Eight CoE bishops support discrimination

Andrew Brown comments on how 8 bishops of the Church of England voted to discriminate against gay employees and defeated the non-discrimination legislation

The government's defeat last night in the House of Lords may prove a pyrrhic victory of the Church of England. Eight serving bishops and Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, voted for the decisive amendment (100) which was carried by five votes. Lord Harries of Pentregarth, the former Bishop of Oxford, voted against. So it seems reasonable to suppose that it would not have been carried without the bishops; and it was proposed by three of them. Although the argument was carried on on a plane of exalted principle, there is no doubt that in practice the fight was about the right of churches and other religious organisations to discriminate against gay employees.

This right already exists; the European Court of justice, prodded by the National Secular society, decided it was too widely drawn. So the government attempted to define the kinds of post to which it could apply. At this point it becomes difficult to believe either side. The government claimed that the new wording changed nothing; the churches said that if it changed nothing, it was unnecessary.

There was also a hysterical and completely untrue campaign to the effect that the legislation would prevent Catholics from keeping an all-male priesthood, and similar things. That was never the case. The argument is about the ability of religious bodies to discriminate among their lay employees on the basis of their beliefs. In practice, it seems to be entirely about gay people and whether they can sue for wrongful discrimination.

Why do these people get to vote on things that affect all who live in the UK?

Comments (5)

I suppose the argument COULD go that in the BEST of scenarios, the church COULD be an agent for justice in the political realm. Ergo, having their voice WOULD be important in promoting dignity and justice among all people in society.
That COULD be the rationale for the bishops' having a vote in the House of Lords.
Outside of a perfect world, and in the world in which we actually live, this is somewhat strange and very disappointing.

Every time this occurs, where the Church is allied with discrimination, more people curse the name of Jesus Christ instead of the guilty parties, these bishops of bigotry.

Why indeed Ann, because the UK is a country made up of more than just England, but the bishops of the established church in England are the one's who get a vote for folk's for whom the Church of England is not the established state church.

The abolition of slavery passed in 1833 without a single vote of support by a Bishop in the House of Lords.

There was an error in the original article which has been corrected, the reference to the European Court of Justice was changed to the European Union.

Add your comments

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Reminder: At Episcopal Café, we hope to establish an ethic of transparency by requiring all contributors and commentators to make submissions under their real names. For more details see our Feedback Policy.

Advertising Space