IF the Church of England were to defy the politically correct establishment and refuse to change its teaching on the heterosexual nature of marriage, might MPs intervene?
Former Conservative MP Sir Tony Baldry and Labour MP Ben Bradshaw think MPs have the right to tell the Church what it should believe, teach and practise. Last week they wrote separately to the Times saying that ‘time is running out’ for the C of E to allow clergy and parishes to marry or bless same-sex couples.
As Second Church Estates Commissioner from 2010 to 2015, Sir Tony used to field parliamentary questions on the Church by law established. Mr Bradshaw is a member of the parliamentary Ecclesiastical Committee.
Sir Tony’s letter appeared on Monday: ‘The House of Bishops will shortly come forward with their conclusions on same-sex relationships, which will be presented for debate at General Synod in February . . . It is important to note that because the Church of England is an established church, its canons are part of the laws of England, approved by parliament. I have little doubt that if the church cannot find a way forward that enables clergy either to marry same-sex couples or to bless their weddings, MPs will soon feel the need to intervene to change the law. The Church of England is running out of time here.’
Mr Bradshaw’s letter on Tuesday said: ‘Sir Tony Baldry is right to say time is running out for the Church of England to allow priests and parishes that wish to marry or bless same-sex couples . . . Anglicans in Scotland and soon, in Wales, who are in same-sex relationships may get married or receive a blessing in church, while those in England may not. This is not a sustainable position for an established church if it wants to retain that status and the privileges and duties that come with it.’
From an orthodox Anglican perspective, the Rev Dr Ian Paul, a member of the General Synod and of the Archbishops’ Council, warned in his own letter to the Times on Tuesday: ‘If parliament intervenes and tells the Church what it must believe, it will be overturning the institutional independence of 100 years, and we will join that group of countries where the state takes precedence over religious belief and individual conscience.’
That group of countries happens to include China and North Korea. Would the prospect of Britain being thrown in with these two Communist dictatorships deter MPs in the present House of Commons from changing the Church’s doctrine and practice on marriage and sexual morality without its consent?
Unfortunately, the MPs in the present House of Commons have previous on voting for totalitarian Communist measures. They voted overwhelmingly for the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. So surely it would not be too difficult for Mr Bradshaw and his allies to persuade a majority of MPs to force the Church to ‘get up with the programme’, in the phrase of the then Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron in the House of Commons after the General Synod initially refused to endorse women bishops in 2012. This time around getting up with the programme would involve the Church ditching its traditional teaching on marriage and embracing the sexual revolution.
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