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And there I was, Laughing at the Mormons
December 11, 2012 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Gay marriage: Religious 'opt-in' offered, but not to CofE - "The Church of England and Church in Wales will be banned in law from offering same-sex marriages, the government has announced. Other religious organisations will be able to "opt in" to holding ceremonies, Culture Secretary Maria Miller said. But she added that the Church of England and Church in Wales had "explicitly" stated strong opposition and would not be included." Included in the legisation is "Amending the 2010 Equality Act to ensure no discrimination claim can be brought against religious organisations or individual ministers for refusing to marry a same-sex couple."
posted by marienbad (70 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm sorry, what? The religion invented by a man who invented it so he could fuck more women is shunning gay marriage and cites the "union of one man and one woman for love and mutual support" as part of their reasoning?

lol lol lol lol lol
posted by elizardbits at 8:58 AM on December 11, 2012 [60 favorites]


Speaking of defending the sanctity of straight marriages, didn't the CoE really get rolling when Henry VIII wanted a divorce, and couldn't get one through the Pope?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:59 AM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


hypocrisy high five BP
posted by elizardbits at 9:00 AM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Hah, great minds think alike.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:00 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


That'll show 'em.
posted by clarknova at 9:01 AM on December 11, 2012


The religion invented by a man who invented it so he could fuck more women is shunning gay marriage and cites the "union of one man and one woman for love and mutual support" as part of their reasoning?

The CofE as the state church of England must represent the people. As the people of England are currently represented by Tory Fuckwits this seems quite reasonable.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:03 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, that whole separation of church and state (in the actual, literal, "there is no official state church" sense of the phrase) thing really was a handy concept to adopt.

Also, dude, enough with the gratuitous slaps at Mormons.
posted by SMPA at 9:03 AM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


The context for this is important. The Church of England is currently blowing up over the tensions of progressive minded reformers who want to allow women an equal role and extreme conservatives who want to put women in their traditional place. Gay marriage is another wedge shot straight into the heart of a deeply wounded and struggling church.

And that Church is a state religion in a country that is very liberal on matters of personal freedom within a Union that explicit laws about discrimination.

It will be fascinating to see how this plays out.
posted by srboisvert at 9:04 AM on December 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


But wait... Labour is in favor of this bill? I thought they were progressive? Or are they in favor because it means more freedom for other religious groups to marry as they see fit?

And the CofE is opposed to it? So... they want to same-sex marry?

I really don't understand what is going on here. Is this some kind of Truth is Lies, Slavery is Freedom kind of thing?
posted by Rock Steady at 9:05 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good lord, but the list of complaints by Tory MPs from around here on out makes for some depressing reading.
posted by ominous_paws at 9:11 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thinking Anglicans (scroll down) has more coverage of this issue.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:14 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Making it unlawful for religious organisations or their ministers to marry same-sex couples unless their organisation's governing body has expressly opted in to provisions for doing so

Why would this need to be unlawful? I mean, I am in favor of not forcing religious groups to perform ceremonies against their conscience, but surely that is an internal matter for the religious group. Unless, say, we are going to make failing to follow religious dietary rules unlawful as well....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:14 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, dude, enough with the gratuitous slaps at Mormons.

Who mentioned Mormons?
posted by the jam at 9:15 AM on December 11, 2012


Speaking of defending the sanctity of straight marriages,

You misheard. The C0E was founded to preserve the sanctity of VIII's marriage(s).
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:15 AM on December 11, 2012


Who mentioned Mormons?

Title of the post.
posted by elizardbits at 9:16 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, the first three "locks" really only respect the freedom of religion to discriminate. Yeah, it's not great, but unless you're going to make laws over their dead bodies, I don't see another way of doing it. The fourth "lock" is a fudge, and only comes about because of the establishment of the Church of England. As srboisvert has already said, that issue has already had lots of talk recently, and it wouldn't surprise me if the idea of splitting the church and state became a serious thought.
I'm sorry, what? The religion invented by a man who invented it so he could fuck more women is shunning gay marriage and cites the "union of one man and one woman for love and mutual support" as part of their reasoning?
You know, it took me a little while to realize you were talking about Henry Tudor and not Jesus.
posted by Jehan at 9:17 AM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


As an Anglican (Church of England) and a member of the LGBT Anglican Coalition and, most importantly I hope, a Christian - boo to this! Especially as I came here right after the lovely thread a few posts down about the successful (gay) marriage votes in the USA recently.

