The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord George Carey, has said he will continue to oppose plans to “redefine” marriage, after facing criticism for an Easter message in which he linked marriage equality to persecution.
Among them was the vice chair of Christians in Parliament, Lord Bates, who rebuked Lord Carey for focussing on equal marriage instead of ending poverty abroad, in a piece on the ConservativeHome blog.
In his own ConservativeHome comment Lord Carey has now responded by saying that Lord Bates did not read his argument properly.
“[Lord Bates] does not address my concern that legislation to redefine marriage will narrow the space for freedom of conscience even further,” writes Lord Carey.
He clarifies that persecution is something he has witnessed taking place against Christians in countries such as Sudan, Nigeria and Pakistan, but adds that is is a word he would “prefer not to use about the plight of Christians in the UK”.
However, he goes on to say that Christians in the UK can experience “discrimination or marginalization… both heartfelt and unjust”, and that this can feel “akin to persecution”.
Lord Carey also defends his concerns about MP Chris Bryant’s proposal to turn a Westminster chapel into a multi-faith prayer room potentially available for same-sex weddings, saying that even considering the proposal amounts to “kneejerk secularism”.
He ends by saying: “I believe the Coalition has made a huge mistake with its plans to redefine marriage and I will continue to press this message home.”
Giles Fraser, former Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, said of Lord Carey’s Easter statement: ”I think it’s a very peculiar Easter message. I think Lord Carey is obsessed by gay sex and really ought to get over it.”
Kelvin Holdsworth of the Scottish Episcopal Church responded to Lord Carey by saying he said he looked forward to “an Easter Day when I can celebrate new marriages for gay members of my congregation just as I can for straight couples”.