Rob Slane: No, Mr Fabricant. Traditional Anglicans do not behead unbelievers

If you happened to visit my church on a Sunday, here is what you would find: a group of people of all ages – we don't do age segregation – participating in a worship service in the historic Anglican tradition. After the service you would enjoy coffee and tea, along with plenty of fellowship and laughter. If you happened to turn up on the first Sunday of the month, we would ask you to join us for lunch – an invitation that is open to all in our community. We would also invite you to come to our all-age games night on a Friday, where we muck around playing table tennis and various other amusements.

But we also have a dark side. Our two big secrets you might say. One is that we are, as a congregation, committed to the idea of what is generally known as "traditional marriage". The other is that in the courtyard at the back, we perform executions of those whom we regard as heretics, using such methods as chopping their heads off, burning them alive and tying them to pillars and blowing them up. You may have even seen the videos uploaded to YouTube.

Okay so I made some of that up. Did you spot which bits? Yes, we really do have a service with a liturgy based on Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer together with lots of psalms. We really do play a lot of table tennis. And – along with the entire Anglican Church until just a few years back – we really do believe that marriage is an institution designed to be between one man and woman for life.

It's the executions that we don't do. We do baptisms, I'll admit to that, but so far no killings. In fact, I can assure readers that we have never executed anyone who disagrees with us, nor do we have any plans to do so. Not even those who disagree with us on the marriage issue.

All that might come as something of a surprise to the "Conservative" MP for Lichfield, Michael Fabricant (I surround the word Conservative with speech marks only because there is currently no emoticon that encapsulates the idea of a person who claims to be something, but is in reality the exact opposite). In a recent article for the Daily Telegraph, he wrote this about the current battles over same-sex "marriage" going on in the Church of England:

“Perhaps the Church should take a tough line on its less progressive elements: get with the times or get out... Simply opting for more of the same for the sake of unity amongst a diverse Communion – some of whose views differ little from ISIL – is a choice of quantity over quality.”

You see? As a church that holds to the definition of marriage that most people – Anglicans and otherwise – have held for millennia, we are apparently on a par with that most notorious flavour of Islamic Jihadism, ISIS/ISIL. And what do we most associate them with? Why sexual slavery, blowing up monuments and of course videoed executions.

Since Mr Fabricant decided to make the connection, I assume that he would fully expect to find our church -- alongside the worship of God, the community lunches and games nights etc of course -- practising its very own system of executing heretics in the most grotesque ways imaginable. Or have I misunderstood him? Perhaps I've got this the wrong way around and what he really means in making the comparison is that he would fully expect to find ISIS/ISIL Wahhabi goonthugs holding lunches for the community and playing table tennis – when they're not busy terrorising communities that is.

If he happens to be reading this, I'd encourage him to put it to the test. Mr Fabricant, I'd like to extend a personal invitation to you to come and visit us on a Sunday. I have a feeling you'll rather enjoy yourself. The worship might not be your cup of tea, being a self-professed agnostic, but I promise we'll feed you and supply you with copious amounts of tea or coffee, offer you lots of stimulating conversation, and above all I promise that we won't kidnap you and execute you. I'll even allow you to examine the courtyard at the back, so you can be reassured that no executions have taken place there of late.

All in all, I can guarantee that you'll leave the building with your head still firmly on your shoulders, though whether it will be screwed on right is not for me to say. The church is Christ Church Salisbury, and if you want to take me up on the offer, just get in touch with TCW and I’m sure they’ll put us in touch.

If you do decide to visit us, what I then suggest is a trip to Deir ez-Zor. Or Raqqa if you prefer. You could spend some time with those chaps who are apparently much the same as traditional Anglicans, although it is my understanding that they don't tend to use Cranmer's liturgy very much. On second thoughts, maybe you'll have more in common than you might think, as they don't much like Christianity either. When you get back – if they let you out that is – you could write another piece in the Telegraph confirming the similarities between the two groups, such as the desire of both groups to spread their beliefs, the one by inviting unbelievers to share lunch, and the other by killing unbelievers.

