The Queen’s former chaplain threatens Church of England split over LGBT reforms
The Queen’s former chaplain is among clergy who have threatened to rebel against the Church of England over recent moves towards LGBT-inclusivity.
At the Church of England’s General Synod earlier this month, a number of key concessions were made to modernisers on LGBT rights.
The decisions have not gone down well with the anti-LGBT lobby and ultra-conservatives within the Church, and a group of clergy sent a letter to the Telegraph today threatening a formal split over the issues.
The signatories include Rev Dr Gavin Ashenden, who served as special chaplain to the Queen from 2008 until earlier this year.
Ashenden has already personally quit the Church of England, resigning from his position earlier this year in protest of the acceptance of “values that are anti-Christian”.
The letter says: “Recent actions in the General Synod in pursuit of a culture that denies biblical ethics (…) have caused many Anglicans great concern.
“There are times, particularly in the face of social disintegration, when it is the duty of the Church to be counter‑cultural. The failure of the House of Bishops to uphold the teaching of the Bible and of the Universal Church in this area is very disappointing, if not surprising.”
It adds: “Booing of traditionalists and the levels of personal abuse aimed at them during the Synod have only deepened mistrust between the different sides.”
The letter threatened a split within the church, saying: “There are now effectively two opposed expressions of Anglicanism in this country. One has capitulated to secular values, and one continues to hold the faith ‘once delivered to the saints’.”
The letter notes the split in the US and Canada, where a number of parishes severed ties with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over LGBT-friendly reforms.
The letter says: “We note the results of this same conflict in North America, even as we look for and pray for a similar renewal of orthodox Anglicanism and of Anglican structures in these islands.”
It was also signed by the former Bishop of Rochester, Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, Rev Dr Andrew Symes of ultra-conservative campaign group Anglican Mainstream, and Andrea Williams of anti-LGBT lobbying group Christian Concern.
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The Speaker of the House of Commons recently called on the Church to embrace equal marriage.
Speaking at a PinkNews Parliamentary reception, Speaker John Bercow said: “I still feel we’ll only have proper equal marriage when you can bloody well get married in a church if you want to do so, without having to fight the church for the equality that should be your right.”
He was echoed by Education Secretary Justine Greening.
She said: “I think it is important that the Church in a way keeps up and is part of a modern country. I wouldn’t prescribe to them how they should deal with that.
“But I do think we are living in a country where people broadly recognise that attitudes are in different place now to where they were many, many years ago.”
Greening continued: “We have allowed same-sex marriage, that’s a massive step forward for the better.
“For me, I think people do want to see our major faiths keep up with modern attitudes in our country.”