chose to withdraw Jeremy's Southwell PTO Licence after his marriage and then took the course of action he did when a Licence was requested by an NHS trust in that Diocese. To condone the line of "he was just obeying orders" is to add to the muddled thinking - and excuse blatant prejudice.

Posted by James A at Saturday, 20 June 2015 at 11:46am BST

Did not get the point of the misreported cross on a earlier thread. thats the problem with this type of thing though its so partial.
But i read on earlier threads I find here that the bench of bishops had established a small committee to advise bishops on their response to married gay clerics, in itself something of a novelty i read.
Is this temporary diocesan saying he did not consult that group?
Has there been any reference to this panel?

Posted by charlie at Saturday, 20 June 2015 at 12:00pm BST

From the Press Association quote above, +Inwood's reason for his decision was to maintain the doctrine of the church. I think that's a crazy basis for making a decision like this, but it's what bishops (and priests) promise to do. Jeremy Pemberton chose to get married when he did to make a point. The bishop denied him a licence to make another point. That the issue may be highly personal (rather than some other equally contentious but less personal theological sticking point) does not seem a good reason to misrepresent what the bishop said.

Posted by David Marshall at Saturday, 20 June 2015 at 12:02pm BST

Again, one small correction:
The Bishop of Lincoln could only have removed my licence under action brought against me under the Clergy Discipline Measure following a complaint. No complaint was ever made.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Saturday, 20 June 2015 at 12:06pm BST

"Jeremy Pemberton chose to get married when he did to make a point."

That's quite an assertion. Most people get married because of personal reasons. When it became legal in my state, we wasted no time. Those legal and human rights matter. Affirmation from our friends and family matters. For my spouse and I, the sacrament in the church mattered (Praise God is was available to us).

Has Jeremy P. declared that his marriage was all about making a "point?" Or was it just time?

In TEC, there are bishops who are INSISTING that gay clergy get married and make the same commitment as everyone else. There is an integrity to that.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 20 June 2015 at 8:00pm BST

David Marshall,

You don't know me. You have no idea of the motivation that lay behind my marrying, either the decision itself, or the timing of our marriage. Frankly it is none of your business.

But you are completely wrong in your assertion that I chose to marry when I did to make a point. Nothing could be further from the truth. This was explored in the Tribunal and completely refuted by me.

An apology for what you said would be in order.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Saturday, 20 June 2015 at 10:11pm BST

I'm trying to understand what lies behind the often made comment that Jeremy married to make a point.
Is it a very low view of marriage or a very low view of gay people?

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 21 June 2015 at 9:20am BST

Re Ian Paul's blog, has the case actually been made that the pastoral statement lays down doctrine? That the church HAS a doctrine about same sex marriage, and that this doctrine us a first order issue?
And I don't mean whether individuals believe this to be so, but whether it is absolutely legally clear and beyond dispute?

Bishop Alan testified how doctrine is made in the CoE and how it is enshrined in law. None of that has happened with regard to same sex marriage.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 21 June 2015 at 9:27am BST

"Jeremy Pemberton chose to get married when he did to make a point."

Please, without evidence to substantiate that claim, it is a pretty hurtful thing to say about someone's tender love and fidelity to their partner.

On other matters, I think Charlie raises a relevant point. What advice (if any) did the episcopal sub-committee offer?

Posted by Susannah Clark at Sunday, 21 June 2015 at 10:31am BST

I did not mean to give offence and I apologise for doing so. I thought that was a reasonable outsider's interpretation of both your and Richard Inwood's actions. On reflection I see it was inappropriate. I should have found another way to note my concern about the way some commentators (not you) misrepresented what was said at the tribunal. Sorry.

Posted by David Marshall at Sunday, 21 June 2015 at 12:33pm BST

Apology accepted. Thank you.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Sunday, 21 June 2015 at 2:37pm BST

Ian Paul's invocation, in this case (x2), of 'wrong doctrine' seems to me incredibly tendentious.

Posted by John at Sunday, 21 June 2015 at 6:07pm BST

Apology accepted. Thank you.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Monday, 22 June 2015 at 4:29am BST

Jeremy P wrote:

"Again, one small correction:
The Bishop of Lincoln could only have removed my licence under action brought against me under the Clergy Discipline Measure following a complaint. No complaint was ever made."

I think Jeremy is correct and this is vitally important to understand the difference between Lincoln and Southwell (and why in the removal of the original PTO there was NO inconsistency). PTO and Licence are two different things and so just because a licence is not removed in one Diocese, a PTO can still be removed in another (and vice-versa). None of this is really in any sense contestable (though I note that folk on the Changing Attitude Facebook page still think it is and carry on blathering on about it in total ignorance of the law).

What is contested is whether the decision to withhold a licence in Southwell was correct and this question has enormous implications for clergy up and down the county and the wider Church of England itself..

Posted by Peter Ould at Monday, 22 June 2015 at 8:10am BST

Peter: thanks for this post. Have you views on either of my two questions?

Posted by Iain McLean at Monday, 22 June 2015 at 9:36am BST

I think the blathering ignorants on Changing Attitude simply find it inconceivable that someone can commit such a major sin that his PTO has to be removed and license refused, yet a bishop in another diocese does not instruct the Archdeacon to make a complaint so that diocese, too, can take appropriate action against this severely sinning priest.

One assumes that if Jeremy had been caught with his fingers in the till or had an affair with an 18 year old choirboy in his care Lincoln would have quickly found a way of making sure he was no longer working in the NHS.

The Changing Attitude blathering presumably also stems from the fact that bishop Inwood listed the options open to him to discipline Jeremy and that there was no suggestion that he had no choice but to remove his PTO. In fact, one of the options open to him was to do precisely what the bishop of Lincoln did.

The most honourable thing he could have done would have been a complaint under CDM. That would at least have given Jeremy a fair hearing. The fair hearing he now had to seek through and employment tribunal.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 22 June 2015 at 9:36am BST


I am contesting both the removal of the PTO and the Refusal to grant a licence. It was made very clear in the submissions and in the taking of witness evidence that the two were understood by all parties to be linked before the PTO was removed, because at the "pastoral meeting" of 29 May Richard Inwood was told of my application to Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust, which application had gone in on 14 May. It was the bishop who commented that it would be unusual to grant a licence if a PTO had been removed. And when he refused to issue it one of his grounds of refusal was "consistency". So the two are, you see, linked in this case.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Monday, 22 June 2015 at 1:32pm BST

Thanks Jeremy. You appear to agree with me that the issue is about what happened in Southwell and that therefore maintenance of a licence in Lincoln is irrelevant.

Which is exactly my point about those blathering on as though it were relevant legally.

Posted by Peter Ould at Thursday, 25 June 2015 at 10:54am BST
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