James Meikle Guardian Ex-archbishop attacks judges over gay counselling ruling
Jerome Taylor Church’s call for religious judges is rejected by Court of Appeal and
Robert Verkaik Lord Carey’s proposal is a step back to medieval days and
Steve Clifford If Christians are marginalised, it is not just the fault of secular society
John Bingham Gary McFarlane: judge’s assault on ‘irrational’ religious freedom claims in sex therapist case and
Gary McFarlane: the counsellor whose case led to warnings of ‘civil unrest’ and
Michael Nazir-Ali The legal threat to our spiritual tradition
Andrew Brown Cif belief Carey slapped down by senior judge
Neil Addison What is Religious Discrimination ?
Heresy Corner Laying down the Laws
Philip Henson Cif belief Carey’s intervention backfires
And here is an older article by him , written before the judgment, which I failed to link to previously.
The church cannot claim ‘superior right’
Christian Institute Christian counsellor appeal turned down
Letter to The Times (Saturday edition) Christian courts22 Comments
In his judgment, Lord Justice Laws said this…
20. …But they do not confront deeper concerns expressed in Lord Carey’s statement and in Mr Diamond’s argument. These are to be found for example in the references to an alleged want of understanding or sensitivity on the part of the courts in relation to the beliefs espoused by Lord Carey and others: “a lack of sensitivity to religious belief” (paragraph 10 of the witness statement).
21. These concerns are formulated at such a level of generality that it is hard to know precisely what Lord Carey has in mind. Broadly, however, the argument must be that the courts ought to be more sympathetic to the substance of the Christian beliefs referred to than appears to be the case, and should be readier than they are to uphold and defend them. The beliefs in question are not specified by Lord Carey. Since his statement is given in support of the applicant’s case, it must be a fair assumption that they include what is expressly stated at paragraph 21 of Mr Diamond’s skeleton argument of 23 December 2009:
“To the religious adherent ‘Religion’ is the route to salvation:-
- The fear of hell is central to the appellant’s religious belief; and individuals ought to be informed of the consequences of hell;
- The proposition of the appellant’s religious belief is that sin will have eternal consequences. Those who do not repent will go to hell when they die…”
22. In a free constitution such as ours there is an important distinction to be drawn between the law’s protection of the right to hold and express a belief and the law’s protection of that belief’s substance or content. The common law and ECHR Article 9 offer vigorous protection of the Christian’s right (and every other person’s right) to hold and express his or her beliefs. And so they should. By contrast they do not, and should not, offer any protection whatever of the substance or content of those beliefs on the ground only that they are based on religious precepts. These are twin conditions of a free society.
23. The first of these conditions is largely uncontentious. I should say a little more, however, about the second. The general law may of course protect a particular social or moral position which is espoused by Christianity, not because of its religious imprimatur, but on the footing that in reason its merits commend themselves. So it is with core provisions of the criminal law: the prohibition of violence and dishonesty. The Judaeo-Christian tradition, stretching over many centuries, has no doubt exerted a profound influence upon the judgment of lawmakers as to the objective merits of this or that social policy. And the liturgy and practice of the established Church are to some extent prescribed by law. But the conferment of any legal protection or preference upon a particular substantive moral position on the ground only that it is espoused by the adherents of a particular faith, however long its tradition, however rich its culture, is deeply unprincipled. It imposes compulsory law, not to advance the general good on objective grounds, but to give effect to the force of subjective opinion. This must be so, since in the eye of everyone save the believer religious faith is necessarily subjective, being incommunicable by any kind of proof or evidence. It may of course be true; but the ascertainment of such a truth lies beyond the means by which laws are made in a reasonable society. Therefore it lies only in the heart of the believer, who is alone bound by it. No one else is or can be so bound, unless by his own free choice he accepts its claims.
24. The promulgation of law for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds cannot therefore be justified. It is irrational, as preferring the subjective over the objective. But it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary. We do not live in a society where all the people share uniform religious beliefs. The precepts of any one religion – any belief system – cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other. If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens; and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic. The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law; but the State, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself.
