Jeffrey John story largely speculation?

Jim Naughton at Episcopal Cafe has a different story to Sunday's headlines.

I admit, I'm disappointed. I had thought that legal action might force the Church to revise its practice. But I also wish to keep the record straight, so to speak.

Jeffrey John
Naughton cites Andrew Brown's (Correction: Sam Brown's) article in The Guardian. Though this hedges its bets (with a very cautious opening paragraph and, later, 'News of John's apparent decision to challenge his employers') nonetheless it does seem to rest on the presumption that John is preparing to sue.

In The Independent Jerome Taylor goes over the same ground, pointing out that no-one is happy. Neither conservatives nor liberals like the compromise the Church is trying to pursue. The Archbishop of Canterbury and other leaders know its a precarious position to try to hold and would not want put it at the top of the agenda by a law suit.
But some liberals believe now is precisely the time for them to force the issue. "We are determined to campaign for full equality right now," says Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude, the most prolific, pro-gay lobby within the Church. "There is no sense of urgency among Church leaders. But the Church is sick, it needs to be fixed right away."
The Independent also has a leader article:
The office of a bishop is weighty in the Church. Charged with acting as a focus of unity and with upholding doctrine, the post is supposed to be prayerfully accepted rather than actively sought, which is why reports that the Dean of St Albans may sue the Church of England for discrimination over its refusal to make him a bishop will have shocked the Anglican hierarchy to its core.
Well, possibly, maybe not. But the leader does point out the contradiction of being a state church whilst also trying to avoid the application of the state's legislation. Now disestablishment really would shock the hierarchy.

Naughton's piece has a quote from a different Andrew Brown article in The Guardian to the one cited above. This sets out why John cannot win.
Last year the Church of England published a legal opinion that makes it quite clear that it believes it is legal to discriminate against John, not because he is gay, since he is also celibate, but because he is not in the least bit ashamed of being gay. That is what sticks in the craw of the conservative evangelicals who oppose him. They have moved on from supposing that it is absolutely wrong to be gay. They now believe that it is OK to be gay providing that you are very unhappy about it.
Guardian journalist, Andrew Brown
... the real point is found in the apparently balanced statements of disagreement. "It is clear that a significant number of Anglicans, on grounds of strongly held religious conviction, believe that a Christian leader should not entire into a civil partnership, even if celibate … it is equally clear that many other Anglicans believe it is appropriate that clergy who are gay by orientation entire into civil partnerships." [from the legal opinion on the appointment of gay bishops, para. 26.]
This formulation gives the game away. It is only conservative evangelical opinion which is described as "strongly held religious conviction". The liberals merely "believe it is appropriate", with the implication that their beliefs on this are not religious at all.
This kind of nonsense was dealt with decades ago where women priests were concerned. What needs saying, loud and clear, is that the case for liberalism here is every bit as religious, and as theologically informed, as the case for the conservatives.
Exactly. Liberals are too nice and that is mistaken for a lack of strength of conviction, a lack of passion, and insufficient willingness to clarify fudges. 


  1. Anonymous17/1/12

    Sorry made this comment initially on wrong thread. The first Guardian article isn't by Andrew Brown but by somebody called Sam Jones.

  2. Anonymous, thank you. Careless gaffe that one, now corrected.

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