Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 5 May 2021

Luke Dowding OneBodyOneFaith Service & Self

ViaMedia.News Rachel’s Story – I Don’t Want to Be Part of An Institution that Allows Abuse
by Rachel, a 30 something Christian, hockey player and lesbian whose experience in an HTB plant has seriously damaged her faith.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
56 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Kate
Kate
4 months ago

I am being very careful which stories on ViaMedia I read because I suspect some recently have been too upsetting for me to read without myself then needing considerable support, but I read Rachel’s story. And it is upsetting.   It also shows very clearly that a twin-track approach cannot be the solution. If we try, then there will be more Rachel’s who get involved with a non-affirming church before they realise how that might impact them, their family, or a close friend.   Conversion therapy takes many forms. Being told that you can’t lead Bible Study if you are… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

So in other words, you would evict all dissenters from the Church of England?

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
4 months ago

Those are your words, not Kate’s. It’s not a good way to conduct a discussion.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Toby Forward
4 months ago

Then I would invite Kate to suggest exactly how she would require all Anglican churches to adopt full inclusivity as a foundational principle, and what she would do about those that refuse to do so.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
4 months ago

All it does is change which part of the church carries the burden.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

Yes, but how would you do ‘it’, and how would you enforce ‘it’? Still waiting for an answer.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
4 months ago

Kate did not suggest all churches should adopt a principle, she said the principle should apply to all churches. In the event of a vicar discriminating against a person based on their opinions, beliefs or personal lifestyle then that vicar should be disciplined. Anti-discrimination laws work moderatley well in a very wide range of settings. Why should they not apply in churches?

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
4 months ago

I am reminded of a recent discussion I had on Facebook: “You can’t force me to believe something I don’t.”

“No one is telling you what to believe…only telling you you cannot act on those beliefs if they cause harm to others.”

The subject was racism, but the concept is the same.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Pat ONeill
4 months ago

It’s actually before the Employment Appeal Tribunal in the case of Maya Forstater. She is arguing she has freedom of speech; the counter argument seems to be that freedom of speech doesn’t extend to harming people.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
4 months ago

I think it is a safeguarding matter

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

Kate   You have not replied to Tim’s question – but churches don’t usually throw out clergy for trying to uphold its teachings on marriage! Like so many painful stories of pastoral breakdown it is awash with hindsight even as there is much we don’t know. But we do know that the vicar’s concerns were for the whole leadership team not only with Rachel. Another was living with his girlfriend for example. Further, I assume that anyone on the leadership team openly supporting equal marriage would be a problem to him – not just one who was known to be gay or… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
4 months ago

Tim I think you comment from a position of heterosexual privilege. Though I think we should confine our attention not on dissenters but perhaps only on the hypocrites! We have two diocesan bishops of the same sex who are lovers; we have lots of clergy in civil partnerships who claim to be celibate when everyone knows that they’re nothing of the kind – including their own bishop; we have just had two ‘stars’ of the conservative evangelical movement who have been involved in homoerotic abuse (I’m highlighting the homoeroticism you understand, not condoning their repugnant abuse); there are a significant… Read more »

James
James
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
4 months ago

Agree with your question Tim. There are different legitimate views in the Church of England – that is why there is the LLF process – I do wish people on both sides of the argument would stop trying to force their views on others. Both sides need to co-exist – and if anyone feels they cannot co-exist, departure would seem to be the logical conclusion.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  James
4 months ago

Very much agree with this – at present we have a ‘status quo’ that wants to impose its conscientious views on another half of the Church. In the future some people want a ‘status quo’ that wants to impose *their* views on the other half of the Church. Both halves of the Church believe in sincere conscience and faith that their values are right. I just don’t agree with dominating other people’s consciences like that. It’s not even realistic as a long-term objective. It simply drives schism. in terms of realpolitik, I still haven’t heard how the Church of England… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Susannah Clark
4 months ago

“wants to impose its conscientious views on another half of the Church.” Is not that what all mission is these days – wanting to get others to see things like you see them? That’s what it looks like to me. Wanting to change others so that they think like you is an addiction. It’s control. The days of mission as laying the table and letting people explore and help themselves seem to have passed. I have listened to many sermons over the years and way too many have been, in essence: God, you are so wonderful. God, we adore you.… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Susannah Clark
4 months ago

I re-read my post and saw that a section of it was ambiguous. So what I should have said (corrections asterisked): . “The challenge to co-exist is also no walk in the *park*. However, I believe it is the only way (in practical terms) that the Church of England will bring about any kind of change after 50 years of logjam. Mature Christians on both sides of the divide need to acknowledge that the Church as a whole simply won’t agree, and *will need to* allow different Church communities to follow their own consciences on human sexuality, and then seek… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Susannah Clark
4 months ago

I totally agree with this, Susannah – including the bit about affirming gay sexuality, which is my position too.

