Churches of England and Wales ‘in complete shock’ over Government’s gay marriage ban

DAVID Cameron’s coalition Government’s attempt to appease the established Church of England by announcing a ban of gay marriages in its churches has gone horribly wrong.

According to today’s Guardian, the Church of England and the Church in Wales don’t was to be exceptionalised, and have expressed their “complete shock” over the ban, claiming they were not consulted over the proposed legislation, which would make them the only religious organisations to be legally barred from conducting the ceremonies.

Although the Church of England’s position on same-sex marriage is clear – its submission to the government’s consultation in June this year stressed that “the canons of the Church of England define marriage, in accordance with Christ’s teaching and the doctrine of the Church, as being between a man and a woman” – it is privately understood that there is astonishment within the Church that it was not told about the final proposals.

On Tuesday the Culture Secretary and Equalities Minister, Maria Miller, offered a comprehensive guarantee that neither church would have to marry same-sex couples. Although the move was intended to reassure Tory MPs who are threatening a rebellion over the proposals, it was greeted with dismay by senior figures in both churches, who said they knew nothing of the legal plans until Miller made her statement to the Commons.


The Church in Wales said that it would push to have the proposals amended.

The Right Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester and the Church of England’s lead spokesman in the Lords, told a closed meeting of bishops, Lords and MPs that the government had not consulted the Church on the proposal, adding that the church had never sought the government’s so-called “quadruple lock” on gay marriage.

He also expressed his regret at the government’s lack of consultation.

The Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, who was at the Lords meeting, said Stevens’ revelation that the church had not been informed had drawn “audible gasps” from members of all parties.

It’s absolutely extraordinary. The Government gave the clear impression that this had been done at the request of the Church of England … but the bishop of Leicester said: ‘We didn’t ask for it’ … and was very upset about it because it gave the impression that the Church of England were unfriendly towards gays.

Asked why the government had chosen to propose the “quadruple-lock” guarantee, Bradshaw said:

The only explanation I can think of was that they thought it would help placate some of their homophobic backbenchers. But it seems to have backfired massively because the rightwing homophobes were out in force anyway and the Church of England now appears to be extremely upset that not only was it not asked, but it’s added to [the] general misery over women bishops and now this. It makes the Church of England look much more reactionary and unreasonable than it actually is.

A Church of England spokesman confirmed that the church had not been consulted over the government’s plans, saying:

Bishop Tim is correct that the first mention of a ‘quadruple lock’ came when the secretary of state announced it in the Commons. We had not been privately informed of this prior to the announcement.

A spokeswoman for Dr Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales, confirmed that the Church in Wales had not been consulted over the “quadruple lock” either, saying it had come “completely out of the blue” and had left the church “completely shocked”. The spokeswoman said:

We feel it’s a step too far and we weren’t consulted and we’re now looking into what we can do. We will be pushing to have it amended, I would imagine.

The spokeswoman said the church had submitted its views on the sanctity of marriage as part of the consultation, it had not anticipated that the government would act as it had.

At that time, we thought that the government were saying that this law would be one that all churches would be able to opt into, so we were keen at that time to have sufficient legal safeguards around us to ensure that none of our clergy – or the church – would be prosecuted under equal opportunities [legislation. But we had no idea that we would be completely exempt. There was no indication at all that, as a church, we would be completely exempt and it makes us look like we’re exclusive and we’re different to the other churches.

Under the government’s plans, four separate elements would ensure that no religious groups would be forced to act against their beliefs: the framework would guarantee that no religious minister would be compelled to marry same-sex-couples; would allow religious organisations wishing to do so to opt in to conducting marriages; would amend the Equality Act 2010 so that no discrimination claims could be brought against religious groups or individual ministers for refusing to marry a same-sex couple, and would ensure that the canon law of the Churches of England and Wales would remain unaffected.

According to the last guarantee, if either church wished to conduct a same-sex marriage, changes would be needed to both canon law and primary legislation.