25. So it is that the law must firmly safeguard the right to hold and express religious belief; equally firmly, it must eschew any protection of such a belief’s content in the name only of its religious credentials. Both principles are necessary conditions of a free and rational regime.
You can learn something more about Paul Diamond by reading this interview with him in last week’s Church Times.7 Comments
Updated twice Thursday afternoon
Read the full text of the judgment here.
More press coverage:
Press Association via the Guardian Christian counsellor loses court fight over sacking
and another PA version, this time via the Independent Sacked Christian counsellor Gary McFarlane’s appeal bid dismissed
The Times Frances Gibb Special legal protection of Christianity ‘divisive, capricious and arbitrary’ headline now changed to: Judge rejects ‘irrational’ idea that Christianity deserves special protection from law
Reactions from campaigning groups:11 Comments
The Church Commissioners have announced their results for 2009 under this headline: “Church Commissioners’ 2009 results confirm long-term growth – level of support to the Church to be maintained”. The full announcement can be read in this press release and here are the first few paragraphs.
The Church Commissioners achieved a 15.6 per cent return on their investments during 2009. Results announced today show that the fund has now outperformed its comparator group over the last year as well as over the past five, 10 and 20 years.
Today’s results mean that the Commissioners’ current level of support to the Church – including increased pensions costs – can be maintained, in cash terms, for a further three-year period, from 2011 to 2013.
The Commissioners’ asset value has grown to £4.8 billion (from £4.4 billion at December 31, 2008), and the fund has been able to distribute £31 million more each year to the Church than if the investments had performed only at the industry average over the last ten years. The 15.6 per cent return was achieved against a comparator performance of 15.1 per cent for 2009.
In the last five years, the Commissioners achieved average returns of 6.6 per cent per year, against the comparator of 6.2 per cent. Over the past 10 years, the Commissioners’ total returns averaged 5.1 per cent per year, against the comparator group’s 3.1 per cent. Over the past 20 years, the Commissioners outperformed the comparator group with an average annual return of 7.8 per cent against 7.7 per cent.
There are no links in the press release and I have been unable to find an online copy of the full Commissioners’ report for 2009.0 Comments
Updated twice on Wednesday
from the Diocese of Durham website
The Bishop of Durham, Dr N. T. Wright, has announced that he will be retiring from the See of Durham on August 31.
Dr Wright, who will be 62 this autumn, is returning to the academic world, in which he spent the first twenty years of his career, and will take up a new appointment as Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
Announcing his move, Bishop Tom said, ‘This has been the hardest decision of my life. It has been an indescribable privilege to be Bishop of the ancient Diocese of Durham, to work with a superb team of colleagues, to take part in the work of God’s kingdom here in the north-east, and to represent the region and its churches in the House of Lords and in General Synod. I have loved the people, the place, the heritage and the work. But my continuing vocation to be a writer, teacher and broadcaster, for the benefit (I hope) of the wider world and church, has been increasingly difficult to combine with the complex demands and duties of a diocesan bishop. I am very sad about this, but the choice has become increasingly clear.’
Among the initiatives Bishop Tom has pioneered has been the ‘Big Read’ programme, which has got people across the North-East, and across all Christian churches, reading the Bible together in Lent. This programme will expand to a national level next year, with Bishop Tom’s forthcoming ‘Lent for Everyone – Matthew’ being the basic text.
As Bishop of Durham, Dr Wright has spoken in the House of Lords on numerous occasions and issues. Most recently he has championed the cause of new underground technology for the clean use of coal from the region’s still massive coalfields. He has also taken a lead in debating issues surrounding constitutional reform. Within the wider Anglican world he was a member of the Commission that produced the Windsor Report (2004) on the future of the Anglican Communion, and was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special representative at the Roman Catholic Synod of Bishops in 2008. Together with Maggie, his wife, he has developed a close relationship with HMS Bulwark, which is twinned with County Durham, culminating in a seminar on board which brought together leading theologians and military personnel to discuss issues of war, peace and faith. He has worked hard to develop friendships and partnerships with Christians of all denominations. He has spoken frequently on radio and TV, including writing and presenting a series of radio meditations and music and television programmes on the resurrection and on the problem of evil.
