Religion news 27 July 2022

"God's church for God's world". Image credit: Lambeth Conference

Lambeth conference same-sex ‘call’ revised after furious backlash

As bishops from all over the world arrived in Canterbury for the Lambeth Conference, the inflammatory Call seeking re-affirmation of a same-sex marriage ban was revised following a shocked outcry. The wording has dramatically changed from stating that same-gender marriage is not permissible and the legitimising or blessing of same-sex unions cannot be advised, to stating the facts. It says there is disagreement and a plurality of views on human sexuality, full members of the church must be treated with respect, and while some provinces say same-gender marriage is not permissible, others bless and welcome same-sex marriage. The “call” ends: “As bishops we remain committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreement on these issues.” The revision is contained in an updated version of the entire booklet listing all the calls on various topics. And in a further change, all bishops will now be allowed to vote against calls. This had previously not been offered as a choice.

Investigation and apology sought

The bishops of Norwich, Manchester, and London , on behalf of Living in Love and Faith, welcomed the change. But there are demands for an explanation as to how the original wording was allowed to be printed when it was not agreed or even discussed by the group considering the issue. And the Rev Dr Charlie Bell tweeted that there had not been one word acknowledging the hurt caused to LGBTQ+ people.

Legal ‘illiteracy’ of original same-sex ‘call

Professor Mark Hill, QC, who specialises in law and religion, says his key concern is “the legal and ecclesiological illiteracy” of the original wording of the call. Writing a guest blog for Law and Religion UK, he says the bishops at the conference are not representatives and they cannot make declarations on behalf of the Anglican Communion; they can only speak for themselves. Although the mind of the communion cannot be measured or expressed, he says it can be revealed through a comparative analysis of the laws of each legally autonomous church. A recent piece of research, to be presented to the conference next week, analysed the laws of all churches in the communion and found that the only matter on which it was unable to find a common principle concerned the nature and definition of marriage.

Lambeth Conference: watch your heart rate

Ruth Gledhill, assistant editor at The Tablet, covered many Lambeth Conferences when she was at The Times. As she watches Lambeth 2022 from afar, she writes: “I just re-read “My Lambeth Hell”, an article I wrote for The Tablet after the awful 1998 Lambeth. During the few minutes it took to do this, my Apple watch recorded that my heart rate went from 57 to 82.”

Read our explainer on the conference here and a helpful Lambeth glossary here.


Inquiry into Nusrat Ghani ‘Muslimness’ complaint further delayed

Boris Johnson has said that an inquiry into Nusrat Ghani’s claim that she lost her job due to her Muslim faith will have to be handled by his successor. The Daily Mirror reports that Ms Ghani alleged in January that a whip had told her Muslimness was raised as an issue and was making colleagues feel uncomfortable. Mark Spencer, who was then the chief whip, named himself as the minister she spoke to, but said the claims were false and defamatory. The prime minister’s ethics adviser was asked to conduct an inquiry but he resigned and was not replaced. Johnson told the Commons liaison committee that it was now a matter for the next PM.

Australian rugby players refuse to wear Pride kit on religious grounds

Seven players from the Australian rugby league team Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, in Narrabeen, north of Sydney, have refused to play in a game tomorrow because the club wants them to wear a rainbow Pride shirt to support LGBTQ+ inclusion in sport. They told club officials that this conflicted with their cultural and religious beliefs. The Daily Mail has found many are members of a mega church and one is a Mormon. The club has apologised for the pain caused to the LGBTQ+ community and lack of consultation and said its intention was to be caring towards all diverse groups. Euronews quotes the Australian Rugby League Commission chairman saying he understood, but would continue pushing for an inclusive sport while not disrespecting players’ freedoms.

New Liberal Jewish president

Rabbi Alexandra Wright, senior rabbi at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue St John’s Wood, northwest London, has become Liberal Judaism’s new president. Rabbi Wright, noted for her work in inclusivity and education, succeeds Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein, who served for 10 years.

United Synagogue chief steps down

The Jewish Chronicle reports that Steven Wilson is to step down as the United Synagogue’s chief executive next spring. Since joining eight years ago, he has steered the organisation through Covid, was a driving force behind the Jewish Community Academy Trust schools’ network and a keen supporter of the Centre for Rabbinic Excellence.

‘Bishop’ robbed of $1m jewellery while preaching

A self-styled bishop of a new church in Brooklyn, was robbed of jewellery valued at more than $1m while giving a sermon which was being livestreamed. The film shows armed men in balaclavas walking onto the stage, where the bishop lay down and was held at gunpoint and stripped of his jewellery., Bishop Lamor Miller-Whitehead founded the Leaders of Tomorrow Ministry in 2013 after serving a five-year prison sentence for identity theft and grand larceny. He says he was wrongly convicted. He is known for his extravagant style and after the robbery he used his Instagram page to defend his spending as his choice. He has offered a $50,000 reward for information.


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