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Comment: Most letters to me, a Church of England bishop, are in favour of equal marriage

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  1. A Bishops filled me with a sense of the spirit. I think. I’m not religious.

    This was so good. I will add as an appendix to any letters I write to wavering Lords.

  2. Fine words from both bishops. Let’s hope voices like these are heard above the homophobic din in the House Of Lords.

    1. Actually the small number of Lords who voted for the Civil Partnerships in Religious Buildings bill did so with a large majority in favour.

      I think that knowing they will get abolished if they vote against legislation that clearly has the support of the government and the House of Commons, the anti brigade just stay away on the day of the vote.

  3. THIS bishop understands what Christianity should be about.

  4. Craig Denney 17 Feb 2013, 11:29am

    David Cameron should of made him the new Archbishop!

  5. I am really moved by this piece. What stands out most for me here is his observation “that most others in society have moved on from fretting about this subject”. This expresses my own experience of the whole marriage equality debate. I have certainly been interested to follow the arguments of both sides but have always felt a bit odd in this regard in my own social circle. Most people I know think it’s a bit of a non-issue simply because they understand that gender is of such little importance when it comes to matters of the heart. I have always cautioned them that this attitude is great but can tend towards apathy when there is a very real ideological and political battle being fought ‘out there’. The Bishop of Buckingham seems to strike a good balance in his comments between recognising that this is not as big an issue as some people make out but still taking the bigots to task for their prejudice and lies. Thank you Bishop Alan for speaking up so strongly.

  6. Robert (Kettering) 17 Feb 2013, 11:41am

    Bishops Alan and Desmond, you are both an inspiration of how the Church should be thinking about the whole Gay issue. You’re compassionate, level headed, non judgemental attitudes are to be commended.

    Finally, is it too late to replace that homophobe Archbigot Welby with Bishop Alan?

  7. Mumbo Jumbo 17 Feb 2013, 11:42am

    For once, I’m not bashing the bishop.

  8. Jock S. Trap 17 Feb 2013, 12:07pm

    Clearly an intelligent man with a fair mind.

    It is encouraging that such a person exists in the Church of England and guess he would be the choice of Archbishop of Canterbury we could only hope for.

    It is only for these people, like the Bishop of Buckingham, that change with in these religions can progress. Sadly too many wish not to do so.

  9. Paul Essex/London 17 Feb 2013, 12:44pm

    Excellent piece, showing that not everyone in the Church’s higher echelons is willing to tow the party line (and I believe its position on this is political and nothing to do with faith), but rather recognise that this is about real people.

    I like the fact that he tackles the authority of Anti-Gay Christian Teachings i.e. the Bible passages. When all other arguments fail an anti-gay christian will start brandishing the Bible saying that pro-gay christians are ignoring what’s written in black and white. As the Bishops says, this is all of 5 passages max. and they are actually far from clear. They don’t actually stand up to proper scriptural analysis so after that little revelation all these people are left with is “well I don’t like it, it doesn’t fit with my views of how the world should be” which is anything but a strongly held religious belief but merely upholding the norms of prejudiced society just like the the Jewish priests that Jesus so heavily criticised.

    1. ColinJones 17 Feb 2013, 2:02pm

      Religious bigots are never challenged about these bible passages, if homosexuality is so evil why is it not mentioned in the ten commandments for example? Nobody ever gives an explanation for that.

      1. If you Google “clobber passages” you can find web pages detailing how these passages are not condemning loving same-sex relationships.

        Most of society, including most Christians, do not take the Bible literally in the way that fundamentalists do; and most non-Christians are now completely ignorant of the bible and how to interpret it. That’s why they don’t get challenged – because hardly anyone has the Biblical knowledge to do so, and those who do have the knowledge don’t take the Bible literally and believe that it is a historically situated collection of books that are not directly applicable to modern times.

  10. Robert in S. Kensington 17 Feb 2013, 1:13pm

    Wonderful piece but I doubt it will reach a wide audience. If only more supportive bishops and clergy would speak out. If only they would contact MPs and more importantly, the Lords to let them know that there are many in the church who support equal marriage. It seems as if their voices are ignored and drowned by the more vocal minority in opposition aided and abetted by the media, in particular the BBC.

  11. This is one of the frankest and best analyses of what is going on here that I have seen to date. It’s never been about ‘marriage’, only ‘gayness’.

    It’s so clear, it’s easy to miss the courage this man has needed to draw on to make this statement from his lofty position.

    This needs to be submitted as evidence to the Select Committee and the Lords and circulated to every waivering politician.

    Well done, Bishop Alan.

  12. Can anyone help get this piece picked up by the BBC?

    Unlikely, I know

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 17 Feb 2013, 3:21pm

      Wishful thinking. I don’t think it would be in the slightest bit interestedt. It’s already made it’s opinion known by refusing to provide any balanced programming for the equal marriage debate. There was scarcely any article regarding the recent French vote and the one in Illinois. The BBC are by default the spokesperson for arch conservatism and the Tory party, aided and abetted by the Daily Mail and Telegraph, and the similarly minded yellow journalistic rags such as the Sun and Mirror. Until someone like Cameron proffer any rebuke to any of them, nothing will change.

