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Letting a Gay Man Become a Bishop Would Split the Church of England. Don’t Let The Door Hit Ya?

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent, for guardian.co.uk on Monday 5th July 2010 16.08 UTC

Conservative parishes in the Church of England could seek alternative leadership from abroad if a gay man is appointed as bishop of Southwark, clerics warned today.

The argument over homosexual clergy in the Anglican communion was reignited at the weekend when it was disclosed that Dr Jeffrey John (pictured), the dean of St Albans, is among nominations for the post vacated earlier this year by the Right Rev Tom Butler. In 2003, John was forced to stand down from his appointment as suffragan bishop of Reading because of his sexuality after protests from traditionalists.

Reform, a conservative evangelical group, has warned the church could split if John, who is in a civil partnership but celibate, is made bishop for the south London diocese.

The Rev Paul Dawson said: “Our view is that it would be a very serious step if he were to become a bishop and it would cause very serious damage within the Church of England itself. We think that if this were to happen, then the sort of split that has happened in America would be precipitated here.”

Anglican churches in Africa intervened in US parishes where there was a difference in opinion over homosexuality by providing religious leadership that was more conservative, a practice that continues to this day. The possibility of such a scenario was also alluded to by a high-profile conservative evangelical, Chris Sugden, who was instrumental in establishing a breakaway grouping of like-minded Anglicans around the world.

Asked this morning by the BBC what would happen in Southwark should the Crown Nominations Commission settle on John as the preferred candidate, Sugden said a number of clergy and parishes would not take the oath of canonical obedience to the bishop and “would seek alternative episcopal oversight elsewhere … What will happen will be what has happened in America already. They will continue to be Anglicans and they will seek episcopal oversight from elsewhere, either in this country or elsewhere”.

Writing in the Church of England newspaper last week, the Rev Ray Skinner, a rector in Morden, south London, said it did not take “a huge leap of imagination” to predict what would happen should John get the job. “As in North America, with its shrinking liberal Episcopal Church, and growing orthodox Anglican Church, there will be a formal divide. Maybe not immediately, we tend not to rush things. There are two new groups already within the Church of England, one called Inclusive Church, the other the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans linking with other Anglican provinces.”

The commission must present two names to David Cameron who submits a name to the Queen. She formally nominates the candidate to the post.

A Reform spokesman said: “Dr John’s teaching regarding homosexual practice is contrary to both the Bible and to the current doctrine of the Church of England. To appoint him bishop would send a very clear signal that the diocese of Southwark wants to walk in a different direction to the Church of England’s doctrine. We would support churches in Southwark seeking alternative oversight should Dr John be appointed.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

By:           Arthur Dunlop
On:           Jul 6, 2010
Tagged: , , , ,
  • 9 Comments
    • PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
      PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS

      would think a nation ruled by a Queen this wouldn’t be much of an issue……. :-p

      Jul 6, 2010 at 3:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brutus
      Brutus

      “in a civil partnership but celibate”

      oi. I can’t imagine.

      Jul 6, 2010 at 3:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jarvisbearcub
      jarvisbearcub

      Are there straight Church of England priests?

      Jul 6, 2010 at 5:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kevin (New Jersey, US)
      Kevin (New Jersey, US)

      Not sure why homosexuals insist on being Christian and yet want Christian churches to change their views on homosexuality.

      I mean, really, Christ was nailed to a cross. That’s suffering. If you’re queer and want to be a Christian, then don’t have queer sex. But don’t go around thinking religion is a democracy, and that God Almighty gave you some kind of right to be happy on Earth. The happiness is supposed to happen after you’re dead, having led a sinless (or at least repentant) life, not before. If keeping your dick in your pants is too much trouble, don’t pretend to be a Christian.

      That’s why I’m not one anymore.

      Jul 6, 2010 at 5:39 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • malcanoid
      malcanoid

      This would be a yawn if it wasn’t for Anglicans acquiescing in the beheading gay people in Uganda and throwing their bodies into latrines.

      http://changingattitude-england.blogspot.com/2010/07/uganda-missing-gay-man-found-beheaded.html

      Jul 6, 2010 at 5:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chipsy
      Chipsy

      The liberal church is shrinking and the conservative church is growing. It’s a numbers game. The liberals are lording it over everyone else for now but they will soon be swept away. It will be game over in 15 years time.

      Jul 6, 2010 at 7:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tavdy79
      tavdy79

      @Kevin (New Jersey, US): Not sure why so many gays have a problem with other gays living their lives they way they believe is right for them. That is, after all, what gay rights is all about, isn’t it?

      If you think gays are trying to change the CofE’s stance on sexuality, you don’t understand the CofE at all. Up until the last few decades the church hasn’t really had any reason to deal with this issue – it’s only become divisive since the ’70s. The CofE has never been a unified bloc, which is why dealing with this is so difficult – the church has not official stance on homosexuality, and because of its structure and principles it can’t. This is part of the issue: the conservatives are trying to force the church to take their side and force the liberal wing to submit to their theology, and until now Rowan Williams has been trying to avoid that happening because it’s antithetical to what Anglicanism is.

      Jul 6, 2010 at 7:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • WillBFair
      WillBFair

      I have to point out that the Episcopal Church in the US is also going through scism on our behalf. That’s a huge deal. How many other organizations have risked so much for us?
      Both churches are in a long christain tradition of good works: from the monastics in the middle ages who preserved greco-roman culture, to the abolitionists, to U.S. church people in the ’80s who risked their lives in Central America to defend the poor, to the people today who feed and house the homeless, etc…

      Jul 6, 2010 at 9:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • EFD
      EFD

      @tavdy79: Because in order to accept homosexuality through a Christian denomination you have to ignore certain verses of the Bible, going from the Old Testament right up to Revelation.

      It’s fine if you personally want to live your life how you want. And I live in Britain; I love the fact that the CoE is very tolerant and open or that the Episcopal Church is sticking its neck out for us. Churches are very important to many people and have a lot of influence which could be used for good. But by propagating religion (e.g. by raising kids through religious education) you/they inadvertently legitimise the views of the crackpots who will not ignore those Bible verses. I had a (Catholic) religious education.

      Religious discourse against homosexuality does not have the same effect on me as it does on my friends who didn’t have a religious education. They think these messages are crap; I have come to think so, too, but only because I am not religious anymore. They still resonate with me, though, as I read the Bible and used it as a moral compass of sorts.

      It is perfectly fine to do what you want with your life privately. But when your actions have an effect on public discourse or public life you should at least be open to criticism.

      Jul 7, 2010 at 6:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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