What is really funny about what Mr Fabricant says is this: he undoubtedly held exactly the same views as the traditional Anglican up until a few days before yesterday. He's now 66 years old and I'll bet the thought of two men marrying each other never even occurred to him until ... oh let's give him the benefit of the doubt … sometime after his 50th birthday. About the same as a bunch of other people discovered the idea for the first time in their lives.

Which means that until sometime after the year 2,000, Mr Fabricant probably thought – along with everyone else – that marriage was something that involved one man and one woman. Not one man and many women, as a Wahhabi goonthug might believe, nor one man and one man, as we are now invited to believe. But one man and one woman. Which in turn means that by his own estimation, his views also would have differed little from ISIL, as indeed would millions of Britons down through the centuries. Indeed, it’s actually amazing how we aren’t now living in an Anglican Caliphate.

Finally, I should point out that my church, although Anglican, is not within the CofE. We have indeed taken the advice Mr Fabricant gives and have forged a path outside the decaying CofE. And what do you know, it’s these kinds of churches that are growing, and not the groovy “progressive” types who insist on moving with the zeitgeist rather than the Spirit, and who are emptying day by day. Mr Fabricant really should come along. You never know, we might even remove the black Anglican jihadi flag that flies over the top of the building, especially for him.

(Image: Lorna Mitchell)

Rob Slane

  • Dustybookwyrm

    “No, Mr Fabricant. Traditional Anglicans do not behead unbelievers”

    Maybe not, but I’ll bet it’s flipping tempting at times. You’d certainly be treated in a less flippant manner by the noisemakers.

  • Simmo

    I’m quite partial to a game of ping-pong, gotta be said …

  • TheStoneMan

    Gentle irony really is the way to go – well done, great piece.

  • Demon Teddy Bear

    Well said; and Fabricant is an ass for toadying to this evil nonsense.

  • John Rollins

    He’s my MP sadly 🙁

  • outer_rl

    “If you do decide to visit us, what I then suggest is a trip to Deir ez-Zor. Or Raqqa if you prefer. You could spend some time with those chaps who are apparently much the same as traditional Anglicans, although it is my understanding that they don’t tend to use Cranmer’s liturgy very much.”

    Hang on! The Syrian government controls the airport at Deir ez-Zor. The army commanders there might well be arab Christians. Though I admit, they’re unlikely to be Anglicans, and have probably never heard of Cranmer’s liturgy.

    “Indeed, it’s actually amazing how we aren’t now living in an Anglican Caliphate.”

    Funny you should say that, since I hear it’s possible to trace back Her Majesty’s ancestry to the Prophet Muhammad, via a Spanish queen who was born a Moorish princess. So when Prince Charles becomes king, since he has already made clear his desire to be Defender of the Faiths, plural rather than singular, as a Sayyid , an honourable descendent of God’s messenger, a learned man and a head of state, he could indeed declare himself Caliph and Emir, Successor of the Prophet and Commander of the Believers.

    • weirdvisions

      Or an over indulged, arrogant, do as he says not do as he does, loony.

      Please, Ma’am. Let the succession skip a generation and spare us the know-nowt partisan boll-x your son continually spews.

      • outer_rl

        What, you think public opinion should decide who your leader is, rather than parent to child inheritance? What are you, a Republican?

        • weirdvisions

          Personally I think one of the corgis would do a better job than Jug Ears. Or a petunia. Long live QE2. ;0)

          • outer_rl

            Well, the country has gone to the dogs under the leadership of Her Majesty, so I guess one of the corgis would be an apt successor.

  • Labour_is_bunk

    Genuine question (betraying my ignorance and lack of knowledge for which I apologise in advance):

    how can you be Anglican yet outside the CofE ?

    Just curious.

    • Tricia

      The worldwide Anglican Communion. There are far more Africans who are Anglican than there are now in the western world. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are being murdered all over the Middle East and our weasel COf E hierarchy are silent. The Anglican Church is orthodox religion with historic formularies which are set out in Canon law. Of course the revisionists want to revise us out of existence and will not discipline those wings like TEC in America and the Anglican Church of Canada, which is almost as bad. The Cof E is going down the same route as these 2 – both of which are haemorrhaging membership and in America there has been formed a new Anglican Church of North America which is aligned to the Global African Anglican community. I believe Rob’s church is also aligned to this group as they have begun to offer support to churches in this country who feel they can no longer belong to the C of E. I will be heading for the lifeboat in the next few years!