      In America, there is the GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), a media watch-dog that carefully scrutinises fair and accurate reporting of gay issues in the media. We don’t have anything quite like it. It has been very successful in countering the negative images out there. StonewallUK would do well to look into it. Who else is there?

  13. Unlike in the United States, in this country the churches were at one time in the forefront of efforts to reform the law and change societal attitudes to gays and lesbians. From the fifties to the seventies they consistently and visibly lobbied for change. At some point, probably feeling under pressure from their dwindling and ever-more-conservative congregations, they became much less gay-friendly. As recently as 2007, the Catholic Archbishops of Westminster and Birmingham argued for exemptions in the 2007 Equality Act which would have allowed homosexuals to be turned away from soup kitchens and hospices.

    Anglicans, on the whole, have a much better record. Even Archbishop Welby only opposes (like his predecessor) gay marriage, while arguing strongly in favour of civil partnerships. It is strange that he should be labelled a bigot for not agreeing on an issue that was of no importance to most GLBT people only a few years ago. We shouldn’t demand that people change over night.

    1. Patient persuasion is the key. We should be more careful about flinging the word ‘bigot’ around, lest it should lose all meaning.

      1. Paul Essex/London 17 Feb 2013, 4:11pm

        When Cameron introduced the idea of SSM the bigotry (an intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself) came thick and fast, making many of us realise that a genuine intolerance of our very existence as those equal to others is still very much alive.

        I was brought up by in an anglican family and went to church with my parents every Sunday until just over a decade ago. Anglicans are very good at laying off the hell fire and brimstone. A great many in the Anglican Church don’t like this the idea of Equal Marriage because it means they will have to tackle an issue they’d really rather not talk about. The debate about bigotry has been going on with regard to racism for decades, and there are many with racist views who will object to to be called a racist because they don’t want to see themselves as that kind of person. Just because you are capable of putting your views politely and choosing the words to express them carefully doesn’t make them any less poisonous.

    2. Paul Essex/London 17 Feb 2013, 3:57pm

      I agree that you can’t force people to change their views, they have to do that of their own volition. But that’s not what this legislation is about. It gives Churches and other religious groups who can marry couples the option to do so for same sex couples, thus removing a restriction that currently prevents change in both social and religious views. Those who oppose it aren’t asking for protection from an interference in their lives but that the law continue to impose their own personal views on others.

      Seeking equality has always been of importance to LGBT people, it’s just that before now the idea of being able to marry was such a distant concept most of didn’t bother thinking about it that much.

  14. de Villiers 17 Feb 2013, 9:05pm

    A good piece of analysis.

  15. Listening to the CofE and Jeffrey John in the bill committee I got the impression that CofE was against gays and SSM only becuase of the “political situtation” in the CofE. Unless the CofE address how it operates in the UK and how it feels it needs to operate to keep the whole Anglican community together, including Africa, then I don’t see much progress in the CofE at an official top level.

    We need a UK based Anglican church that speaks for the UK. These Bishops need to try to sort their organisation out , how it votes, how it operates. I don’t feel that CofE is getting anywhere and I personally don’t feel welcome in a CofE church whilst it has an official view of negativity about gays and SSM.

    I don’t feel any better about the CofE simply becuase a few bishops are brave enough to speak out for gay people.

    1. We don’t need an Anglican church that speaks for the UK. We need to be rid of this church altogether. We are now a secular country.

    2. it tends to be that people like to think and love to project to others that they have the majority support. The growing part of the Church of England, soon to be a majority, will be the evangelical movement.. the liberal bit is,in general, shrinking. Alan Wilson has very strong views, fair enough, but the Bishops on the whole oppose same sex marriage, on societal, scriptural and legal grounds.. that much is clear from the Church of England’s response to the government consultation/sham on the issue.

      That the Bishops in general oppose gay marriage does not make them anti-gay however. The new AB of Canterbury is clearly against gay marriage but has also condemned homophobia.. a position you might think is contradictory, but to many, many Christians, these two ideas go together very well. I’m not anti-gay people, I just don’t think marriage is compatible with same sex relationships as a matter of definition;blind loyalty to equality justifies overriding these concerns.

  16. Now, this is a real Christian. Someone who truly understood the enlightened words of Jesus. Mr. Alan Wilson is one of those people who make Jesus happy.

  17. By the way, can we start a campaign for Alan Wilson for Pope ? The decadent and corrupted Catholic Church needs immediately a real Christian, someone who really understands the teachings about love and compassion of Jesus like Alan Wilson.

  18. im surprised at the distasteful way he speaks of fellow Christians.. rather intolerant in my view. If an evangelical Bishop spokeof his liberal opponents in that way he’d get a lot of flack. I respect the Bishop’s views but don’t think they’re expressed well.. sorry Bish!

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