As a writer, Bishop Tom has been working on three series of books – Christian Origins and the Question of God (at a scholarly level), The New Testament for Everyone (at a popular level) and a sequence of studies to introduce the Christian faith, Simply Christian, Surprised by Hope and most recently Virtue Reborn (US Title After You Believe). He hopes now to be able to complete these collections, and other ongoing research, while teaching (particularly graduate students) in the Faculty of Divinity at St Andrews. He has also been approached to head up various broadcasting projects to bring the results of good biblical scholarship to a wider audience.
Bishop Tom and Maggie have four adult children and three grandchildren.
And from the University of St Andrews:
From the Lambeth Palace website: Archbishop – Bishop of Durham ‘will be greatly missed’
From the website of The Tablet Bishop of Durham stands down complaining of red tape:
…Dr Wright, 61, one of the most senior figures in the Church of England, told The Tablet today that diocesan bishops in the Church of England were weighed down by bureaucracy. “It’s something the Church shares with other professions, the feeling of being hamstrung by petty legislation and regulation,” he said…
Andrew Brown has written about it at Cif belief see News of God’s world
The bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, has announced his resignation. He is going to take up a chair at St Andrews. He is a prolific author, and the leading evangelical scholar in the Church of England. As Bishop of Durham he has been distinguished for his implacable hostility to anyone who would accept gays within the church, especially American liberals. On the other hand, he has not gone off with Gafcon and the global south in their schism.
He has always seemed to be to a first class prefect at a minor public school – exactly the sort of person I got myself expelled to get away from. On the notoriously scientific Brown two axis scale of clergy measurement he scores high on the “Would you trust him with a secret?” question, but only moderately on “Would you trust him with your pension?”
(The scale is calibrated with reference to Rowan Williams, who scores 95% on the pastoral axis, and 5% on the practical one). But add in the third axis – would I take his advice on a personal problem? – and Wright scores about 20%. Were I gay, that figure would be 2%. This is a drawback in anyone dealing with the clergy of the Church of England.
So who will be his successor? Traditionally, the bishop of Durham has been a scholarly figure, who would score like Rowan Williams on the pastoral/practical axis. Williams himself would have made an excellent bishop there, in the tradition of Michael Ramsay, a man so splendidly unworldly that he threw his unwanted diplomatic presents into the Wear. But this tradition came rather unglued in the 80s with the appointment of David Jenkins, (90/50/80 on the three axis scale) who became a liberal hate-figure to the evangelicals. It is not an exaggeration to say that the overwhelming aim of evangelical appointments since then has been to ensure that there will never be another bishop like Jenkins in the post. Hence Tom Wright, who has claimed that a video camera could have captured the resurrection. Is it now time for a scholarly bishop less identified with one party?.
The previous report here was in late January.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Anglicans hear legal fight details in Monroeville meetings.
And, direct from the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh:
Parishes and Diocese Meet to Discuss Litigation
Leaders from all 55 parishes in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh met with diocesan leaders to worship and discuss the current status of the litigation with The Episcopal Church. Archbishop Duncan read a prepared statement, which addressed financial concerns, timelines, and the way forward in mission. Bob Devlin, chancellor for the diocese, and members of the standing committee responded to questions and concerns from parish leaders. Parish leaders were also given various resources to guide them in moving forward with their mission.
To view Archbishop Duncan’s statement, click here. [PDF]
To view a Frequently Asked Questions sheet from this meeting, click here. [PDF]
Bill Bowder Church Times Trumpet blast from the Global South
Andrew Gerns Episcopal Café Thus spake the Global South
Lionel Deimel Listening to the Trumpet23 Comments
This week’s The Question in The Guardian’s Comment is free Belief is What do we want from St George? What sense can we make of the figure and myth of St George?. And here are the replies.
Judith Maltby Saints: the world’s oldest buddy system. Saints are there to inspire and teach us. St George’s story stands as a rebuke to those that use him for ill.
