Thinking Anglicans

Church "shocked" to get what it lobbied for

Anya Palmer has written Church “shocked” to get what it lobbied for

Suggestions that CoE never asked for gay marriage ban need to be taken with a pinch of salt

The Guardian reported on Friday (14 December 2012) that the Church of England and Church of Wales have expressed their “complete shock” at proposals to ban them from conducting marriages for same sex couples. The piece ends with Ben Bradshaw MP quoting the Bishop of Leicester as saying the CoE was very upset about this “because it gave the impression that the Church of England were unfriendly towards gays.”

But is the Church of England really unhappy with the proposed ban?

…The only on-the-record statement from the Church of England in the Guardian report is from “a spokesman” claiming that the CoE was not consulted on the proposed “quadruple lock”. The spokesman does not confirm that the CoE does not want a ban – all he or she confirms is that the CoE claims it was not consulted.

Personally I find it difficult to believe the CoE was not consulted.

Firstly, because when the government’s proposals were outlined, on Tuesday 11 December, the Church of Wales immediately stated it did not agree, whereas the Church of England neither disagreed nor made any claim that it had not been consulted. Here is the statement the CoE put out on Wednesday 12 December:

Equal Same-Sex Marriage and the Church of England – an Explanatory Note

Far from suggesting the CoE has not been consulted, the statement asserts that it has been listened to:

“This is not a question of the Government and Parliament imposing a prohibition or ‘ban’ on what the Church of England can do. It is instead the Government responding to the Church’s wish to see the status quo for the Church of England preserved.” [Emphasis added]

The statement clearly approves of the proposal that the CoE not be given a right to opt in:

“For Parliament to give the Church of England an opt-in to conduct same sex marriages that it hasn’t sought would be unnecessary, of doubtful constitutional propriety and introduce wholly avoidable confusion.”

If that doesn’t say “we don’t want an opt-in, thank you” I am not sure what would.

This statement was presumably approved at a high level. It has not been retracted. At no point has the Church of England stated on the record that it does not want the additional bar.

And secondly, I don’t believe the CoE was not consulted because the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has now put out a statement expressly denying that the CoE was not consulted…

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Bill Dilworth
11 years ago

“the impression that the Church of England were unfriendly towards gays”

Don’t worry, the public had already gotten that impression from other things, like your treatment of Jeffrey John.

Craig Nelson
Craig Nelson
11 years ago

If the CofE still does want the 4th lock (in spite of its protests) are they not going to end up looking very silly at best and mendacious at worst?

My advice to the Labour Party is to simply support the Bill and not to believe a word the CofE says.

Original Observer
Original Observer
11 years ago

The situation is unavoidable as the Church of England’s Canons (which currently specify marriage to be between a man and a woman) are a part of the law of England. To pass a separate law which enabled the CofE to conduct same sex marriages would in effect give rise to two statutes which would contradict one another. The CofE could change this situation by passing a Measure in the General Synod which altered the Canon Law with regard the the definition of marriage, and also amended the BCP. This Measure would then be sent to Parliament for approval. There is… Read more »

Sara MacVane
Sara MacVane
11 years ago

No wonder the C-of-E seems less and less relevant to more and more people. Established for whom, by whom and with whom?

Phil Groom
11 years ago

We have a decidedly two-faced (and po-faced) church in the C of E: it says one thing, but practices another. No place for homophobia, says the incoming ABC — but what is the C of E’s opposition to equal marriage if not homophobia? It is a straightforward fear of — if not outright paranoia over — what allowing gay relationships equal status might imply; and I’ve yet to see any sensible reasoning involved, all I see is conservatives waving their hands around in horror and insisting that marriage is and can only ever be a heterosexual institution.

11 years ago

The link on the C of E website seems to have been removed.

ED Yes, for the second time, the URL for this article was changed. I hope I have now corrected all the places where it was linked on TA.

The reason for the second move appears to have been to correct an unfortunate typographical error…

11 years ago

“Church ‘shocked’ to get what it lobbied for”

Again, I mention the King Henry (I confess, I forget which #!) and ABC Thomas Beckett parallel: “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest/these marrying gays?”

ED: Henry the Second.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
11 years ago

Perhaps the Church was consulted, but those who responded on behalf of the Church didn’t believe that the views expressed would be taken seriously … the CofE still has influence in the corridors of power!

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