Comments: Ekklesia reports on the Archbishop's lecture row

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales see the problem! After the dust has settled and a much wider group wake up to the fact that we already have different laws for faith communities - it will be interesting to see how long it lasts!

By (as Simon Barrow explains) wanting to increase the scope and share more widely with other religions the facilitiy of these exemptions - Rowan may have guaranteed their gradual withdrawl!

"The CBCEW says that on the matter of greater recognition for religious courts, the two key principles are "the duty to uphold the universality of law which binds all of us equally, and the way the state appropriately accommodates the reasonable expectations of religious communities, but without undermining the common good."

"The Archbishop was pointing to the tension between these two principles and there is an important debate to be had here, but there are also wider implications as the press coverage of his remarks makes clear."

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 10:09am GMT

Simon Barrow makes a plea that captures my heart – a plea for a Church that uses its wealth power and great resources:
“for creative witness and collaboration rather than self-preservation”

He then says this:
It would take imagination, bravery, intelligence and prayerfulness. But he (Rowan) has those in spades. It is a crying shame that they are currently being applied to a totally misguided strategy – defend establishment by extending religious exemption; use church schools to get the next generation (demographics suggest that won’t work); and try some ‘fresh expressions’ of church without transforming the core of the institution. As someone once said: “the philosophy of the C of E is that we believe in change – so long as it doesn’t make any difference.”

I am not sure this is true – but there is more than ample evidence to support this analysis and that you hear this story from many of Rowan’s natural allies is itself devastating!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 11:47am GMT

On an earlier thread I had puckishly suggested that conversion for legal convenience might occur and had not been discussed adequately. A well read commentator on another blog directed me to such an event that just occured in Egypt and I think it reasonable to pass along the URL - regret it must be coped and pasted:,4670,EgyptConversion,00.html

Posted by ettu at Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 11:57am GMT

I agree with Martin. It is clear that exemptions for religion are not popular if phrased as allowing them to have a different law from everyone else.

Bye-bye exemptions - and well done RW for achieving the precise opposite of what you want.

Still, its not entirely his fault, but I firmly disagree with his aims and believe that the public law should be secular.

Posted by Merseymike at Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 2:14pm GMT

One thing that +Rowan seems to have had in mind, and that Martin Reynolds and Merseymike are alluding to is, I presume, the right of religions to run themselves according to their own moral codes, and the right of people to express their religion, individually and in community, in what they say and what they do... with particular reference to homosexuality.

Everyone, it would seem, believes in other people's fundamental rights and freedoms - except when their freedom offends me! Then we begin to feel violated and want "them" stopped. But if we carry on down that road we will just create a culture of winners and losers.

If we really believe in freedom as an expression of human dignity, then we all have to accept the principle of minimising legal compulsion - with the aim of maximising freedom for all, even when "they" are wrong!

Posted by david wh at Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 6:11pm GMT

Putting aside both "Archbishop" and "Latin America - this latest BBC story gives us more than inkling of just how Rowan has responded privately to Greg Venables intervention in the United States:

The Most Reverend Gregory Venables, Archbishop of Latin America, said his comments were a "surprise".

"Taken within the context of other things that have been said and done in recent months, it will just add to the general sense that confidence in the leadership of the Anglican Church has plummeted," he said.

You can just feel that deep fraternal support ……… ?

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 7:26pm GMT

Ah, yes. Greg Venables has to comment. Perhaps if he had enough parishes in his province to lead or look after, he wouldn't have so much spare time to try and set up an alternative church. As it is, I'm afraid the devil finds work for idle hands to do (or in this case, words for idle mouths to speak)

Posted by Doug Chaplin at Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 8:43pm GMT

It is the discrimination against women that always first comes into my mind, David, but the various exemptions granted to faith communities around sexuality are more recent and the Church of England is asking for further exemptions in this area.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 9:00pm GMT

The oddest thing about the last couple of days has been hearing conservative prelates opposing the archbishop's illiberal proposals, and liberal apologists defending him.

