Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. So do bishops in the Church of England. Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, has now crowned himself the supreme personification of the honorific office of Useful Episcopal Idiot.
This preacher of the false gospel of tolerance is now urging the government to strip the Church of England of its exemptions under the Equality Act to help it stamp out a culture of abuse, homophobia and sexism.
Wilson’s suicidal policy is akin to three blind mice squabbling over a piece of cheese. When they cannot find a solution to the equal distribution of a miserable chunk of cheddar, they optimistically approach the cat, urging him to clamp down on their squeaking and grant them justice and equality.
The Equality Act of 2010 grants exemptions to any ‘organised religion’ in the case of same-sex marriages. ‘A minister does not contravene Section 29, so far as relating to sex discrimination’ if the minister does so ‘for the purpose of avoiding conflict with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers’.
The commentary provided by the government on the Equality Act explains that ‘the protected characteristic of religion or religious or philosophical belief’ is ‘in line with the freedom of thought, conscience and religion guaranteed by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights’.
In a sense, the Equality Act wonderfully upholds the inalienable rights of freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The Declaration of Independence reminds us that human beings are ‘endowed by their Creator’ with these inalienable rights. God, not government, has granted us these rights and government has no right to take these rights away. The Equality Act emphatically affirms this; the ‘tolerant’ bishop categorically denies this.
Bishop Wilson would like the government to go one step further and invade the sphere of thought, conscience and religion. Does the bishop believe more in government than in God? Does the bishop believe in the power of government to coerce and compel people into surrendering their inalienable rights of freedom of religion and conscience? Does the bishop believe that the strongly held political convictions of a minority within the church and other religions on homosexuality should trump the ‘strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers’ even though the latter is protected by democratic legislation?
The Bishop of Buckingham has succumbed to the virus of homofascism. ‘Everything in the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state’ was one of Mussolini’s favourite phrases. Like Mussolini, Wilson would worship at the altar of Giovanni Gentile, the founder of fascism. ‘Morality and religion . . . must be subordinated to the laws of the State,’ writes Gentile. Bishop Wilson would cheer and applaud.
Even elected governments do not have unlimited power. Bishop Wilson quotes the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 13, to defend the power of the government to legislate his homofascist version of equality and morality.
This is a strangely schizophrenic approach for the bishop to adopt. The apostle Paul is unequivocal in his condemnation of homosexuality in the very first chapter of his letter to the Romans! What principle of interpretation does Bishop Wilson adopt in accepting one part of the Bible and rejecting the other?
Yes, Paul asks us to be subject to the governing authorities. But aren’t religious people already doing this when they are obeying the Equality Act of 2010? Bishop Wilson is asking the governing authorities to change the law in a manner that is subject to his totalitarian view of morality and sexuality.
The bishop forgets that the institution of marriage precedes the institution of government – in nature and Scripture. The government has no business legislating on marriage. Bishop Wilson also forgets that according to Romans 13, government gets its authority from God and Christians believe that God has already spoken authoritatively on sexuality and marriage in the Holy Scriptures.
With his utopian spectacles on, Bishop Wilson also believes that a new law will end homophobia in the church. The bishop does not explain how this will happen. A phobia is an irrational fear of something. A law is expected to have a rational basis if it hopes to achieve a legitimate and constitutional objective. So how can a rational law end an irrational fear of homosexuals? Unless, of course, the bishop is prepared to concede that the orthodox belief held for thousands of years by people of all faiths and none that marriage is between a man and a woman amounts to an irrational fear of homosexuals? The confused bishop conflates morality with legislation, and sin with crime.
The bishop also cherry-picks a biblical text oblivious to its context. Paul is asking Christians to be subject to the Roman Empire. Would the bishop recommend that people subject themselves to modern dictatorships? Perhaps, given his homofascist position, he might. Ironically, the apostle Paul himself commits acts tantamount to civil disobedience that land him in prison and in serious trouble with the Roman authorities.
Of course, Bishop Wilson says priests should be free to object to conducting same-sex weddings on religious grounds. Ha! Ha! Ha! We’ve been fooled before, Bishop Wilson, haven’t we? When conservative evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics objected to the ordination of women, General Synod assured them that their interests would be protected when women were ordained priests and later bishops. The C of E gave this arrangement the grand title of ‘mutual flourishing’.
But when Bishop Philip North, a conservative Anglo-Catholic who objects to the ordination of women, was appointed to the See of Sheffield, Leftists from Bishop Wilson’s tribe launched a hate campaign against North, forcing him to give up his seat even before he could sit on it.
The State is desperate to control the family and the church. It desires unlimited power and we repeatedly remind ourselves that we must render unto Caesar only what belongs to Caesar, and what Caesar can legitimately claim is very little. Bishop Wilson wants to take what belongs to God and hand it over to Caesar on a silver platter. In Roman times, he would have assured the Roman emperors that the lions had a regular supply of Christians for their Sunday lunch.
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. The great conservative Edmund Burke repeats this aphorism first composed by Alexander Pope and sets it in the context of his discussion about government and clergy. ‘Instead of balancing the power of the active chicaners (deceivers) in the other assembly (i.e. House of Commons), these curates must necessarily become the active coadjutors, or at best the passive instruments, of those by whom they had been habitually guided in their petty village concerns,’ writes Burke. ‘They too could hardly be the most conscientious of their kind, who presuming upon their incompetent understanding, could intrigue for a trust which led them from their natural relation to their flocks, and their natural spheres of action, to undertake the regeneration of kingdoms.’
Beware of clerical chicanery, Bishop Wilson! And if you are hell-bent on putting your head in the lion’s mouth, don’t complain if he happens to bite it off one day.