Fiona Scolding QC, IICSA
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA) is currently investigating the Diocese of Chichester as part of its study of whether Church of England leaders have failed to protect children against sexual abuse.
Abuse survivors sometimes say that in their experience the motivation was power rather than sex. This post reflects on power relations within religious communities. Of course other factors are involved as well, but here I focus on power.
How dare it snow, and mess up our plans? What went wrong?
Okay, you and I know that nobody is to blame. No human, anyway. So why do we call it bad weather?
Naturally, the Evangelical Alliance has defended itself against Jayne Ozanne’s critique of its teaching, especially in the light of the recent survey by the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service on the prevalence of spiritual abuse.
But the defence fails. I focus on the EA’s main argument: that the term ‘spiritual abuse’ is inadequate because abuse is about actions, not motives. In this way they seek to insulate their teachings from the actions those teachings sometimes provoke. On the contrary, abusive beliefs lead to abusive actions.
Nick Boles explodes. The British Government isn’t addressing the crises in housing and health, says this Conservative Member of Parliament. But, as the Guardian describes his mood, ‘the Worboys decision was the final straw’. The Parole Board has decided that John Warboys, a 60-year-old taxi driver jailed in 2009 for assaults on 12 women, should be released. The Government could have challenged the decision but has decided not to. Grr.
What would justice for Warboys be? This post leaves aside the personal details, like the likelihood of him reoffending, and asks about the nature of justice.
Andrew Marr and Theresa May
Prime Minister Theresa May, in her New Year live interview on Sunday, got quite a grilling from Andrew Marr. The Independent provides a video and report.
Marr described the case of Leah Butler-Smith whose mother waited five hours to be seen after a stroke this week. Ms Butler-Smith had posted a video of a queue of ambulances outside a hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, explaining that her mother had had a stroke, but was at the time tenth in a queue to get into hospital.
Even as a child, I was puzzled. How could a star lead the Magi to a specific house without coming so close that Planet Earth would burn into a pile of ashes?
Matthew didn’t expect his readers to take it literally. He had a bigger agenda. He was comparing Jesus with Augustus, the first Roman Emperor and, at the time of Jesus’ birth, the most powerful man in the world. Augustus had a virgin birth. Jesus had one too. Augustus was revered across his empire, from Spain to Syria. Jesus was revered from even further, from Persia where magi studied the stars.
Congratulations to Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool, for speaking out in public about the misuse of the terms ‘Christian’ and ‘Evangelical’ for people who oppose what Jesus stood for.
He did so in an interview with the Guardian at the launch of a new charity, the Ozanne Foundation, to work with religious organisations on LGBTI, sexuality and gender issues. This itself remains controversial in church circles, where opposition to same-sex partnerships remains strong; but the Guardian highlighted the implications for American Evangelicals who support Donald Trump. Can people who support his policies really call themselves Evangelicals, or Christians?
Poor Tim Farron! He took over as leader of the Liberal Democrats at their lowest ebb, just after they had been brilliantly undermined in the 2015 General Election by their Coalition partners and hated by everyone else for propping up an exceptionally divisive government. His chances of success were never good.
For the media, his weak spot was his disapproval of same-sex partnerships, an aspect of his Evangelical Christianity. Theos invited him to give their annual lecture on Tuesday. The full text is here. This post summarises the speech and offers an alternative account of Christian liberalism.