Equality Bill: Not all Churches are Prejudiced

Our Church does not promote this same inclusiveness to reflect society, or to be led by it, but to reflect the love of God, and which happens to coincide with what people are finally thinking as well.

I have been dismayed by the vote last night in the House of Lords to place special exemption on Churches, so that prejudice and intolerance may be enshrined in our way of working. It makes me ashamed to be a member of the Church of England. It also makes me angry that I get tarred by the same brush, and the assumption out there in the mission field is that the entire church is a bunch of self-seeking homophobes. Thanks, you have made my job today just that little bit harder.

But let me say this clearly: THIS IS NOT WHAT S.THOMAS THE APOSTLE, ELSON STANDS FOR

Our position is not a maverick, renegade or subversive position, we are not rebels but Scripturally-based, Inclusive, Sacramental and Tolerant.

Just because certain sections of the Church read their bible a little less critically than we do, because they have not spotted the over arching themes of God’s love for us amid the situational laws and ethics for a different time and a different place, just because they have lost the love of Christ in translation from Hebrew and Greek, does not mean that the God-breathed inspiration of God behind the words (written down by humans) and the Divine Word itself does not mean that the Church has the moral or legal right to hide in the corner and claim that it’s okay to be a bit prejudiced just because you are a Christian (Muslim, or a Jew, or a Wiccan…).

A week or so ago, I noted that the Church has moved from the instigator of Social Justice to its enemy. I said:

In the 19th Century the Evangelicals got slavery abolished because they believed White and Black were equal; later the Anglocatholics opened schools to educate the poor because they valued the poor: both were motivated by the knowledge that humankind was made in the image of God: radical ideas which subverted the political and social norm.

Two hundred years later, the Churches are no longer at the radical edge of social reform but are agents of retrenchent: seeking exlusions from legistlation because of bad translations of scripture and deeply entrenched sexism, racism or homophobia. How did this happen?

The Dean suggested today that the National Curriculum is geared towards making consumers, and this should be challenged. If we are to be once again working to build the kingdom of God then we need to re- embrace the radical.

Today the Social Attitudes Survey suggests that the UK has over the last 25 years become much more liberal in its attitudes towards homosexuality and different family arrangements and all sorts of other things. Our Church does not promote this same inclusiveness to reflect society, or to be led by it, but to reflect the love of God, and which happens to coincide with what people are finally thinking as well.

So, our message to the Bishops of Intransigence, to the homophobes which seemingly populate the Church (but who don’t, it would seem, live anywhere near me), to the writers of headlines, leave us out of it.