Can Parliament force the C of E to change its doctrine of marriage?

Nov 10, 2022 by

by Ian Paul, Psephizo:

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw has called for the Church of England to change its doctrine of marriage or face the threat of disestablishment.

His comments were prompted by the refusal of Hereford Diocese to allow same-sex married Mpho Tutu van Furth, daughter of the late Desmond Tutu, from officiating at her godfather’s funeral. Bradshaw claimed that the Church is ‘actively pursuing a campaign of discrimination’ against gay people.

This was a particularly high-profile, egregious example. But cruelty like that is practised on lesbian and gay people in the church all the time, every day – people you never hear about in the headlines, people whose lives are destroyed – and it can’t go on.

Patience is being worn very thin, and parliament is in a position to put pressure on the church. Without change, I think we might see growing calls for disestablishment.

Bradshaw has an interest in this, as a gay man who was one of the first MPs to register a civil partnership. In 2009, he won the Stonewall Politician of the Year Award for his work to support equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people. He is a member of the ‘gayest Parliament in the world’; 9% identity as LGBT, compared with around 1.8% of the population as a whole. Interestingly, Bradshaw’s remarks have only been reported in the Guardian amongst the mainstream news channels.

It is worth examining what Bradshaw is claiming, what he is threatening, and what the consequences might be.

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