Challenge to Archbishop Carey

Giles Fraser: Defending the faith from its cheerleaders

Giles Fraser  © not advert
 NO, I am not ashamed of the gospel. But I am more than a little ashamed of the Not Ashamed campaign (News, 3 December). It comes across as just more complaining from the usual suspects. Can’t they see that most people will find it hard to take seriously anyone who continually bangs on about the existence of Christianophobia from the priv­ileged benches of the House of Lords? Once again, Lord Carey and his friends have got it badly wrong.Furthermore, what many people suspect — and they are probably correct — is that this sort of cam­paign is motivated by a very narrow band of ethical concerns, led, once again, by a visceral disgust at homo­sexuality. When Lord Carey speaks of the need to stand up for Christianity, many of us now hear him as saying something as petty as the need to stand up for the right to be anti-gay. Well, count me out.

At the forefront of the Not Ashamed campaign is the Christian Legal Centre. Consider the cases it takes on. This week, it has been in court in Bristol to defend two Corn­ish guesthouse workers who refused double-bed accommodation to two civil partners, Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy (News, 10 December).

A Christian lawyer was quoted recently in The Tablet, commenting on the work of the Centre: “They have not won anything, as far as I know. They also seem to have an obsession with homosexual cases.”

Lord Carey speaks as though the Not Ashamed campaign were about defending the very basis of moral Britain: “I am immensely proud of our country. I’m proud of our Parli­amentary democracy under our Mon­archy. I’m proud of the sense of fairness and fair play that runs through­out our nation. I am proud of our tradition of tolerance and our historic commitment to welcoming the stranger.”

These values, Lord Carey argues, originate in Christianity, and are “under attack” as the faith is publicly disparaged and sidelined. The cam­paign puffs itself up as a defence of the faith, but it is little more than an ill-thought-through baggage of victim­hood and scaremongering.

The Bishop of Croydon, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, got it right when he said: “If you define yourself by your victimhood, you’ve got a real problem. I do not believe that Chris­tians are a persecuted group of people in this country.”

If Christianity is loosing its grip on the public imagination, it is be­cause it has become too closely asso­ciated with resentful and narrow-minded sectarianism. De­fend­ing Christianity can re­quire saving it from its noisiest cheer­leaders.

This is not the first time that the former Archbishop of Canterbury has been criticised by Church Leaders in England, for his defence of Christianity against what he sees as an orchestrated persecution by secular society. As Canon Giles Fraser (St. Pauls’ Cathedral) here points out in his Church Times article this weekend, Carey’s shrill defence of conservative Anglicanism – mainly against any move towards the inclusion on the LGBT community in the Church and in society at large – is not merely counter-cultural, it is also totally against the tenor of the Gospel.

Carey’s campaign against what he sees as a ‘sinful’ expression of a God-give sexual characteristic has led him to follow up on his initial licensing of an anti-gay climate within the world-wide Communion at Lambeth 1998 – from which the rebellion of certain ‘Global South’ Primates has since emerged – with a continuing harassment of any attempt being made by other Primates of the Communion towards a better, more up-to-date, and Christological,  understanding of what the Scriptures might have to reveal to us about the mysteries of sex and gender.

It really is time Bishop Carey left his successor to pick up the pieces of the Communion that Carey helped to fracture – by his encourage-ment of sola-scriptural idolatry and Victorian protestant tradition, at the expense of  logical and Spirit-inspired Reasoning.  Archbishop Rowan has a hard enough task to deal with serving Prelates within the Communion – without having to battle the maunderings of one of his most conservative predecessors.

Fr. Ron Smith

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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2 Responses to Challenge to Archbishop Carey

  1. John Marshall says:

    Fr Ron

    I seem to be for ever pouncing on small errors: forgive me – I think I must have some deep unsatisfied yearning to be a subeditor. Canon Giles Fraser is Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral – not Southwark. Until his appointment to St Paul’s he was a parish priest in Southwark diocese. Just for the record – not in the least to show what a clever-clogs I am!


    • kiwianglo says:


      Do have a very happy and peaceful Christmas.

      I failed to reply esarlier because my new computer crashed (can’t think why!). However, I’m grateful for your careful persual of the jots tittles and iotas of every post. It does help to keep us all honest – or at least, more careful of the details. Of course I am aware of the provenance of Dr/Fr/Canon Giles Fraser – having met him in London when he hosted Bishop Gene at Putney in 2008 during the fateful Lambeth Conference, and was impressed by his sincerity on the gender and sexuality issues in the church. I also knew that his preferment was to Saint Paul’s rather than Southwark. Put it down to our recent pre-occupation with another heterosexual warrior for gays – the late Dean Colin Slee – may he rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.

      Christus natus hodie. Fr. Ron Smith

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