Thinking Anglicans

SORs: more from Faithworks

Ekklesia reports in Evangelical leader welcomes UK equalities legislation that:

A prominent evangelical Christian, the Rev Malcolm Duncan, who heads up the Faithworks movement – which is involved in public service provision – has welcomed the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) that some Catholic and Anglican leaders have described as compromising their consciences.

In a statement on the Faithworks site and in an extended article, Mr Duncan declared: “Much of the mainstream media has portrayed this as a defeat for the Church. We strongly believe this is not the case.”

The extended article can be found here: Wrong debate, wrong language by Malcolm Duncan.

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Pluralist
14 years ago

It is the difference, isn’t it, between power and influence. Reform and friends want to evangelise the nation by conversion, which misreads the situation and it isn’t going to happen. The alternative is service and example, and leads to a good reputation and influence – something like the Quakers have achieved. However, the tone of this piece is service despite having a different point of view from society, whereas perhaps Christianity should change its point of view. Or at least some Christians will.

Fr Joseph O'Leary
14 years ago

“Wrong debate, wrong language” — yes, if the language is that of “the rights of the Church” but not if it is “the defence of freedom of conscience against State steamrolling of it”.

Of course, as the combox of a recent Scotsman article showed, there is a wider debate in which ignorance and hatred still seems massively to prevail. The churches should never say anything about any gay-related issue without at the same time striking out against this climate of hatred, for which the churches are themselves largely responsible.

Fr Joseph O'Leary
14 years ago

The reactions to the Archbishops’ letter seem to me to be for the most part based on not reading the letter at all. Here is the central part of the letter: “Many in the voluntary sector are dedicated to public service because of the dictates of their conscience. In legislating to protect and promote the rights of particular groups the government is faced with the delicate but important challenge of not thereby creating the conditions within which others feel their rights to have been ignored or sacrificed, or in which the dictates of personal conscience are put at risk. The… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
14 years ago

It’s becoming clearer by the day that some consultation would not have damaged the 3 Archbishops, whereas lack of it did.

To think that it’s only a couple a weeks since the Reform/Mainstream crowd Worked the same Error…

Fr Joseph O'Leary
14 years ago

Have the 3 archbishops been damaged, really?

Would consultation have changed what they wanted to say on the issue of State and conscience?

Must they way to have every statement they make vetted before they open their mouths? And how wide a consultation would satisfy everyone?

Göran Koch-Swahne
14 years ago

Fr Joseph O’Leary wrote: “Wrong debate, wrong language” – yes, if the language is that of “the rights of the Church” but not if it is “the defence of freedom of conscience against State steamrolling of it”.

Indeed. Even, the “language” was “of This church”, not any principle in sight.

But now, post the 3 Archbishop’s disastrous letters, no one will ever be able to hear the words “defence of freedom of conscience” without thinking “spin master”, WH press conferences.

(but Please! people have both read and heard. Don’t “assume” otherwise)

NP
NP
14 years ago

“A prominent evangelical…”
should read “a little known….”

Seriously, your making a fuss of the views of someone with v little influence or authority

Merseymike
Merseymike
14 years ago

I don’t think there was a closing of the debate – but it had to reach a conclusion And ultimately it left a choice. Do we allow the claims of conscience inspired by religion to permit legal discrimination against gays and lesbians- because that is what was being asked for, no matter how much the RC’s want to make out that they do not want to discriminate. I think it was wise to simply set out that principle – and I do not feel that the religious conscience is an acceptable excuse for discrimination in the civil law and in… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
14 years ago

Merseymike wrote: “…no matter how much the RC’s want to make out that they do not want to discriminate.”

It’s a bit like seeing Shankara’s one-sided Dualism presented as “Shankara’s Monism” ;=)

Merseymike
Merseymike
14 years ago

NP ; I don’t agree with you.

Faithworks are one of the key organisations who are progressing the faith communities agenda with regard to social exclusion and Christian involvement in faith-based activities.

What I find interesting is the way that those involved have significantly shifted their approach – given that most are certainly from very conservative backgrounds, Malcolm Duncan included.

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
14 years ago

NP dismissed Malcolm Duncan with
“A prominent evangelical…” should read “a little known….”

Seriously, your making a fuss of the views of someone with v little influence or authority

You missed a trick there, NP. What you could have said was that by maintaining such views as his, he could NEVER be regarded as an authentic evangelical, and therefore that he and his allies are not faithful Christians but rebels to be resisted by the loyal soldiery of….

If it’s any help I always find a cook’s blowtorch a good way of starting the auto-da-fe bonfire.

Fr Joseph O'Leary
14 years ago

“Indeed. Even, the “language” was “of This church”, not any principle in sight.” I cannot see how this statement squares with the two archbishops’ actual language, which stressed conscience over and over again: “dedicated to public service because of the dictates of their conscience.” “the dictates of personal conscience are put at risk. The rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well meaning.” “the requirements of consciences” They also stressed the rights of gays in warm references: “to protect and promote the rights of particular groups”, “the best way in which to introduce and administer new protection… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
14 years ago

It is interesting to read NP’s dismissal of Duncan as someone with very little influence or authority. I am unaware of NP’s status in all this, but it may well be that in the world NP inhabits Duncan is perceived as such. From our perspective Duncan and Faithworks have spent the last few years engaging with an enormous range of groups across the UK. Wherever we go, Duncan and Faithworks have been there before us and are engaged in a dialogue. Their achievement is quite breathtaking. The width and depth of their consultations have earned the Faithworks team (and the… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
14 years ago

