Thinking Anglicans

Martyn Percy interviewed on BBC radio programmes

Updated Thursday

Following the publication last week of his essay – Sex, Sense and Non-Sense for Anglicans – the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, and a Vice President of Modern Church, appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme…

For more details of this interview, and another one on BBC Radio Wiltshire, dealing mainly with the case of Canon Jeremy Davies, see Modern Church vice president responds to unchallenged homophobia on Radio 4 Sunday programme.

Thursday Update

Following the Radio 4 broadcast, there were numerous complaints to the BBC about what one of the participants had said, and the failure of the interviewer to challenge him on it. Those who complained have all received the following response from the BBC:

Many thanks for getting in touch with us about an item on BBC Radio 4’s “Sunday” programme on 20 December. Recognising your unhappiness, we have reviewed the programme and have discussed listener feedback personally with the senior editorial team responsible at Radio 4.

To explain, the discussion in question was broadcast in response to an essay written by the Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, on the debate within the Anglican Communion about the treatment of LGBT Christians.

“Sunday” is a live programme and, regrettably, this discussion ran out of time before it was possible to clarify some of the views expressed. As a result, some listeners may have gained the impression that Canon Dr Chris Sugden equated homosexual behaviour with child grooming.

We have spoken with Dr Sugden subsequently, and he has assured us that this is not the case and that he was actually conveying what he believes to be one African perspective on the churches’ and the states’ attitudes to homosexual behaviour, based on his conversations with senior religious leaders from different African countries.

We apologise for any offence caused by a lack of clarity on this point during the live broadcast. As was explained in the programme, “Sunday” will be returning to the issue when the leaders of the Anglican Communion meet in January, and exploring it in more detail.

Thanks again for getting in touch and allowing us to clarify.

Kind Regards
BBC Complaints
www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

Another article on Anglican Mainstream from Chris Sugden, published on the same day as the broadcast, also deals with this matter: Background to the Uganda Bill on aggravated homosexuality

It is becoming clear that in the lead up to the Anglican Primates’ gathering, further pressure will be brought to bear on African churches and nations on the subject of their laws on sexuality. Both President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have made direct threats from their positions of enormous power to African states that funds for their education and health budgets will be removed if the laws are not changed. To this call is now being added calls from the Episcopal Church, the Church of Canada, the Dean of Christ Church and lobby groups.
At this Christmas season, where would Jesus be found – in the courts of the rich and powerful intimidating and bullying the poor for whom their families and children are their security in countries with no welfare systems, or in the slums of Kabare in Kenya and Kampala in Uganda? Pope Francis has made clear where he stands.
There are many myths and misunderstandings on this topic to which this article addresses itself…

43
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
43 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
27 Comment authors
Daniel Berry, NYCInterested ObserverDBDFather Ron SmithKate Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Andrew Lightbown
Guest
Andrew Lightbown

Yes, we need far greater intellectual and theological leadership. I found Chris Sugden’s comments bizarre and shameful. There is no rationale for standing in solidarity with those who would seek to criminalize homosexuality; I thought ‘we’ had established this under Michael Ramsey? Highly suspicious of Chris Sugden’s ‘value free’ research.

Concerned Anglican
Guest
Concerned Anglican

After a long period when cathedral deans have been quiescent cyphers, at last a return of the ‘major’ cathedral dean. Someone in high office who is able articulately and authoritatively to speak out about matters controversial, to the nation and beyond without fear or favour. Martyn Percy is quite brilliant in his role.

This is good news both for the Church of England and the Christian Faith, which have in recent times become increasingly dialectical, defining themselves negatively by being against things.