      • Canada too, for that matter, although I don’t know how big, but it’s there.

    • Quinquagesima

      There are some churches which continue to follow Anglican worship, doctrine and practice, and still define themselves as Anglican, but have broken away from the C of E into a number of small denominations. They aren’t all that great in number; but in the USA, where the Episcopal Church (TEC) has careened further down the road of heresy, there is quite a large breakaway Anglican denomination called the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), which is a rival to TEC. I’m not surprised there’s a breakaway Anglican church within the area of the Diocese of Salisbury because, well, let’s just say it’s episcopal leadership – both the current Bishop of Salisbury and the previous one – would not be entirely unsympathetic to TEC. There is still some hope, however, that the C of E as a whole will not follow the same path.

      • Partridge

        It is to be hoped that the C of E will not continue to follow the path it is currently on.

        • Quinquagesima

          Contrary to somewhat oversimplified press reporting, it’s not at all obvious what path the C of E is on, in relation to the sexuality issue. To be sure, the clergy in the General Synod were not happy with the Bishops’ latest report, regarding it as too conservative; but anything too liberal would just be rejected by the laity. There are deep divisions, and forces pulling in both directions. It’s not impossible that it will simply be pulled apart.

    • John Thomas

      – by being part of GAFCON, an organisation formed to allow you to be Anglican but not Episcopal (US), and now coming to Britain (goodee!). I don’t know anything about Mr Slane’s church, of course, but it’s a fair guess it’s part of this movement. Good for him!

      • Rob Slane

        Yep basically it. We are affiliated with the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), which itself has ties to Gafcon.


  • Dodgy Geezer

    …It’s the executions that we don’t do. We do baptisms, I’ll admit to that, but so far no killings. In fact, I can assure readers that we have sonever (sic) executed anyone who disagrees with us….

    I’m not so sure about the ‘never’. From Thomas More onwards, Anglicans have not been very happy with Papists…

    • The state did the executions; the charge was High Treason. For whatever that’s worth because I suspect the church concurs.

  • John Thomas

    Just one thing: Fabricant is MP for Lichfield, Staffordshire. I think there is a place called Litchfield in Hampshire, I don’t know if it has an MP. There’s a Litchfield in Connecticut, apparently. Ts are so important …

  • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

    Well they certainly would if they could get away with it.

    They used to anyway.

  • Under-the-weather

    Christianity’s ethical founding of `do unto others`, is as I was reminded a few weeks ago, different to the doctrine of any churches who operate a creed of `you must` or `you must not`. The reminder arrived here and from psychology. `Do unto others` isn’t a nice blanket ethic we can assume by generally virtue signalling our intentions. It requires behaviour ,`do`, and thinking `how`.
    A church creed which says `you must` and `under any circumstances`, ignores individual situations which don’t support their general narrative. This is the psychology of the parent to an ignorant child, who doesn’t need to know why, just be told what to do. Do unto others however, is grown up adult psychology, understand what you are doing, and why you are doing it. It did change everything .
    It leads to Liberty. The founders of the United States followed the spirit rather than the book.

    • grutchyngfysch

      This is the psychology of the parent to an ignorant child, who doesn’t need to know why, just be told what to do.

      No, you got it right here and then went off the rails. This is exactly the core of Christianity: that the Father does indeed know best for His children, and has all knowledge of all things in a manner that is simply impossibly beyond what we are capable of understanding. This is why Christ taught that you first obey and only then can you begin to understand (John 7:17).

      Blessed is the one who obeys the Word.

      • Under-the-weather

        I didn’t go off the rails. My interpretation is based on the difference in ethics and psychology, coupled with what we now know about how the world works scientifically.

        In my opinion the word is the ethic (the spirit) of Christianity, which requires thought and conscience, not the word of man which insists on faith in the Churches alone.

