First of all there were the five Bishops in the House of Lords who defied the Government and (if reports are correct) public opinion to oppose plans for a £26,000 cap on Benefits.
Then blast from the past, retired Archbishop George Carey, waded in with an article for the Daily Mail which was a scathing attack on the hapless Bishops mentioned above. In it he called into question their judgment, perspectives on morality and use of the Bible. He also practically canonised the relevant Government minister because he is a 'Committed Christian' - after all, God forbid that committed Christians should ever disagree!Lord Carey has of course, every right as a member of the House of Lords, to contribute to the debate in the House of Lords - but he did not. He chose instead to make his contribution in the pages of the Daily Mail giving them the front page headline "Halleluiah! Archbishop blasts clerics who oppose welfare reform!" Nicely done Archbishop!
But the most shocking statement by a Bishop was brought to my attention by another Bishop who tweeted it with disbelief! And shocking it was...It was the observation that Bishop Wallace Benn (current Bishop of Lewes) has endorsed a book by Christian Voice fundamentalist Stephen Green.
The book "Britain in Sin" charts 57 pieces of legislation which the Queen has signed which are bringing God's judgment on Britain because they oppose the clear teaching of scripture. Such unbiblical legislation includes recognition of marital rape, equal pay for women, the United Nations Charter, and the European Convention on Human Rights.Coincidentally, another piece of legislation which Stephen Green describes as unbiblical is the creation of state social security. Apparently, it goes against God's law because it "penalises thrift and marriage and rewards fecklessness and isolation." (page 9 of the pdf download of the book). Disturbingly, Lord Carey also uses a similar phrase in his article for the Daily Mail stating that the welfare state, "traps people into dependency and rewards fecklessness and irresponsibility."
So why is the 'focus of unity ' issue so important that it is being used to deny celibate gay clergy in Civil Partnerships from becoming Bishops ?It is hard to imagine that Bishop Wallace Benn's endorsement of 'Britain in Sin' will be enable him to be a 'focus of unity' in the diocese where he serves, anymore that we can pretend that the Bishops in the Lords are at one with Lord Carey.
Our Bishops can be pro-government or anti-government. They can be pro-women's ministry or anti-women's ministry. They can even endorse books which would outrage the vast majority of Christians and society at large - but they can't be openly gay - even if they promise to abide by the churches repressive teachings.Shocking - Bishops!
Since I wrote this blog I am pleased to hear that Bishop Wallace Benn has dissassociated himself from Stephen Green's book in a statment which implies that he didn't read it fully before endorsing it! See http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16147
While this is clearly welcome it is still shocking that he should have thought he could endorse the book at all. It makes me wonder which parts had he read and could endorse!