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

I think some of the posts in reply to Kate’s here illustrate perfectly why LLF is not and can never be a safe place /process for LGBT Christians. – It’s about skin in the game: for Rachel it’s who she is, for the Vicar, it’s an opinion. – How ever strongly held an opinion is, it’s not something you’re born with, it can be changed. Sexual orientation is not an opinion and cannot be changed. ‘Evil dissenters’ should not be evicted from the C of E, but they should not be allowed power to abuse LGBT people, regardless of what… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Fr Andrew
Kate
Kate
Reply to  Fr Andrew
4 months ago

Wonderfully put Fr Andrew.
 
“It’s about skin in the game: for Rachel it’s who she is, for the Vicar, it’s an opinion.”
 
That statement goes to the heart of it. I am reminded of the Bible story of Jesus healing on the Sabbath and I think the meaning is central to His teaching: opinions about what is ‘correct’ behaviour should always be put aside rather than harm someone.

James
James
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

It is great that we have the LLF process to deal with these differing perspectives. We should all honour it, or step away!

James
James
Reply to  Fr Andrew
4 months ago

LLF is the process that has been determined by the majority – if you don’t like it, then perhaps leave?

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  James
4 months ago

When and where was the LLF process “determined by the majority”?

Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
Reply to  James
4 months ago

I know church attendance is plummeting, but we’re still a long way from the House of Bishops being the majority of English Anglicans. How about:
:
‘LLF is the process that has been determined by the Bishops because after the refusal of Synod to take note of their homophobic stitch-up they’re scared of the majority.’
:
That should fix it.

Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

Actually, that’s not true, as far as I can read from this narrative. There is nothing to suggest the vicar wanted Rachel to ‘change’ – he didn’t want Rachel at all – end of story. This is not about ‘conversion’ (however we may understand the way in which the word is used) – it’s about rejection.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
4 months ago

If Rachel had started advocating for LGB Christians to remain celibate and single she would have been held up a a model of how Christians should deal with same sex attraction. How many of those in churches like that who do advocate for celibacy have come under the same sort of pressure as Rachel? In other words, had been ‘converted’. So, whether it was or was not an attempt at conversion therapy in Rachel’s case, we ought to be very concerned because it is an environment in which conversion therapy can lurk.

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
4 months ago

Rachel’s story is heartrending and it brings shame to the church. Consider this. She says, ‘I do not want to be part of an institution that allows this abuse’, based on her sexuality. But there is an authorised system in the church which perpetuates abuse of women, based not on their sexuality, but on their sex. A woman, entirely within the traditional mainstream of the teaching, perhaps married, perhaps hoping to be, approaches her parish priest and says that she feels called to the priesthood. Other Christians have suggested that this is her vocation. She has been on retreat and… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Toby Forward
4 months ago

I don’t think it is a safeguarding issue like sexual orientation or gender identity as there is no pressure to change, but it is still an unacceptable state of affairs. I firmly believe that the motion before Synod should be that EVERY parish and all levels of ministry will be fully inclusive of women, bi lesbian and gay sexualities openly expressed and all gender expressions without restriction.

SkepticalObserver
SkepticalObserver
Reply to  Toby Forward
4 months ago

Now would seem to be a good time.
An institution that does not recognise equality on the basis of gender and who ensures that the law of the land gives it the legal right to exercise that discrimination is not relevant to 2021 and has no future among right thinking people – IMHO.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  SkepticalObserver
4 months ago

The phrase ‘right thinking people’ sends a chill down my spine.

Dave
Dave
Reply to  Toby Forward
4 months ago

I entirely agree with Toby, and am very grateful for his comment. Even more abusive I fear is making ordinands in training sign up to this inequality saying they agree to it and will uphold it. That is such an abuse of power and control of an individual’s conscience.

At what point do we say, ‘I do not want to be part of an institution that allows this abuse’?

At what point do we say let’s actively do something about this discrimination and abuse?

James
James
Reply to  Dave
4 months ago

I guess these intelligent ordinands can decide for themselves, or elect to step out of the process?

