Thinking Anglicans

still more on the McFarlane case

Nancy Doyle asks on the Charities_Parliament blog Was Lord Carey right to question ruling made against Christian who refused to treat gay couple?

Tom Chivers at the Telegraph argues that Religious beliefs should not trump the laws of the land.
George Pitcher does not agree.

From Eastbourne comes Christians warned of increasing marginalisation in the UK, a report on a conference where Bishop Wallace Benn, Oak Hill principal Mike Ovey, and others attacked Lord Justice Laws:

“Lord Laws also believes something, he fails to see that he has a faith too … secularism fails to understand that it is a religion.”

And there is an interview with Bishop Benn over here: Wallace Benn on the marginalisation of Christians in the UK.

But best of all, in today’s Guardian Stephen Bates tells us how Anglican the judge at the centre of this controversy really is. In the Diary column he writes:

…So just who is this wicked, secularist judge who doesn’t understand the former archbish’s concept of Christianity? Intriguingly, it turns out that Laws could scarcely be more Anglican if he tried…


departures to the ordinariate?

Updated twice

Jonathan Wynne-Jones in the Telegraph has another exclusive, this time about traditionalists threatening to leave the Church of England.

Anglican bishops in secret Vatican summit

Bishops’ defection: A major new blow to the Anglican church


Associated Press British bishops in defection talks with Vatican

…Rev. Keith Newton, the bishop of Richborough, said the trip consisted of “nothing more than exploratory talks” and denied a report in The Sunday Telegraph that he and his colleagues had secretly promised the Vatican they were ready to defect to Rome.

…Newton was joined in his most recent trip by Rev. Andrew Burnham, the bishop of Ebbsfleet, and Rev. John Broadhurst, the bishop of Fulham.

Burnham did not immediately return a call seeking comment, but Broadhurst also confirmed that the trip had taken place, although he declined to say what was discussed.

“I don’t want to be drawn on it,” he said, explaining that the issue “can damage both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.”

Monday’s Times has a report by Ruth Gledhill that reports on the forthcoming publication of the proposed legislation at the end of this week.

See Synod to vote on final stage of code to allow women bishops.

The Church of England is expected to pave the way for the consecration of women bishops when it publishes final proposals this week. The legislation, to be debated by the General Synod in July, will trigger a departure of some traditionalists to the Roman Catholic Church.

Sources told The Times that the legislation for women bishops would include no statutory provision for opponents. Instead, arrangements to allow traditionalist parishes to opt out of the oversight of a woman bishop are expected to be included in a voluntary code of practice. This will not be enough to placate a small number of leading Anglo-Catholics who fear that female bishops will “taint” the historic catholicity of the Church of England.The proposed legislation is to be sent to members of the synod on Friday…


more on religion and the election

Updated again Wednesday afternoon

May day opinion has links to several articles about this.

The Observer today has three articles on related topics:

First, on the front page, it has Rising Tory star Philippa Stroud ran prayer sessions to ‘cure’ gay people.

Then on page 7, there is Secret Christian donors bankroll Tories.

And on page 38, Henry Porter writes that A little bit of religious bigotry is tolerable in a healthy society.


Andrew Brown writes at Cif belief on Bigotry and homelessness

The New Frontiers church to which Philippa Stroud belongs and where her husband is a major star is the fruit standard of fruit loopiness among English evangelical Christians. It was at a New Frontiers church in Brighton that I once went to hear the New Zealand evangelist Bill Surbritzky, a man who believes that not merely homosexuality but smoking and swearing are caused by demonic infestation. But it is very successful and it is not in the least bit American…

Cif at the polls covered this further, see No anger over Philippa Stroud?

And Cif belief has Feedback on Philippa Stroud

The Twitter aspect was dealt with comprehensively by Benjamin Cohen for Channel 4 News.

Ekklesia has more background on her husband.

Meanwhile, Andrew Brown also wrote about the Citizens UK meeting, see Faith trumps party politics.


Little Gidding Pilgrimage

Saturday 22 May

For nearly 400 years pilgrims have been drawn to Little Gidding in the north of the diocese of Ely, ever since the saintly Nicholas Ferrar and his family lived there in the early seventeenth century.

You are warmly invited to join the annual Pilgrimage to Little Gidding
commemorating the life and example of Nicholas Ferrar

This year’s pilgrimage is led by David Thomson, Bishop of Huntingdon, well-known blogger and occasional contributor to Thinking Anglicans.

Join the celebration of Holy Communion in Leighton Bromswold Church
whose restoration was funded by George Herbert and directed by the Ferrars

Share lunch with fellow pilgrims at the historic Green Man at Leighton Bromswold

Enjoy the gentle walk through the Huntingdonshire countryside
from Leighton Bromswold to Little Gidding
(about five miles along the country roads, with three short stations for prayer and rest)

Gather round the tomb of Nicholas Ferrar for prayer

Sing Evening Prayer at Little Gidding ‘where prayer has been valid’
(preacher: Bishop David Thomson; choir: the Hurstingstone Singers)

Delight in Tea and conversation at Ferrar House

For more details see

Timetable for the day

10.30am: Holy Communion at Leighton Bromswold Church
12 noon: Pilgrims’ Lunch at the Green Man
1pm: First Station at the Hundred Stone at Leighton Bromswold, and start of Pilgrimage Walk
2pm (approx): Second Station at Salome Wood
2.45pm (approx): Third Station at Hamerton (refreshments and toilets available)
3.30pm (approx): Fourth Station at Steeple Gidding Church
4pm: Fifth Station — Prayers at the Tomb of Nicholas Ferrar at Little Gidding
followed by Pilgrimage Evensong and Tea

What is the Pilgrimage about?

