C of E’s new gender policy backs up ‘heresy’ claim

Nov 14, 2017 by

by Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream.

In late 2013, there were a number of reports in the media about failures in RE in schools leaving many children ignorant about the basic facts of the Christian faith. In November of that year, a senior Bishop speaking at General Synod celebrated the high academic standards and good OFSTED reports of many C of E schools, but said that children are not being educated fully unless they are cared for pastorally and “begin to explore a relationship with Jesus Christ” (see here, p106). This commitment to enabling children to have a foundational exposure to the Gospel through schools for which the Church has responsibility was reiterated the following year by the Archbishop of York.

But this seems to have changed. It’s true that at local level, many C of E schools have good relationships with local churches, and ensure that the Bible is opened and children learn what orthodox Christianity is as part of their education, in assemblies and RE classes. However, increasingly, this cannot be guaranteed. Sometimes C of E schools appoint Principals who are experienced heads but with no personal faith or even who are antagonistic towards Christianity.

Other schools face lobbying from groups of parents who object to favourable and clear portrayals of Christianity. Recently a primary school in Tunbridge Wells capitulated to such pressure, agreeing to stop assemblies provided by the Christian Youth ministry Crossteach. The Diocese of Rochester, rather than insisting that parents accept the Christian element of the curriculum because it is a church school, backed the head in implementing a dumbed-down faith and religion policy in which the distinctive elements of the Gospel are removed to avoid ‘offense’.

The Diocese of Oxford has just brought out a Guidance Paper on Chaplaincy in Church Schools (not yet on its website). Surely here there should be some reference to the Archbishop of York’s call for children to know Jesus Christ in the role of a chaplain? But no – the 17 page document does not mention Christ or the Bible. It specifically warns against any kind of ‘proselytisation’ in the activities of the chaplain. It describes mission in the following terms:

“The concept of Missio Dei – God’s Mission – recognizes God is at work in the world, seeking to bring life in all its fullness (e.g. reconciliation, good relationships, wholeness and human flourishing).”

It suggests that some of the spiritual ministry of the chaplain could include “creation of opportunities to reflect upon and consider life choices and behaviours”, and to “support faith development”:

“This extends even to ‘faith in no faith’, it cannot be said that some adherents of atheist humanism or secularism do not show great faith in their endeavours.”

This is a document supposedly encouraging Church schools to consider appointing chaplains, and encouraging clergy, or youth workers, to apply for such roles. But because it will be read by secular government education officials, any genuine Christian element is not just watered down – it has been excised completely. One has to ask, if this is the price of being allowed to continue to manage schools, what is the point of pouring resources and expertise into the church schools structure? And what has happened to enabling children to know Jesus?

The Church of England’s complete capitulation to a secular government agenda was on show to the nation on the morning of Monday 13th November. Astonished viewers and listeners all over the country choked on their breakfast as the C of E’s chief education officer explained the new policy to accommodate ‘transgender’ children. (More media reports and comment can be found here).

As this website has pointed out repeatedly, schools already have robust anti-bullying policies, and already work hard to instill a culture of civility. They already teach children not to pick on those are different, whether it’s the tiny percentage of cross-dressing children who may have gender dysphoria, or the much more numerous minorities: those with ginger hair, those who are racially different, with glasses, slightly overweight, who have an unfashionable bag or shoes, etc. But this new directive from the C of E, trumpeted with a big media launch, appears to be based on the belief that some children can be identified as ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ from an early age; that if a girl wears a batman cloak or a boy wears a tiara this is to be celebrated and encouraged as part of the new exciting world of gender fluidity.

The leadership of the C of E claims that nothing has changed in terms of its doctrine, how it understands the Christian faith. That this new directive on affirming ‘trans’ children is simply a pastoral response to young people in distress. But according to the new guidelines, when a little boy comes to school wearing a dress and wanting to be called Alice, not only must other children all call him ‘Alice’ with love and welcome, with severe punishments for not complying, but all children, parents and staff must believe that this is in fact not a boy, but a trans girl, and that such gender fluidity is normal and good. Archbishop Justin Welby repeats his assertion made in the February Synod ‘radical inclusion’ speech, that there are no ‘issues or problems’, only young people loved by God. And according to the report, the imposition of gender ideology in schools is not a problem or an issue – we just need to love children and obey the new government regulations.

At a stroke, it seems, the Archbishop and the senior leadership of the Church of England have crossed out the biblical doctrine that “male and female he made them”, that the church’s mission is to introduce people to Jesus Christ so they can turn away from sin and be reconciled to God, and oppose evil and injustice. Rather, according to the new Stonewall-assisted directive, it’s all about enabling children to ‘discover who they really are’. The Gospel is reduced to “love, joy and the celebration of our humanity without exception or exclusion.” The C of E leadership have embraced a radical neo-gnostic ideology and then denied that there is such a thing; they have bought into the idea that worldviews which disagree with gender fluidity, for example biblical Christianity, are harmful and must be ‘stamped out’.

It’s not just the Christian social conservatives, the people most despised by the metropolitan elites of Lambeth palace and Church House, who think this is barmy. Increasingly, people in the secular world, including a growing number of feminists and others on the left, are very concerned about the rush to embrace the ideology of transgender, allowing extremist lobby groups to push through policies in health, education and law which have not been properly thought through. Shrill voices speak of the mental health problems caused by ‘transphobia’, but now more sane voices are daring to speak out about the permanent damage being done to teenagers who think that the drastic surgery of sex change can alleviate their mental distress, only to find that it becomes much worse. So in trying desperately to be ahead of the curve in rejoicing in the Emperor’s new clothes and making this compulsory in their schools, the Church of England leadership is not just wrong, it could find itself embarrassingly out of date, backing an ideology which many secular people regard as reckless and irresponsible.

With unfortunate timing on its part, the C of E launched its new gender fluid policy just after the resignation of Lorna Ashworth from General Synod and Archbishops’ Council. The well-respected conservative evangelical had warned of the policy of ‘good disagreement’ being a front for a slide into heresy. This was brushed off on Friday as a complete exaggeration by Bishops, and also by many evangelical clergy on social media. She does not need to say anything more. The headlines on Monday morning about ‘Valuing all God’s Children’ have proved her point.

What can be done? Many faithful clergy and lay people are governors at their local C of E schools. Will they simply apply the new guidelines uncritically, or will some quietly refuse to comply? Will there be passive acceptance, or protests and resignations? Will fear lead to silence and compliance, or will some follow Lorna’s lead?

More articles on the C of E’s policy and its implications here

More recent articles and resources on gender ideology, church and culture here.

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