Joseph ; again, you are confusing the issue of conscience WITHIN the church – which is fine – and conscience OUTSIDE the church in the public/civil sphere. I am very clear that they are different things, and that the State is completely justified in intervening and regulating the public sphere, but that the Church must make its own decision within its own organisation, as long as no-one outside is detrimentally affected. Its the hypocrisy, though – the RC church certainly does accept gay men for training in the priesthood! It says one thing, does another, and those benefiting keep schtum.… Read more »

Craig Nelson
14 years ago

“Conscience” seems now to be a universal cloak so that when an individual (to quote legislation) “does an act” and then declares it to be part of their conscience, it can’t be part of the common rules for living which should protect all citizens equally. If “conscience” means that faith groups have an upper hand on the state (which represents the interests and well being of all people not just the religious) then that means we have two classes of citizens and so we see what this is really all about – a desire for social supremacy. The conscience theory… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
14 years ago

But it is a core part of what they believe and what they stand for. Traditional Christianity is intrinsically and institutionally homophobic.

It must change, and if it does not, it must be resisted.

Göran Koch-Swahne
14 years ago

Fr Joseph O’Leary wrote: “But as bishops they cannot focus on one set of values to the exclusion of others.“ Now… this was precisely what I was trying to tell you. Because they did and do. I repeat: IF they had had any intention whatsoever to speak up against the imposition of one set of values to the exclusion of all others, they would have done so. They did not. They defended the “right” of THIS church (meaning y o u r church) to discriminate, calling for her to be exempt from the law of the land, whenever she so… Read more »

ruidh
ruidh
14 years ago

“From our perspective Duncan and Faithworks have spent the last few years engaging with an enormous range of groups across the UK. Wherever we go, Duncan and Faithworks have been there before us and are engaged in a dialogue.” This is very disturbing news. “At a time of polarisation, Duncan and Faithworks would seem to be making a singularly successful attempt to improve communications and resist the fragmentation of our society.” I’m sorry. Did you mean to write this? It seems to me that Duncan is in the forefront of fragmentation in the church and in society. He is funded… Read more »

Fr Joseph O'Leary
14 years ago

“They defended the “right” of THIS church (meaning y o u r church) to discriminate, calling for her to be exempt from the law of the land, whenever she so pleased = a virtual Concordat. You may call the specific discrimination in question “just” if you please – but until you are able to present convincing grounds why this should be done, it won’t fly.” Not correct. The two archbishops spoke of the rights of conscience, not of any other exemptions. A Concordat would entail far more than that. The State has determined that gay couples have the same rights… Read more »

Fr Joseph O'Leary
14 years ago

“No-one should be forced to something against their conscience but then again no-one is forced against their wishes to provide goods or services or indeed to accept public money for doing so.” It is true that the Govt is not forcing the Church to act against their conscience, but it is forcing the Church to close down its adoption agencies. If the State ruled that all pharmacists must sell condoms and some strict Catholics refused, the State would be forcing them to close down their businesses. “You may call the specific discrimination in question “just” if you please – but… Read more »

Fr Joseph O'Leary
14 years ago

An awful lot of the argumentation above is predicated on the presumption that the churches are in bad faith or have concealed motives. This inability to argue the case on its own grounds is surely a sign that the indignation at the churches is poorly thought out. I see very little engagement with what was actually said in the letter of the 2 archbishops for example.

Merseymike
Merseymike
14 years ago

No, Joseph – you still don’t get it.

There is no place for the sort of ‘conscience’ which allows discrimination against a minority who are protected by law.

Its as simple as that. I think the ‘conscience’ of Catholics should be no more respected than the conscience of BNP members to dislike black people.It has no more moral value, simply because it is attached to ‘religion’.

That is why Christian traditions must change or be resisted.

Martin Reynolds
Martin Reynolds
14 years ago

“I’m sorry. Did you mean to write this? It seems to me that Duncan is in the forefront of fragmentation in the church and in society.”

I would be interested to have any evidence of this ruidh.

Merseymike
Merseymike
14 years ago

Ruidh – this isn’t Bishop Duncan of Pennsylvania!

Göran Koch-Swahne
14 years ago

I think there may be 2 different Duncans ;=)

But only 1 Macbeth…

NP
NP
14 years ago

chaps – I was not being dismissive – just honest – never heard of this chap or “Faithworks”

get +Tom Wright to agree with you – that would be news!

Malcolm Duncan
14 years ago

Just come back from a few days in Ireland to catch some of the blog! How interesting. NP – I am not in the slightest bit upset that you haven’t heard of me or that you haven’t heard of Faithworks. I am sure you are much the better for it! There is info about who we are and what we do at the website http://www.faithworks.info if you would like to know more about what we get up to. We only seek to engage with ‘powers’ and ‘government’ on behalf of our membership (a free service for churches and individuals) and… Read more »

NP
NP
14 years ago

Malcolm – Sorry, I was not meaning to be rude about you. Thanks for the website ref. I confess that I was being a bit rude to some who seemed to me to be crowing as if they had got someone like +Tom Wright to support TEC’s unilateral actions in 2003.

I am not totally clear where you stand. In a nutshell, where do you disagree with +Tom (if you do)?

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