Adam Rutherford Doctor Who slays St George. St George is all very well, but doesn’t have much to do with being English in the 21st century. I propose a new patron saint.
Nesrine Malik A saint for the desperate. In the Middle East, St George is regarded as a saint of asylum, a protector of the desperate.
Jonathan Bartley Reclaiming St George. The true story of St George – champion of the ignored – is one we need to rediscover.
Andrew Brown writes in The Guardian about Theology natural and unnatural. Is there any possible defence for “Intelligent Design”? Is there any way for theists to abandon the idea?
Diarmaid MacCulloch writes in The Washington Post about Christian love and sex. How should the church respond to the reality that sex is for procreation and for pleasure?
Theo Hobson writes in The Guardian about A confession of faith. We should be frank about the fact that Christianity commits us to some embarrassingly mythological language.
Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times On the value of what is pointless.
John Shepherd writes in this week’s Credo column in the Times that Trite music blocks our ears to the divine in the liturgy. Our worship enables us to enter another time and another dimension – a realm of experience beyond our ordinary human experience.5 Comments
Updated twice Friday afternoon
The following statement has been issued at the end of the meeting: Fourth Trumpet from the Fourth Anglican Global South to South Encounter, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Singapore, 19th – 23rd April 2010.
An extract from it appears below the fold.
Living Church Christopher Wells Dispatch from Singapore: What is at Stake
There are numerous audio recordings on this page.
There are video recordings on this page.
The remarks of Bishop Mouneer Anis on Global South Structures are transcribed below the video link here.
Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini’s speech is on video here.
Colin Coward has posted What has emerged from the Fourth Global South to South Encounter in Singapore?
ENS has SINGAPORE: Global South Anglicans call for action against Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada and ‘There are no quick solutions,’ Canterbury says in video message to Global South meeting.22 Comments
Jonathan Wynne-Jones has posted on his Telegraph blog: Is Archbishop Akinola in a civil partnership?25 Comments
The full text of Archbishop of Canterbury’s video address to the Fourth Global South to South Encounter, 20 April 2010 is available on the Lambeth Palace website.
The link contains the full text if you scroll down far enough. Before that there is also a link to the video itself. But first there is a press release about the address.
The full text is also available on the Global South Anglican website.35 Comments
There is a major feature article on the Church of England in The New Yorker dated 26 April, which is now online
but is only available to paid subscribers and available to all via this link: A Canterbury Tale.
However, others have now written about it, so it is worth mentioning here.
Here’s the abstract from the New Yorker itself: Jane Kramer, A Reporter at Large, “A Canterbury Tale,” The New Yorker, April 26, 2010, p. 40. It starts out:
ABSTRACT: A REPORTER AT LARGE about the battle in the Church of England over female bishops. Today, women account for nearly a third of the Church of England’s working priests, and most of them are waiting for the investiture of the Church of England’s first female bishop—a process begun in 2008, when of the laity, clergy, and bishops in the Church’s governing body, the General Synod, voted in favor of removing the last vestiges of gender discrimination from canon law. Not everyone is pleased. Thousands of conservative Anglicans—priests and laymen—still refuse to take Communion from a female priest, and would certainly refuse to take it from any priest ordained by a female bishop. For the past two years, they have been threatening to leave the Church at the first sign of a woman in a bishop’s mitre. The next session of the General Synod, in July, is going to consider, and is expected to approve, the draft for a change in canon law that would open the episcopate to women. If a large number of militant conservatives do leave then, the Church of England and, with it, the churches of a worldwide Anglican Communion, will fracture…
The Living Church has New Yorker Article Features Abp. Williams.
And Episcopal Café has Ash in the air, and the CofE in The New Yorker.19 Comments
ACNS has the background: Fourth Anglican Global South to South Encounter begins in Singapore
Read news items from Global South Anglican:
Read the full texts of the Opening Addresses:
Update Video of this sermon now available here.
An extract from the sermon is below the fold.12 Comments
There is a new online religious data resource: British Religion in Numbers [BRIN]. This is how BRIN introduces itself.