For interested readers, this comes shortly after the Church of England failed to allow women bishops. The vote was in favour but didn't make the required two-thirds bar. Apparently women bishops can't make magic bread properly (that is, the sexist Anglicans think that the bread and wine used in Communion won't be approved by God if a Bishop without a penis performs the ritual to authorise it.)

The other issue is that most Anglicans are Africans, and many African Anglican Bishops have generally sexist and homophobic opinions and will threaten to leave the Church if pro-women/people reforms go through. (I don't claim to speak for the average Anglican in Africa, who I suspect wonders why the Church isn't more concerned with, you know, poverty, war and the decreasing headcount rather than who gets to love and marry whom and who makes the magic bread.)

Remember, this is the state religion. So it's part of the constitution and law. It's not simply "a religious group". It's the official belief system of the State. For example, ten Anglican bishops get to sit in the legislature (the House of Lords) and the Head of State is also the head of the religion and forbidden to be of a different religion. You can observe that this is silly, and you would not necessarily be wrong, but that's the way it is right now.
posted by alasdair at 9:18 AM on December 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


I am much more freaked out by what is going on over in France with their gay marriage fight. I mean, I love that the Socialists are fighting back and asking people to demonstrate on behalf of equality, but I hate that they're opting to put this to referendum rather than just making it happen. *sigh*
posted by jph at 9:18 AM on December 11, 2012


The Church of England is currently blowing up over the tensions of progressive minded reformers who want to allow women an equal role and extreme conservatives who want to put women in their traditional place

Not just the Church of England, but the entire Anglican Communion -- see the Anglican Church in North America, formed by Anglicans who've left the Anglican Communion. The Church Of Canada and the Episcopal Church in America remain part of the communion.

The same battle is being fought in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
posted by eriko at 9:20 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting move. This was the tone I vaguely got from the article, but reinforced by what srboisvert said too: the move to not let the Church of England into the opt-in seems to be a fairly clever political move. They're letting the Church have what they want, which ultimately upholds religious freedom, but at the same time also puts the Church into a precarious position in our current times by not granting them the freedom to change their decisions. If it were just straight out pandering to the bigots, I doubt they would be so vocal about the Church of England being this ONE exception to LGBT rights in such a liberal environment, which is bound to provoke outlash.

It's technically not an underhanded move, because it's a) what the Church wants, and b) not the role of the government to predict how the future will affect the Church, so I don't know why I feel so conflicted about it.

Or I might just be reading too much into it, and it might just be bigoted noisy homophobes winning out, but hey, at least every other church is fine.
posted by Conspire at 9:20 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dave obviously had more than enough rope to go around so thought he'd chuck some to the CofE.

A Culture War? You're having a giraffe.
posted by fullerine at 9:21 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Amending the 2010 Equality Act to ensure no discrimination claim can be brought against religious organisations or individual ministers for refusing to marry a same-sex couple.

This is intense bullshit and it bothers me that it is a given in this argument. If religious organisations want the authority to officiate marriage, then they should officiate marriage for all. If this is not to their liking, they are welcome to give up their authority to officiate marriages.
posted by lrobertjones at 9:25 AM on December 11, 2012


I mean, I am in favor of not forcing religious groups to perform ceremonies against their conscience

I'm not. It's discrimination and bigotry, pure and simple. Lean it on your God if you want, but it is what it is. Would you support that right if a church didn't want to marry, say, a mixed race couple?
posted by IvoShandor at 9:25 AM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is fascinating. We Americans have internalized religious freedom so much that we literally cannot get our mind around the idea of a state-established religion.

The key, of course, is that if CoE is "allowed" to perform these marriages, then it MUST perform them. When you act on behalf of the state, everything that is permitted becomes obligatory. Anglican priests are state actors, so they can't just decide policy on their own in the way that an individual pastor might do for her congregation.

