Derby Cathedral shows erotic films but bans evangelical preacher

Melvin Tinker forbidden to preach

A cathedral that hit  the headlines for screening films with graphic sex scenes, full female nudity, a pagan sacrifice and a satirical depiction of Jesus Christ, has banned a prominent conservative clergyman from preaching at a student carol service during Advent.

Derby Cathedral told Derby Christian Union it will not permit the Reverend Melvin Tinker, Vicar of St John Newland, to speak at the service.

Student representatives from the University of Derby Christian Union(CU) applied to Derby Cathedral asking for permission to hold a carol service on Sunday, December 9. Cathedral authorities asked them whom they intended to have as their preacher, stating that the Dean would have to issue the formal invitation.

When the students informed the Cathedral that they intended to invite Mr Tinker as the guest speaker, the sub-Dean, Reverend Dr Elizabeth Tomson replied by email stating that the Cathedral would not permit Mr Tinker to preach from its pulpit because “what is preached in the Cathedral will be taken as being preached by the Cathedral.”

Dr Tomson suggested to the CU that the Dean of Derby, the Very Reverend Dr Stephen Hance, would be willing to preach instead of Mr Tinker. The CU did not take up her offer. Sources say that Dean Hance would have been involved in making the final decision, as is protocol in English cathedrals. The Dean also offered himself as a preacher for the service, in place of Tinker.

Later, when a CU executive member asked Dr Tomson why they refuse to give permission for the invitation to Mr Tinker, she revealed that it was “because of St John’s relations with York Diocese.” When further asked if she would permit anyone from St John’s to preach, the answer was a categorical “no”.

Tinker is a conservative evangelical who read Theology at Oxford University and has previously preached at CU carol services at St Andrews University and Durham University. His church, which is one of the largest Anglican congregations in the Diocese of York, is multicultural and has a thriving student ministry.

Tinker is the author of over sixty published articles dealing with a wide range of subjects relating to ethics and theology. He is also the author of several books and his latest book That Hideous Strength: How the West Was Lost is a critique of cultural Marxism. 

In 2015, Tinker criticised Canon Michael Smith of York Minster over his decision to bless an LGBT Pride march in the city. In June, at the global conference of conservative Anglicans (GAFCON) in Jerusalem, Tinker, who was one of the main speakers, challenged the Archbishop of Canterbury’s idea of ‘mutual flourishing’, saying, “We don’t want ‘mutual flourishing’. We want the gospel to flourish. We want orthodoxy to flourish.”

In August, this year, Derby Cathedral came under fire after it screened the unedited version of Don’t Look Now (1973), a movie containing a sex scene so graphic it had to be cut when the film premiered on television for the first time. Derby Cathedral also showed The Wicker Man (1973), a film about a community practising paganism featuring a scene in which a woman dances naked and another scene in which one character is burned alive in a giant wicker cage.

When questioned, Dean Hance told the media the films “won’t be showing God anything that he hasn’t seen before.” He also said that the cathedral was for everyone and it needed to serve a wide range of people—including those who aren’t religious.

“It doesn’t just belong to the people who go to church; it certainly doesn’t belong to me; it doesn’t just belong to religious people,” Hance said. Critics have accused Dean Hance of hypocrisy as the policy of “radical inclusion” pushed by Archbishop Justin Welby is turned on its head when it comes to traditionalist Christians.

In the last couple of years, Church of England cathedrals have shocked Christians and the secular world by hosting events that are in conflict with scripture and church tradition.

“It is a sad state of affairs when a Dean is happy to allow soft porn to be shown in his cathedral but bars the way for a minister to proclaim the Gospel,” Tinker said, when asked for his response to the ban.

Bishop Gavin Ashenden, who resigned as Chaplain to the Queen, after protesting against the Koran reading at Glasgow Cathedral told Rebel Priest: “It’s hard not to come to the conclusion that the Dean’s refusal is at the very least disingenuous. Melvin Tinker’s reputation, both intellectually and spiritually, and the impact he has had over the years amongst students are formidable. Any cathedral that really wanted to share the gospel would be delighted to have him in their pulpit.”

“But this is one more example of a perverse culture in the Church of England where the rhetoric of inclusion really means the exclusion of those who offer a deeper commitment to the commandments of Christ than to the secular culture,” Dr Ashenden added.

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