British Religion in Numbers is an online religious data resource.
Numbers aren’t just for statisticians. People want to visualise and understand data for work, for study, for general interest, or to settle a debate. Many debates over religion rest on questions of how large? how many? how typical?
Religious data sources tend to be difficult to find, or need a good deal of interpretation. For example, is Britain 72% Christian, as the 2001 Census reported, or 50% Christian, as found by the 2008 British Social Attitudes survey?
We want to draw religious data sources together, explain how data can be used, and present some examples intuitively to a wide audience.
This is how the Religion and Society research programme describes BRIN.
A great leap forward in accessing facts and figures on religion in Britain has been made possible by a project funded by the Religion and Society Programme. Leading scholars David Voas and Clive Field with a team based at the University of Manchester this month [April 2010] launched a new free-to-use website which will be of immense value to academic researchers as well as to government, private enterprises, journalists, and anyone wanting authoritative and up-to-date data on British religion. British Religion in Numbers [BRIN] catalogues published data on religion in Britain covering a period of 4 centuries, and draws already from over 1700 sources. It breaks new ground in including opinion poll data and is comprehensively searchable.
Ruth Gledhill has written about BRIN in the Times: Faith by numbers: Fantastic new religious research tool launched.
Siobhan McAndrew, project officer for British Religion in Numbers, has written this for The Guardian: Making religion count. Is religion too complex to quantify? Aspects of it may be, but there are mountains of data out there which we shouldn’t ignore.
Every five years the entire General Synod is re-elected and the next elections will take place this autumn. The Church of England has launched a campaign to encourage people to stand for election.
The official press release is copied below the fold.1 Comment
The Equality Bill received the Royal Assent on 8 April.
The full text of the Equality Act 2010 can be found here:
The Act will start to come into force from October 2010. More information on that is here.
The text of the debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday 6 April, when all the House of Lords amendments were approved without any voting taking place, can be found here:
During the debate, the Solicitor-General said:
The House might recall that it was mentioned on Report and Third Reading that the European Commission had delivered a reasoned opinion in November 2009 on two aspects of our implementation of this directive. We have now responded to that opinion, although the correspondence is kept confidential. However, as my noble Friend Baroness Royall explained on 25 January in the debate in Committee in the other place, we did not inform the European Commission that the Bill will amend regulation 7(3) of the 2003 regulations, which paragraph 2 of schedule 9 replaces, to bring the position into line with the directive. We did not say that because the existing legislation already complies with the directive. I ask the House to agree to these amendments.
Now available to non-subscribers is Hugh Rayment-Pickard in the Church Times with Time the C of E stopped dodging. He argues that too many opt-outs have undermined the Church’s mission.
Alan Wilson writes in Bishop Alan’s Blog about How many people go to Church.
Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times: Beware the forces of Palinisation.
Mary-Jane Rubenstein at Killing the Buddha writes in Notes from the Tangled Anglican Web about “What the schism over sexuality has to do with the colonial legacy in Africa”.
Lisa Miller writes in Newsweek about A Traditionalist Who Shakes Tradition. Nobody seems to care that the new Episcopal bishop of Los Angeles is a lesbian. Don’t blame distraction by the Catholics.
Christopher Howse writes in his Sacred mysteries column in the Telegraph: Four seasons and a funeral. A remarkable film has been made about the nuns of the Carmelite monastery in Notting Hill, he says.
Steven Hepburn writes a Comment is free column in The Guardian: From Cif to the cloister. He says “In making my decision to become a monk, I’ve tried to answer the question many of you will now put: what good will it do?”
Roderick Strange has a Credo column in the Times: The idea of celibacy is still possible, it just takes maturity. Celibacy seems bewildering in our highly sexualised society. It becomes all too easy to explain abuse by blaming celibacy. But we need to be wary.4 Comments
Doug Chaplin has fisked the witness statement at One law for us, one for you: the Carey-a Sharia revisited.
Afua Hirsch in the Guardian has written Lawyers reject calls for Christian-sensitive judges.
Stephen Bates at Cif belief has written Lord Carey’s bloated conscience.