Of course, the right policy IS to perform the marriages, but you can't make it optional, when you're dealing with a state agency. It can't be the DMV worker's choice whether or not to give you a driver's license. This is a matter of conscience, but the conscience in question is the CoE hierarchy's, not the individual priests'.

I love it. Hopefully the CoE will back down and England and Wales will have state-church sanctioned weddings! Which royal will go first, I wonder?
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:25 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why would this need to be unlawful? I mean, I am in favor of not forcing religious groups to perform ceremonies against their conscience, but surely that is an internal matter for the religious group. Unless, say, we are going to make failing to follow religious dietary rules unlawful as well....
I think the worry is that if "rogue" minister wed a same-sex couple, it leaves the organization as a whole open to claims of unfair discrimination when a different minister refuses to wed another same-sex couple. That's really what these four rules are about, stopping the possibility for claims of discrimination.
posted by Jehan at 9:25 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


"We will stave off potential future claims of discrimination by preemptively discriminating!"
posted by elizardbits at 9:28 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The CofE as the state church of England must represent the people. As the people of England are currently represented by Tory Fuckwits this seems quite reasonable.

HELLO PIEN PENSANT FRIENDS! I ALSO HATE TORIES, SO IT IS OK FOR YOU TO LIKE ME. [todo: add a digg at Margaret Thatcher here]

It is probably worth noting that fuckwits or not, the actual government (you know, the cabinet full of tories) is pushing this forward at considerable political cost to themselves. I know we all have to hate David Cameron, Gids, Boris and John Major because they are Conservatives but they are pushing this pretty hard and I cannot imagine it is to get votes from readers of the Guardian (who will not vote for them anyway). The recent vote against women bishops was also widely condemned by senior Tories. To spin this as an attack against the government is quite incredible, regardless of what the Conservative backbenchers may say.

The framing of this post is somewhat misleading if you haven't been following the story closely in that it paints this bill as something that is being passed to prevent the CoE from offering gay marriage which is simply not the case at all. This bill is intended to allow legal gay church marriages in England and Wales, the explicit exemption for the CoE exists only to offer an absolute assurance that European Equalities laws will not be used to force the CoE to carry out such marriages. If the CoE wasn't so opposed then this wouldn't be necessary as a sop to MPs who are comfortable allowing churches to perform gay weddings but not comfortable with the idea of creating a law that might force them to.
posted by atrazine at 9:28 AM on December 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


The Church of England is currently blowing up over the tensions of progressive minded reformers who want to allow women an equal role and extreme conservatives who want to put women in their traditional place

Not just the Church of England, but the entire Anglican Communion -- see the Anglican Church in North America, formed by Anglicans who've left the Anglican Communion. The Church Of Canada and the Episcopal Church in America remain part of the communion.


"Blowing up" is a bit of an overstatement. Sure, by Anglican canon standards the recent unpleasantries have been an all out war, but by outside standards it's not even a decent row.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:29 AM on December 11, 2012


But wait... Labour is in favor of this bill? I thought they were progressive? Or are they in favor because it means more freedom for other religious groups to marry as they see fit?

I construed that sentence to mean 'Labour wants marriage and this is the only way it'll happen'. It's entirely possible, though, that there are machinations within the Labour Party that mean carving out a large religious exemption would be the way it would have to go if Labour were in power. (There was a small similar argument over the Equality Act because there were a bunch of conservative religious types (cough, Tony Blair) in high positions in the government.) I also don't know whether Labour really care about marriage. Though, to be honest, I'm a bit confused about why marriage is on the table all of a sudden.