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 10:53pm GMT

But they certainly are not going to get any further exemptions - and the one legal case has made it crystal clear that their current ones are very narrowly defined.

The church will simply have to obey the law in the public sphere like everyone else. Clearly that's what the public support too - we have been given a lot of encouragement for our view that the church has to obey the one law for all and that exemptions must only be temporary to enable the church to adjust to reality.

Posted by Merseymike at Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 11:08pm GMT

PB Venables continues to place his faith in the "hyena" approach to province-building, so the ABC's stumble, with the damage it does to what little central authority exists in Anglicanism, is to his advantage. Temporarily his strategy is working, where old-fashioned evangelism (hunting and catching your own prey - the sort of thing evangelicals are supposed to be good at) has clearly been an utter failure in the Southern Cone.

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Sunday, 10 February 2008 at 11:24pm GMT

'The oddest thing about the last couple of days has been hearing conservative prelates opposing the archbishop's illiberal proposals, and liberal apologists defending him.'

I suspect that now the conservatives have begun to tire of bashing the ABC and shariah, they quickly will come round to realising that his proposals are really quite advantageous when it comes to their usual quarry. Religious 'libertarians' , as David Wh demonstrates above, would be delighted to express their relgious beliefs against queer folk without any interference from the civil law.

Posted by James Tudor at Monday, 11 February 2008 at 3:47am GMT

Well at least in USA, a crucial element in the new emerging democracy was a carefully protected public square that allowed all citizens to respect /disestablish all religions as equally as possible. Why be concerned? Because the founding fathers all knew about the endless religion wars of the old Europe from which so many were fleeing, even while hanging on to some bit of their own special religious rights to police and punish people for God and for sectarianly defined godly purposes. Pretty clearly, something very like preserving special sectarian religious policing and punishment is now argued with new vigor in the conservative campaign's false witnessing against all queer neighbors, no matter how they actually live or work or love in daily life. The weaponized doctrines field tested against queer folks will be ready for use against women, or against any and all Islamic folks, or take your pick.

Must we repeat this whole messy debate, across additional world religions or just pretty much the same ones, because we cannot remember real history?

Posted by drdanfee at Monday, 11 February 2008 at 3:47pm GMT

Simon Barrow is first rate as usual!

The notion of special protections for religious obscurantism has no place in modern society -- equal standing in the law has to be the norm.

And Hugh of Lincoln is right on (again, "as usual") -- I certainly consider myself a "liberal" in most circumstances, I have seen nothing worth defending in the ABC's latest -- he is consistent in his arguing for an allowance for religious bigotry to be exempted from the law of the land.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Monday, 11 February 2008 at 4:54pm GMT

I get the feeling Dad's comments were overblown & taken out of context. He was talking more about the situation in the communion, not merely what Rowan said about the law, but then that's the media's job isn't it, where there's no news make some. Regarding that comment that he has nothing better to do with his time I respectfully disagree. Having seen firsthand the stress he's under not just with the communion but dioceses throughout SA I worry seriously about his health. God bless+

Posted by Tim Venables at Monday, 11 February 2008 at 7:25pm GMT

Your father is one of a group of people that has created the myth of the poor suffering "orthodox" being persecuted by the faithless heathen in TEC and Canada. I will not go into the details of what has happened in Eastern Newfoundland, I have done so before. Supporters of the Network, of which there are only a few in this diocese, have been lambasting our current bishop, which he does not deserve in the least. They have even talked about the "oppression" of "the poor clergy" in this diocese, misrepresenting him, falsely claiming he forced them to either accept same sex marriage or leave the diocese, and God knows what else! If you father is hearing this, and believes even a quarter of it, then he is needlessly adding to his stress. I imagine it is quite stressful to be in the position he is in, and while I don't agree with him, I don't envy him either, and, believe it or not, He is in my prayers, and not that he will change his mind either. But he could get rid of a good bit of stress if he stopped worrying about the nonexistent "persecuted 'orthodox'" at least in the diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador. And if they don't exist here, they might not exist elsewhere either.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 12 February 2008 at 12:18pm GMT
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