The definition of marriage

I was caught out. On Thursday I was giving a talk on homosexuality to a church deanery readers’ group. I expected differences of opinion, but the big sticking-point was not what I expected.

Nobody argued that intimate same-sex partnerships were immoral. That seemed fine. What was unacceptable, to those who disapproved, was the decision to change the definition of marriage. Gay and lesbian people can do what they like, as long as they do not call it marriage.

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Does the Church still need parishes?

For churchgoers, yet another fascinating YouGov survey by Linda Woodhead for the Westminster Faith Debates. This one is about the views of Anglican clergy. Anthony Woollard comments here.

In this post I focus on the finding that 83% want to maintain the parish system, which divides England into areas served by a priest provided with a vicarage. There are also other interesting findings. A summary is here.

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Thank Heavens for women priests

The survey of 1,509 Anglican clergy, published on 23 October for the Westminster Faith Debates, contains many interesting findings. Our own Linda Woodhead, organiser of this research, has drawn attention to a number of them in the associated press release.

It is little surprise, probably, that clergy are more 'left-wing' than most people in their attitudes to the Welfare State and immigration for example. Nor that, on issues such as same-sex marriage or abortion, they are rather more conservative than average.

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Reclaiming the centre

Today I signed a petition for the overturning of yet another death sentence which has been handed down to a Christian woman living in a Muslim country #saveAsiaBibi. The last one I signed concerned a woman in the Sudan. This time it is Pakistan.

There are probably many more such barbaric sentences being inflicted on women, and not only Christian women, which we never hear about. Added to these are the innumerable atrocities being perpetrated against women and girls by a criminal organisation which has somehow morphed into an ideological movement having nothing whatever to do with the religion it claims to stand for.

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Archbishop doubts

Archbishop Justin Welby, sparked controversy recently when he told an audience of over 1000 people at Bristol Cathedral that he had often ‘doubted’ God. 'Well, how ridiculous', my Dad laughed, 'It’s not very encouraging if the Archbishop of Canterbury of all people isn’t so sure about God!'

My Dad was not alone in his vitriolic reaction. The ‘admission’ as it was described by many journalists, went viral in the press. One Guardian headline read, 'Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about the existence of God.' The International Business Times meanwhile called it the 'doubt of the century', speculating as to whether 'the leader of the Church of England would one day renounce Christianity or spirituality as a whole.'

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