The Guardian's article is framing this plan as a way to prevent a successful appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Of course, it seems like all progress in Britain comes from appeal to the ECHR, and given the ECHR's propensity to go "WTF, Britain?" I don't see how this plan's supposed to work. Anyone know?
posted by hoyland at 9:32 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


From Wikipedia:
The General Synod is the legislative body for the [Church of England] and comprises bishops, clergy and laity. As it is the established church, its measures must be approved of by both Houses of Parliament. This is done by the General Synod referring measures decided on to the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament, which is made up of 15 peers from the House of Lords selected by the Lord Speaker and 15 MPs selected by the Speaker of the House of Commons. This committee then produces a report on the proposed measure. The measure and report are then presented to Parliament. Both houses must agree to pass a resolution passing the measure before it can be presented to the Sovereign for Royal Assent and become law.
posted by alasdair at 9:33 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


From the bottom of the article:
In its response to the consultation the government says it has no plans to change the definition of adultery or non-consummation of a marriage - which means neither could be cited as grounds for divorce in a same-sex marriage, unless the adultery was with someone of the opposite sex.
...WTF? So the law will recognise same-sex marriage, but a same-sex affair doesn't count as adultery? Why is one "real", while the other isn't? But what baffles me more is that this is the result of a public consulation process... were there really more people saying that same-sex affairs shouldn't count than there were people arguing against same-sex marriage? Does anyone have a clue what went on here?

jph - the sexist Anglicans think that the bread and wine used in Communion won't be approved by God if a Bishop without a penis performs the ritual to authorise it.

But don't ordinary women priests bless the bread and wine in the communion every Sunday already, without a Bishop's involvement? Certainly in the CoW church I grew up in, the (male) priest bought the bread and wine from a specialist shop in Cardiff and then stashed it in one of the church's cupboards until it was used. No bishops involved, unless the wine was pre-blessed before it got to the shop. (Silly link aside, I'm genuinely curious about this)
posted by metaBugs at 9:33 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is probably worth noting that fuckwits or not, the actual government (you know, the cabinet full of tories) is pushing this forward at considerable political cost to themselves.

I stand corrected and would like to make an edit: The CofE as the state church of England must represent the people. As the people of England are currently represented by Tory Antidisestablishmentarian Fuckwits this seems quite reasonable.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:34 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the Guardian article linked above:
The proposals oppose extending civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples. Adultery will be allowed to be a cause for divorce in same-sex marriages, but non-consummation of marriage will not.
Still a bit "separate but equal" then...
posted by alasdair at 9:37 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not me, metaBugs!
posted by jph at 9:37 AM on December 11, 2012


Oops, you're right, sorry jph! It was alasdair, who'd posted immediately above you.
posted by metaBugs at 9:41 AM on December 11, 2012


Certainly in the CoW church I grew up in, the (male) priest bought the bread and wine from a specialist shop in Cardiff and then stashed it in one of the church's cupboards until it was used.

Don't tell anyone, but my father, a (male) USian Episcopal priest just buys wine from the corner store (usually cheap Taylor Tawny Port). The pre-holy Holy water comes from the tap.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:47 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


But don't ordinary women priests bless the bread and wine in the communion every Sunday already, without a Bishop's involvement?

The "ritual to authorise it" presumably (and not particularly accurately) refers to the ordination of the priest which is done by a bishop. The current C of E rules allow women to be priests, but not bishops. In some sense, a priest is authorized to celebrate the Eucharist by his ordination.
posted by Jahaza at 9:52 AM on December 11, 2012


From the Guardian article linked above:
The proposals oppose extending civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples. Adultery will be allowed to be a cause for divorce in same-sex marriages, but non-consummation of marriage will not.
Still a bit "separate but equal" then...
"Non-consummation" is out of date and should be abolished anyway, which is why I can understand it being left out. The hurdle is that something like "non-consummation" is so deeply tied to gender and sexual expectations, that it's hard to think how it would be applied to same-sex couples. Individuals have to consummate the marriage "within their capability" and in an "ordinary" way. If you argue this means PIV sex, then it means (almost) any same-sex marriage can be annulled at any point. Yet if you argue that it means any sexual contact whatsoever, then it means "non-consummation" for opposite-sex couples must be defined in the same way. Again, I think it should be abolished full stop, but I can understand why including it as a grounds for divorce would just be a legal mess.
posted by Jehan at 10:08 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the wine was special (and cheap) communion wine from a specialist shop, but the Holy water (which was added to the communion wine, as well as used in the font) came from the tap. Mind you, the local tap water tasted pretty good, so it worked out fine.

The "ritual to authorise it" presumably (and not particularly accurately) refers to the ordination of the priest which is done by a bishop. The current C of E rules allow women to be priests, but not bishops. In some sense, a priest is authorized to celebrate the Eucharist by his ordination.

