Some people may be understandably confused about the Church of England’s position on same-sex partnerships and equal marriage. Official statements, the publicly-voiced views of senior clergy and broader opinions among church members point in different directions. Part of this is to do with realism, but shifts in understanding also play a part.
Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury, has made clear his support for allowing same-sex couples to marry. Officially the Church of England is opposed to equal marriage but many members are in favour. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, covering England and Wales, is to be debated by the House of Lords.
I blogged earlier this week about statements from the socially conservative lobby group Christian Concern ahead of the local elections. They encouraged people to vote for candidates opposed to same-sex marriage.
The “Christian Right” in Britain – inasmuch as it exists – is not like the Christian Right in the US. Over there, conservatism on issues such as marriage and abortion seems to go hand in hand with right-wing views on economics and foreign policy. Over here, we have conservative Christian lobby groups with a far more narrow focus. Organisations such as the Christian Institute, Christian Concern/Christian Legal Centre and so-called Anglican Mainstream focus largely on attacking LGBT rights. They also speak out against abortion, Islam and the supposed marginalisation of Christians in Britain.
The UK government's culture secretary, Maria Miller, gave a rather faltering performance on BBC Radio 4's flagship 'Today' programme this morning, answering questions -- or, rather, trying to avoid them -- about the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill.