“Death threats, and the now-worldwide controversy surrounding your election of me as bishop, have been a constant strain, not just on me, but on my beloved husband, Mark, who has faithfully stood with me every minute of the last seven years, and in some ways, you.
“While I believe that these attitudes, mostly outside the diocese, have not distracted me from my service to you, I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that they have certainly added a burden and certain anxiety to my episcopate.” – Gene Robinson, November 2010
Pope Leo IX of the Roman Catholic church imposed a ban on married clergy in 1039 which was only slightly relaxed in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. The Eastern Orthodox Church does not allow a marriage after ordination, but a married man may be ordained as a priest – though to be consecrated as a bishop, a priest must be unmarried or a widower. But in the Anglican Communion, created by Henry VIII and Thomas Cranmer, there is no ban on marriage for priest, bishop, or archbishop – which was the reason for Pope Benedict’s 2009 relaxation, to let married Anglican priests who wanted to leave the Church of England for the Catholic Church.
In the 1950s, an old hillbilly preacher invited Jordan to come and speak at his church in rural South Carolina. Jordan arrived to find, to his surprise, a large, thriving and racially integrated congregation — a remarkable thing in that time and place. (Sadly, it’s actually a remarkable thing in any time or place.) So Clarence asked the man how this came about. Continue reading →
This year the Archbishop of Westminster, the leader of the Catholics in England and Wales, took the opportunity of his bully pulpit on Christmas Eve to tell his congregation that God hates LGBT people and does not want us to have equal civil rights. Peace and goodwill to all is so outdated: modern Christians are expected to hate as directed.
told worshippers that the Government has no mandate for the change and had not followed the proper rules of British democracy.
“There was no announcement in any party manifesto, no Green Paper, no statement in the Queen’s Speech. And yet here we are on the verge of primary legislation,” he said.
In an apparent reference to the totalitarian state described in the novel 1984, he added:
“From a democratic point-of-view, it’s a shambles. George Orwell would be proud of that manoeuvre, I think the process is shambolic.”
I resent the way Cameron is ready to bulldoze over Tory and religious objections on this issue. It’s clear from his arrogant stance that the PM believes soon, even this bunch of hypocrites will embrace the Gospel according to Dave. They – Tories who live out in the sticks and not in fashionable metropolitan areas; people of faith who hold onto their traditional religious values – will experience a Damascene conversion to the PM’s way.
That’s Monday, with a side-order of I love my gay friends but they shouldn’t want to be my equals. (Why do homophobic bigots always claim to have gay “friends”?)
But I can’t help think – we’re not doing so badly after all. That, after a decade of Dawkinism, paedophile scandals and metropolitan secularism, the majority (59 per cent) of Britons should still cling to their faith strikes me as nothing short of miraculous. And that’s before the backlash to the atheists – it’s bound to happen – properly gets off the ground. If, after all the vicious kicks they’ve suffered from the liberal establishment, and their none-too-inspiring leadership, the Christian Churches in this country are still in existence, we who care about faith should celebrate.
Cristina Odone is a Christian. Christians aren’t liberal. Christians get kicked by liberals, and Christian leadership is none-too-inspiring. Muslims are all right, though. That’s Tuesday. Continue reading →
The Synod needed a two-thirds majority to allow the ordination of women as bishops in the Church of England. The Synod has 467 members divided into three houses. Each of the three Houses – bishops, other clergy, and laity, needed to agree by 2 to 1 that women can be bishops.
Given that for twenty years women have been ordained priests of the Church of England, you might ask what the special issue is about bishops? The answer is, if you’re flatly of the belief that God just doesn’t approve of women becoming priests, then you can easily avoid a woman priest. (Well, more or less.) But bishops ordain priests. If you believe God holds women inferior and unable to be priests, then it follows that women can’t be bishops: that priests ordained by a bishop who’s a woman aren’t proper priests. But as those priests will be both women and men, you won’t know for sure if the priest with whom you are dealing is a real priest, validly ordained by a man, or invalidly ordained by a woman. Continue reading →
Giles Fraser was Canon Chancellor of St Pauls: he resigned because he could not tolerate the Church using the secular power of the state against protesters against economic injustice.
