Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Jeffrey John and discrimination

Iin the US, the Supreme Court case on discrimination and ministerial exception. In the UK there's been news about Anglican priest and Dean of St Albans, Jeffrey John (I have some posts on him here and here and here), and a possible lawsuit against the Chuch of England under the Equality Act of 2010.

Here's the beginning of a post at Andrew Brown's blog on the subject .....

Jeffrey John is an extremely intelligent man who will never be a bishop in England. That much is clear. So why should he threaten a legal action that he is vanishingly unlikely to win, to force the church not to discriminate against him? The only possible answer seems to be that he wants to expose the fact of this discrimination. But I can't believe in that one, either, if for no other reason that he has quite fiercely guarded his private life for the last 20 years, and any court case would make that more difficult.

Besides, he would still lose. Last year the Church of England published a legal opinion that makes it quite clear that it believes it is legal to discriminate against John, not because he is gay, since he is also celibate, but because he is not in the least bit ashamed of being gay. That is what sticks in the craw of the conservative evangelicals who oppose him. They have moved on from supposing that it is absolutely wrong to be gay. They now believe that it is OK to be gay providing that you are very unhappy about it.

No one any longer pretends that the Church of England is not full of gay clergy, some of whom are bishops. And – while I may be wrong – I don't think that anyone any longer believes that they can be driven out by natural wastage, if no new gay men or lesbians ever enter any theological college.

But the toxic legacy remains of Rowan Williams' bad judgment and worse conduct eight years ago when he first proposed his then friend, John, as a bishop. He got into a battle that he could not afford to lose, but which he was not prepared to fight to win ......


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