"It's all about us": Ethnocentrism over religious civil partnerships

By Jonathan Bartley
March 4, 2010

A bit of confusion at the Daily Telegraph today. George Pitcher suggests: Lords vote for 'gay weddings' – so what? Meanwhile Martin Beckford and Heidi Blake report: Clergy could be sued if they refuse to carry out ‘gay marriages’.

Looking beyond the mixed messages, this reflects more than anything how the Daily Telegraph buys into the ethnocentricity of the Church of England. Things are usually reported on religious matters first and foremost with the perspective of the established Church in mind (and to an extent the Catholic church too). In this case the two stories are "this doesn't mean anything for the big churches" and "the big churches are worried". The concerns and interests of others don't usually feature in the same way (unless of course they happen to coincide with those of the Church of England).

But the vote on Tuesday night wasn’t first and foremost about the Church of England. It was precipitated by other Christian and religious groups such as the Quakers, who are currently prohibited in law from carrying out religious civil partnerships.

George Pitcher, a Church of England priest as well as the Telegraph's religion editor, concludes: "So the effect of this amendment to the Equality Bill is zip". But as Quaker Simon Beard points out today in his blog on this site, it means a great deal, and is the cause of much rejoicing for Christians in other denominations.

The Independent and Times, whilst also reporting the concerns of those in the churches who see this new freedom as a threat to their power and control, also look at the bigger picture. They report, amongst other things, Ekklesia's suggestion that marriage law needs a general overhaul. I say that, not because "it's all about us" either, but simply to point out that there are some much wider issues at stake beyond what this means for the Church of England.

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