Susannah Clark
Reply to  James
4 months ago

I can’t agree with that, James (though I agree with you above, about co-existence). The invidious situation in the Church of England with regard to priests and ordinands, is that their freedom of conscience on issues of sexuality – and indeed the expression of their own sexuality – is dominated by one half of the Church of England. Honestly, that position is now becoming untenable, and frankly it should be. Speaking personally, as a lesbian Christian, my wife and I got married in Church in defiance of the top-down domination. We had to get a slip of paper because of… Read more »

Susannah Clark
4 months ago

I think that this dilemma occurs in many churches in England, whether in the C of E, or Pentecostal Churches, or some Baptist churches, or indeed at many Christian Unions in Universities. Being lesbian or gay should not stop welcome, but if church leaders and their church members sincerely believe that sex outside marriage of a man with a woman is sinful and against the Bible’s teaching, it does seem inevitable that in many cases they will discourage or block someone leading with a teaching element if they advocate a view that subverts the particular group’s teachings. I think that’s… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Susannah Clark
4 months ago

“but if church leaders and their church members sincerely believe that sex outside marriage of a man with a woman is sinful and against the Bible’s teaching, it does seem inevitable that in many cases they will discourage or block someone leading with a teaching element ”   That’s an anti-diluvian view. 50 years ago nobody would have accepted the ordination of women. What we have isn’t perfect but the Five Principles signs everyone up to agreeing that women are validly ordained. I don’t see why should tolerate anything less for same sex marriage -ie that such marriages are valid… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

’50 years ago nobody would have accepted the ordination of women’

50 years ago would be 1971. We ordained our first women as priests in Canada six years after that, in 1976. Do you seriously believe we went from ‘no one accepts the ordination of women’ to a majority vote passing in two successive General Synods in only five years?

Father Ron Smith
4 months ago

To what degree is the basic teaching of HTB Plants responsible for Rachel’s treatment at the hands of her local Vicar and the congregation? If this is the teatment to be dealt out to all LGBT+ people in HTB Parishes, then the Bishop and eventually the Church of England will have to take steps to see that the message of ‘Living in Love and Faith’ is more securely grounded in opposition to Sexism, Homphobia and Racism. We of The Anglican Diaspora are looking on and ‘Taking Note’!

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
4 months ago

I hope and pray we get a law criminalising conversion therapy that covers all undue pressure placed on people to suppress their sexual orientation or gender identity, including in religious settings.

James
James
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
4 months ago

“Teaching of HTB plants”, “HTB parishes” – The HTB network is the loosest of affiliations, there is no common “teaching” or doctrinal basis. Churches have come and gone, played themselves in and out. All churches have an incumbent, under the authority of their diocesan bishop. The idea that Gumbel is sat in London commanding the network’s views is so far from the truth. The network is actually led by Canon Archie Coates in Brighton.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
4 months ago

A friend of mine often uses the phrase ‘silence is the best expression of scorn’ and this HTB plant is clearly deploying that strategy towards Rachel and Dame Sarah Mullally. You only have to scratch the surface with these unpleasant evangelical churches to see them for what they really are. Their pick ‘n’ mix approach to biblical fundamentalism ought to be exposed more often and more thoroughly. Rachel’s PTSD symptoms are upsetting to read about but sadly she is not alone in having been traumatised by her association with the Church. I wonder if there is such a thing as… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
4 months ago

“Fence sitting is evidently not conducive to mission” writes Dean. Quite so. Furthermore, gravity will pretty soon mean the fence sitters are split in two from bottom up. It quite makes my eyes water.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

Fence sitting is morally hazardous. As Lloyd George is alleged to have remarked of his erstwhile colleague, Sir John Simon (one of the leading appeasers), when the latter created the National Liberal party in 1931, ‘he has sat on the fence for so long that the iron has entered into his soul’.

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
4 months ago

This church’s pastoral care of Rachel leaves much to be desired, but does anyone really think a church with a conservative evangelical theology is suddenly going to change its position on LBGT issues?

