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Jeffrey John’s interview

Jeffrey John’s interview

Thinking Anglicans offers the full text of the recent interview between Times reporter Ruth Gledhill and The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey John, dean of St. Albans.


(The original Times story was covered second hand by the Telegraph.)

While the whole interview is worth reading, it seems fair to excerpt this much.

What message do you think the church opposition [to same-sex marriage] gives long term about the church and Christianity and does this worry you in any way?

It is enormously worrying. In the sixties the Church of England was in the forefront of the movement to decriminalise homosexuality. The fact that fifty years on the Church is seen as Enemy Number One of gay people is a disaster, both for our own morale and for our mission to the country. The Conservative Party realised ten years ago that the equal treatment of gay people had become a litmus test of basic human decency and changed its view; but it is a test the Church now spectacularly fails. We have become the last refuge of prejudice.

It is worse because the Church’s opposition to gay relationships is so patently unprincipled. In the Church of England we readily bless the second and even third marriages of couples who never darken our doors, yet we reject hundreds of our own faithful clergy and laypeople who long to bring their love and commitment before God and ask his blessing. While we dare to preach justice and equality in Christ’s name to the world, we seek exemptions to equality laws when it comes to our own employment and disciplinary practices. While we threaten to demote or debar American and Canadian Anglicans for appointing openly gay bishops and blessing gay unions, we are trying to appease homophobic Anglican churches in Africa which support extreme social and legal measures against homosexuals.

Not only gay people are repelled by all this. Many more people of goodwill who instinctively expect the Church to uphold justice and truth are scandalised when it so obviously does not. If secularism has gained ground in Britain in recent years, along with the demand that the Church of England must be disestablished and surrender its voice in national life, then it is our mishandling of the gay issue more than anything else that has brought it about.

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