Well sure, and the Bishops' authority, just like the priests', comes down an unbroken (...or so the story goes) chain of laying-of-hands that goes back to St Paul. If the authority isn't lost when it passes from a male bishop to a female priest, I find it weird that it would be lost passing from a female bishop to her ordainees. Women can be given the authority just like a man, but can't pass it on? Or is there something special about the installation of Bishops, additional to that?

Of course, although I was exposed to a lot of Church politics when I was young, I have long since stopped keeping up with it.
posted by metaBugs at 10:14 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, the Catholic Church and the Church of England are assholes on this issue (that should come as no surprise), but isn't the larger message here that the UK is proposing to legalize religious same sex marriage? As I read it, any church whose leadership approves same sex marriage will be free to perform such a ceremony and it will be legally binding in the same manner that "traditional" marriage is.

If this were made the law in the US, wouldn't gay marriage proponents be thrilled? Sure, the Catholic Church and several right-wing Christian churches would refuse to perform the services, but who cares? I sincerely doubt that there are many gay couples who would say "legalized same sex marriage is not enough; we think the Catholic church should be compelled to marry us." As it is now, the Catholic church doesn't marry interfaith couples without special permissions and restrictive rules about the ceremony.

This seems like a very clever way for politicians to both advance the social issue of equality and to honor the newly-important "religious freedom" that right-wing Christians now demand via bumper sticker.
posted by AgentRocket at 10:16 AM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry, my error: the objection is that the magic spell cast on the bread and wine won't be valid if the priest was magically made into a priest by a bishop without a penis, so it won't magically work for you. Or in Christian terms, a priest made a priest by a woman bishop is not a real priest, so the priest's blessing of the bread and wine isn't valid.

Because (sarcasm) you know Jesus was all about the hierarchy and rules of established religions... (OK, Anglican teaching is that he WAS, and that most of the Jews simply largely failed to realise that he was prophesised by various prophets and bits of the 'Old Testament', but I think we can agree that's largely later retro-fitting to provide historical justification for granting the status of Messiah to a failed cult leader...)
posted by alasdair at 10:25 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


were there really more people saying that same-sex affairs shouldn't count than there were people arguing against same-sex marriage?

This seems strange but not entirely implausible. It's possible that the majority — which is to say, mainly heterosexuals — are OK with same-sex marriage since it doesn't really affect them one way or the other, but aren't okay with redefining adultery or nonconsummation, since that theoretically could.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:51 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


But don't ordinary women priests bless the bread and wine in the communion every Sunday already, without a Bishop's involvement?

I vaguely recall reading something about the CoE requiring that there be a male priest present for those who didn't believe a female priest could do it. I can't remember when or the details though..It may have been just a proposal.
posted by srboisvert at 10:53 AM on December 11, 2012


Sure, by Anglican canon standards the recent unpleasantries have been an all out war, but by outside standards it's not even a decent row.


CAKE OR DEATH!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:02 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


According to this BBC Q&A page on the planned law, the ban of the Church from performing same-sex marraiges stems from the way that the church and the government are entangled:
What has this got to do with the Church of England's status as the official state church?

The Church of England is the established church in England - its own Canon Law is part of the law of the land.

One of its canons states that marriage is in its nature a union of "one man and one woman". This will remain in force, says the government.

The Church had warned that, had Parliament had changed the definition of marriage, this could have called into question the "status and effect of the canonical provisions that set out the Church's doctrine of marriage as being between one man and one woman".

The government would thus have been overlooking "the implications of what is proposed for the position of the established Church".

Could the legalisation of gay marriage have led to the disestablishment of the Church?

The Church had warned that it could.

If the legal position ended up so that same-sex marriage could no longer be limited to civil ceremonies, it says, "the whole range of rights and duties that exist in relation to marriage and the Church of England would have to be re-examined".

