I am delighted to see that Alex Wilcock is on exceptionally good form at the moment, particularly on the subject of religion and equality. I cheerfully accept his description of me as a "long-suffering Anglican". In fact, I rather like it!
In case I overdid making my previous posting on this subject "Vicar-proof" (able to be read by my local vicar without spoiling his tea), I would reiterate that I fully support the "Sexual Orientation Regulations" going through at the moment - unamended. I do not support any form of opt-out for religious groups either related to adoption or bed and breakfast accommodation or anything else. I would support some form of tapered phase-in of these regulations, but only over a matter of months. I do, however, have great sympathy for the Roman Catholic brethren, as they struggle through this one.
I was and am a passionate supporter of openly gay Very Rev. Dr. Jeffrey John, now (I am very pleased to say) Anglican Dean of St Albans. I wrote letters of support for his elevation to Bishop of Reading to him, the Bishop of Oxford (at the time, Richard Harries), my local priest, my local newspaper and the Daily Telegraph (both published). Rather quietly, Dr John entered into a civil partnership with his long-term partner last August.
You might wonder then, why am I still an Anglican? Good question. Well, I tend to separate "faith", which is God-made, from "religion", which is man-made. I also define the "church" as the people who follow Christ, not the buildings and/or apparatus of the establishment of the church. (I would like to see the Church of England dis-established.) But I am mainly still an Anglican because I believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, first and foremost. Try as I might, I can find not a single recorded utterance from Jesus that would lead me and my church to be anything than totally open, loving and outstandingly compassionate and treat with utter equality everybody including gays and lesbians. There are so many examples in the gospels of Jesus treating the down-trodden in life with outstanding love, that it is just mind-blowing. There are, of course, many "down-trodden" groups in society today, but one of the first that springs to mind, without intending to be patronising, are gays and lesbians.
Throughout the Jeffrey John "controversy", I read and heard descriptions that the Church of England was in "turmoil". In fact, nothing could be further from the case in the down-to-earth community of the church. We carried on virtually unaffected. And quite rightly so.
As I said at the time, there is no nicer place in the world to have a disagreement with someone than in the Church of England. So "long-suffering Anglican" it is and will continue to be, then!
By the way, David Cameron has been very quiet on the subject of gay adoption, as reported by The Daily.