Election hype already

Ruth Gledhill

In a typical piece of over-writing Ruth Gledhill declares that liberals have "declared war" of conservatives in the C of E.


She's reporting pre-planning for the synodical elections. To the best of my knowledge this has happened at every synodical election amongst every group which wants to be effectively represented on Synod.

Of course it's a struggle, engaged in by every side, to get a majority on Synod. Not because Synod holds power (though it still has significant powers) but because it is the route to the Archbishops' Council and other bodies which do have power. Though the battle for 'the soul of the established church' will be won in the House of Bishops, not Synod - which is why getting the right (or liberal) bishops is far more important that electing a liberal Synod.

But, if these subversive liberals get in, then in the Gospel according to Ruth dire consequences will follow:

If they take enough of the 400-plus seats in the houses of clergy and laity, the liberals will attempt to bring in total acceptance of homosexuals, overturning all restrictions on their ministry and approving same-sex blessings for civil partnerships and gay ordinations and consecrations.

Which I'm sure is intended to rally the conservatives. Though it also betrays a high degree of insecurity or fear at the damage liberals could do simply by recognising gay people as full members of the church.

If a majority of the Synod were liberal (and for any constitutional change it would have to be a majority of two-thirds plus 1 in both elected houses) then they would still have to contend with the House of Bishops who are notoriously reluctant to rock any boat.

So support the liberal cause by all means. Maybe one day it will be victorious. But that will merely set the stage for the next battles to come. The Church, I contend, is shaped in its battles, made real in its conflicts and energised by the desire to assert one manner of believing (with its social consequences) over the alternatives.

But the cause of change in the Church (in a strong sense of causation) is social and political change in the culture and community in which the Church is set. In England civil weddings are officially recognised, the civil rights of people irrespective of sexual orientation are both recognised and upheld as desireable social values, and the Church will inevitably follow. The Church consistently follows social change while giving a platform to those who fear and oppose it - in divorce, for example.

It won't be the liberals wot won it, but the liberal cause will win - unless, of course, society and political leadership become more reactionary again.

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