"The ultimate outcome for both Church and State would be quite uncertain," it says.
So while Cameron is willing to fight in favour of same-sex marriage in the face of opposition from party members and many traditional Tory voters, I can completely understand him not wanting to go anywhere near that particular can of worms. There's no way that he, or any Tory, could survive the perception that he was attacking the CofE's traditional privileged position in the state.
posted by metaBugs at 11:42 AM on December 11, 2012


If this were made the law in the US, wouldn't gay marriage proponents be thrilled?

It couldn't pass in the US, because it would be unquestionably unconstitutional, and religious people (especially Anglicans) would be in an uproar.

It doesn't make much sense to me that an explicit restriction of the CoE's right to run itself however it wants is being viewed by anyone as a favour to the church, even if it does happen to line up with its current right-wing majority.

If they don't like gay marriage, they can just not opt in, right? Is this anything but a desperate power grab by the conservative wing of the church?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:52 AM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of these opponents, Peter Bone, asked the Commons: "How dare the secretary of state try to redefine marriage?"

See what happens when you give your child a ridiculous name?
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:55 AM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


It couldn't pass in the US, because it would be unquestionably unconstitutional, and religious people (especially Anglicans) would be in an uproar.

I'm pretty sure AgentRocket means 'in the US, mutatis mutandis'.

If they don't like gay marriage, they can just not opt in, right? Is this anything but a desperate power grab by the conservative wing of the church?

See metaBugs's comment above. You can argue that the case of the CoE should be handled differently than it appears it will be, but there are technical reasons why they simply can't not opt in.
posted by hoyland at 12:05 PM on December 11, 2012


Of course, you could argue that in the absence of an established church, the 'mutatis mutandis' version is precisely what we've got in the US where same sex marriage exists.
posted by hoyland at 12:07 PM on December 11, 2012


If this were made the law in the US, wouldn't gay marriage proponents be thrilled?

The US has separation of church and state, so the government doesn't get to rule on any particular religion's doctrines. In US states that have legal gay marriage, many houses of worship already marry gay couples. In states where gay marriage is not legal, houses of worship can and do hold blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples. They don't have to wait for a government OK to do so in either case. They are free to not marry or bless anyone they don't want to marry or bless, and the government can't force them to do so, either.

In the UK, which doesn't have church/state separation, no house of worship has been able to marry same sex couples because of the established church opposition, regardless of each denomination's own wishes.
posted by Wylla at 12:11 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


It doesn't make much sense to me that an explicit restriction of the CoE's right to run itself however it wants is being viewed by anyone as a favour to the church, even if it does happen to line up with its current right-wing majority.

If they don't like gay marriage, they can just not opt in, right? Is this anything but a desperate power grab by the conservative wing of the church?
Unless England is ready to disestablish the Church of England, the proposed law is absolutely the best for getting same-sex wedlock on the books while shielding religious freedom. That it gives power to the conservative wing of the church is not relevant, as the alternative is to give that power to the courts. I would rather a church fight this out inside itself, than a court force them one way or the other. When the church chooses for itself whether it would like to undertake same-sex marriages or not, they can ask to have the law changed.
The US has separation of church and state, so the government doesn't get to rule on any particular religion's doctrines. In US states that have legal gay marriage, many houses of worship already marry gay couples. In states where gay marriage is not legal, houses of worship can and do hold blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples. They don't have to wait for a government OK to do so in either case. They are free to not marry or bless anyone they don't want to marry or bless, and the government can't force them to do so, either.

In the UK, which doesn't have church/state separation, no house of worship has been able to marry same sex couples because of the established church opposition, regardless of each denomination's own wishes.
Religions have been free to bless same-sex partnerships for as long as they have chosen to do so, exactly as in any US state where same-sex wedlock is not lawful. They haven't yet been able to wed any couple because it's not yet lawful, regardless of Church of England opposition. Once the law is passed, every religion but the Church of England will be in the exact same position as religions in the US, having complete freedom of conscience on the matter. The only difference between the US and the UK is the Church of England, because the church is established. I would be happy to end establishment, but for the sake of getting same-sex marriage on the books, it is best fudged and left for another day.
posted by Jehan at 12:39 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


As an outsider, what would be the general public sentiment as to disestablishing the CoE? About the same as the elimination of the royals?
posted by maxwelton at 12:45 PM on December 11, 2012


It's so rare that one gets to use the word "antidisestablishmentarian" in real life!