The last dean of such calibre before Martyn Percy was the late Colin Slee of Southwark.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

While I agree with Martyn Percy’s dismay at the church’s treatment of LGBT people, I don’t see any mystery about how the church is acting, or much hope of Justin Welby changing course. Problem is that many liberals just don’t come at things from a political POV. There’s two brutally simple calculations at work: the majority of the Anglican Communion condemns homosexuality; as do the majority of the evangelicals who bankroll the Church of England. The realpolitik’s as inescapable as it is cruel: English bishops won’t even consider equality until they can be sure it won’t bankrupt the church. It’s… Read more »

Peter Mullins
Guest
Peter Mullins

I find this much more encouraging than many of your readers will. If this is the best the most articulate, prominent and influential spokesman for this point of view can do when he is given enough rope (more than equal time on a particular BBC programme where he is introduced by his chosen epithet ‘mainstream’ and speaks about his uniquely extensive research) speaking about ‘chosen lifestyle’ ‘and ‘protection from grooming’, then keep supplying more rope say I – we are much nearer the successful end of this argument than I had realised or a small number of painful individual cases… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Presumably amongst Sugden’s acolytes, they would see legislation outlawing heterosexual marriage and, indeed, activity of any sort as being a proportionate way to protect children from opposite-sex grooming?

Oh, no, they wouldn’t. Because Sugden is, of course, dog-whistling the “homosexuality = paedophilia” trope to his followers.

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

In response to James, from who cheerfully self-describes as charismatic evangelical: “There’s two brutally simple calculations at work: the majority of the Anglican Communion condemns homosexuality; as do the majority of the evangelicals who bankroll the Church of England.” Actually I think evangelicalism, especially in the CofE, is much more diverse on this issue today. I think I detect at least the following groupings: 1. those who think homosexual practice is sinful and is a central issue of faith and doctrine over which schism is justifiable. I take this to be Chris Sugden’s line, more or less. 2. those who… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Chris Sugden speaks of ‘lifestyle choice’ for homosexuals – as though that is a simple matter of choosing between two ways of living. He needs to understand that; as heterosexuals – like himself, presumably – have no choice in the matter of exercising their sexuality, the same goes for the intrinsically homosexual person. There simply are no other options – except in defiance of one’s innate sexual nature The only people who have any personal choice between two options are those capable of a bi-sexual response. Most often this results in a heterosexual marriage, where procreation is considered an important… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Peter Mullins, I would like to agree with you, but I am not so sure. Within the church the debate is about whether same sex relationships are sinful or not, and the arguments tend to focus on whether Scripture forbids or permits them. No opponent to these relationships is ever required to explain why Scripture would forbid them, just claiming that it does is sufficient. When liberals question why a loving God would condemn a whole group of people to potential mental harm and loneliness, our reference to “experience” is dismissed out of hand as completely irrelevant. Canon Sugden’s problem… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Thank you, Charles Read.
I’m finding the consistent prejudice against and lack of appreciation of the complexity of evangelicals quite tiring now. It doesn’t seem to matter how often people point out that it’s no longer that simple (if it’s ever been that simple), the stereotype is being mentioned again and again.

We’re not doing ourselves any favours by not recognising what’s truly going on in evangelical circles. This whole battle can be won faster if we recognise that the majority all all churchgoers is no longer against same sex relationships.

Andrew Lightbown
Guest
Andrew Lightbown

I totally agree with the idea that evangelisation should not simply be left to those who self identify as evangelicals. I don’t accept the idea of the requirement to be particularly savvy. History is full of examples of folk who were told ‘yes, we accept your point, but the time is not quite right to push ahead.’ Think of the presidents ‘advice’ to Martin Luther King. Also, lets not confuse unity and appeasement. Appeasement never leads to long-term unity but frequently leads to disaster. Finally, leadership on behalf of the ‘majority’ would mean that the Church had uncritically accepted and… Read more »

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

This “lifestyle choice” rubbish that people like Sugden keep bringing back from the dead boggles the mind. How could he, in his wildest imagination, believe that people in places like Uganda deliberately choose something to likely to be horribly dangerous–even fatal?

As my father often said, if being gay were a choice, it wouldn’t take long to make a different one.

And Sugden was giving a pass on his rhetoric about recruitment?

DBD
Guest

Concerned’s comment “fear or favour” reminds me of the proposed Constitutional Oath in Benn’s Commonwealth Bill (see Common Sense):

“I … do solemnly declare and affirm that I will be faithful to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Britain, and will respect its laws, as enacted by Parliament; will preserve inviolably the civil rights and liberties of the people, including the right to self-government, through their elected representatives, and will faithfully and truly declare my mind and opinion on all matters that come before me favour”

Would that priests were to affirm such things!