If we can’t live with diverse views on this, then it’s time to start discussing a split now.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Sam Jones
4 months ago

According to The Tablet thousands of young people have requested their baptismal registration with the RC Church in Belgium be removed. Similar responses have taken place elsewhere in response to the Vatican’s ridiculous recent condemnation of LGBT people. Thousands of RC priests in Germany are to conduct same-sex blessings. It is time Anglican clergy did the same here. Instead of indulging in a pointless LLF exercise, normal members of the CofE should simply absent themselves from their Churches in protest at the endless antagonism towards LGBT Christians. If it means handing over the CofE to the Con Evos, so be… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Sam Jones
4 months ago

Purely IMO from this heterosexual, but I think “living with diverse views” on the naturalness (as opposed to the sinfulness) of same-sex orientation and practice–given everything that the sciences of biology, neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry have taught us in the past 50 years or more–is on a par with “living with diverse views” on Newton’s laws of motion or Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Pat ONeill
4 months ago

I think we can “live with diverse views” even on Newton’s laws so long as those holding said nutty views aren’t allowed to follow through on their views in any position of power and/or authority. You can be as homophobic, transphobic or racist as you like within the comfort of your own head; it’s when it comes out in words or actions that we have a problem.

Ultimately in a conflict between the views of bigots and the wellbeing of LGBT folk and people of colour there should be no contest.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Jo B
4 months ago

I agree completely….I was just opining that those who hold such “diverse views” are living in a totally non-scientific world that I suspect is going to come back and bite them someday (just as the non-believer in Newtonian physics will be shocked some day when the ground races up to meet him).

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Pat ONeill
4 months ago

NHS website: “Psychosis is when people lose some contact with reality. This might involve seeing or hearing things that other people cannot see or hear (hallucinations) and believing things that are not actually true (delusions).” Such a description applies to other things too.

Michael
Michael
4 months ago

When Lockdown ended and churches re-opened, I wondered what would happen if Anglicans all went to their Parish Church to worship! Would parish churches then really reflect the churchmanship which they claim for themselves? I also wondered what we have a right to expect from our parish church. Perhaps we should expect prayerful worship, the regular availability of Holy Communion, the preaching of the Gospel and the feeling of being loved and supported by other disciples of Jesus, including by those authorised to lead. When my wondering ended, I came to the conclusion that we should feel safe in our… Read more »

Michael H.
Michael H.
Reply to  Michael
4 months ago

For clarification the above comment made by ‘Michael’ wasn’t made by me. Regular commenters know that I am anti lockdown and anti denial of communion to lay people. But I am not anti mask. I put one on every time I Ieave home and am content to do so. I continue to read Thinking Anglicans but have resisted making any comment since Easter because I am no longer a practising Anglican.Michael H.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Michael H.
4 months ago

Michael H, I’m not sure “Michael” means literal masks. From the context I take him to mean metaphorical masks people fell they must use to disguise their true feelings, opinions or nature to fit in with the dominant view of the parish pope and the local inquisition (my analogy not his). Did we abolish the papacy only to place a pope in every parish? I think Susannah’s idea of local communities coming to a view might work in the ideal world Michael talks of, in which Anglicans all went to their own parish churches. Or even if voting rights and… Read more »

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
4 months ago

What does “ beyond reproach “ mean. Would a house group leader who drove at 31 MPH in a 30 MPH limit be expected to resign for committing a criminal offence? Or is only sex that counts?

I understand that PCC members count as charity trustees if the church’s turnover is £100 000 or more. There is a long list of disqualifications – unspent convictions for some offences, undischarged bankrupt, sex offenders register.

american piskie
american piskie
Reply to  Simon Bravery
4 months ago

PCC members count as charity trustees if the church’s turnover is £100 000 or more.”
.
Surely they are charity trustees whether the PCC is registered with the Charity Commission or not?

David Exham
David Exham
Reply to  Simon Bravery
4 months ago

My understanding is that all members of any PCC are Charity Trustees and must abide by charity guidance whatever the income of the parish. If that income is £100k or more the PCC must register with the Charity Commission, but below that income they are still trustees.They don’t ‘count as’ charity trustees, they are charity trustees! I am not a legal expert, so I am happy to be corrected if I have misunderstood the guidance.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  David Exham
4 months ago

The Charities Act 2011 applies to both registered and unregistered charities. In addition to providing ‘guidance’ the Charity Commission possesses strong enforcement powers applicable to all charities.

Dave
Dave
4 months ago

I applaud Rachel for her courage and honesty. It is a very upsetting story.

I too feel that safeguarding should be involved in this. I also feel that bishops should be more pro-actively involved in such situations. Silence is not an adequate response. Why do bishops not respond pastorally in such situations.

In a secular work setting such behaviour would not be tolerated and disciplinary action would be taken.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Dave
4 months ago

That the Church of England tolerates behaviour which would be outlawed in most workplaces is surely part of the reason why numbers are falling.

56
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x