Thinking Anglicans

"A very bad day for the Church of England"

Jerome Taylor wrote this at the Independent on Tuesday. I think it is the best analysis I have seen so far.

Census, gays and a very bad day for the Church of England
The historical goodwill of the British public towards Anglicanism is starting to run dry – and this anti same-sex marriage stance will only drain further support

New census data revealed this morning showed that just shy of 1,100 people in England and Wales ditch their Christian identity every day.

Meanwhile the only organisation that has a duty to marry British citizens will, the government announced this afternoon, be legally allowed to discriminate once more against gay men and women. Not a good day for the Church of England. If I were a Lords Spiritual right now, I’d be rather nervous about keeping my job. The established church has never looked so out of touch with the rest of Britain…

And on the equal marriage legislation, he said this:

Out of touch

The Church hierarchy’s official opposition to equal marriage legislation, meanwhile, is likely to erode support for Christianity even further over the next ten years – especially among younger generations who simply aren’t as bothered about what people do with their genitals in loving, committed consensual relationships to the same extent that perhaps their parents or grandparents are.

It’s important to note that much of the Church of England is not anti-gay marriage. There are wonderful, inclusive Anglican congregations that welcome gay couples and plenty of Anglicans who support equal marriage rights. But a chuck are opposed and the Church hierarchy has decided to go for a de facto oppositional stance until they can sort out what their ecclesiastical approach to same sex relationships is (which given how long it’s taken to sort out the issue of women could take some time).

The government’s announcement today that the Church of England will be legally banned from having gay marriages – as opposed to other religious groups who will be allowed to opt out – should halt concerns that the definition of marriage is somehow being threatened in canon law. The Church now has a “quadruple” legal lock that Europe and our courts simply would not be able to interfere with. For much of the anti-gay religious right, though, I fear even that won’t be enough.

However they try to portray this as a “religious freedom” argument, they are ultimately anti-gay marriage and determined to sink it however they can. The fact that no religious group would ever be forced to conduct gay marriages – or that plenty of religious groups believe their right to religious expression is currently being impinged because they can’t conduct gay weddings – falls on deaf ears.

The additional legal protections for the Church of England, of course, now means that the chances of Britain’s established church embracing gay men and women in marriage is now further off than ever. So an already out of touch church will become further disconnected while most of the people it is supposed to minister to march on. If the established church isn’t careful, the distance will become simply too wide to bridge.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Father David
Father David
11 years ago

As he left Lambeth Palace for the last time George Carey rather risibly said that he left the Church of England in good heart!
As Rowan shuts the palace door and puts the key in the lock on New Year’s Eve – I wonder what he will be saying as he sighs deeply and heads for Cambridge?

11 years ago

Fa. David, I don’t know what Rowan will say, Jesus said that you can tell the real prophets from the false one’s by the fruits of their labor (sorry, labour). Simply sad. I don’t know why the CoE doesn’t embrace the Good News and share it. All these machinations!!! Is it because the UK has a reasonable social welfare program that the Church has nothing to say about poverty and suffering? As an American (who has needed the NHS) I so envy the social contract that the UK has. But I’m sure that there are still people poor and suffering,… Read more »

11 years ago

“Out of touch”?

A very bad day for the Church of England will be the day that theology is determined by public opinion polls.

11 years ago

On leaving Lambeth: “Que sera, sera,…’?

11 years ago

Public opinion right now seems to be more loving and gracious than CoE, Charles. More germane, as far as I can tell, from worshipping in the UK and reading blogs, large numbers of CoE clergy and laity share the belief that all people are created in the image of God and have some understanding that that belief must have an impact on the policies and practices of the church. So we aren’t talking exclusively about “public opinion,” we’re talking about opinion within the church itself. These days, opinion within the church tends to be pretty educated. And it isn’t as… Read more »

11 years ago

I don’t see the problem with opinion polls, when most Christian “theology” was decided by whomever could get the muscle or money to back them – emperor, king, pope, army, thugs. Frankly, I think it may be time to stop saying “only so-and-so has insight into God.” It’s constantly used for manipulation and contrary to what Christ tells us.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x