Updated again Friday morning
The Guardian has three articles this evening all connected in some way with the choice of the next bishop of Southwark.
Riazat Butt How to become a bishop – secret ballots and royal approval
Andrew Brown Jeffrey John and the global Anglican schism: a potted history
Stephen Bates How the Church of England became the church of state
Stephen Bates also has this news item: Rowan Williams under siege over gay bishop veto
Stephen Bates also has this: Profile: Dr Jeffrey John
And in The Guardian Riazat Butt and Stephen Bates write Church divided over gay rights: new fears of schism and anguish for archbishop
And for good measure, there is an editorial in the Guardian The state and religion: The church risks looking absurd.
…This week a gay but celibate cleric, Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans and a man of the highest intellectual and moral standing, was rejected as a candidate for the diocese of Southwark because of his sexuality. No other private or state institution would have been allowed to do this. No institution, either, would be allowed to bar women from applying for the job, allowing them to be ordained but not promoted.
The internal agonies of a church caught between its Protestant and Catholic, and its liberal and conservative, tendencies cannot excuse this official institutionalisation of intolerance. It is true that disestablishing the church would require a huge amount of constitutional unpicking – much of it beneficial, such as the removal of anti-Catholic discrimination from the Act of Settlement. No government is likely to devote parliamentary time to the cause. It is true, too, that the established part of the church tends to be the more liberal, and that pulling back state involvement may do little to advance the cause of men such as Jeffrey John. Any mechanism that allows dialogue and change between the hard core of the committed and the penumbra of the vaguely supportive has something to be said for it. Religions that are entirely cut off from the surrounding culture neither die nor fade away, but turn crazy and dangerous. But formal disestablishment need not mean isolation, only the end of an unhealthy pretence that one church above all others can speak for a diverse nation.
David Hume once argued: “The union of the civil and ecclesiastical power … prevents those gross impostures and bigoted persecutions which in all false religions are the chief foundation of clerical authority.” The Church of England can obey his advice and accept the tolerant norms of modern society, as defined by the state. Or it can decide, privately, what it believes. Caught between the two, it risks becoming, as its archbishop feared, absurd
Damian Thompson writes in his Telegraph blog about The second humiliation of Jeffrey John: Rowan’s liberal credentials go up in smoke
Martin Beckford in the Telegraph has Archbishop of Canterbury accused of second ‘betrayal’ of gay cleric
Jonathan Wynne-Jones on his Telegraph blog writes The Church of England looks mad following the Jeffrey John snub