In her statement to MPs, Miller said:

Because the Church of England and Wales have explicitly stated that they do not wish to conduct same-sex marriages, the legislation will explicitly state that it would be illegal for the Churches of England and Wales to marry same-sex couples.

She added:

This provision recognises and protects the unique and established nature of these churches. The church’s canon law will also continue to ban the marriage of same-sex couples. Therefore, even if these institutions wanted to conduct same-sex marriage, it would require a change to primary legislation at a later date and a change to canon law.


26 responses to “Churches of England and Wales ‘in complete shock’ over Government’s gay marriage ban”

  1. Daz says:

    So it’s official, we now have a government which officially discriminates against LGBT people.

  2. Stephen Mynett says:

    This could be a very cunning plan, in the words of Baldrick. Cameron knows that the church will automatically argue against anything they are told to do, therefore dont allow them to stage gay marriages and they will agree to stage gay marriages out of spite. Hopefully his next move will be to ban women bishops, then Justin Welby can kick off his tenure by marrying two lesbian bishops.

  3. AgentCormac says:

    So, the church doesn’t want to marry gay people, but it doesn’t want to be made to appear homophobic either. Bunch of feckin’ hypocrites.

  4. barriejohn says:

    No, Daz, the church does. As the Church of England and the Church of Wales are established churches the government’s hands were tied. If the church amends canon law, then a change can be made to the law regarding same-sex marriages. Maria Miller has been a revelation since she was appointed (who said that David Cameron lacked judgment – oops, I did!), and she and Cameron have played a blinder here. The CofE looks even more outdated and irrelevant than ever, and many are now seriously calling for its disestablishment. No wonder the Telegraph is dishing the dirt on Miller regarding her expenses, as they must be apoplectic!

  5. AgentCormac says:

    Basically, they just don’t like being told what to do by anybody about anything, do they? This from Dr Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales:
    “I’m not saying that the Church in Wales is ready to conduct gay marriages, but it ought to be in a position to decide that for itself.”

  6. Broga says:

    Great run up to Christmas for the C. of E. and Church of Wales. I think Wales is one of the most godless regions. This isn’t going to help them get people into the pews. I suspect Maria Miller, as well as being greedy, is – how shall I put this with appropriate delicacy – thick as a plank.

    OT: My son, a Brighton resident, told me that the sign outside his Newsagents said, “Brighton branded as most godless city.” Having been brought up proper he thought “branded” should have read “praised.” In fact, I think Norwich has the honour of being the most godless but Brighton a strong contender.

  7. barriejohn says:

    Broga: We covered that story here. Maybe Brighton could only claim that honour whilst Barry was a resident. And I disagree with you about Maria Miller: I think that she is a very skilfull operator, but her days may be numbered now!

  8. Sasha says:

    Well, the CofE is never happy, is it? They wanted nowt to do with equal marriage – now they’re whining because their wish was granted. Baffling!

    I disagree with Broga’s assessment: Maria Miller strikes me as a very astute woman: she and her happy team of elves outsmarted the the befrocked bigots very skilfully, indeed. I do hope this piffle re her expenses blows over, as I’d like to see what her next trick might be.

  9. Sasha says:

    Maria Miller’s explanation of the situation is crystal clear.


  10. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: Thanks. I either missed or forgot about the earlier report on Brighton. I did, however, read the recent Argus report, sent by my son, which showed that Archie had not made any progress. I particularly enjoyed the many comments accompanying the article. Some could have come from inhabitants of this parish. Maybe they did.

    As for Maria Miller, I haven’t followed her career. In fact, she has scarcely entered my consciousness before now so I accept the correction of yourself and Sasha regarding her ability. I’m about to dissipate some of my ignorance, I hope, by reading Sasha’s link.

  11. Stonyground says:

    I would have though the CofE would have welcomed being legally barred from doing something that they are refusing to do anyway. Wasn’t one of their gripes the fear that they were risking falling foul of the European Court of Human Rights? By being forbidden by law to perform gay weddings they would have been off the hook and the government would have had to take the blame.

