Friday 11 April 2008


The Bishop of Lincoln (bishop in my diocese) has, according to the BBC, blocked a church gay blessing. In my opinion, this is just one more notch in everything that is wrong.

Here is the relevant part of the BBC report:

...had planned a civil ceremony and then wanted a blessing in their local church in Dunston.

But the service was cancelled after a small service of friendship prayers grew to a 150-guest celebration.

The Bishop of Lincoln, The Right Reverend John Saxbee, said a parish church was not an appropriate venue.

Civil ceremony

The bishop said: "The assumption behind those prayers is that they are just that - prayers. They are not a wedding or a blessing, they are prayers.

"Therefore they would take place in the context where probably just with family or a couple of friends being there in somebody's house or in my chapel or somewhere - not usually in a parish church with 150 people present."

I cannot see the difference. Where two or three are gathered is the same as where there are a hundred and fifty. This is just part of the Church of England being repressive and unable to catch up.

Mr Nicholson, of Metheringham, said: "We accept that we can't get married in church but we just wanted the blessing to be where Paul's dad is buried."

That is from the Lincolnshire Echo report. It is therefore even more ironic that the MCU blog is covering it: it has a link to the above report and the blog entry ends:

And if Anglicanism is the ground in which homophobic attitudes and actions are nurtured then it's time to change the manure.

This report has the shenanigans located lower down the hierarchy, but did Bishop Saxbee, President of MCU, make those remarks to the BBC or not? Presumably he did and so he supports the actions of the Reverend Richard Eyre who said:

I do not see these relationships as real.

I wonder if John Saxbee feels any tension between being the President of the Modern Churchpeople's Union, which sees the need to change the manure, and his conservative role as a bishop in this garden called the Church of England? It would bother me.

Over at Mad Priest Erika asks:

Did you hear the door slam when another few hundred people just left the church?

The Newington Green approach is by far the better regarding clearing out the manure. The BBC reported on this as well. Here is the relevant part of this report (like all of it):

Weddings have been suspended at a 300-year-old church in north London in protest at "unjust" religious marriage rights of same-sex couples.

Newington Green Unitarian Church will only conduct a ceremonial blessing for both heterosexual and gay couples who have legally wed in a civil ceremony.

The church's minister, Andrew Pakula, said the church's committee voted unanimously in favour of the decision.

The church in Islington suspended full wedding ceremonies from 30 March.

The church describes itself as "an inclusive, liberal religious community welcoming people from all traditions and perspectives".

It said it would continue to bar full weddings until the law was amended.

Mr Pakula said: "When we realised the extent of the injustice in the existing civil partnership law which completely prohibits any connection between religion and civil partnerships, we decided it just wasn't something we could take part in.

"We have at this point continued to do blessings and civil partnership blessings so anyone who has done the legal business in the town hall can come to us and do a gorgeous religious celebration."

The church's decision comes after the Unitarians' national conference called for the Civil Partnership Act to be changed to allow religious content in civil partnership registrations.

Mr Pakula added: "Historically churches have been major perpetrators of injustice for gay and lesbian people and as a church that welcomes people of all sexual orientation, as both members and clergy, we feel it is our duty to stand up on the other side.

"We are standing on the side of love here and that is our stance."

Compare and contrast!

1 comment:

Abhijit Pandya said...

The Newington Green Arians and later Unitarians were in the vanguard of those fighting repressive Calvinism in the 18th century, and it is good to see that they are still challenging the forces of injustice and the religious reactionaries in the 21st. Their heritage is an inspiration for liberal Christians the world over.