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

My appreciation for such a thorough and nuanced reply, Charles. 🙂 I agree that some evangelicals are affirming. It may even be a silent majority of those who self-identify as evangelical. Problem is, when they break cover, they’re swiftly and ruthlessly marginalized by the evangelical centers of power, such as when Oasis was summarily booted from the Evangelical Alliance. So whatever they think in the safety of their minds, in terms of power, they’re excluded. Worse, I don’t see how it’ll change. Just check out Ian Paul’s Psephizo blog whenever this comes up. Ian, despite being firmly in the progressive… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

Myth #1: Evangelical churches are the only ones that are growing, especially conservative ones. Myth #2: Evangelical churches are not declining numerically, as liberal and Catholic churches are. Myth #3: Evangelical churches bankroll the Church of England. Myth #4: Only Evangelicals care about church growth. Myth #5: Congregations at evangelical churches, as opposed to their clergy, are illiberal on the equal marriage issue So many of us, from all church traditions, seem to have bought into these myths, and yet to them best of my knowledge, there is no reliable evidence to support any of them. I’d be interested if… Read more »

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

A spot on comment from interested observer I was profoundly dismayed by the weakness of Sugden’s argument . He does the cause of traditional marriage very little good.

Flora Alexander
Guest
Flora Alexander

I was amazed at the sheer stupidity of Chris Sugden’s contribution to this discussion. ‘Intellectually bankrupt’ sums it up well.

Barry
Guest
Barry

On the Modern Church website Chris Sugden is given the titles Canon Dr. I do not possess a copy of Crockford’s Clerical Directory. Could someone who does please inform me (A) of which English diocese Chris Sugden is a Canon, presumably honorary; (B) from which university he holds a doctorate earned by thesis; (C) in which English diocese he has recently held a salaried post?

Father David
Guest
Father David

Dean Percy of Oxford is proving to be a most effective Leader of the Opposition to the traditional ethical standards upheld by the Emperor Justinian of Canterbury. The cathedra in Oxford has long remained vacant but the diocese itself seems to be rubbing along quite nicely without a chief pastor which makes me think is it not time to do a reversal of what they did in West Yorkshire and the Dales and revisit the plan to split the diocese of Oxford into three dioceses – Berks, Bucks and Oxon? Such a move would undoubtedly receive a heavenly beatific smile… Read more »

Cassandra
Guest
Cassandra

Well, Canon Sugden it is: http://interanglicanaid.org/about-us/whos-who/ says he’s a canon at a cathedral in Nigeria. Not sure yet about the doctorate but I’d be very interested to know.

Cassandra
Guest
Cassandra

Isn’t ‘Thinking Anglicans’ wonderful? back in 2010 Canon Sugden’s Crockckford’s entry was shared as

SUGDEN, Canon Christopher Michael Neville. b 48. St Pet Coll Ox BA70 MA74 Nottm Univ MPhil74 Westmr Coll Ox PhD88. St Jo Coll Nottm 72. d 74 p 75. C Leeds St Geo Ripon 74-77; Assoc P Bangalore St Jo India 77-83; Lic to Offic Ox from 83; Can St Luke’s Cathl Jos Nigeria from 00; Exec Dir Ox Cen for Miss Studies 01-04; Exec Sec Angl Mainstream Internat from 04. Anglican Mainstream International, 21 High Street, Eynsham, Oxford OX29 4HE Tel (01865) 883388 E-mail csugden@anglican-mainstream.net

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

I can answer the third of Barry’s questions. Apart from his initial curacy about forty years ago, Chris Sugden has never held a salaried post in the Church of England.