        • grutchyngfysch

          Frankly, I don’t know what you are describing, but I know it is not Christianity. The Word is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I simply point out that the futile philosophy you are talking about has nothing to do with Christianity. At best it shares a few bits of terminology, but nothing much else.

          • Under-the-weather

            I wasn’t describing Christianity out of a book that’s for sure.

          • grutchyngfysch

            Then you’re not describing Christianity at all.

          • Under-the-weather

            Just not your version of it. The Quakers for instance, (who founded the United States, not Evangelicals or Catholics), founded a nation based on Liberty, and consider the Bible is secondary.

            “The Quaker belief that the Bible is secondary and subordinate to the Inward Light and the true Word of God separates us from many others.

            Critical to this belief is the Quaker trust that God himself talks to us and inspires us personally today, just as he did to the early Christians. As George Fox put it, we believe that Christ has come to teach his people himself. These teachings come to us clearly in the form of dreams, visions, voices, and inspired spoken ministry. They come less clearly but no less importantly in the forms of feelings, inner urgings, and intuitive leadings. We also hear God in the teachings of the Bible, and we learn from him as we read it, but we do not try to limit his work with us to the Bible as his only instrument.”

          • grutchyngfysch

            Setting aside the fact that the early Quakers were by no means homogenously sceptical of Scriptural authority (suspiscion or institutional religion being hardly unique to them either) and on many fronts held views largely indistinguishable from modern day evangelicals, the trouble with visions which empty concepts and doctrines of their meaning only to fill them up with something else is that whatever they may be they are demonstrably not what they have pushed, like the cuckoo, out of the original nest.

            Simply put: when you hold a position which is antithetical to Scripture your view cannot be Scriptural. Which rather removes the only corroborating authority there is as to what the early church was taught, believed and often died for. That version of quakerism has demonstrably ceased to be Christian when it is no longer in communion with Christian Scriptures. What else is it in communion with? You will reply God, but it cannot be the God revealed in the Scriptures unless such god is fundamentally changeable (in which case such a god is revealed to be a liar by the teaching of the very same Scriptures). The one rejects the other.

            So no. It isnt Christianity if it rejects the basis of Christianity, the authority of the Scriptures (against which every spirit must be tested) and the recorded teachings of Christ. As I said before, I dont know what it is, but I know it cannot be Christianity and hold such positions any more than I can be a Communist but believe everything should be privatised.

          • Under-the-weather

            “Setting aside the fact that the early Quakers were by no means homogenously sceptical of Scriptural authority (suspiscion or institutional religion being hardly unique to them either) ”

            Why did the Quakers leave Britain in the first place other than to escape religious autonomy?
            In fact some of the Quakers were women ministers even in the 17th century.

            This is from wiki “Society of Friends. Members of the various Quaker movements are all generally united in a belief in the ability of each human being to experientially access “that of God in every person,” and therefore they profess the ***priesthood of all believers***, a doctrine derived from the First Epistle of Peter. They include those with evangelical, holiness, liberal, and traditional Quaker understandings of Christianity. To differing extents, the different movements that make up the Religious Society of Friends/Friends Church ***avoid creeds and hierarchical structures***. In 2007, there were about 359,000 adult Quakers. In 2012, there were 377,055 adult Quakers.

            The first Quakers lived in mid-17th century England. The movement arose from the Legatine-Arians and other dissenting Protestant groups, breaking away from the established Church of England. The Quakers, especially the ones known as the Valiant Sixty, attempted to convert others to their understanding of Christianity, travelling both throughout Great Britain and overseas, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of these early Quaker ministers were women. They based their message on the religious belief that “Christ has come to teach his people himself”, stressing the importance of a direct relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and a direct religious belief in the universal priesthood of all believers.

            The rest of what I wrote doesn’t detract from Christianity at all, but does detract from any religious doctrine introduced AD, and which is contrary to the underlying Christian ethic introduced by Christ.

          • grutchyngfysch

            I can only recommend you try reading some original material. There are plenty of George Fox tracts and leaflets publicly available. You will find a preacher who wouldn’t be out of place in a Billy Graham crusade: constantly referencing scriptures as the authority for rebuking religious and secular traditions and institutions. A man who preached consistently on the reality of hell with a strong emphasis on puritan living.