I am of course contrantidisestablishmentarian, though as a US person I have no skin in the game. Except as a member of the Anglican Communion, and one who is strongly invested in the Episcopal Church USA marrying couples regardless of gender.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:49 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


can someone explain how, if the Church of England allowed same-sex marriage (whether wholeheartedly or by being legally compelled by the govt.), how this would affect the many different international provinces of the the Anglican Communion ?
posted by Bwithh at 1:37 PM on December 11, 2012


Well sure, and the Bishops' authority, just like the priests', comes down an unbroken (...or so the story goes) chain of laying-of-hands that goes back to St Paul. If the authority isn't lost when it passes from a male bishop to a female priest, I find it weird that it would be lost passing from a female bishop to her ordainees. Women can be given the authority just like a man, but can't pass it on? Or is there something special about the installation of Bishops, additional to that?

For "apostolic succesion" in this sense, any of the apostles is sufficient. I find the male/female bishop/priest distinction unworkable too, but then as a Catholic I would say that (and I think Anglican orders are invalid anyways.)

Sorry, my error: the objection is that the magic spell cast on the bread and wine won't be valid if the priest was magically made into a priest by a bishop without a penis, so it won't magically work for you. Or in Christian terms, a priest made a priest by a woman bishop is not a real priest, so the priest's blessing of the bread and wine isn't valid.

OK... your terminology is, by the way, really offensive (not to mention your reductivism of gender to anatomy)...

The party against female bishops in the Church of England is composed of different groups of people. Some think it's wrong for women to be bishops and that is their only objection. Others think it is wrong for women to be priests or bishops. As I understand it, they are willing to stay in the Church of England with women priests (even though they oppose this) because they can avoid dealing with them (you can generally tell if your priest is a woman) but not if there are women bishops (because you generally can't tell if your priest was ordained by a woman).
posted by Jahaza at 1:43 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This shows why state control of the church is such a good idea. In an ideal world the Government would force the Church of England to solemnise gay marriages, and we'd all be a lot better off. The Church would take its rightful place in the forefront of social progress, instead of being perpetually thirty years behind, and the small minority of bigots who are ruining it for everybody else could fuck off out of the Established Church and join the Southern Baptists or something.

Unfortunately the Government hasn't got the guts to stand up to the Church, and we are gradually moving towards the disastrous state of affairs that the Americans call 'separation of church and state' (as if religion and politics could ever be separated). The only effect of this, as far as I can see, is to give far too much independence to ghastly fundamentalist bigots and let them behave as if they run the country. In spite of this, some Americans still believe that theirs is the better system, I can't understand why. Here in England we've always kept religious extremists firmly under control, but in recent years, sensing the weakness of our political and religious leaders, they've started to creep back into public life. God forbid they should ever seize control of the Church of England.
posted by verstegan at 1:52 PM on December 11, 2012


By the way, Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson was on the Daily Show last night, and he was AWESOME. I swear, there's a tasteful and truly funny sodomy joke in there that made me pretty happy.

OK... your terminology is, by the way, really offensive (not to mention your reductivism of gender to anatomy)...

Wait... so if a transgendered person who identifies as a man but was born with female anatomy wants to be a priest or a bishop, you'd be okay with that?
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:58 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


As an outsider, what would be the general public sentiment as to disestablishing the CoE? About the same as the elimination of the royals?
Almost certainly, splitting the Church of England and the state would be more popular than getting rid of the royals. As to how popular it would be, however, I truthfully don't know. It's a manifold thing, and it's hard to see where all the sundry groups would lie if the issue ever properly came up. Even though Church of England membership is shrinking here, it's not clear if other Christians, or even Muslims, Jews and Hindus, would want the split. No state church means that the state would be openly secular. But then some groups within the Church of England might want to split, believing that it would give them more leeway. I can guess that most everyday folk wouldn't be too bothered, but that doesn't mean much. So really, I don't know.
posted by Jehan at 2:09 PM on December 11, 2012


Meanwhile, in related census news:
• Christians down 13 percentage points to 59%.
• Respondents with no religion up 10 points to 25%.
• Muslim population up from 3% to 5%.
posted by Auz at 2:11 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, dude, enough with the gratuitous slaps at Mormons.