Susannah Clark
Guest

As I often do, I agree with the hard analysis of James Byron. To declare my own background: charismatic, evangelical-turned-liberal doctrinally, catholic in approach to spiritual exercise and Mass. My ‘home’ church (which remains the base for myself and my children) is evangelical Anglican. For 22 years I have held non-conservative views, at odds with many in my congregation, yet nevertheless I still ally with my church because of the quality of love my children have received, leading all three to living faith. So I am not hostile to those Christians there with whom I may disagree profoundly on some… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

James, I don’t know what you mean by “holding the power”. If you keep staring at Ian Paul like a rabbit staring at headlights you will end up believing that he has power. If you look around you and break the spell, you will realise that all around him, certainties are falling and that the only power he has is the one every other member in General Synod has – one vote. Oasis may have been kicked out of the Evangelical Alliance but that only represents losing power if you believe that the EA is the centre of influence in… Read more »

Fr James
Guest
Fr James

Have people seen this response on Anglican Ink?

http://www.anglican.ink/article/poetry-anglicanism

JCF
Guest
JCF

I wonder if it’s the case in the UK (as I believe it is in the US) than when Evangelicals become LGBT-affirming, they are no longer *perceived* as Evangelical by other Evangelicals? That condemnation of LGBTs (if expressing anything other than life-long celibacy, and rejection of all things “gay”) is THE measure by which Evangelicals evaluate a (putative) Evangelical’s adherence to Solo Scriptura?

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

It is a Nigerian canonry.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

What a powerful and insightful post, Susannah! I do tend towards the hardheaded, it’s true, and it’s good and necessary for us all to be reminded of the many causes for hope. We are the church, indeed, and though the arc of the moral universe is too long at times, it does still bend towards justice. A better day will dawn. Erika, it’s not just Ian Paul, but Pete Broadbent, Nicky Gumbel, Libby Lane, Justin Welby, John Sentamu, and most other leaders of progressive evangelicalism. Broadbent fought for secular gay rights when society scorned them: he’s demonstrably not prejudiced, but… Read more »

Richard Franklin
Guest
Richard Franklin

Re JCF’s comment: I remember sitting next to an evangelical (who shall be nameless) at General Synod when Bishop John Gladwin talked of his change of heart over the ‘Gay issue’. In the course of his speech he described himself as an evangelical. My synodical colleague immediately hissed, “ex.”

Father David
Guest
Father David

I remember Bishop John Gladwin relating a tale of his enthronement at Guildford, which was, of course, after he had preached his memorable and controversial sermon at Southwark cathedral. When Bishop Gladwin was preaching the sermon at his enthronement at Guildford a member of the congregation stood up and started protesting that someone who had spoken up for inclusivity in the Church for those of homosexual orientation should be being enthroned as Diocesan Bishop of Guildford! Inevitably a Steward descended upon the protester and was told in no uncertain terms “If you lay a finger upon me I will call… Read more »

Brenda Herrick
Guest
Brenda Herrick

A quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu which says it all for me: “I am proud that in South Africa, when we won the chance to build our own new constitution, the human rights of all have been explicitly enshrined in our laws. My hope is that one day this will be the case all over the world, and that all will have equal rights. For me this struggle is a seamless robe. Opposing apartheid was a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination against women is a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a matter of… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

The behaviour of Evangelical and other anti-gay christians has terrible consequences for people in the real world, thus rendered vulnerable : –

http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/davidbadash/nm_republicans_file_bill_stripping_sexual_orientation_and_gender_identity_from_human_rights_act

I am waiting for Evangelical bishops and General Synod members, PCCs etc to to take bold steps for lgbt people – not just claim to have a change of mind- however slight and hidden.

Some of us have been waiting in Evangelical churches since childhood and time is running out for us, at least. There is nt all the time in the world.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

James, what I keep trying to say is that there are many serious progressive evangelical voices. And they are being heard. That some so called progressives who, despite having been involved in the debate for a long time and knowing very well how much harm is caused to lgbt people by the church do not change their minds is neither here nor there. And whether we call them prejudiced or motivated by their understanding of Scripture is also irrelevant. What matters is that they’re rigid. They probably always will be. But it doesn’t matter. That evangelicals who are conservative on… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“It’s true that groups like the Evangelical Alliance don’t speak for all, but until serious rivals emerge, they’re the only voice heard” But they are inevitably dying. Attitudes to homosexuality are a defining touchstone amongst people born before about 1960: in order to respect rights for gay people they had to break with the almost universal condemnation of their parents’ generation and therefore crossed some sort of rubicon at that point. Those that didn’t make that move increasingly saw/see opposition to gay rights as a shorthand for a whole bunch of complaints about modernity. Amongst older people, it’s a live… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

