By Andrew Carey, CEN
The reality of illiberal liberalism is all around us at the moment, both within church and state. The rows over women bishops and gay marriage illustrate a deeply worrying trend in which majorities fail to provide sufficient space in which minorities can flourish
with integrity and freedom.
Monday’s edition of The Times (10 June) provided ample evidence. Firstly, the new appointee to the bishopric of Manchester, David Walker, suggested the possibility of dissolving General Synod if agreement cannot be reached on women bishops. This is dangerously close to suggesting that the democratic process can be dispensed with if you can best achieve your aims without it.
We see this tendency more widely in the use of the judicial system to overrule democratic decisions.
In reality, last November’s General Synod narrowly defeated the legislation on women bishops on the basis that it failed to give enough provision for traditionalists. All that it would have taken to pass the legislation in a short time was slightly greater provision that carried the support of two-thirds of the House of Laity. A simple step and only six votes were needed. Instead the House of Bishops has allotted to give traditionalists less certain provision and the abolition of the 1993 Act of Synod in favour of mere vague possibilities.
I suspect the same process of starving your opponents of space will be played out more widely over gay marriage. There are already signs that promises to Churches on religious freedom are to be broken.