    On the subject of the new Census figures, I posted this over at PotD:

    Mrs. Stonyground has made the point that not changing the wording of the question has actually worked in our favour. Had the question been changed, the religious side would have been able to claim that the drop was due to that. They would have been forced to admit that the 2001 figures had been misleading, but they would have been able to claim that the numbers were stable. As it is, the drop in Christianity and the surge in unbelief is undeniable.

  12. Broga says:

    @Stonyground: Just read PoTD. Having discovered PoTD I find TfTD much more bearable. Catharsis follows later in the day and that is a reassurance.

  13. Angela_K says:

    They really do behave like a bunch of spoilt brats, toys out of pram because they can’t get their own way. As I posted on another forum, the CofE hoisted by own petard.

  14. Trevor Blake says:

    Mr. Cameron has divine sanction for his decisions…

    Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. – Romans 13:1-2

    Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. – Deuteronomy 27:26

    Perhaps these are more divine, eternal commandments from God that are to be ignored when it’s convenient to do so. Like Leviticus 20:13 (where God says to kill homosexuals) and Matthew 5:18-19 (where Jesus confirms yes, kill homosexuals)… there it is, in black and white and red, but we can pretend those verses don’t exist if we try hard enough. If you can believe in an invisible monster that lives in the sky, then you can believe most anything.

  15. T says:

    Oh dearie, dearie, dearie me. What a farce. It would be funny if it was not for the fact that these people, the religious hierarchy and the politicians, influence how the rest of us are governed.

  16. Matt Westwood says:

    “Brighton branded as most godless city.”

    No, no, NO! That should be “Brighton *tattooed* as most godless city.” And I’m sure it falls well short of the delightful Amsterdam.

  17. AgentCormac says:

    Sorry, I can’t post this on the original thread about rabbis saying that circumcision is perfectly safe, because for understandable reasons it is now closed.

    But I thought I might open up the whole can of worms again here with this story:

  18. Matt Westwood says:


  19. barriejohn says:

    Strange editorial in the Mail:

    I agree with them that Cameron seems sincere on this. He’s not my type of politician, and I certainly don’t share his political views, but hats off to him if he is taking a stand on this as a matter of principle. Labour didn’t go as far, and Yvette Cooper just looks silly complaining that the coalition isn’t moving quickly enough!

  20. barriejohn says:

    No change from Il Papa:

    There is also a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union.

    Such attempts actually harm and help to destabilise marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society.

  21. Matt Westwood says:

    If Cameron really had balls, he’d agree to rethink the illegality of cannabis. But he won’t, which is one of the symptoms of his prickishness.

  22. Marky Mark says:

    Off topic but you people need to read about this…huge mega-church in USA busted. And for what? Child abuse and pedophile ministry. Not exclusively for the cat-licks anymore.

    Let Us Prey: Big Trouble at First Baptist Church:

    A string of assaults and sexual crimes committed by pastors across the country have one thing in common: The perpetrators have ties to the megachurch in Hammond, Indiana.
    (If a man did “stumble”—having an affair, say, or visiting prostitutes or abusing children—the question wasn’t how he could have but rather what the woman, or the child, did to drive him to such sin,)

  23. barriejohn says:

    Marky Mark: There is a Contact link at the top of the page, so that you can send details of stories like that to Barry for consideration. They really need a thread of their own.

  24. Marky Mark says:

    Barriejohn…yes, I usually do send my discoveries through the proper channels, as I did with this one. But it is so incredible, and a detailed article, I felt it needed to be exposed immediately. As to why I posted as well as submit.
    I know many Americans read this site and they should follow the story. I submitted it to other freethinker sites as well.

    Again, sorry about being off topic, and I do use the proper channels with my other finds…but this one is incredible. There are many post from x-members of this church who support the article. Maybe people will start to realize how crazy these people are they are following.