I agree, Richard, that for many evangelicals, affirming gay relationships is often used as a boundary-marker — but the suspicion’s tied to the fact that the most prominent affirming evangelicals tend to be theologically liberal in general. Steve Chalke has questioned PSA and biblical authority; Rachel Held Evans likewise (she’s now an episcopalian); Rob Bell infamously flirted with universalism. The reason’s plain — people tend to be generally open-minded — yet just goes to illustrate why affirmation of gay relationships is in such tension with evangelical theology. If we shift on this, many evangelicals fear, the whole house of cards… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

“… is it not time to do a reversal of what they did in West Yorkshire and the Dales and revisit the plan to split the diocese of Oxford into three dioceses – Berks, Bucks and Oxon?”

Tongue in cheek from Father David no doubt, but as a newly elected member of the Dioceses Commission I can assure him that the current direction of travel will be maintained, at least if my views hold any sway on the Commission!

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

We mustn’t feed Mr Sugden’s sense of his own importance by attributing any authority to his views. Like Anglican ‘Mainstream’, his opinions – to which he’s entitled – have no more value than anyone else’s in the Church of England. Everyone knows he speaks for an extremist fringe and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

We shouldn’t be complacent about gay rights, Interested Observer: a 2014 Stonewall report* found that, while there have been improvements in recent years, homophobic bullying remains endemic in British schools, and is higher in Britain’s many religious schools. Plenty college students oppose homophobia not out of conviction, but to fit in; just as, back in school, they joined in (or at least, turned a blind eye to) the merciless bullying anyone so much as suspected of being gay. Things have undoubtedly gotten better, but there’s no neat cutoff age for homophobia, and given the right circumstances, it can easily spread… Read more »

David Beadle
Guest
David Beadle

I very much agree with Erika Baker’s comments; and, up to a point, with ‘Interested Observer.’ The Church of England has been cleansing gay and bi people and their allies from its ministry and leadership for years. Sadly, many young people will not join the church at all; in a strange way, those churches which attract people who want something “counter-cultural” feeling (often homophobic churches)have an easier time attracting that demographic. The result is a dying-out, but it is a dying-out of the Church of England as a whole – general decline, with an increase in numbers in a small… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

I’m not as certain as Interested Observer and others than we can fully extrapolate from social acceptance into theological acceptance. The trap set by the evangelical movement is this. They suggest – as we have seen – that embarking on a same sex relationship is a “lifestyle choice”. Rejecting that though leads to the unedifying argument (for Christians) that people ought to be able to marry anybody to whom they are sexually attracted (regardless of gender) – essentially to argue in favour of lasciviousness and Bible teaching clearly stands against that. Of course, many heterosexual marriages are equally based on… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

The point is, who do we believe – about the question of whether or not God loves gay people as much as heterosexuals: Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa, or Honorary Canon Chris Sugden of Nigeria? The first has actual extensive parish ministry experience; the second, a first curacy only, in the Church of England.

I like to remember the Holy Week antiphon: “Where charity and love are – there is God”.

DBD
Guest

My above should finish:

all matters that come before me without fear or favour”

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“The first has actual extensive parish ministry experience; the second, a first curacy only, in the Church of England.” The first is an world-famous bishop whose ministry was a substantial contributor to the peaceful end of apartheid for which, properly rewarded with the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize and, awarded only to him and to Robin Eames, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Award for Outstanding Service to the Anglican Communion. The other is Chris Sugden. I suspect that it is unlikely that anyone would confuse them. One preached peace and reconciliation in times of trouble, the other shouts vainly against the world… Read more »

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

It’s small wonder that when younger people look into the church (and, perhaps, other faith groups) they often–perhaps mostly–encounter religiosities that have turn people into dreadful human beings, and want nothing to do with it.