            That this bears little resemblance to modern quakerism I am well aware: my point would simply be extended that such quakerism is not only out of communion with the teachings of Christ but the teachings of its own founding members. I don’t honestly know Fox well enough to say whether I would agree with every position he held to but I have read enough of his own words to know he wouldn’t be as far removed from evangelical theology as many modern Quakers are.

          • Under-the-weather

            “At some time in 1647 Fox experienced a spiritual revelation which convinced him that all earthly authority (church or state) was corrupt; God’s message came to individuals directly through the Inner Light of their personal inspiration. Fox proclaimed his message as he travelled around the Midlands and the North, attracting small groups of followers who called themselves Friends of the Truth, but became popularly known as Quakers”.

            The Quakers weren’t Puritans they were separatists
            ” the term “PURITAN” should not be applied to any passengers of the Mayflower of 1620, which carried the first settlers of Plymouth Plantation, except to Christopher Martin and Solomon Power, and in the name of William Brewster and William Bradford, only before the year 1604 or 16 years before the Mayflower sailed. After 1604, all of the 1620 Mayflower “PILGRIMS” were SEPARATISTS”. Puritans went to the Massachusettes bay colony and were authoritarian, while Pilgrims went to the Plymouth colony and were democratic”.

          • grutchyngfysch

            I wrote “puritan living”, not Puritan. If you read primary sources written by Fox you will understand why I wrote that. This is a man who petitioned government to prevent any drunkard, idolater, swearer (of oaths or profanities) from holding office, and warned that hell was “where the wicked and debauched, wh*** mongers and adulterers, murderers and liars go” (his own words). If you do actually take the time to read some of his preaching or letter writing, you’ll have a hard time finding a sentence that isn’t a direct quote or paraphrase from the Bible. He also shared the Puritan distaste for outward religious iconography and architecture, and wanted to purge the land of steeples, crucifixes, images (not just in a religious context: also generally as on road signs), alehouses, sports, gambling, balladeers, and fancy clothing.

            “Puritan living”, in other words.

            I can appreciate that the modern movement may not have much in common with his theology, and that this kind of thing might not be politic in certain Quaker circles (notwithstanding that it survives intact in others), but that does not change the historic reality or the documentary evidence. As with Scripture, the original material simply does not support the psychological, “ethical” view you have described. It is a much later graft, and I’ve no doubt an influential one at that: but it is historically illiterate to read a philosophy which owes more to modernism than it does to non-conformism back into history.

          • Under-the-weather

            There were a few Puritans among the original friends but as a group their ideology was different, and then not now, there’s a comparison on the link I provided earlier.

            None of which makes any difference to the ethic I posted anyway which is about adult to adult psychology and not authoritarian dictatorship leading to liberty.

        • Partridge

          Oh dear. You lost me when you mentioned the pseudo-science of psychology.

        • Woman at home

          An interesting approach which I tend towards.
          I have always had difficulty with the concept that the Bible, which has been written down and translated by man over the ages, is actually the indisputable Word of God. It seems obvious to me that such a process would provide massive opportunity for “chinese whispers” and alternative interpretations of the Word, dependent on the individual writing and/or translating and the culture at the time of writing. When everyone down the line has to rely on those translations to avoid damnation, that seems like a curious system for God to have put in place.
          The insistence that faith must take place in the Churches in exact conformity to their literary interpretation has always seemed to be more about an exercise in power than purity of faith.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    I think you’ve been quite diplomatic about Mr Fabricant, Rob. To me he is one of those religious illiterati who, despite having no understanding of the subject, still has enough self-righteousness to tell believers where they have gone wrong as Christians and how God was actually created in Mr Fabricant’s image. One day he will have the opportunity to tell God how he got things wrong when he created the Universe. No prizes for guessing which one will end up with egg on his face.

  • Andy

    I’m not a religious person but I’m full of admiration for your respect of tradition and your refusal to be swayed by trendy notions. If anything were to convert me it would be this kind of integrity coupled with the obvious warmth that you feel for humanity. That and hearing Bach played on the organ.