How about their church stops pouring millions of dollars into campaigns to prevent my friends from getting married if they want?

Institutional bigotry means slaps, gratuity not included.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:38 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm not going to totally rule out Cameron having some kind of a moral stake here [mutters something about Hitler and vegetarianism] but there's a definitely strong desire to capture a particular subset and geographic distribution of floating middle class votes following the impending LibDemaggedon that's at play here too.

He's not going to lose the Shires and the Express readers over this - unless the UKIP threat really materialises. But it's ironic, if that happens, that one effect of homophobia in sub-Saharan Africa will be to force a referendum on EU membership in the UK.
posted by cromagnon at 3:18 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Marriage is what brings us together. Until it splits us apart. marienbad, thanks for bringing this to my attention.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:29 PM on December 11, 2012


UKIP plans to derail Cameron plans for gay marriage
posted by Bwithh at 6:45 PM on December 11, 2012


This will definitely help reverse the increasing British irreligiosity revealed by the 2011 Census.

*snork*
posted by Decani at 1:11 AM on December 12, 2012


I'm with GenjiandProust, the "unlawful unless the hierarchy explicitly authorizes it" part seems the weirdest to me. I get the CoE stuff, being the state religion and all, but I don't understand the interest in legislating the affairs of other churches/religions. If a church that isn't in the CoE wants to go ahead and do a same-sex officialization without the go-ahead from the parent organization, with possible attendant drama starting, why's that the government's business?

Then again, my church growing up had the power firmly and officially at the local congregation level, with only sort of a loose relationship with the parent organization, so I also don't really understand churches with a real hierarchy, either.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:14 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


As an outsider, what would be the general public sentiment as to disestablishing the CoE? About the same as the elimination of the royals?

Low. People just don't like constitutional change.

But they do keep putting themselves on the wrong side of history and out of kilter with general public sentiment. Plus we discovered yesterday that the percentage of people in England and Wales who identifying as Christian has gone down from 72% to 59% in the last ten years. That is a huge drop and Christian is a much broader category than Anglican. So in the long term, their days are numbered.
posted by ninebelow at 1:33 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


UKIP plans to derail Cameron plans for gay marriage

Yeah, good luck with that, guys. Presumably Nigel Farage is going to take a hard three-line whip and make all zero of his MPs vote against it.
posted by ninebelow at 1:35 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm with GenjiandProust, the "unlawful unless the hierarchy explicitly authorizes it" part seems the weirdest to me. I get the CoE stuff, being the state religion and all, but I don't understand the interest in legislating the affairs of other churches/religions. If a church that isn't in the CoE wants to go ahead and do a same-sex officialization without the go-ahead from the parent organization, with possible attendant drama starting, why's that the government's business?

I've been trying to figure this out, too. This is just a guess, but I suspect one of two things: a) there's some technical issue around how non-CoE clergy are empowered to marry people (e.g. that they're only allowed to do it in the context of their religion's ceremonies, though I don't know that this is the case) or b) there's an issue of physical access to space. Access to space is an issue that probably requires carving an exception into the Equality Act anyway. (Though, I guess there probably is one already restricting the ability of people who aren't members of a given religion being married in a church.)

How the heck this opt-in is supposed to work for religions that act on a congregational level, I don't know. (Quakers and Jews coincidentally are treated as special cases in the marriage rules, so that's probably them taken care of.)
posted by hoyland at 6:09 AM on December 12, 2012


How the heck this opt-in is supposed to work for religions that act on a congregational level, I don't know.

I'm guessing "opt-in" just means "you are now automatically allowed to marry same-sex couples in a religious setting just as you would marry opposite-sex couples, but you don't have to if you don't want to" and not "have the sole supreme leader of your religious organization complete this stack of paperwork and mail it to this address to register that you have opted in."
posted by Sys Rq at 9:38 AM on December 12, 2012


The plot thickens... seems the Church weren't told about this in advance. (Complete with some ropy Guardian copy-editing--there's a repeated paragraph.)
posted by hoyland at 5:59 PM on December 13, 2012


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