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Snubbed Gay Cleric Considers Suing Church of England

Snubbed Gay Cleric Considers Suing Church of England

 

Reports suggest that the Church of England’s most senior openly gay cleric, Dr. Jeffrey John, may be about to sue the Church for discrimination over his repeatedly being prevented from becoming a bishop.

This comes after John, who is celibate but in a civil partnership with a fellow priest, was made to give up a position as suffragan bishop in Reading in 2003, and was blocked from becoming a bishop of Southwark by the archbishops of Canterbury and York in 2010.

From The Guardian:

Reports on Sunday suggested John had become so exasperated at his treatment that he had hired Alison Downie, an employment and discrimination law specialist and partner at the law firm Goodman Derrick, to fight his case under equality law. Four years ago, Downie successfully represented a gay youth worker who was found to have been discriminated against by the bishop of Hereford because of his sexuality.

It is thought John’s case could hinge on a damning memorandum written by a former dean of Southwark Cathedral, which lays bare the divisions over sexuality at the very top of the church.

In the leaked memo, the late Very Rev Colin Slee described how both the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the archbishop of York, John Sentamu “behaved very badly” at a meeting to choose the bishop of Southwark in 2010, and “were intent on wrecking both Jeffrey John and [another candidate] Nick Holtam equally”.

The church has no official bar on appointing openly gay bishops, however the Church’s administration has discretionary powers to intervene where it feels appointments may bring about unrest or problems within that particular community.

John’s case, based on the UK’s sexual orientation-inclusive anti-discrimination legislation known collectively as the Equality Act, is already being marked as a potential escalation in what has been a continued and, religious leaders have warned, possible schism-making battle over the Church’s views on homosexuality.

Whether John would win such a case remains to be seen however, as the UK gives deference to religious institutions so that they may govern themselves and their internal politics based on their beliefs.

Regardless, the very fact that court action has even been rumored throws a spotlight back on the Church as it enters a year in which it must, at last, decide on another hot-button issue: women bishops. You can find out more about that here.

As to the lawsuit, no comment has yet been issued by Church leaders or John’s legal team.

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Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Sakurai Midori.

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31 comments

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2:54PM PST on Jan 22, 2012

Sorry Jane B. No Stars for you today. Over my limit. But your comment at 11:47AM PST on Jan 17, 2012 is so good it deserves GOLD STARS not just green ones!

BTW, The church of England is as backwards as the catholic one and several other religious bastions no matter what illusion they are believing in.

2:48PM PST on Jan 20, 2012

Yes...the question is whether he is qualified. And it is God who determines that qualification...not man .Either he believes in what God says or not.If not then he is definitely not qualified and God says homosexuality is an abomination.Being gay is a condition of the heart not the mind.A bishop has the responsibility of guidance of the spirit ( heart )
Agree with it or not but it is God's rules on which the church is based .Therefore Jeffrey John is wrong to take it to a court of secular law.

6:08PM PST on Jan 19, 2012

These clerics are spiiting against the wind..Sooner or later there will be a gay bishop in the Anglican Church. It is sad for the Church that it is always the last to come around.

7:30AM PST on Jan 18, 2012

Also, George M., I think we all agree that it's about qualification, but the thing is that it says he was "BLOCKED from becoming a bishop".

and the problem would be that the "Equality Act, is already being marked as a potential escalation in what has been a continued and, religious leaders have warned, possible schism-making battle over the Church’s views on homosexuality."

It's logical and sadly true...but that doesn't make it any less a concern.

The fact is there already is a schism... I'm catholic and I'm pro-choice (in many matters, including this)

The truth is it's only a great controversy because they'd be catering to the more liberal party if they let this pass...and religion is rarely famous for being liberal. Religion is after all about age-old teachings.

7:23AM PST on Jan 18, 2012

This is a twisted world we live in...since when did Religion have to involve politics and "appeasing the masses"?

especially such a discriminatory appeal... sigh.

*as a catholic, I AM DISAPPOINTED.*

3:26PM PST on Jan 17, 2012

Mmmmm Ron? Your argument gets way into somebody else's pants and a godly nose such as yours does not belong there. I thinketh godly holy people should keep their minds out of the gutter. It seems all imaginary god's followers can think about is filthy sex 24/7. Get over it.
There's more to life.

2:44PM PST on Jan 17, 2012

Here we go again. The question is not his sexual orientation. The question is whether he is qualified. Will he be a bishop because he is gay or just because he deserves to be. I detest affirmative action in any situation.

2:38PM PST on Jan 17, 2012

Discrimination is wrong and should not be tolerated. I hope he gets justice.

1:49PM PST on Jan 17, 2012

Brian S says..... "There is a case (already allowed by the Church of England) whereby celibate homosexuals can become priests. The bible does, after all, forbid the act but not necessarily the inclination. It is hard, however, to avoid the hypocrisy of having a bishop who represents something in which he clearly does not believe."
I believe as you do except that it also forbids the inclination as well."Inclination" comes from the heart which is where the guidance of a bishop (and all of us too) should come.Jesus often spoke of the heart of man being the person who he really is."As a man thinketh,so is he "Even if a church does ordinate him as a bishop,It won't stand before God .And as you say,it would be very hypocritical of a church to go against what the bible says.In fact many followers within the church or elsewhere,would take it as a sign of homosexuality being acceptable before God which is absolutely not so.It also will cause division within the church.

11:47AM PST on Jan 17, 2012

Michele, you got that right, it's not imaginary "God" who discriminates, it's MEN!!! It's the MEN who wrote the BuyBull. A bunch of delusional wacko sand dudes invented a fairy god in THEIR OWN IMAGE. This "dream god" had all the power, knowledge and intelligence that THEY DIDN'T. Too bad their "god" was a figment of their imagination and NONEXISTENT. ALL religions are made up BS and only the uneducated believe these myths. Religions are political fronts for evil, war mongering rich people who perpetrate this crap on the masses so they can use them as slaves.

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