Born in London in 1592, Nicholas Ferrar gave up a life in commerce and politics to move to Little Gidding, with his mother and his brother and sister and their families, establishing a life of prayer and charitable works. Ordained deacon, he was the leader of the household, foremost in the life of prayer, study, and work, setting an example of devotion and spiritual life to the English Church that has stood as a beacon to those who have followed. Nicholas died on 4 December 1637, and his devout life and example have consecrated Little Gidding as a holy place to this day. Our pilgrimage to his grave not only honours his memory and devotion, but also binds us into that same story.


May day opinion

Updated Saturday afternoon to add another favourite poet

The Archbishop of Canterbury gave an address at the Christian Muslim Forum Conference of Scholars, held at Lambeth Palace. Dialogue is a means of ‘God-given discovery’

This week’s The Question in The Guardian’s Comment is free Belief is Who’s your favourite religious poet? If you had to take one religious poet to a desert island, who would it be? And here are the replies.
Maggie Dawn A whole live poet for my desert island. I don’t want the bound works of any religious poet: I would rather have a real one, unbound, who would perform for me.
Alexander Goldberg The power to bring you home. There’s a wealth of beautiful and comforting imagery in Jewish liturgical poetry. That’s what I’d want on my island.
Alan Wilson Australian poet, Les Murray. It’s a close call: Milton would provide food for thought, but Murray instinctively recognises the glory of God in the natural world.
Luke Coppen RS Thomas. The great Welsh poet-priest didn’t aim to soothe, but to unsettle, with an unflinching record of his inner life.
Peter Thompson Friedrich Hölderlin. Hölderlin’s poems display those little shards of light which remind us of who we are and what we might become.

There is a general election in the UK on 6 May.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have written an article for the Church Times about the questions that, they say, should guide political choices. Read it here or here.
Sunny Hundal writes in the New Statesman about The right hand of God. Christian fundamentalists form a noisy wing of the Conservative Party, and their influence is growing fast.
Also in the New Statesman Sholto Byrnes asks Does it matter what our leaders believe?. The polite compromise between religion and state has served us well.
Nick Spencer in The Guardian writes that There is no Christian vote. Believers don’t form a single voting bloc in this country, but Christians are more likely to vote than “nones”.
Jonathan Bartley of Ekklesia describes Jesus’ alternative election strategy.
Christopher Howse in a Sacred Mysteries column in the Telegraph asks Is it always a sin to be cynical?

The Guardian has published two articles on what it means to believe in God.
Michael McGhee wrote about This tedious fixation on belief. What is it to believe in God? It may seem odd, but it’s not a matter of believing there is a God.
And in response Stephen Clark wrote about How to believe in God. Michael McGhee argued that there was no such thing as a belief in God. As a philosopher, I disagree.

Giles Fraser argues in the Church Times that There are limits to free speech.


Church Times on the Carey witness statement

Last week, before the McFarlane judgment was issued, the Church Times carried an article by Mark Hill entitled Judges should not be hand-picked.

One might be forgiven for thinking that Lord Carey of Clifton has gener­ated more column-inches since re­tiring as Archbishop of Canterbury than he did when in office. His latest foray into the nation’s media is more than usually regrettable, as it strikes at the heart of the independence of the judiciary.

In a witness statement placed be­fore the Court of Appeal on Thursday of last week, Lord Carey sought to lend his support to an application by Gary McFarlane that his case be heard by a specially constituted Court of Appeal comprising five Lords Justice who had “a proven sensitivity to reli­gious issues”.

By what authority he sought to intervene is far from clear. He gave written evidence that, during his time as 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, he was “responsible for the spiritual welfare of 70 million Anglicans in the worldwide communion” — a curious assertion in the light of the principle of autonomy underscored by the Lambeth Quadrilateral (See Press) His compulsion to intervene was couched as follows: “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.”

He seems to forget that, after he vacated the see of Canterbury, his successor inherited these respon­sibilities. As Monty Python would put it, he is an ex-Primate…

The same issue had comment on this topic by Andrew Brown in the Press column (scroll down past the pope stuff).

LORD CAREY’s impulse to self-dramatisation as a member of a persecuted Church is not as sinister as Cardinal Castrillón’s. Sorry, that was disrespectful: let me quote his proper dignities, as set out in the preamble to his witness statement: “I was the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury and I was responsible for the spiritual welfare of 70 million Anglicans in the worldwide communion. I was created Lord Carey of Clifton upon retirement. . . Currently, I am Chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire, and I am the recipient of 12 Honorary Degrees. I am the author of 14 books.” Not even Baron Widmerpool could boast as much, and he had the advantage of an Eton education…