Thinking Anglicans

House of Lords considers removal of clergy exemption on same-sex marriage

On Friday, in the House of Lords, three Labour peers proposed an amendment to the Civil Partnership, Marriage and Deaths (Registration etc) Bill which would remove the clergy exemption in relation to same-sex marriage. This amendment was later withdrawn after the Government stated that it could not support it.

The exact wording of the amendment was as follows:

2: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause–

“Removal of exemption for clergy under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013

(1) The Secretary of State must make regulations to amend the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 to remove the exemption for members of the clergy to solemnize the marriage of a same sex couple.(2) Regulations under this section must be in force by the end of the period of 6 months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.”

The episode was reported by both the Anglican Communion News Service and The Church of England in Parliament:

The latter reports at length the response of the Bishop of Chelmsford. This. is worth reading in full.

Readers may also care to read the compete text of the debate which can be found in Hansard.  The relevant section starts here, and the whole record of the committee debate on the bill starts back here.

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Jill Armstead
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Jill Armstead

Presumably if the HL proposal became law, there would have to be a penalty for non-compliance by a priest. Requiring a priest to abandon or change their religious beliefs as a condition of ,say, continuing in office, would amount to religious harassment under the Equality Act and could lead to judicial review? Of course the same sex couple would have some redress…….O what a tangled web…… Just stop tinkering with the Faith, bishops and for once stand up for Jesus!

Kate
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Kate

It is not harassment now to prevent priests from entering into same sex marriages; when / if things flip, it equally won’t be harassment to require priests to marry same sex couples.

William
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William

Things have already flipped Kate. Those who prided themselves on being progressive in the Church are now just part of the status quo. And so young people (who are naturally rebellious) are increasingly attracted to orthodox expressions of Christianity.

Jo B
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Jo B

Progressive and orthodox are not antonyms within Christianity. Progressive and reactionary, on the other hand…

crs
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crs

Yes indeed. Just look at TEC. Boomer aged ‘radicals’ who are now the 95% leadership segment. Younger students I teach, headed for orthodox expressions of Christianity, as you put it. I was struck watching the march for life here in the USA. Swamped with the 20s segment, conservative Catholics, evangelicals, all races.

Jim Pratt
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Jim Pratt

In my diocese, young people have rejected “orthodox expressions of Christianity”. The HTB church plant just advertised an Alpha Marriage Course open to “all couples in a committed, life-long partnership”. The church planter quickly realized that a conservative line was going to be a non-starter among his target population.

crs
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crs

I do not doubt your point. Having lived in the UK for a decade it strikes me as a place where an established church will continue to decline and decline. I doubt as well that substituting a ‘progressive’ version of Christianity will slow that down one iota.

I took William’s point to be that there is now nothing particularly radical about being pro LGBT. It is the status quo.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Jim Pratt, you may be interested in this article from National Catholic Reporter with an embedded link referencing the study; Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics. “The study included survey questions and open-ended interviews, with some participants who were asked to tell their stories of disaffiliation. Thus, it went beyond the numbers to dig deeper into the why: Why are young Catholics leaving the faith?”

https://www.ncronline.org/news/parish/study-asks-why-are-young-catholics-going-going-gone

crs
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crs

“Six common dynamics of disaffiliation” — not a single reference to the vaunted topic of TA, same-sex marriage. Faith forced on me. Can be ‘moral’ without Catholic stamp. Etc. 13-17 year olds — odd demographic.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

The 13-17 year demo is right in the zone when young people are moving into/have moved into the ability to engage abstract thinking. So, not “odd” at all, but, in fact, a significant cohort to measure in terms of transition. Try looking at the quantitative comparisons of all denominations, no matter where they are on the so called liberal-conservative spectrum.-decline in participation/membership/identification cuts across the spectrum, even when adjusted for immigration. Organized religion in western democracies is measurably in decline. The common denominator is not this or that issue—the common denominator is organized religion itself. He who lives by stats… Read more »

crs
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crs

Whatever you say, Rod!

William
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William

The reasons people leave organised religion and the reasons they join are entirely different. Young people who reject traditional church teaching are not flocking to the pews of liberal/progressive churches. They are just not bothering to go at all. Whereas those who do embrace such teaching will commit themselves quite radically to a church that supports them.This is why liberal Christianity seems to be declining more rapidly than anyone else. Just look at decline of the Methodist church in the UK.

crs
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crs

Thank you for this careful response. I agree entirely.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

“… liberal Christianity seems to be declining more rapidly…” Some forms of organized religion are more more ‘organized’ (in the root of sense of ‘organ’) than others, more culturally or heuristically joined and fitted, more hardy. However, hardiness is not invulnerability. Don’t lose sight of ‘seems’. Pointing out the resulting statistical decline in organized religion, including the decline in participation by one cohort or other, adverts to dependent variables only. The rate of descent of trend lines on a graph may differ; but there is an issue if they all seem to be heading in the same direction. There is… Read more »

crs
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Laurie Roberts
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Laurie Roberts

Jill Armstead, your presumption is incorrect.
You will be pleased to know that no ‘penalty’ and no harassment would be involved. Phew ! And this in line with previous legislation around the lives of lgbt people in and out with the Church.

Jill Armstead
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Jill Armstead

If the exemption were removed a priest who refused to marry a same sex couple would be guilty of unlawful discrimination.

Laurie Roberts
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Laurie Roberts

No he or she would not be guilty, as a matter of fact. Glad I can be of help.

Father Mike
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Father Mike

Standing up for Jesus means standing up for the fact that LGBTI people are made in the image and likeness of God and deserve to be blessed in finding, celebrating and recognising loving commitment.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

An excellent and very timely amendment. Plaudits to the three Labour Lords who offered it.
As Simon notes all this would do would enable the Church of England and the Church in Wales to “opt in,” should they so choose.
Synod, please take note. Parliament is waiting.

Anthony Archer
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Anthony Archer

The better way to achieve equality on marriage is, for the time being, for Parliament to legislate not to remove the same-sex marriage exemption but to remove the right of CofE clergy to act as registrars in the solemnization of the marriage of opposite-gendered couples. That would immediately create a level playing field and allow the CofE to catch up when it is ready to do so. It would certainly galvanise the debate. The reason for the so-called quadruple lock in the legislation is as much a constitutional matter as one of ecclesiology, otherwise canon law (one man, one woman… Read more »