And he was nominated and won Hero of the Year at the Stonewall Awards by popular vote because he’d written in support of the freedom of same-sex couples to marry, but others have written in defense of the idea that Christianity’s central doctrine is not, as O’Brien claims, homophobia – Giles Fraser won because he is a hero: a Christian minister of religion who’d stood up to say that no, Christianity is not all about homophobia. Continue reading →
Wouldn’t it be nice if Stonewall and other SSM supporters agreed to stop using such words, and in return opponents agreed to drop the dubious “slavery” or “Nazi” analogies.
In that West has it muddled. It has to happen the other way round. Someday, maybe, the Bigot of the Year award will be dropped because there won’t be enough write-in nominations because nobody’s publicly said or done anything bigoted.
On Sunday 4th November, BBC Sunday Morning Live is to debate “Is Stonewall’s ‘bigot of the year’ award inappropriate?” (You can register and vote Yes or No.)
In December 2009, the BBC’s Have Your Say staged an online debate on the question “Should homosexuals face execution?” After massive protest, the BBC changed the title of the debate to “Should Uganda debate gay execution?” but did not apologise for or retract the idea that putting people to death for their sexual orientation could be a matter for debate rather than condemnation.
Will Sunday Morning Live debate whether it’s “appropriate” for the BBC to allow a platform for bigots to discuss whether gay people should be killed or imprisoned for life?
— Continue reading →
Are you being sued for doing something you believe is right?
One of the basic rules of deciding whether it’s worth taking the case to court instead of settling out of court with apologies: is the Christian Institute offering to pay your legal fees? If so, then you know two things in advance: you will lose, and you will become a kind of public figurehead for whatever campaign the Christian Institute are running. Unwinnable cases are a form of advertising.
One of the basic rules of running an inn, a hotel, a guesthouse, or even a B&B, is that if the lodgings are available, the host can’t turn people away based on their own prejudices. That’s tolerance: active, practical, and kind. Continue reading →
“We’ve been told that Nick Griffin is threatening to come to our house and hand out leaflets outside,” Mr Black added.
“But, we live in a village where it wouldn’t be easy for him or many people to come and gather. There’s nowhere to park for a start and very few people walk past apart from school children. If anything happens it would be a damp squib.”
That abandonment of principle is leading to a decline in membership, especially among the more liberal denominations. As more churches move away from biblical authority, their attendance suffers. Just ask the Episcopal Church, whose pews are virtually empty after the decision to endorse homosexuality. It’s time to push back on the spin that’s feeding our weak brethren who say that compromising truth in pursuit of love is the way to reach the lost. Intuitively, people want to anchor their lives to something meaningful — something that demands the sacrifice and discipline of “taking up your cross.” When a denomination abandons the truth and waters everything down to love, it reduces the church to another hour of Dr. Phil — which is something Americans can get without ever leaving home.
In March 2010 Susanne Wilkinson, acting out (she assures us) her Christian values, decided that a respectable couple holidaying in the UK (Michael Black is 64, and John Morgan is 59) could not have a double room in the Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Cookham, Berkshire – though they had made a reservation and paid a deposit – because they are a gay couple, and Wilkinson is of the opinion that Jesus doesn’t like that sort of thing and doesn’t approve of showing hospitality to those sort of people. Continue reading →
The Monkeysphere for humans is about 150 individuals: the number of people you think of as being in your social group.
I think it only fair to say that the phrase the Monkeysphere came from Cracked.com, though it’s based on serious scientific research done at the University of Liverpool:
Humans are primates, too – so do they fit into the pattern established for monkeys and apes? This is the key question which Robin Dunbar sought to answer by using the same equations to predict human social group and clique size from neocortex volume. The results were… ~150 for social group size, and ~12 for the more intimate clique size. He subsequently discovered that modern humans operate on a hierarchy of group sizes. (Research Intelligence)
On Sunday 20th July 1969, Buzz Aldrin invited the listening world
“I would like to request a few moments of silence … and to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.”
He had received communion bread and wine from Webster Presbyterian Church near Houston, which still celebrates Lunar Communion Sunday every July, and a year later Aldrin wrote:
“I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.”
A few moments later Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were to step out of the module on to the surface of another world for the first time. Aldrin added, later, reflecting on his action:
“Perhaps, if I had it to do over again, I would not choose to celebrate communion. Continue reading →