Earlier yesterday on the Today BBC radio programme, Barrister Dinah Rose and Andrea Williams of Christian Legal Centre discussed the implications. (hat tip SB).16 Comments
Ruth Gledhill has the full text of the witness statement made today in the High Court by Lord Carey, in the case of Gary McFarlane.24 Comments
Updated twice Thursday morning and twice Thursday afternoon
According to Andrew Alderson in the Telegraph:
Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and other church leaders will urge senior judges to stand down from future Court of Appeal hearings because of “disturbing” and “dangerous” rulings they issued in recent religious discrimination cases.
Senior churchmen do not think they have any chance of a “fair” ruling if the latest significant hearing – due on Thursday – is heard in front of those judges who, they argue, have already shown a lack of understanding of Christian beliefs….
Lord Carey and others will this week support a formal application by lawyers acting for Gary McFarlane, a Christian relationship counsellor, that a specialist panel of five judges with a proven understanding of religious issues and headed by Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, should be established to hear his case and future cases involving religious rights.
Also, Laura Clark in the Mail reported that:
Lord Carey will back an application by Mr McFarlane’s lawyers for the case to be heard by a specialist panel of five judges with an understanding of religious issues.
It would be headed by Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice.
A spokesman for Lord Carey yesterday confirmed the former archbishop has already prepared a witness statement.
He will warn of ‘disturbing’ rulings and ‘dangerous’ reasoning in previous cases. Other senior church figures are also said to have prepared statements.
Responses to this include:
Ruth Gledhill in The Times It can only harm Christians to bleat about persecution and be sure to watch the video version as well.
In Britain Christians cry: “We are being persecuted.” But the lions don’t exist beyond their imaginations or the arena beyond their story books. Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and his fellow victims are giving all Christians a bad name. It is time for liberals to stand up and say: “We will not be slain by this malevolent spirit, not even when the persecutors are our fellow Christians…”
Andrew Brown at Cif belief Carey’s court is an admission of defeat
…But as soon as the church, or Christianity, becomes just another pressure group fighting its corner, it has conceded the power to grant legitimacy to something else, whether this is public opinion or the political process. And from a position outside Christianity, it is absurd to demand that cases involving Christians and their tender consciences be tried by Christians, but corresponding cases involving Muslims should not be tried by Muslims.
Telegraph Peter Hutchison ‘Persecuted Christians’ join forces
The letter mentioned in this report can now be read here (scroll down) or in the comments below.
Press release from CCFON, titled (the quotation marks are theirs!) ‘Christian Victims’ of English Judicial System to Challenge Master of the Rolls – today in Court
Frances Gibb The Times Lord Carey warns of ‘unrest’ if judges continue with ‘dangerous’ rulings
Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, warned today of future “civil unrest” if judges continue with “disturbing” and “dangerous” rulings in religious discrimination cases.
He intervened in a case being brought by a Bristol solicitor and relationship counsellor who wants a special panel of five senior judges to hear his appeal against being sacked for refusing to counsel homosexual couples.
Lord Carey, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002, attacked the courts over a series of “disturbing” judgments and accused judges of being responsible for some “dangerous” reasoning which could, if taken to extremes, lead to Christians being banned from the workplace.
“Recent decisions of the courts have illuminated insensitivity to the interests and needs of the Christian community and represent disturbing judgments,” he said in a witness statement.
Lord Carey said it was “but a short step from the dismissal of a sincere Christian from employment to a “religious bar” to any employment by Christians.”
Lord Carey, who said he had the support of several other Anglican bishops and other leading churchmen, also attacked recent decisions by the Court of Appeal on the right of Christians to wear crosses in the workplace…
And also, Peter Hutchison Telegraph ‘Civil unrest’ warning over ‘un-Christian’ rulings
…Paul Diamond, who was applying to the Court of Appeal for permission to challenge an employment tribunal ruling which backed the sacking of Mr McFarlane, said: “There will be a collision between the established faith of this land and judicial decisions which will lead to civil unrest.”
He added that laws protecting religious freedom now “counted for nothing” in the courts.